Complain to the Armenian priest

I’m putting the finishing touches on The Sultan’s Enchanter right now, including adding in some salty Bulgarian idioms. These include what I am loosely translating as “so I should open some jam for you?” (kompot da li  ti otvorya?) and “you can take your complaint to the Armenian priest” (oplachi se na armenskiya pop).

But where does that Armenian priest come from? According to this website, he comes from the Orthodox Christian internecine conflicts of the Ottoman era!

So the Ottomans were Muslim, but they allowed other religious organizations to continue under supervision of the Sultan. The first Christian church to gain official Ottoman recognition was the Greek Orthodox church, with the Patriarch of Constantinople being just one among many of the Sultan’s high-level officials. The problem is that orthodox churches are autocephalic, meaning that non-Greek-speaking congregations like the Armenians and the Bulgarians didn’t recognize the authority of the Greek Patriarch. The Armenians got their own patriarch before the Bulgarians, who remained for a while under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox bureaucracy, which treated them poorly. Anyone who complained was invited to take their complaints to “the Armenian priest,” meaning the Armenian patriarch, but the Greek bureaucrats who coined the phrase didn’t recognize the Armenian patriarchate, so they called the Armenian patriarch a “priest.” People gotta people.

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