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Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate

Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate
Cebel-i Lübnan Mutasarrıflığı
Mutasarrifate of the Ottoman Empire


Flag of Mount Lebanon


Location of Mount Lebanon
The Mutasarrifate in 1914
Capital Deir el Qamar[1]
 -  Established 1861
 -  French occupation 1918
 -  1870[2] 110,000 
Today part of  Lebanon

The Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate[3][4][5] (Arabic: متصرفية جبل لبنان ‎; Turkish: Cebel-i Lübnan Mutasarrıflığı) was one of the Ottoman Empire's subdivisions following the Tanzimat reform. After 1861 there existed an autonomous Mount Lebanon with a Christian mutasarrıf, which had been created as a homeland for the Maronites under European diplomatic pressure following the 1860 massacres.


  • History 1
    • Background 1.1
    • 1860 conflict 1.2
    • Creation of the Mutasarrifate 1.3
    • Naming 1.4
  • List of mutasarrıfs 2
  • Demographics 3
    • 1895 and 1913 censuses 3.1
  • Maps 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



As the Ottoman Empire began to decline, the administrative structure came under pressure. Following continued animosity and fighting between the Maronites and the Druze, representatives of the European powers proposed to Sultan Abdülmecid I that the Lebanon be partitioned into Christian and Druze sections. The Sublime Porte was finally compelled to relinquish its plans for the direct rule of the Lebanon, and on December 7, 1842, the sultan adopted prince Metternich's proposal and asked Assad Pasha, the governor (wali) of Beirut, to divide the Mount Lebanon, into two districts: a northern district under a Christian Kaymakam and a southern district under a Druze Kaymakam, both chosen among tribal leaders. Both officials were to report to the governor of Sidon, who resided in Beirut.[6][7]

1860 conflict

On May 22, 1860, a small group of Maronites fired on a group of Druze at the entrance to Beirut, killing one and wounding two. This sparked a torrent of violence which swept through Lebanon. In a mere three days, from May 29 to 31, 60 villages were destroyed in the vicinity of Beirut.[6] 33 Christians and 48 Druze were killed.[8] By June the disturbances had spread to the “mixed” neighborhoods of southern Lebanon and the Anti Lebanon, to Saida, Hasbaya, Rasheiya, Deir el Qamar, and Zahlé. The Druze peasants laid siege to Catholic monasteries and missions, burnt them, and killed the monks.[6] France intervened on behalf of the local Christian population and Britain on behalf of the Druze after the massacres, in which over 10,000 Christians were killed.[9][10]

Creation of the Mutasarrifate

Lebanese soldiers during the Mutasarrifia period of Mount Lebanon

On September 5, 1860, an international commission composed of France, Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and the Ottoman Empire met to investigate the causes of the events of 1860 and to recommend a new administrative and judicial system for Lebanon that would prevent the recurrence of such events. The commission members agreed that the partition of Mount Lebanon in 1843 between Druze and Christians had been responsible for the massacre. Hence, in the Statute of 1861 Mount Lebanon was separated from Syria and reunited under a non-Lebanese Christian mutasarrıf (governor) appointed by the Ottoman sultan, with the approval of the European powers.[6] The mutasarrıf was to be assisted by an administrative council of twelve members from the various religious communities in Lebanon. Each of the six religious groups inhabiting the Lebanon (Maronites, Druzes, Sunni, Shi’a, Greek Orthodox and Melkite) elected two members to the council.[6][10]

This Mutasarrifate system lasted from 1861 until 1918,[11] although it was de facto abolished by Djemal Pasha (one of the "Three Pashas" of the World War I-era Ottoman leadership) in 1915, after which he appointed his own governors.


