Don Juan Archiv Wien International Symposia Series
Ottoman Empire & European Theatre V
Istanbul 13. - 14. June 2013




Davide Baldi

The Florentine Alessandro Pini (1653–1717): from scientist and spy to be hypnotized by Turkey

In 1681 Doctor Alessandro Pini (Firenze 1653–1717 Kostantiniyye) was sent by Cosimo III Grand Duke of Tuscany (r. 1670–1723) to Egypt. He disembarked in Alexandria and primarily had the task of making discoveries, but also some other commissions which could be summarized as ‘secret diplomacy’: he had to bring Domenico Cartieri, head of the Pages of Egypt’s Great Pasha to Florence.

When Pini came to Cairo, he was received by the Grand Visir Chiuperlì and he cured him for a thrombosis in the leg. He also observed the customs and everything around him, copied documents and noted as much as possible about, for example, monuments, antiquities, scientific observations; he made exact drawings, collected Arabic manuscripts about mathematics and medicine. He then sent all this material to Italy on a Greek ship that unfortunately sank.

In 1683 Pini returned to Tuscany, to the Grand Duke’s disappointment he had not been successful in bringing Cartieri to Italy. Pini left for Venice where he met Cartieri again, who had fled from the Turks with whom he worked in Egypt, when they attempted the siege of Vienna. Pini, glad to hear of Cartieri’s good fortune, did not want to return to Florence with the latter, being offended by and disappointed with the rumors about himself. After numerous requests to the Grand Duke Pini was allowed to be engaged (in 1684) on a Venetian ship as a doctor. Held this position; from 1699 to 1703 he lived in Venice working for the Serenissima. In 1703 the Bailo of Kostantiniyye, Giulio Giustinian (1640–1715), called him to follow him as a doctor in Turkey. There, Pini married an Italian lady (Elena Masselini, and took up residence in the district of Pera. He lived there until 1715 and then went to Nafplio (Greece) where he was enslaved. He eventually died in 1717 in the prison of Kostantiniyye. During his stay in Kostantiniyye he had the opportunity to study and described several aspects of life on the Bosphorus.

Pini left a description, written in Latin, of the world that fascinated him: De moribus Turcarum (‘On the Customs of the Turks’) (written probably during his stay in Kostantiniyye and Nafplio). He says: “the customs of the Turks were observed by me in such a way that they could be described as an example, because not everyone is allowed to travel in those regions. It was easy for me to penetrate their secret places, since I was not driven by injury, benefit, hate, or by any other feeling, but I was particularly attentive to the common advantage of men, of humankind.” Pini describes various aspects of social life such as education of children, the separation between men and women, the condemnation of idleness, the great generosity towards the poor, and the numerous rules of behaviour and eating habits. He also provides an aesthetic and architectural description of Kostantiniyye with information useful for reconstructing the appearance of the city at that time.

His treatise presents an enthusiasm for the Turkish society and customs Pini became acquainted with during his stay; as doctor in Egypt (1680–1683) and later on in Turkey (Pera of Constantinople, 1703–1715) as spouse, and in Greece (Nafplio, 1715–1717) as slave–he consciously decided to apologetically describe a world that the West saw as its negative ‘alter ego’.

When Alessandro’s son, Antonio Pini, went from Kostantiniyye to Florence in 1740, he took his father’s treatise with him. In Florence, he gave the manuscript to Antonio Cocchi (1695–1758), a well-known erudite doctor and bibliophile: Cocchi’s library today is incorporated in the Fondo Magliabechiano of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. There, Alessandro Pini’s manuscript was rediscovered recently by the author of the present abstract.


David Chataignier

Süleyman Ağa’s embassy in France as portrayed in rhymed gazettes (1669–1670): Perception and depiction

Süleyman Ağa’s visit to the French court in 1669 is undoubtedly one of the most famous episodes in Franco-Ottoman relations to have taken place since the beginning of the collaboration between François I (r. 1515–1547) and Süleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520–1566). Firstly, as the visit came after decades of indifference tinged with confrontation between the two powers, it can be seen as an extremely significant political act, aiming to revive the Franco-Turkish alliance of earlier times. Secondly, the Turkish envoy attracted much attention in France at the time, giving the event a considerable cultural dimension. Indeed, it has been widely argued by scholars — thereby echoing the views of Chevalier d’Arvieux (1635–1702) — that Molière’s famous Turkish sequence in Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670) was inspired by Süleyman Ağa’s time at the French court.

Although these aspects have already been commented on from various standpoints, new light can be shed on our understanding of the impact of the envoy’s visit by examining some of the accounts published by the French press at the time. Apart from the formal Gazette by Théophraste Renaudot (1586–1653), the poetic — and sometimes ludicrous — rhymed newssheets of Charles Robinet de Saint-Jean and La Gravette de Mayolas devote rich accounts about Süleyman’s trip from his arrival in Toulon to his departure along with Nointel, the newly appointed French ambassador to Constantinople.

