Tuesday, 30 June 2015

eyalets and encomia

Though now I know that the frigate on the obverse of the old drachma coin represents the vessel of the head of the Greek admiralty and freedom-fighter Constantine Kanaris, thinking on the possibly eminent return of the currency, the nature of nomos, numisma and the Union, the paradoxical Ship of Theseus—where one speculates if a boat is still the same boat if one has replaced a single nail, plank, sail, jib and mast, the entire deck and eventually though still called Theseus’ comprises none of the original composition.

Kanaris was celebrated by the Greek independence movement of the 1820s and 1830s for having destroyed a large part of the Ottoman Armada and eventually securing freedom from the empire. It’s enough fractious history for the West to understand the Holy and Roman Empire of the Germans and the associated Kleinstaaterei, but the parallel career of the land of the sultans, which was longer-lived, far vaster and far more heterogeneous is an equally if not more fascinating story. There was the same sort of mediatisation and devolution among kingdoms, principalities, duchies, condominia, and ecclesiastics but under other territorial titles—eyalets, sanjaks and beylerbeys. The Ottoman Empire, which grew from the ruins of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), saw its decline and ultimate dissolution in the aftermath of World War I. There’s of course not a direct correspondence between contemporary imperium and Greek rebellion—just as the patchwork of Europe is not the apposite pole to the Ottoman Empire and trying to force the comparison is a disservice but maybe there is something to be gleaned from the dissection and reconstitution in the end.