Britain’s Position on Establishing the Protestant Church in Jerusalem (1841–45)
Protetant Church
Ottoman Empire

This paper discusses the establishment of the first Protestant church in midnineteenth-century Jerusalem, under Ottoman rule, relying mainly on British Foreign Office archives. It begins with an introduction to the geopolitical context for the spread of Protestantism in Greater Syria, with particular focus on Palestine, including Britain’s initial diplomatic efforts to achieve this goal and the challenges it faced on different fronts. The discussion situates these challenges and the ways Britain overcame them within the context of Ottoman imperial regulations, which recurringly stalled or halted construction efforts. As a result, Britain’s hopes of establishing a Protestant church in Jerusalem, and the Ottoman sultan’s frequent obstruction of these efforts, reflect the layered British-Ottoman relations in the nineteenth century. The paper ends with an examination of the ways the British government managed to secure an Ottoman permit (firman) issued by the sultan, that allowed the completion of the church’s construction in 1849.

Author biography: 

Yousef Hussein Omar is associate professor of modern and contemporary history at al-Aqsa University, Gaza.