Through a close examination of the gazettes rimées, which have recently been digitized on the Molière21 database*, I will discuss how they depict the Ottoman envoy’s visit and what these images reveal about the perception of a non-fictional Turkish character in late seventeenth-century France, both from a political and a cultural point of view. Connections among these texts and with more formal sources will be made, and the stylistic and rhetorical strategies employed to tell the event will also be explored.


Rosita D‘Amora

The Ministro del Gran Signore and the wondrous beast: Two special guests at the court of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1741 and 1742

On 7 April 1740 the Sublime Porte and the recently established Kingdom of the Two Sicilies signed a Treaty of Peace, Commerce and Navigation. The following year the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I sent to Naples a special envoy, Hacı Hüseyin Efendi, who arrived on 31 August 1741 together with a large retinue and rich gifts for King Carlo III. The Ottoman envoy stayed in Naples for almost two months, attracting great attention and curiosity both from the Bourbon court and the general public. Shortly after Hacı Hüseyin Efendi’s departure, another ̒exotic’ guest arrived from Constantinople: an elephant that Carlo di Borbone had expressly requested from the Neapolitan envoy at the Sublime Porte, Count Giuseppe Finocchietti (ca 1702–1782). The arrival of this wondrous beast, presented to the people as a ̒very precious gift from the Emperor of the Turks’ to the King, was welcomed with great pleasure and astonishment.

Both events prompted intense publicity and special accounts were printed describing all the ceremonies and celebrations that were organized by the Neapolitan court. At the same time, the painter Giuseppe Bonito (1707–1789) was asked to produce paintings of both the Turkish ambassador during his visit and the following year also of the elephant, which clarifies that, when the ambassador was there in 1741 and the elephant the year after, the painter was not commissioned with two portraits in the same moment. Furthermore, both guests were invited to the newly founded Teatro San Carlo – Hacı Hüseyin Efendi to attend a sumptuous banquet and a Serenata organized in his honour a few days before his departure, and the elephant, according to some sources, to be a special ‘extra’ in one of the performances organized by the theatre.

This paper will analyse how the presence in Naples of the Sultan’s envoy and his alleged (the elephant arrived in Naples on 1 November 1742) gift shaped the cultural scene in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies’ capital both to legitimize the power of the young Bourbonic monarchy and to interpret and display the alluring ‘Orient’.


Evelyn Denham

Permanent neighbors, exceptional friends: Diplomatic ceremony during Mustafa Hatti Efendi’s mission to Vienna in 1748

The years following the Treaty of Karlowitz saw a marked increase in diplomatic contact between the Ottoman Empire and various European courts. This paper looks at one such diplomatic mission, Mustafa Hatti Efendi’s embassy to Vienna in 1748, in order to explore the expectations of the Habsburgs regarding their relationship with the Ottoman Empire and to reflect on the role played by diplomatic ceremony during the eighteenth century.

Diplomatic ceremony was long regarded by historians to be of secondary importance to the political landscape it merely represented. Those who did address diplomatic ceremony tended to either offer detailed descriptions without interpretation, describing ceremony’s utilitarian functions, or to regard it as a hindrance to effective diplomatic efforts. However, in recent years there has been a growing awareness of the importance of ceremony in the politics of the early modern world, but little consensus has been reached regarding the role that diplomatic ceremony played in this world. Phrases such as “the symbolic and public representation of power” suggest the importance of ceremony, but they reiterate more than they explain.

This paper seeks to work out the logic of one particular set of diplomatic ceremonies, Mustafa Hatti Efendi’s mission to Vienna, using the records left by the Habsburg monarchs, diplomats, and court officials at the Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv in Vienna. I first seek to reconstruct what happened, and then ask why ceremonies were considered necessary, what they accomplished, and how diplomatic ceremony in particular furthered the goals of both parties involved. I focus on the role played by processions and audiences, using schematic diagrams of the ceremonial audiences, pamphlet descriptions of processions, and records of negotiations between Mustafa Hatti Efendi, the Habsburg translators and diplomats, and their reports to their monarchs. What constituted success or failure for a diplomatic ceremony? Who was the intended audience? How was the ceremony’s purpose communicated?

The Habsburg translators and court officials whose records this paper draws upon dedicated much of their time to deciphering the identity, intentions, and worldview of their Ottoman guests. By focusing precisely on a diplomatic encounter where communication and convention were not assured, I hope to follow the logic of these Habsburg court officials in order to discover how diplomatic ceremony fitted into their world. I argue that these processions and audiences were far more flexible than usually assumed and played a central role in the political culture of the early modern world. Rather than enacting or reinforcing existing relationships, these ceremonies in fact provided the stability and permanence to forge new ones, in this case a tentative peace between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire. By focusing on diplomatic ceremony I hope to open up the enclosed world of the court and shed light on how Mustafa Hatti Efendi’s role as ambassador would have been perceived by his Habsburg contemporaries.



