Millet (Ottoman Empire)

In the Ottoman Empire, a millet was an independent court of law pertaining to "personal law" under which a confessional community was allowed to rule itself under its own laws. Despite being referred to as a "system", before the nineteenth century the organization of what are now retrospectively called millets in the Ottoman Empire were not at all systematic. Rather, non-Muslims were given a significant degree of autonomy within their own community, without an overarching structure for the'millet' as a whole; the notion of distinct millets corresponding to different religious communities within the empire would not emerge until the eighteenth century. Subsequently, the existence of the millet system was justified through numerous foundation myths linking it back to the time of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, although it is now understood that no such system existed in the fifteenth century. During the 19th century rise of nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, as result of the Tanzimat reforms, the term was used for protected ethno-linguistic minority groups, similar to the way other countries use the word nation.

The word millet comes from the Arabic word millah and means "nation". The millet system has been called an example of pre-modern religious pluralism. Johann Strauss, author of "A Constitution for a Multilingual Empire: Translations of the Kanun-ı Esasi and Other Official Texts into Minority Languages", wrote that the term "seems to be so essential for the understanding of the Ottoman system and the status of non-Muslims"; the term millet, which originates from the Arabic milla, had three basic meanings in Ottoman Turkish: religion, religious community and nation. The first sense derives from Quranic usage and is attested in Ottoman administrative documents into the 19th century. Benjamin Braude has argued that before the period of 19th-century reforms, the word millet in the sense of religious community denoted the Muslim religious community or the Christians outside of the Ottoman Empire; this view is supported by Donald Quataert. In contrast, Michael Ursinus writes that the word was used to refer to non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire before that time.

The term was used inconsistently prior to the 19th century. The systematic use of millet as designation for non-Muslim Ottoman communities dates from the reign of Sultan Mahmud II in the early 19th century, when official documentation comes to reiterate that non-Muslim subjects were organized into three sanctioned millets: Greek Orthodox and Jewish; the bureaucrats of this era asserted that the millet system was a tradition dating back to the reign of Sultan Mehmed I. Many historians have accepted this claim and assumed that a millet system of this form existed since early Ottoman times. Recent scholarship has cast doubt on this idea, showing that it was rather a political innovation, introduced in the rhetorical garb of an ancient tradition; the Ottoman state used religion rather than ethnicity to define each millet, people who study the Ottoman Empire do not define the Muslims as being in a millet. The Ottoman Turkish version of the Ottoman Constitution of 1876 uses the word "millet", as do the Arabic and Persian versions.

The Armenian and Jewish residents did not use the word "millet" and instead described themselves as nations. The lack of use of the word "millet" among the Christian and Jewish minorities reflected in versions of the Ottoman Constitution in their respective languages: The French version of the Ottoman Constitution used the word "communauté" in the place of "millet", so the others used words modeled after or based on the French: հասարակութիւն in Armenian, obština in Bulgarian, κοινότης, in Greek, komunita in Judaeo-Spanish; the millet system is linked to Islamic rules on the treatment of non−Muslim minorities living under Islamic dominion. The Ottoman term refers to the separate legal courts pertaining to personal law under which minorities were allowed to rule themselves with little interference from the Ottoman government. People were bound to their millets by their religious affiliations, rather than their ethnic origins, according to the millet concept; the millets had a great deal of power – they set their own laws and collected and distributed their own taxes.

All, required was loyalty to the Empire. When a member of one millet committed a crime against a member of another, the law of the injured party applied, but the ruling Islamic majority being paramount, any dispute involving a Muslim fell under their sharia−based law; the perception of the millet concept was altered in the 19th century by the rise of nationalism within the Ottoman Empire. Although Ottoman administration of non-Muslim subjects was not uniform until the 19th century and varied according to region and group, it is possible to identify some common patterns for earlier epochs. Christian and Jewish communities were granted a large degree of autonomy. Tax collection, education and religious affairs of these communities were administered by their own leaders; this enabled the Ottomans to rule over diverse peoples with "a minimum of resistance". The Jewish community, in particular, was able to prosper under Ottoman rule and its ranks were swelled with the arrival of Jews who were expelled from Spain.

