A Patriarch’s Progress: The Great Church under Grigórios VI
On 13 July 1837, as part of his journeys through the Near East in search of rare Greek manuscripts, the English scholar and adventurer Robert Curzon obtained an audience from the patriarch of Constantinople. His particular object was to obtain permission to tour the monasteries of Mt Athos, but Curzon was also keen to meet a prelate who was simultaneously the highest- ranking figure in the Orthodox Church and the most important non- Muslim official in the Ottoman Empire. As leader of the ‘Nation of the Romans’ (in Turkish, Rum Millet- i; in Greek, Éthnos ton Romaíon), Patriarch Grigórios VI Fourtouniádis exercised broad temporal authority over almost one- third of the sultan’s subjects, while as a ‘pasha of three horse- tails’ he enjoyed a rank among Ottoman servitors almost on par with the grand vizier himself.2 Curzon did not wish to meet such an eminent personage without credentials, so he brought along several friends from the British embassy and a letter of recommendation from the archbishop of Canterbury.
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