The Gentle Crusade

in The Culture of Sectarianism

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2000 | ISBN: 9780520218451
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520922792 | DOI:
The Gentle Crusade

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This chapter contrasts European perceptions of Mount Lebanon as a mountainous refuge indomitably holding out against an Islamic despotism with local understandings of Mount Lebanon's rural world. It explains that for the very reasons that the French traveler Nerval identified—the biblical landscape and the stunning beauty of the mountain chain overlooking Beirut, which appeared to be an inviolate sanctuary—Europeans viewed Mount Lebanon as an ideal site for the reformation of the Ottoman Empire. The chapter emphasizes that the cumulative presence on the land of so many Western writers, travelers, missionaries, painters, and poets heralded the dawn of a gentle crusade in Mount Lebanon. It explains that it was gentle in the sense that it was not a military expedition: it sought no territorial gain, it was actively courted by native elites, and it advanced itself primarily through the pen and paintbrush rather than the sword and musket.

Keywords: European perceptions; Mount Lebanon; Islamic despotism; French traveler; Nerval; biblical landscape; Beirut; Ottoman Empire

Chapter.  5238 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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