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Thirsk Road drill hall, Northallerton

The Thirsk Road drill hall is a military installation in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England. The building was designed as the headquarters of the 4th Battalion the Green Howards and was completed in 1911; the battalion was mobilised at the drill hall in August 1914 before being deployed to the Western Front. In 1938 the battalion headquarters moved to Lytton Street in Middlesbrough, but shortly after the end of the Second World War, elements of B Company, 4th Battalion The Green Howards returned to the Thirsk Road drill hall. After the 4th battalion amalgamated with the 5th Battalion to form the 4th/5th Battalion, The Green Howards in 1961, the presence at the drill hall was disbanded. However, in 1993 a platoon sized detachment from C Company of that regiment was reformed at the drill hall. Following the amalgamations that led to the formation of the Yorkshire Regiment in 2006, it was a detachment from B Company of the 4th Battalion of the new regiment that maintained the presence. Although it is no longer an Army Reserve Centre, the drill hall continues to be used by 2337 Squadron of the Air Training Corps and by the Army Cadet Force

Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei

The Shanghai Library Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei known as the Bibliotheque de Mission, is the first modern library to be established in Shanghai, China. Located in the Xujiahui area in Xuhui District, it first opened in 1847, it is a part of the Shanghai Library system. The Xujiahui Library began with the arrival of three Jesuit missionaries in 1842: Frs. Claude Gotteland, the head of the mission, Francois Esteve, Benjamin Brueyre; as the missionary work progressed over the next five years, it became clear that a permanent place of residence was needed, in part to provide a place for newly arrived missionaries to study Chinese and prepare for their work. The site chosen was the village of Xujiahui, five miles southwest of Shanghai, although the area has since been annexed into Shanghai municipality. Fr. Gotteland made the decision to set aside space for a collection of books supporting the missionaries' study and work upon their arrival at Xujiahui, it was from these modest beginnings that the Xujiahui Library, which would become one of the two foremost Jesuit libraries in China, was established in 1847.

The library was housed in three rooms in the mission priests' quarters on the north side of the existing chapel. In 1860, the Jesuits added to their land holdings in Xujiahui, the library was moved east of the Zhaojiabin Canal and that building was enlarged. By 1897 the library's holdings had once again outgrown the space. Plans were drawn up for a new two-story, twelve-room library, completed in 1906; this new library building was divided into a Chinese style first floor area for materials in Chinese and a Western language section on the second floor. This library was referred to by several names, known from the stamps of ownership inside the books in the library; these names included Zi-ka-wei Reservata Bibliotheca, Bibliotheca Zi-ka-wei, Zi-ka-wei Bibliotheque de Mission, Zi-ka-wei Bibliotheca Major, in Chinese, Shanghai Xujiahui Tianzhutang Cangshulou. Local people in the area called the big building among the old ginkgo trees "The Great Library."At its height, the Xujiahui Library collection included over 100,000 titles in 200,000 volumes: 80,000 volumes in European languages and 120,000 volumes in Chinese.

After the destruction of the Dong-fang Library in 1932 by Japanese militarists, it was the largest library in Shanghai. Besides its extensive holdings of gazetteers, the Xujiahui Library held early, rare newspapers and magazines; the European language collection of the Xujiahui Library was made up of books in over ten different languages, including Hebrew, Latin and other European languages. The library owned major dictionaries and encyclopedias from all over the world and important scholarly journals to aid the Jesuits in their studies, as well as over two thousand pre-1800 rare editions, it became a branch of the Shanghai Library system in 1956 and was renovated in 2003. Some material originates from Shanghai Library; the Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei - Shanghai Library