Massacre of Aleppo (1850)

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Aleppo massacre
Location Ottoman Empire Aleppo, Ottoman Syria
Date 17 October - 5 November 1850
Target Christians
Attack type
Mass murder, looting, bombardment
Deaths 20-70 from riots
5,000 from bombardment

Aleppo Massacre (Arabic: قومة حلب‎‎, Qawmat Ḥalab) was a massacre committed by Muslim rioters against the Christian neighbourhoods of Aleppo on 17–18 October 1850. The massacre resulted in tens of deaths including the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Peter VII Jarweh.

The events created a power vacuum in the city that was filled by the Janissary faction who instated their own government. The Ottomans were able to retake the city killing thousands in the process.


As the Ottoman Empire weakened in the 19th century, restrictions on Christians were eased under the auspice of European powers. Uniate Armenians and Melkites were officially recognised as Millets in 1831 and 1848 respectively. 1839 reforms allowed Christians to build new Churches which was previously prohibited. The newly formed municipal advisory council provided the Christian with an opportunity to make their voices heard.[1]

Trade with Europe boomed and merchants who were mostly Christians and Jews prospered from it.[1] On the other hand, poor Muslim population of the city were badly hit by inflation resulted from foreign merchandise which flooded the market. There was also discontent among them at the ease of restrictions on Christians which they perceived to their traditional superiority and Muslims sought to halt building of new Churches without much success.[1][2] Aleppo had also a strong Janissary faction which was also dissatisfied with the government since its disbandment in 1826.[3]

When the Greek Catholic patriarch Maximos III Mazloum was carried in a procession through the city with much sumptuous, Muslims saw this as a sign of nigh Christian domination of the city. celebratory fire during the festivities gave rise to rumours that Christians were arming thmenselves.[4]


Following the first Ottoman census of Aleppo's male population, rumours spread that the authorities intended to conscript adult males. On 17 October 1850, a crowd marched to the governor's office in protest and demanded that no conscription takes, the tax on Muslims be abolished and public processions by Christians prohibited. The governor feared for his life and fled to the Ottoman barrack outside the city walls. Frustrated, the mob turned their anger at the prosperous Catholic quarter of Al-Jdayde. Newly built Churches and homes were looted and burned and around 20 Christians killed. Many Christians found refuge among Muslims in the commercial district.[3][4]

Further violence was averted when the leader of the janissary faction promised to deliver the mob's demands to the governor.[3] A dozen more Christians were killed the following days. However, loss of life was kept relatively low due to prompt intervention from European powers and local Muslim notables.[4]

Aleppo was calm within a week, absence of a governor led the mob to create a government headed by a local Janissary leader. The rebellion ended when Ottomans used British artillery to bombard the city destroying several quarters and killing more than 5,000.[5]


The damage to Christian property and morale was high. Ottoman records show that 688 homes 36 shops were damaged. 6 churches including the Greek Catholic patriarchate and its library were also partially destroyed.[4] The events lead hundreds of Christians to emigrate mainly to Beirut and Izmir.[3] The patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Peter VII Jarweh was fatally wounded and died a year later. His patriarchate was permanently moved from Aleppo to Mardin.[6]

Around 600 were arrested and punished by drafting or exiling them. Little of the looted property was recovered.[4]

As a result of the 1850 sectarian violence and its consequences Muslim community of Aleppo was less inclined to attack Christians during a wave of anti-Christian violence in 1860 that swept Syria.[5]

See also[edit]



Coordinates: 36°12′25″N 37°09′22″E / 36.20694°N 37.15611°E / 36.20694; 37.15611