Phanariots were an Ottoman Christian elite which, despite structural impediments, imperial ideology, and religious doctrine that would preclude their participation in Ottoman governance, ascended to power in multiple political arenas between the 1660s and 1821. Their rise came about just as the larger imperium was undergoing profound military and political crises precipitated by both internal threats and periodic invasions by the Russian and Habsburg Empires. While some Phanariots were stalwart servants of the sultan, others exacerbated these crises, allying with Russian officials and planning a secessionist uprising that would later unfold into the Greek War of Independence. Their ascendancy, however, is an Ottoman story—a specific outcome of Ottoman responses to the dilemmas of empire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
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