The members of the international commission researched many names for the new administrative division and its governor. Many titles were considered; Emir (أمير) was quickly refuted because it was offensive to the Ottoman Porte (Emir being a title of the Ottoman Sultan) and was reminiscent of the Emirate system that the Ottomans fought to abolish. Vali (والي) also fell from consideration because the commission members wanted to convey the importance of the rank of the new title which was above than to that of the Ottoman governors of nearby vilayets; "Governor" (حاكم) was also abandoned because they thought the title was commonplace and widespread. The commission members also ruminated over the title of "President" (رئيس جمهورية) but the designation was not approved by the Ottoman government. After two weeks of deliberation, the French term plénipotentiaire was agreed upon and its Turkish translation mutasarrıf was adopted as the new title for the governor and for the division, which was dubbed in Arabic as the mutasarrifiyah of Mount Lebanon.[12]

List of mutasarrıfs

Ohannes Pasha Kouyoumdjian, mutasarrıf from 1912 to 1915.

Eight mutasarrıfs were appointed and ruled according to the basic mutasarrifate regulation that was issued in 1861 then modified by the 1864 reform. These were:

  • Davud Pasha (1861–1868)
  • Franko Pasha (1868–1873)
  • Rüstem Pasha (1873–1883)
  • Wassa Pasha (1883–1892)
  • Naoum Pasha (1892–1902)
  • Muzaffer Pasha (1902–1907)
  • Yusuf Pasha (1907–1912)
  • Ohannes Pasha Kouyoumdjian (Kuyumcuyan) (1912–1915)

The mnemonic word "DaFRuWNaMYO" (in Arabic, دفرونميا) helped school children memorize the name of the mutasarrıfs.

Ali Münif Bey (tr), a governor of Mount Lebanon during World War I.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Djemal Pasha occupied Mount Lebanon militarily and revoked the mutasarrifate system. He appointed the mutasarrıfs during this period. Those governors were: Ali Münif Bey (tr) (later Yeğenağa), Ismail Bey, and Mümtaz Bey.[11]


The total population in 1895 was estimated as 399,530, with 80,234 (20.1%) Muslims and 319,296 (79.9%) Christians.[13] In 1913, the total population was estimated as 414,747, with 85,232 (20.6%) Muslims and 329,482 (79.4%) Christians.[13]

1895 and 1913 censuses

Religion 1895 % 1913 %
Sunni 13,576 3.5 14,529 3.6
Shia 16,846 4.3 23,413 5.5
Druze 49,812 12.5 47,290 11.3
Maronite 229,680 57.5 242,308 58.3
Greek Catholic 34,472 8.5 31,936 7.7
Greek Orthodox 54,208 13.5 52,536 12.8
Other Christians 936 0.3 2,882 0.7
Total population 399,530 100 414,747 100


See also


  1. ^ Pavet de Courteille, Abel (1876). État présent de l'empire ottoman (in French). J. Dumaine. p. 112-113. 
  2. ^ Reports by Her Majesty's secretaries of embassy and legation on the .... Great Britain. Foreign office. p. 176. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Salwa C. Nassar Foundation (1969). Cultural resources in Lebanon. Beirut: Librarie du Liban. p. 74. 
  5. ^ Winslow, Charles (1996). Lebanon: war and politics in a fragmented society. Routledge. p. 291.  
  6. ^ a b c d e Lutsky, Vladimir Borisovich (1969). "Modern History of the Arab Countries". Progress Publishers. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  7. ^ United States Library of Congress - Federal Research Division (2004). Lebanon A Country Study. Kessinger Publishing. p. 264.  
  8. ^ Ceasar E. Farah (2000). Politics of Interventionism in Ottoman Lebanon, 1830-1861. I.B.Tauris. p. 564.  
  9. ^ Fawaz, Leila Tarazi (1995). Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860 (illustrated ed.). I.B.Tauris & Company. p. 320.  
  10. ^ a b U.S. Library of Congress. "Lebanon - Religious Conflicts". Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  11. ^ a b el-Mallah, Abdallah. "The system of Moutasarrifiat rule" (universitary). Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  12. ^ عهد المتصرفين في لبنان، لحد خاطر: "لماذا سُميت المتصرفيّة"، صفحة: 11-12 (Arabic)
  13. ^ a b c Joseph Chamie (1981-04-30). Religion and Fertility: Arab Christian-Muslim Differentials. CUP Archive. p. 29.  

External links

  • US country studies

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