Early French Encounters with the Ottomans

Episode 315

hosted by Nir Shafir and Michael Talbot

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Orientalist representations loom large in the history of 19th-century colonialism and European engagement with the late Ottoman Empire. But how did the orientalist discourses of the late Ottoman period compare with European representations of the Ottoman Empire during its early rise? In this episode, Pascale Barthe revisits this question through the lens of 16th century French encounters with the Ottoman Empire. Through Renaissance period French accounts of travel in and political engagement with the Ottoman Empire, we discuss early Franco-Ottoman rapprochement and cross-cultural exchange pursued by French monarchs and subjects with the would-be eastern other of the "Turk."

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Contributor Bios

Pascale Barthe is Associate Professor of French at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she teaches a variety of courses on language, literature, and culture, including an undergraduate seminar titled “La France-Méditerranée.” She specializes in early modern France and has focused on cross-cultural relations between Renaissance France and the Ottoman Empire. Her new research project examines political, religious, and literary intersections between the kingdom of Louis XIV and the Safavid and Mughal Empires. She is particularly interested in studying the global experiences of Frenchmen in the middle of the seventeenth century when the Compagnie des Indes Orientales was founded.
Nir Shafir is a historian of the Middle East whose research examines the intersections of knowledge production, religious practice, and material culture in the early modern world. He curates Ottoman History Podcast’s series on history of science in addition to being one of the co-founders of hazine.info, a website that explores the archives and libraries of the Islamic world. He is an assistant professor of history at UCSD.
Michael Talbot received his PhD from SOAS in 2013 for a thesis on Ottoman-British relations in the eighteenth century, and now lectures and researches on a range of topics in Ottoman history at the University of Greenwich in London.

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Episode No. 315
Release Date: 23 May 2017
Recording Location: MESA Conference, Boston
Audio editing by Onur Engin
Music: from archive.org - Nusret Yılmaz - Severim Her Güzeli Senden Eserdir Diyerek, Aziz Türk Sanat Müziği Grubu - Ud Taksimi
Images and bibliography courtesy of Pascale Barthe


Picnic in Constantinople. Boiserie, detail. Photo by the Archives départementales du Tarn.
Mosque, minaret, and muezzin. Boiserie, detail. Photo by the Archives départementales du Tarn.
Galleys in the Mediterranean. Boiserie, detail. Photo by the Archives départementales du Tarn.
European visitor to the Ottoman court. Boiserie, detail. Photo by the Archives départementales du Tarn.
Jean Yversen’s laissez-passer with Sultan Süleyman’s tughrā. Private archive.
First page of Yversen’s “travel journal.” Private archive.

Select Bibliography

French Encounters with the Ottomans
by Pascale Barthe
Barthe,Pascale. French Encounters with the Ottomans, 1510-1560. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

Blanchard, Pascal, Naïma Yahi, Yvan Gastaut, and Nicolas Bancel. La France arabo-orientale : Treize siècles de présences du Maghreb, de la Turquie, d’Égypte, du Moyen-Orient et du Proche-Orient. