Experiencing the french revolution In the ottoman empire : Practices of revolutionary culture In the french expatriate community Of istanbul (1792-1795)
This article explores the experience of the French Revolution in a rather unusual location: it analyses the manifestations of French Revolutionary culture in the French expatriate community of Istanbul. Due to the partial legal autonomy which the Ottoman sultans had granted to the European expatriate communities in the Ottoman Empire, the French residents of Istanbul could practice and witness many more aspects of French revolutionary culture and sociability than in most other European capitals. Especially in the first years of the French Republic, Revolutionary festivals, print propaganda, and the Cult of the Supreme Being were important elements in the French revolutionary authorities’ effort to turn the local French expatriates into republican citizens. Nevertheless, the specific restrictions of the legal status of the expatriate communities in the Ottoman Empire and the priority given by French revolutionary governments to the foreign policy goal of a Franco-Ottoman alliance made the local French experience of the Revolution a very incomplete one with regards to the political rights of the French residents in the Ottoman Empire. This article will first briefly introduce the legal status of the French expatriate communities in the Ottoman Empire and then present and assess several characteristic elements of the local revolutionary experience, such as political participation, emigration, and revolutionary festivals.