THE MODERN HISTORY of Greece can be said to have begun with the revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The Turks had ruled what is now called Greece since 1453, when their Sultan Mohammed II conquered Constantinople, now called Istanbul. The centuries of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, the heritage of which continues today in the friction between Muslim and Christian in Kosovo and Bosnia, had been harsh. Families had been compelled to convert from their native Greek Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism (especially among the Croats) to Islam. For those who remained Christian, the Ottomans imposed the hated devshirme system. Young Christian boys would be taken from their homes forcibly to join the elite Janissary (yeni cheri) army corps of the sultans, being ...

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