Between Mosul and Rome: the Church of the East in the seventeenth century

Whitting Room - Arts Building (Room 436)
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research
Thursday 22nd February 2018 (17:15-18:30)
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The Centre’s General Seminar normally meets in the Whitting Room (436), 4th floor, Arts Building on Thursdays at 5.15pm (unless otherwise stated) and is open to all interested in the related concerns of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.

  • Speaker: John-Paul Ghobrial (Oxford)

The conversion to Catholicism of the Christians of Mosul in the 17th century


What did it mean for an Ottoman Christian to 'convert' to Catholicism?  Despite the growing spate of works on 'global Catholicism' in the early modern period, the answer to this question really depended on very particular, local contexts that differed depending on whether the community in question was based in, for example, Aleppo, Cairo, or Baghdad.  This paper will explore the view from Mosul.  For in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Christians in Mosul who had counted themselves as members of the Church of the East for over a millennium started to call themselves Catholics-or 'Chaldeans' in contemporary parlance.  This new identity manifested itself in many new ways - from the adoption of new liturgical books and ecclesiastical vestments to the reading of new sources of church history, from the consolidation of older practices of alms-collecting to the increased use of Arabic among Syriac-speaking communities and so much more.  What were the motivations behind this process, and what impact did it have on the local community of Christians and the Ottoman and Kurdish overlords who ruled them?  This paper will offer some preliminary answers to these questions, and how they relate to a wider history of Eastern Christianity in the post-Byzantine world.