Lela Gibson

Ambassadors as intellectuals: Prussian-Ottoman knowledge exchange, 1784–1817

Diplomats are often described by their political functions: ambassador, envoy, chargé d’affaires. But another description could also fit late-eighteenth century Prussian and Ottoman statesmen: intellectuals. The field of diplomatic history has documented political exchange between states and their representatives, but can the study of ambassadors also contribute to cultural and intellectual history? What kinds of contributions did diplomats make to cultural and intellectual exchange on the ̒sidelines’ of their political missions – In lodges, salons, and theatres? This paper examines a network of Prussian and Ottoman diplomats, who were also intellectuals, in the late eighteenth century. Members of this network exchanged ideas relating to the philosophical issues of their time, including the Enlightenment, with one another. The paper draws from their letters, travelogues, and publications in German and Ottoman Turkish to examine knowledge exchange among this transnational network of diplomats.

At the centre of the network is Heinrich von Diez (1751–1817), the Prussian chargé d’affaires in Istanbul from 1784–1791. Diez was a figure in the German Enlightenment before his service in Istanbul, publishing various treatises on Enlightenment themes such as freedom of the press and religious toleration. He also corresponded with key Enlightenment thinkers of his time, such as Christian von Dohm and Friedrich Nicolai. It was Diez’s publishing activities, and the help of von Dohm, that brought him to the attention of King Frederick II, who appointed him Prussian chargé d’affaires to the Sublime Porte. Diez’s main diplomatic mission in Turkey was to secure an alliance treaty with the Ottoman Empire against Russia and the Habsburg Empire, which was concluded in 1791.

Through his work in Istanbul, Diez came into contact with several Ottoman intellectuals. The first was the sheikh of the Galata Mevlevi (Sufi) Lodge, Sultanzâde Numan Halil Dede (d. 1799), who Diez referred to as his teacher. The second was the Ottoman envoy Ahmed Azmi Efendi (d. 1820), who journeyed to Berlin after the conclusion of the alliance treaty Diez (and after Diez had returned to Berlin). Azmi’s Sefâretnâme (embassy report), combined with Prussian bureaucratic and newspaper reports, shows that he spent considerable time with other intellectuals in Berlin alongside his diplomatic mission. The third was the first permanent Ottoman ambassador to Prussia, Ali Aziz Efendi (d. 1798), who went to Berlin in 1796 and died and was buried there. Diez and Aziz Efendi exchanged a series of philosophical letters exploring philosophy and religion before his death. The ideas with which the diplomat-intellectuals engaged highlight the intersection between European and Ottoman thought, the Enlightenment and Islamic philosophy, and the diplomats’ contribution to cultural and intellectual exchange in addition to their roles as political actors.


Abdullah Güllüoğlu

A Costume Album Depicting an Ottoman Delegation to Berlin 1763–1764

On November 9th 1763 an Ottoman delegation headed by the envoy Ahmed Resmî Efendi (1694/95–1783) had its solemn public entry into Berlin, the capital of Prussia. The presence of the Ottomans in Berlin was a spectacular event which drew far more than the attention of Berlin on-lookers. Several European newspapers reported events associated with this delegation. Furthermore, Ahmed Resmî Efendi and his retinue often became the subjects of contemporary drawings, paintings, engravings and etchings.

Among these, a costume album is preserved in the manuscript collection of the Berlin State Library, which has not yet received the attention it deserves. The distinctive feature of this costume album lies in the opulence and expense of its production. All figures in the album were produced by means of paper cutting. There are captions to describe each individual’s function. But not one single name appears. A contemporary stamp designates the album as belonging to the royal library in Berlin (Königliche Haus-Bibliothek Berlin).

An increased interest in Ottoman people and lands, especially after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, led, between 1480 and 1609, to the publication of twice as many books about the Ottoman Empire as about the New World. In those centuries, among the sources of information about the Ottoman Empire illustrated travelogues were a popular genre. The step from illustrated travelogues to costume albums on the Ottoman Empire extended into the second half of the sixteenth century. This period witnessed a great interest and a rapid increase in the number of hand-painted costume albums on the Ottoman Empire.

These primarily hand-painted costume albums have been supplemented over time by printed albums. It is very interesting and not surprising to see that the Berlin costume album was modelled on a printed French album. This latter is a collection of engravings published by the former French ambassador to Istanbul Marquis Charles d’Argental, comte de Ferriol (1637–1722, ambassador 1699–1711). After his return to Paris Marquis de Ferriol published together with Jacques Le Hay the Recueil de cent estampes représentant différentes nations du Levant, (Paris, Le Hay et Duchange, 1714) as a collection of engravings based on the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Vanmour (1671–1737). The “Recueil Ferriol” was an instant success with further editions and reproductions subsequently published in various European languages. The first German edition of the Recueil Ferriol was printed in Nürnberg in two parts 1719 and 1721 by the German engraver and publisher Christoph Weigel. Because the Recueil Ferriol was widely available and well known throughout Europe, we may presume that the anonymous artist of the Berlin costume album apparently knew it very well and in particular its German edition. A brief look at the three collections would be sufficient to see the similarities.

