Lebanon: A History, 600-2011

By William Harris | Go to book overview

3
Mountain Lords, 1633–1842

Fakhr al-Din Ma’n’s intensification of interaction among chiefs and communities of Mount Lebanon and its surrounds outlasted him, as did the new European commercial and cultural intrusion. The Ottomans continued to balance among petty lords of whatever sect for revenue extraction and anchoring imperial sovereignty, but in the eighteenth century, they preferred the most visibly potent agents. The Druze/Maronite combination inaugurated by the Ma’n and Khazen families in the 1580s was well positioned to take advantage of evolving Ottoman requirements because of the Druze hold on the core of the mountain between Beirut and Damascus and developing Maronite relations with France and Italy. In this respect, the succession of the Ma’ns as paramount lords of the Druze country by their Sunni Muslim Shihab relatives when Ahmad Ma’n died childless in 1697, giving clear religious compatibility with the Ottomans, was perfectly timed. Increasingly advantaged in both political and economic terms, the Shihab sway advanced from part to most of Mount Lebanon through the eighteenth century until it bequeathed a real Lebanese entity under Bashir II Shihab between 1790 and 1840. Along the way, however, the Druze lost their primacy to the more numerous and economically dynamic Maronites, while the Shihab rulers recognized the trend by adopting Maronite Catholicism.

This chapter explores the evolution from the political advantage held by the Druze lords in the early seventeenth century, with the Ottomans also favoring Sunni Kurds and Turcomans and Shia and Sunni Arab tribal chiefs in the north and Biqa, to powerful Maronite assertion and a Maronite-defined Mount Lebanon by the early nineteenth century. Through these two centuries, the Christian proportion of the population of the territory of the modern country of Lebanon probably doubled to a slight majority. This overwhelmingly reflected Maronite growth and the immigration of Orthodox-turned-Catholics from interior Syria, the latter creating the Greek Catholic community in Mount Lebanon. The new Catholics may be regarded as auxiliary to the Maronites. The population of the area later to become the Ottoman special province of Mount Lebanon increased

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Lebanon: A History, 600-2011
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Middle Eastern History ii
  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • A Note on Transliteration xiii
  • Glossary xv
  • Timeline for Lebanon and Its Communities xxiii
  • Introduction 3
  • Part One - Foundations 27
  • 1 - Emerging Communities, 600–1291 29
  • 2 - Druze Ascent, 1291–1633 66
  • 3 - Mountain Lords, 1633–1842 104
  • Part Two - Modern Lebanon 145
  • 4 - Emerging Lebanon, 1842–1942 147
  • 5 - Independent Lebanon, 1943–1975 193
  • 6 - Broken Lebanon, 1975–2011 232
  • Conclusion 277
  • Abbreviations 285
  • Notes 287
  • Bibliography 323
  • Index 335
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