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Intercultural contacts during the French intervention in Lebanon 1860–1861

Zhantiev Dmitry

French military intervention in the Syrian-Lebanese region of the Ottoman Empire in 1860 was undertaken on the orders of Emperor Napoleon III to protect the local Christian population from mass annihilation by Druze rebels, acting with the connivance of the Ottoman administration. Although the presence of French troops in Beirut and a number of areas of Mount Lebanon with a "humanitarian" mission lasted less than a year, it had a significant impact both on the international political situation and on the cultural interaction of Europeans with the local Arab-speaking population. The patronage of the Maronite community, perceived as part of the Catholic world, aroused in French society hopes for the establishment of a French protectorate over Lebanon. The idea of a cultural proximity of the Maronites to France, which was propagated by Catholic missionaries, warming pro-French sympathies among local Christians, became widespread. At the same time, in relation to the Druze and Sunni Muslims, the French, as a rule, showed disbelief and dislike. French cultural influence in Ottoman Lebanon strengthened confessionalism and estrangement between communities, contributing not so much to the penetration of European ideas and knowledge, but rather to the strengthening of a sense of exclusivity among the Maronite Christians who hoped for protection from France.

Keywords: France, Lebanon, Syria, Ottoman Empire, Maronites, Druze, intervention
Link: Zhantiev D. Intercultural contacts during the French intervention in Lebanon 1860–1861 // Annual of French Studies 2018: Cross-cultural contacts during foreign occupation.М. P. 240-256.