Nearly all costume albums dealing with the Ottoman Empire share some common characteristics. Their illustrations depict costumes of the Ottoman court, janissaries, clerics, people of various social classes, inhabitants of Anatolia and the provinces, representatives of minorities. Certainly it wouldn’t be wrong to claim that the costume albums of the Ottoman Empire were intended as representations of the Ottoman world as a whole. Their focus was always on the sultan and his court. It is here that the Berlin album can be differentiated from earlier albums. It was intended to depict only a limited subject matter, namely those groups of people who were related and meaningful in the context of an Ottoman delegation. The album took not the sultan but his envoy as the highest Ottoman representative abroad and his retinue for its central subject matter.

The costume album from Berlin was not an astoundingly original work. It followed an established tradition of depicting people from foreign lands. The artist had an earlier work to guide him. Some of the Recueil Ferriol sketches were cribbed but then cleverly adapted to new purposes by means of re-naming and the addition of captions. Whereas the Recueil Ferriol attempted to depict Ottoman society broadly, the Berlin album tied its sketches to a specific historical event. It cannot be entirely excluded that the artist of the Berlin album, using the ample descriptions of the Ottoman delegation in the contemporary newspapers, created new sketches particularly appropriate to this delegation. It is here that the Berlin album takes on special significance. Its exquisite technique and use of materials is remarkable. It is neither a book of sketches nor one of engravings, but a creation utilizing the actual sumptuous textiles of the time, an especially appropriate expression of the way in which Turkish attire was understood in eighteenth century Europe. We can say in conclusion that it is an artistic masterpiece of transcultural hybrid origins.


Stefan Hanß

“The Catholic ambassador will sing the Mass”. Ambassadorial service and Venetian festivities after the Battle of Lepanto (1571)

Many studies have been published on the cultural impact of the diplomatic relationships between Venice and the Ottoman Empire: artistic and architectural entanglements are examined as well as the political status, economic role and symbolical functions of Venetian baili in Constantinople and Ottoman envoys to the Lagoon City. By contrast, the cultural impact of foreign ambassadors on the Veneto-Ottoman world is surprisingly little investigated yet it would widen a bilateral perspective into a multi-layered mosaic of early modern Christian-Muslim contacts containing several tesserae of various symbolical and political duties of foreign ambassadors in Venice.

In examining this constellation, I will focus on the role of foreign ambassadors, such as Spanish, Roman and French diplomats, in the festivities which took place in Venice after the news of the victory of Lepanto (7 October 1571) arrived. The first avvisi and relazioni from the battle’s victorious outcome reached the ̒Lagoon City’ on 19 October, twelve days after the Spanish, Venetian and Papal ̒Holy League’ armada won against the Ottoman fleet. Several festivities were celebrated in Venice throughout the following days: Venetians came together at the Piazza di San Marco and held spontaneous celebrations; the German and Tuscan merchants as well as the guilds of goldsmiths, jewellers and silk traders organised festivities in the quarter of Rialto which lasted several days and nights; in addition, the Signoria gave ceremonies and processions near the Palazzo Ducale. The first days and the next two Sundays following the arrival of the news, Masses were said in St. Mark’s Basilica. Interestingly, Don Diego Guzmán de Silva (ca 1520–1577), at the time Spanish ambassador in Venice, was asked by Venetian officials to sing the Holy Mass in the central Venetian church of St. Mark for commemorating the Battle of Lepanto and thanking God for his heavenly intervention.

In my paper, I will focus on the background, reasons and the reception of this highly symbolical role in the context of Christian-Muslim contacts. Why was the Spanish ambassador asked for this by the Signoria? Why did the Venetian officials prefer him to sing the Mass rather than the Papal nuncio (then Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti) or the Doge (then Alvise I Mocenigo) himself? How did Guzmán de Silva judge his religious and diplomatic service after the festivities had taken place? And how has this been received by other foreign ambassadors from Rome, Vienna or Paris? To what extent did these ceremonies follow earlier processions organized after the conclusion of the “Holy League”? This paper is based on contemporary archival and printed evidence, including previously unknown letters written by the Spanish ambassador himself.

In summary, I will focus on the diplomatic, symbolical, religious and festive, thus, cultural and political role, of foreign ambassadors in Venice within the context of Veneto-Ottoman relations.


Zeynep İnankur

Fethi Ahmed Pasha (1801–1858) and his role as a cultural intermediary (1833–1838)

Fethi Ahmed Pasha, born in Kostantiniyye in 1801, was educated at the Enderun school. After serving in several positions in the army, he was sent to Vienna in 1834 as one of the first permanently appointed ambassadors of the Ottoman Empire. In 1838 he was transferred to Paris. In both of these posts, he attracted attention with his amiability, his fine manners as well as his intelligence. He educated himself in European customs and modes, took lessons in politics and etiquette, spent huge amounts of money decorating the embassy and hosting banquets. He returned to Kostantiniyye in 1839 and married Princess Atiye (1824–1850), the daughter of the deceased Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839) and the sister of the then current Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839–1861). He became the Sultan’s most intimate confidant and was appointed Grand Master of Artillery in 1845. His taste for fine arts and music, evolved during his residence in Vienna, continued in Kostantiniyye. His seaside mansion at Kuzguncuk on the Bosphorus evoked so much admiration that Sultan Abdülmecid assigned him to the task of the decoration of the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace. Fethi Ahmed Pasha was an ardent theatregoer, accompanied the sultan to theatre and opera performances in Pera. He was a very close friend of Giuseppe Donizetti (1788–1856), the Instructor General of the Imperial Ottoman Music and a patron of several European artists working in Kostantiniyye. He founded the first Turkish museum at the church of Saint Irene, and then a military depot and a glass factory in Beykoz.

