Locating Copts in Ottoman History
The first chapter provides background on the Copts in Ottoman Egypt, focusing on how the conquest affected the community and how the lay and clerical leadership helped to sustain a communal identity during this period. The chapter discusses how Coptic archons benefited from their contacts with Egyptian military households, who had become the de facto political authorities by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a result of their growing wealth, archons became the financiers of a vibrant religious life. The masses still relied on clergymen to minister to the community, conduct religious rites like marriage or baptism, and serve, at least symbolically, as communal figureheads. Yet as archons solidified their influence and prestige, tensions brewed over the right to lead. Moments of collaboration or conflict between the two sides shaped religious expression in Ottoman Egypt, which is the subject of later chapters.
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