The Development of the Holy Land, the Status Quo and the Crimean War

The Crimean War is not generally considered to be particularly important in the popular mind. Indeed, many people have never even heard about it. But for the Holy Land it was very important:

While this war, which mainly took place on the northern and western borders of the Ottoman Empire, did not lead to the Empire’s disintegration, the victorious powers – the French and English – could expand their foothold inside the holy places. The Ottomans were on the side of the French and the English, but they paid a heavy price as a result of European pressure. The Ottomans were forced to allow Christians and Jews to buy estates and own lands. It was then that in Jerusalem, Nazareth an Bethlehem a great many new institutions and orders established a presence. […]

The introduction of Western institutions was facilitated by administrative reforms. […] As for the religious places, the Crimean War led to an arrangement, called the “status quo”, which minutely detailed the relations between the different churches at the holy places, including the demarcation of territories, the possession of keys, and cleaning arrangements. This status quo has henceforth been confirmed by the successive powers in Bethlehem. (page 46)

This is from a rather obscure book I procured in Bethlehem: Bethlehem Community Book (Bethlehem: Arab Educational Institute, 1999) No author or editor is listed.


Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog ( or page for more information.

2 thoughts on “The Development of the Holy Land, the Status Quo and the Crimean War”

  1. The former dean of the Anglican cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus, had a book about how the Crimean War was, in fact, driven by a desire on the part of western Europeans to control the holy sites. Interesting thoughts.

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