Died in 1858, Fethi Ahmed Pasha, a true representative of the Westernization process of the Tanzimat Period, deserves further investigation with his multifaceted personality.


Pablo Hernández Sau

The cultural production associated with the embassies of Gabriel de Aristizábal (1784) and Ahmet Vasıf Efendi (1787) embassies. The significance of Spanish-Ottoman gift embassies in European strategies

Diplomatic agreements and delegations from and to the Ottoman Empire during the late early modern era entailed banquets, hunting trips, receptions, musical creation and splendid presents; these cultural politics developed a political culture with a deep meaning capable of forging diplomatic relations between old arch-enemies.

The eighteenth century was a century of a general change of attitudes in the Ottoman and Spanish Empires, which had been directly or indirectly, opposed until a change of dynasty in Spain. The enthronement of the Bourbon dynasty entailed a gradual turn to friendly relations culminating during the reign of Charles III (r. 1759–1788). The peace and commercial capitulations between the Spanish and Ottoman Empires in 1782 initiated a process of gift exchange and cultural creation that would have been unimaginable at the end of the seventeenth century.

As a result of this new development, both the Spanish and Ottoman envoys invested in ostentatious cultural production. The musical creation of Spanish anacreontic poems or richly decorated saddles, some of the most interesting ambassadorial gifts, provide examples of how cultural policy could have a significant meaning for international politics. A common enemy of empires, England, and a stellar show of Russia and Prussia as potential powers, further encouraged the development of close relations. This new understanding materialized in a peace agreement but also in the gift embassies of Gabriel de Aristizábal (Madrid 1743–1805 Cádiz) to Kostantiniyye in 1784 and Ahmet Vasıf Efendi (Bagdad or lstanbul 1806) to Madrid in 1787.

In both cases, the elaboration of manuscripts (Manuscrito original II-1051 de la Biblioteca Real de Madrid) and Ahmet Vasıf Efendi’s Sefâretnâme (copies kept in Istanbul, Ankara, Cairo, Vienna), allow us to understand the significance of the language of gifts and receptions in the whole diplomatic process as an interesting cultural transnational exchange with deep political roots.


Bent Holm

Stagings and strategies. Diplomatic relations between Denmark and the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth centuries (1753, 1757)

The nature of Danish diplomatic relations to the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century can be examined on three levels: a political level – which commercial and military interests were at stake? A representative level – how was this staged and communicated? An artistic level – how was it reflected and transformed in the arts and crafts? However, the interesting point is the cross field, the interaction between those levels.

The primary Danish interest in this era was in Mediterranean and Levantine trade. The strategy, which on a high political level affected the state’s relations to France, Sweden and Russia in particular, aimed at making peace agreements with the Sublime Porte and the Barbary States – a kind of diplomatic relations which were actually developed during the 1740s and 1750s. The focus in this paper will be on two significant episodes: the return of a Danish diplomatic expedition, including a foreign representative, to the Barbary States in 1753, and an Ottoman ambassador’s visit to Copenhagen in 1757. Both episodes resulted in artistic representations. A significant source – hitherto somewhat neglected – is the newspaper Kiøbenhavnske Post-Tidende, which published the expedition log, listed the oriental presents to the Danish king, and covered the ritualized reception of the foreign ambassador in detail.

Which strategic agendas can be deduced from the official stagings and reactions, if read in a more complex context – between an actual inferiority and an exposed superiority? And how is the artistic image of the Ottoman Empire conveyed to the public affected, if read in this context?


Ralf Martin Jäger

Places for the intercultural exchange of music? The embassies of İbrahim Paşa to Vienna and Graf Wolfgang von Oettingen to Kostantiniyye in 1699 and 1700

The embassies that were sent from Kostantiniyye to Paris and Vienna as well as those that went from European capitals to the court of the Sultan played a dominant role in imparting knowledge, among other things, about the foreign music culture. Records about German embassies in Kostantiniyye dating from the late sixteenth until the end of the eightteenth century reveal that the ambassadors had different types of music ensembles at their disposal, covering the realms of church music, representative state music, military music and chamber music. The structure of the ensembles as well as the number of musicians underwent substantial changes in the period under discussion, which prove to be dependent on the development of the political circumstances.

Of special interest are the first legations to be exchanged between the Ottoman and the Holy Roman Empires after the the second Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, which were the embassies of İbrahim Paşa (dates unknown) to Vienna and Wolfgang von Oettingen (1626–1708) to Kostantiniyye in 1699.

