top of page

‘Down with the Bell!’ The Nāblus Uprising of April 1856

Gabriel Polley (University of Exeter)

Published In:
Published Date:

January 2020


Consuls, Islam, Missionaries, Ottoman Empire, Palestine, Travellers


This paper investigates the uprising of April 1856 in the Palestinian town of Nāblus, in which local Christians were attacked after symbols of European influence appeared in the town and a man was killed by a British missionary. The events preceding, during and after the uprising are retold from a range of British primary sources, travellers’ accounts, newspaper reports and consular documents. However, the paper argues that these Western representations of the uprising were mired in colonial concerns, and puts forward a rereading of the uprising as an act of resistance, against a background of complex local politics, dissatisfaction with the Ottoman Empire’s Tanẓīmāt reforms, and growing European presence in Palestine.

Published in:



12 - 35

Date of Publication:

January 2020

About the author

Gabriel Polley (University of Exeter)

Gabriel Polley received his BA in History of Art and English Literature in 2011 and MA in Literature in 2012 both from the University of East Anglia. From 2014 to 2015, he worked at the American School of Palestine in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank; living in this region gave him an enduring interest in Palestinian culture and history, and the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He studied Arabic language and Palestinian history at Birzeit University in 2015. Subsequently returning to Britain, he began doctoral research at the European Centre for Palestine Studies, part of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. His thesis, shortly to be completed, is titled “The Representation of Palestine in British Travelogues, 1840-1914”, and examines how travellers’ portrayals of Palestine in the late Ottoman era influenced British policies and support for settler colonialism in Palestine. His supervisors are the Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe and Palestinian academic Dr. Nadia Naser-Najjab. Gabriel has also taught undergraduate students at Exeter on world politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict. His writing on a variety of topics has appeared on online platforms including Mondoweiss and Counterfire.

Related articles

Finding similar articles

bottom of page