"CAIMACAMIAT" 1842 - 1861

By: Professor Antoine Khoury Harb

The Turks, apprehensive that the Druze - Maronite cooperation will lead to the restoration of the independence Chehabi Emirate, arranged with the European big powers to divide Mount Lebanon into two "Caimacamiat" (Two Districts): Maronite in the North and Druze in the South.

Patriarch Youssef Hobeiche opposed this division, where the Turks perceived it as the seed of "organizes civil war", because each district had a minority of the other sect mainly the Druze region. The political and social strife turned into a religious one that pleased the Ottomans and the European Consuls.

In 1858, a Sultanic Firman was issued announcing equality among all citizens and canceling the privileges of the feudal lords. As a result of this Firman, Maronites peasants in Kesrouan revolted against their Khazen lords and demanded social equality.

Their leader Tanios Chahine was the first to issue proclamations (statements) on behalf of the "Lebanese Republic". The Maronite clergy, themselves poor, enlightened the peasants and crystallized their popular movements.

The Patriarch and the European Consuls intervened to restore order and to return the lords to their homes after having lost their feudal privileges.

The Turks and foreign powers conspired to stir up trouble again. Religious warfare flared again in 1860 and caused tremendous damage throughout Mount Lebanon.

Patriarch Boulos Massad exerted tremendous efforts to stop the fighting which had claimed the lives of thousands of Christians, especially Maronites.

The Ottomans and the foreign powers succeeded in fulfilling their conspiracy. Anarchy, battles, destruction, fires and displacement of people happened all over... and this is the fate of people who forget.


French troops entered Lebanon to restore peace and order; but what was done was done. Other European countries intervened as well and forced the Ottoman Empire to acknowledge the internal administrative autonomy of Mount Lebanon.

To this end a Protocol was signed in 1861 by the representatives of the Ottoman Empire, England, France, Russia, Austria and Prussia. The Protocol, promulgated (announced) in 1864 and known as the Mutasarrifiat System, was a kind of federation between the Maronites and the other Lebanese sects.

In order to prevent against any form of independence, the Ottomans requested to have Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon and the boroughs of Rashaya, Hasbaya and Bekaa under their direct control. Thus, the old Maanite and Chehabi Emirate was transformed into a small semi-autonomous borough governed by a Christian but non-native governor It was only natural for the Maronites to oppose this hegemony.

Patriarch Boulos Massad demanded the appointment of a Lebanese ruler and objected to the partition of Lebanese regions. But his objections were unheeded (ignored) .

Up north, Youssef Bey Karam (1822-1889) the great Lebanese leader waged a war against the new regime and fought 12 battles with the Ottomans hoping to achieve the independence of his country. The Maronites of the North held the grudge (resentment) against the Mutasarrifiat System and considered it a foul (offensive) compromise way short of the desired independence.

The peace which prevailed during this time led to a great reawakening in sciences, printing journalism and letters. And once again, the Lebanese spearheaded a rich cultural movement that was in harmony with their long history of learning.

The Maronite clergy, graduates of Maronite School of Rome had already paved the way for this intellectual reawakening. "By the end of the 19th century, Lebanon became the most advanced in the whole Empire in the fields of learning".

In 1624, Patriarch Youhanna Makhlouf founded the first two schools of higher education in Haouqa and Bkarkasha. The Synod, convened in Louaizeh in 1736 to reorganize the Maronite Church, strongly recommended the building of schools to spread learning.

In 1789, Patriarch Youssef Estephan founded Ain Waraka Maronite School of Rome. Some of the graduates of this institute led the cultural renaissance in the 19th century.

Moreover, Patriarch Youhanna Al-Helou transformed the monasteries of Kfarhai (1812) and Roumieh (1817) into schools. Patriarch Youssef Hobeiche followed suit and transformed the monasteries of Mar Abda Herharya (1830) and Rayfoun (1832) into clerical institutes.

Despite the material prosperity, Mount Lebanon witnessed an active immigration especially among Maronites, to Egypt, the Americas, west Africa and Australia.

The Immigration is a manifestation of a fundamental reality in the history of the Lebanese people i.e. the vital dimension of the Lebanese is the world at large, not only to seek means of living, but more importantly, to seek the augmentation of humanitarian, intellectual and cultural aspects of life.

The Lebanese soil molded the Lebanese personality and enticed the Lebanese to be the heralds of peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the earth.

The Lebanese immigrants succeeded in all the domains. They participated in and formed strong and effective foundation for the continuity and progress of their homeland. This foundation would be stronger if the resident Lebanese strengthen their ties with their immigrant brethren not on the basis of temporary and transient sentimentalism but on the basis of constant ideological and intellectual harmony.

Such a relation would accelerate the organic affiliation utilized for the welfare of the Lebanese and humanity at large. The intellectual framework of this affiliation is rooted in the Lebanese cultural heritage, which the Maronites embodied throughout their history.

The Maronites were the messengers who carried the cultural message of ancient Lebanon to Lebanon of the future. This Lebanon stubbornly insists on maintaining its cultural essence and that is to merge only in its purest form with the universal spirit.

N.B; Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) thinker, writer, painter and philosopher, Gibran is one of the most famous and faithful messengers of Lebanon.