So, it seems that in 1699 Graf Wolfgang von Oettingen was the first ambassador to receive official permission to have his representative music played while he marched through the city of Kostantiniyye, a permission that was in force exclusively for legations from Vienna until the end of the age of Grand-Embassies (germ. “Groß-Botschaft” is a fixed term in German history writing, which describes an extraordinary representative legation led by a high ranking dignitary and differentiates it from a ‘normal’ legation) in 1742, when the legations became much smaller and no longer possessed music ensembles. Altogether Wolfgang von Oettingen had taken no less than eight chamber musicians, six infantry musicians, eight trumpet players and one timpanist, as well as an unknown number of musicians playing lutes, harps, violas da gamba, galizons, violins, violas and one organ with him to the Ottoman capital. The ensembles not only played regularly at the Ambassador’s court, but were also invited to perform by high government officials such as the Grand Vizier.

İbrahim Paşa, the ambassador of Sultan Mustafa II (r. 1695–1703), took a mehterhâne of thirty musicians to Vienna in 1699. The documents at hand reveal that in Vienna public performances of the mehterhâne were given regularly in the period between 1700 and 1742. While those concerts normally took place near the accommodation of the Ambassador in Vienna, the mehterhâne also played at public banquets that the ambassador held in the Prater or at the celebration of kurban bayramı outside his residence It is even more significant that an additional ince sâz-ensemble is mentioned in archival records for the first time, and the names of the Turkish musicians are actually given. Therefore, a reconstruction of musical life at the Ottoman Ambassador’s residence and of the specific ensemble structures is possible.


Florian Kühnel

Cultural transfer in diplomatic gift exchange – Anglo-Ottoman diplomacy around 1600 (1588–1599)

“A great and curious present is going to the Grand Turk, which will scandalize other nations”. With these words a contemporary writer commented on the departure of the Hector, the ship that in 1599 delivered a royal present from Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603) to Sultan Mehmed III (r. 1595–1603). At this time, Anglo-Ottoman diplomacy was by and large disrupted. Since his accession to the throne four years earlier, Sultan Mehmed had been waiting for the present from the Queen that in his eyes was intrinsic in maintaining diplomatic relationships. Ambassador Edward Barton (c. 1533–1598, in charge 1588–1598) in his letters therefore vigorously warned against a decline of England’s status at the Sublime Porte. After his death, England no longer had an official representative in Constantinople. The designated ambassador Henry Lello (dates unknown), in charge 1598–1607 would not be received by the Sultan as long as he did not deliver an inaugural gift.

To ensure the success of the mission, the English government chose an exceptional present: Since it was well known in Europe how popular mechanical instruments, such as clocks, were in the Ottoman Empire, Queen Elizabeth sent a huge automatic organ that was controlled by an integrated clockwork. It was constructed in the Seraglio and demonstrated to the Sultan, who was allegedly so excited that in the following audience he granted great privileges to English traders. This was the foundation of England’s leadership in the Levant trade during the seventeenth century.

In my presentation I will focus on the different notions of diplomatic gift exchange between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. While the Ottomans saw presents as a tribute that illustrated their superiority, the English regarded them an unpleasant obligation that was necessary to successfully enter the Ottoman market. By delivering a highly developed mechanical instrument, the English tried at the same time to demonstrate their superior technical knowledge. As it will be seen, this example refers to a general pattern of parallel existing ritual codes, which – although they were incompatible to a certain degree – enabled successful negotiations. I will also pay attention to the role of cultural transfer within diplomatic relations between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. In what regard did this transfer serve diplomatic negotiations? Was cultural transfer a means to achieve diplomatic goals?


Tatjana Marković

Opera as a diplomatic gift to Montenegrin Prince Nikola Petrović Njegoš I (1894)

In 1894, the Italian diplomat and composer Dionisio de Sarno San-Giorgio (1856–1937), wrote the opera Balkanska carica (‘Balkan Empress’) as his political dedication to Nikola Petrović Njegoš I, the prince (1860–1910) and afterwards the first king (1910–1918) of Montenegro: there, de Sarno San-Giorgio was ambassador, and the drama with the same name written by the prince himself (1883) served as basis for the libretto, prepared by the composer himself. As the ambassador pointed out in the introduction of the printed piano score of his opera; “The most beautiful award for my work would be if I am lucky to receive His Excellency Prince Nikola I’s graceful acceptation and respect for it. I am proud for his highest permission to write my name at the end of this modest work.” Except for some numbers, the opera has not been performed until 2008.

The political aim of Nikola Petrović Njegoš I was to restore the medieval Serbian Empire and to liberate it from the Ottomans, referring in his drama to the core signifier of Serbian national identity, the Kosovo Battle (1389). Montenegro as Serbian Sparta had an image of a small and proud heroic country, which succeeded to keep its own autonomy even during the Ottoman rule. For the mentioned reasons the playwright chose an episode from the fifteenth century history of Montenegro or the then Principality of Zeta under the rule of Ivan Crnojević (r. 1465–1490). This family is famous not only because of their military successes against the Ottoman army and their diplomatic relations with the Republic of Venice, but also because they established the first printing office in Southeast Europe in Cetinje in 1493.

