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File 3579/1916 'Turkey: the future of Constantinople' [‎36r] (80/530)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (259 folios). It was created in 5 Sep 1916-27 Mar 1919. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Eastern hemisphere, but who find in the detachment and presumed disinterestedness of
America a sufficient guarantee for impartial administration. This view is also reported
to find favour among considerable sections of the Young Turkish community, although it
is rather as a screen and excuse for their own continued existence in Europe than as a
^^pubstitute in the seat of authority that the selection is urged by them.
On the other hand, there are important sections of opinion in this, and probably
win other European countries, who would regard the admission of America to the
Mediterranean, and her installation at the gates of the Eastern and Western world,
with unconcealed alarm, and these views are shared by our naval authorities, who
apprehend that the appearance of the American flag in the Mediterranean would
presently be followed by an American navy and American coaling stations, involving, in
the last resort, a serious disturbance of the balance of naval power in those waters.
These particular fears are, however, discounted by those who point out that it is
in the highest degree unlikely that America would ever either desire or consent to
become a European naval Power, and that, if she did so, the division of her naval
strength that must ensue would be a source rather of weakness than of strength.
On the whole, it seems unlikely that America would accept the charge, even if it
were offered to her, except possibly in the minor capacity of a mandatory of a future
League of Nations, and then only with the attributes, not of an independent ruler, but
of an international policeman, appointed to perform certain limited functions of inter
national control. Some of the advocates of this solution appear, however, to cherish
visions of Constantinople as the future capital of a world-wide League of Nations, whence
the controlling and pacifying sceptre of the United States would be wielded over the
entire Eastern world, of which she would become the universal guardian.
The successive elimination of the various possible or available Powers brings us to
the discussion of the final alternative of some form of international authority ; and, many
and obvious as are the objections to a condominium, it may yet be found that, short of
keeping the Turk in his capital, this is the only possible alternative. The suggestion of
such an authority, on the lines of the Suez Canal Commission, has already been
made to his Government by. the French colleague of Admiral Webb at Constantinople.
Some of the authorities who have favoured the suggestion have argued, upon the
analogy of the Danube Commission, which sits at the Roumanian port of Galatz, but
exercises no administrative functions ashore, that all that would be required is a body
to look after the waterways, to maintain lights, buoys, and pilots, to collect dues, and
to exercise a general control over navigation and shipping. Such a solution, it will be
found upon examination, postulates, and is meant to postulate, the retention of the Turk.
The arguments have already been given which lead many persons to think that this
would, on its own merits, be an unmitigated evil. But it may also be contended that the
evil, so far from being mitigated, would be enhanced, were an International Commission
to be planted in a city where the Sultan continued to reside, and of which, as
also of the European hinterland, the sovereignty still remained in his hands.
We can easily imagine the atmosphere in which such a Commission (of which
there could hardly fail, in these conditions, to be a Turkish member), would pursue
its work—an atmosphere of incessant conspiracy and cabal. The wily Turk would revel
in such a situation as affording renewed scope to his hereditary talents ; and round the
pivot of his own plots would revolve a whirlwind of international intrigue, in which the
representatives of all the nations, who still aspired to his inheritance, would eagerly mix.
But little reflection, indeed, seems to be needed to show that the Commission and
the Sultan could hardly be permanent bed-fellows at Constantinople. Just as the
Americans, when providing for the future of the Panama Canal, felt bound to take a
zone of land from Panama 5 miles in width on either bank, and to claim powers to
appoint a Civil Governor and Civil Courts therein, so an International Commission,
sitting in Constantinople, could not, in all probability, do its work, either with
advantage or with due authority, unless it also took the capital, the hinterland
up to the Chatalja lines, and possibly a strip of territory on either side of the Straits,
under its administrative control.
It is not thought that this need raise in any serious form the question of the
remoter hinterland either in Europe or in Asia. On the contrary, it is argued that it
would promote the pacific solution of that problem on ethnical lines that would satisfy
the great majority of the populations concerned.

About this item


The volume contains papers regarding the future of Constantinople [Instanbul]. It includes: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. minute papers; copies of correspondence between the Foreign Office and Sir George Buchanan, HM Ambassador at Petrograd [St Petersburg], and other British diplomats; draft telegrams from the Secretary of State for India addressed to the Viceroy of India; correspondence between the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. and the Foreign Office; and other papers. Some of the correspondence is in French.

Issues discussed in the papers include: whether the Constantinople Agreement, concluded between the British, French and Russian governments in March 1915 (under the terms of which Constantinople and the Straits of the Dardanelles would be annexed to the Russian Empire), should be made public; the possible effect upon Muslims in India of the announcement of the agreement; and the question of the re-conversion of the St Sophia [Hagia Sophia] mosque in Constantinople into a Christian church.

The volume includes a divider which gives the subject number, the year the subject file was opened, the subject heading, and a list of correspondence references by year. This is placed at the back of the correspondence.

Extent and format
1 volume (259 folios)

The subject 3579 (Turkey: the future of Constantinople) consists of one volume, IOR/L/PS/10/623.

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the volume.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence for this description commences at the first folio with 1, and terminates at the last folio with 259; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. The front and back covers, along with the two leading and two ending flyleaves have not been foliated.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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File 3579/1916 'Turkey: the future of Constantinople' [‎36r] (80/530), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/623, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 October 2019]

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