In the "long 19th century" that came to an end with World War I, the Ottoman Empire underwent major changes under the pressure of European interests, the onset of modernity, and the continuous development of Arab nationalism within an empire featuring co-habitation and co-existence of peoples having different cultures and even religions. In this context, the Christian minority played an important role that far exceeded its size. Del Zanna's essay efficaciously describes how Christian Ottomans were modernizing, educated, cosmopolitan elite that decisively influenced the empire's cultural and economic life. They also contributed to the development of nationalist ideals that, in the early 20th century, would lead to their downfall, as anti-Western, Turkish nationalism prevailed and came to view Christian Ottomans as accomplices of Western imperialism.
Giorgio Del Zanna teaches History of Eastern Europe and History of Contemporary Historiography at the Universit Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.