The drama and the opera libretto did not precisely follow the known historical facts, but used a general historical background as the context of a love story. The Ottomans are referred to as the enemies and the Islamic threat to the Christianity. The younger son of Ivan Crnojević, Stanko Crnojević, due to the impossibility to come to the throne and marry his beloved Danica, accepts the Ottoman offer to fight with them against his own people in exchange for a future position of the Balkan emperor. Being unable to accept Stanko’s invitation to go with him and to become the Balkan empress, Danica commits suicide. The opera ends with a celebration of the victory over the Ottoman army, the liberated Montenegro, but also with the punishment of Stanko the national traitor, and the celebration of Danica as an example of Montenegrin women’s patriotism.

The paper will consider the opera as a diplomatic present to the ruler of Montenegro, based on the main signifiers of Montenegrin/Serbian national identity’s grand narrative.


Mikael Bøgh Rasmussen

Recognition and appropriation. Descriptions of the Ottoman Empire in text and image by two members of the imperial embassy of 1556–1562

The descriptions and images of two members of the imperial embassy to Kostantiniyye in 1556, the humanist diplomat, Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq (15221592; residency 1556–1562), and the artist, Melchior Lorck (1526/271583; residency 1555–1559), are considered among the best and most thorough sources about the Ottoman Empire available to a sixteenth century European audience.

This paper will try to assess these descriptions from the perspective of questioning whether or not the very reason for their sojourn in Kostantiniyye, and the circumstances that characterized it, could have had an impact on how we should read, regard, and understand them. What is particularly salient in the letters of Busbecq is the constant references to and mirroring of ancient Greek and Roman texts in the descriptions of both the topography and people. One could read his experience as one of rediscovery and recognition, and thus affirming that what he describes is really the remains of a culture that is his own heritage. The interpretation of such a perception might point in two directions: The recognition could be read as an affirmation of a common heritage of Turks and Europeans, or a recognition of the Turks as co-heirs to the classical Greek and Roman civilization, and thus an optimistic view of a likeness and common ground between the two Empires, the Ottoman and the Holy Roman. On the other hand, his recognition could also be seen as a symbolic re-appropriation of the lands under Ottoman rule into a heritage that is ̒really his’, i. e. an underlying statement about the Turks as usurpers of an area rightfully belonging to the ideal heir of the Roman Empire, who in Busbecq’s view was, of course, the Holy Roman Empire, represented by the Emperor.

The bias of Lorck appears different, as to a very large extent he does not pay as much attention to tradition as he does to the Ottoman society and monuments of his own day. Thus, the cultural bonding inherent in description, which these texts and images exemplify, may turn out to be a rather more complex phenomenon than a clear-cut admiration or disdain.


Karim Ben Smida

Between Paris and the Bosporus. Diplomatic and cultural correlations in the early years of the French Revolution (1787–1793)

Looking at the Ottoman Empire and France in the late eighteenth century does not only involve looking at two major European powers in turbulent times of their history. It also involves examining two very prominent ruling figures who shaped and determined these historically dynamic episodes in the two countries: Sultan Selim III. (1761–1808) and King Louis XVI. (1754–1793). These major personalities entered into lasting interactions through their persistent correspondence. There are several known letters that were sent between Paris and the Bosporus. These letters cover a wide range of topics, ranging from various political and diplomatic issues to culture, about which both rulers exchanged their views. These letters represents correspondence on the highest official level. Following intensive research, the above mentioned letters could be unveiled in Istanbul’s archives and are now being brought to wider public attention through a single published volume.

This work aims at providing a broader audience with access to these precious historical documents that give us a deeper insight into the heart of two European superpowers and the way how their means of communication lead to the encounter of each other. The mere existence of these documents and their importance as historical sources was the primary motivation to translate these letters from Ottoman language into German and edit them in a single volume that also comprises a first analysis of these letters with regard to the political language and the formal titles which are used in them.

This editorial work will be completed by supplementary information concerning the historical, political and cultural context into which this correspondence was embedded. Though mainly political, these letters should not solely be analyzed as simply transmitting political agendas or demands. They can rather be seen as sources for cultural diplomatic incidents. Moreover, they are not simply testimonies; they embody the summit of courtly official correspondence and cultural writing in form and style. Therefore the letters themselves are petrified courtly culture of this past but nevertheless highly vivid historical age.

Another aspect this work focusses on is the transfer of culture and knowledge to the Bosporus from elsewhere. Whereas many historians have presented detailed analyses of how Europe has taken over Ottoman impulses, an in-depth look at the counter-current is still lacking though not less valuable in order to present the full historical picture and to complete the colorful mosaic that makes up the multilayered and very differentiated links and liaisons between Orient and Occident and between Seine and Bosporus.


Suna Suner

The First Ottoman Envoy to Naples (1741): Hacı Hüseyin Efendi and the Messina Issue

The first „Trattato di pace, navigazione e commercio“ (̒Treaty of Peace, Navigation and Trade’), concluded on 7 April 1740 between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, was negotiated by the Neapolitan envoy to the Sublime Porte, Cavaliere Giuseppe Finocchietti di Faulon (ca 1702–1782), minister plenipotentiary of the King Carlo di Borbone (r. 1734–1759). Subsequently, Hacı Hüseyin Efendi (dates unknown) was sent in 1741 as extraordinary envoy of Sultan Mahmud I (r. 1730–1754) to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, with the mission of delivering diplomatic gifts in return to the mission of Finocchietti di Faulon. Hacı Hüseyin Efendi arrived in Messina on 7 July 1741 and sojourned there until he departed for Naples on 31 August for his royal audience, where he stayed until 18 October. In both cities, the Ottoman envoy was invited to two different operatic events (serenate); the former took place in Messina, the latter in Naples.

