Ephemera

The French benevolent foundation of Constantinople celebrations

The French government in all stages paid great attention in politically and religiously led effort to cement its alliance with its resident population through the direct support of schools, alms houses and hospitals which only declined in the 1980s as the government decided its money was better spent on promoting French language and culture to the general population globally through the Institut français network. Société française de bienfaisance relict networks still exist in countries where there are still significant French origin nationals still living such as Lebanon, Brazil etc.

Both these images are before World War 1 when Ottoman-French relations would have been cordial yet below the surface there would have been tensions as the Ottomans gradually pivoted to German influence that was to play a crucial role in the Empire throwing its lot with the central powers the following year. The prominently positioned British flag and the clear presence of British officers and soldiers present seem to point to a possible demonstration of a united front against the rising tide of German influence very much championed by the Young Turk movement. The location of this celebration at Gülhane Park right by the walls of Topkapi Palace may have been deliberate to send a message to those in power and include a segment of the local Turkish population in this projection of soft power.

What appear to be the performance of the Palace orchestra as part of the day’s festivities. These events took place on the 6th July and not on the Bastille day of 14th, so allowing it to be a multi-national celebration without the potential of antagonism.