Roderic H. Davıson

Keywords: Ottoman Empire, Russia, Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, Dosografa Church


In his article titled "The 'Dosografa' Church in the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca" the Ottoman and Turkish historian, Professor Dr. Roderic H. Davison, determined in the light of the evidence of archival records that an error executed in the inscribing of one letter in the treaty worked against Ottoman interests and that it generated costly repercussions. Subsequent to the crushing defeat inflicted by Russia on the Ottoman Empire, the Russians by the terms of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (Bulgaria) of 1774 obtained the right to build a church in İstanbul. In addition, the treaty further stated that the church was to be under the protection of the Russian ambassador, who could act as representative of the church at the Porte. In later years, this formed the basis for the claim put forward by Russia that she had the right of protection not only over the entire Eastern (Greek) Orthodox church, but even the Greek Orthodox community under the rule of the sultan. The issue turns upon the fact that Article 14 of the treaty employs the phrase "the Greek, i.e., Rum, ritual"; whereas the Turkish text of the treaty as recorded in the history of Cevdet Pasha refers to a church performing the "Russian," or Rus, ritual. In Article 14, the name of the particular church in question was identified as "Dusugrafa," or "Dosografa." As a name, this spelling, whether Dosografa or Dosografa, denotes no meaning in any of the three pertinent languages (Turkish, Greek and Russian). None of the preliminary texts mentions a church with this name. Examination by Davison of Article 14 in the Russian text of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca indicates that the church was to be for those of the "Greco-Russian faith." Here, the name of the church to be established is spelled, alternately, Rosograf or Rusugraf or Rusograf. In any case, the initial letter is clearly an "r" rather than a "d." The Italian translation of the treaty, however, reveals the truth of the situation: Article 14 states that the church was required to be a Russo-Greek church. This allows us to conclude that "graf" in the Turkish text should more logically read "grek" (Greek). In two separate instances, the clerk of the Porte by pointing the final letter with one dot ("f") instead of two dots ("k") produced "Rusogref' rather than "Rusogrek." Thus, the church called "Dosograf" turns out, actually, to have been the "Rusogrek" church. This conforms to the spirit of the Russian and Italian texts of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca; but the "Greco-Russian" that appears in the Italian text has been reversed in the Russian text to read "Russo-Greek." The historians Cevdet and Kurat find it curious that the Ottomans somehow accepted the term "Dosografa."