The first serenata, performed on 15 August 1741 in Messina in the palace of Prince of Villa Franca di Buccheri (dates unknown) in honour of Hacı Hüseyin Efendi, is to our knowledge the only opera produced for the visit of an Ottoman diplomat. Entitled La fortuna a piè di Messina ovvero la costanza premiata dalla virtú (̒The Fortune at the Feet of Messina or the Constancy Rewarded by Virtue’), the libretto (poet Placido Cara) of this piece is currently kept in Messina in the Biblioteca Storia Patria, however, it has not yet been made accessible for research by this institution. The second one was given on 11 October 1741 in Naples at Regio Teatro di San Carlo (established 1737). This paper will endeavour to present this quite vivid theatrical and diplomatic story; a case which is not broadly researched and widely known as far as the interest in ̒theatre and diplomacy’ is concerned.


Hacer Topaktaş

Gifting through diplomats: Cases of the last Ottoman (Numan Enis Bey, 1777–1778) and Polish (Franciszek Piotr Potocki, 1789–1792) extraordinary envoys

In the eighteenth century there were several diplomatic embassies between the Ottoman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Numan Enis Bey (Kostantiniyye to Warsaw 1777–1778) and Piotr Potocki (Warsaw to Kostantiniyye 1789–1792) were the last envoys sent before the third partition of Poland. Numan Enis Bey, the envoy of Sultan Abdulhamid I (r. 1774–1789), delivered gifts to the Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski (r. 1764–1795), among which were horses, horse harnesses, saddles and stirrups with rich embellishments, Kostantiniyye-style materials, and carpets. In return, King Stanisław August sent gifts including Polish porcelain materials for Abdulhamid I with Numan Enis Bey in 1778. Stanisław August also sent various presents to Sultan Selim III (r. 1789–1807) through his ambassador Franciszek Piotr Potocki (1745–1829). The last Polish ambassador submitted very elegant gifts to Selim III in 1790. Among these gifts there were clocks, gold and silver decorated pots and pans, and amber decorated accessories. Sultan Selim III gave Potocki and his corps of diplomats very exclusive caftans and furs.I intend to explore the practice of gift giving as an expression of cultural politics between these two polities as well as the importance of these gifts, along with their symbolic and materialistic values, as contrived representations of each polity’s respective culture. As such, we can see that in addition to political and diplomatic tasks, diplomats were transmitters of cultural politics in the early modern times.

Mehmet Alaaddin Yalçınkaya

The cultural role of ambassadors in Ottoman-British Diplomatic Relations (1793–1800)

Britain and Turkey have a long history of diplomatic relations. Under the reign of Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603) and Sultan Murat III (r. 1574–1595), formal diplomatic relations between the two were established with the appointment of William Harborne of Great Yarmouth (c. 1575–1617), the first British ambassador to the Sublime Porte in 1583 and remained in charge until 1588. The Ottoman and the British Empires had good political, diplomatic, commercial and cultural relations in general and the British ambassadors at the Porte had quite an active role in Ottoman-British diplomatic encounters. Subsequently, in 1793 the Ottoman Empire established the first permanent embassy in England by sending Yusuf Agâh Efendi (1744–1824). His arrival in London on 21 December 1793 marked the establishment of reciprocal diplomatic relations for the first time in Ottoman history.

The ambassadors and their retinues played an essential role in developing cultural relations between the two empires. Also the short-term employment of British experts and technicians commenced in the last decade of the eighteenth century for service of the Ottoman Empire. For example, Selim III (r. 1789–1807) realized the need for a series of reforms in order to save the Empire from an inevitable demise; European ambassadors in Kostantiniyye recruited a number of experts and advisors, all of whom were well-established industrialists of English, Italian, Swedish, Austrian, Spanish, Prussian and Russian origins.

This paper aims to examine the cultural role of ambassadors in Ottoman-British diplomatic relations and their influence on cross-cultural exchange between the two empires in the last decade of the eighteenth century. In particular, the views of British and Ottoman missions will be evaluated from cultural perspectives based on historical documents such as the accounts of Yusuf Agâh Efendi (Havadisname-i İngiltere [̒Accounts of Events in England’], 1798) and Mahmud Raif Efendi (Journal du voyage de Mahmoud Raif Efendi en Angleterre, écrit par luy-même, 1797). The accounts of the British diplomatic representatives on the Ottoman palace, harem, mosques, janissaries, feasts and other customs will also be examined. In addition, the cultural impact of the first permanent Ottoman ambassadors to London, Yusuf Agâh Efendi (ambassador 1793–1797), Ismail Ferruh Efendi (ambassador 1797–1800) and their retinues will be explored.

Don Juan Archiv Wien Pera Museum

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