During the uprising of 1861-62 against the Turks, Zeytun residents sent two emissaries to Napoleon III with a request to intervene. In response, the emperor ordered to assess the situation, sending one of the officials of the French Embassy in Constantinople to Zeytun.
As a result, a note was sent to the government of the Ottoman Empire that France “always recognized that Zeytun was independent and exempt from taxes.”
In this regard, the French academic Albert Vandal tells about an interesting episode:
“France took up the Zeytun affair and achieved its liberation. When after 8 years, in 1870, far to the east, it became known that France itself was besieged, captured, and in mortal danger, some Zeytun residents headed by one of their priests left their country… They came to join our ranks and fight for us.
While the great nations left us and turned away from us, these modest, illiterate people, these rude highlanders remembered the service once rendered to them and came to pay their debt in blood.”
- Vandal, Armenians and Turkish reforms, St. Petersburg, 1908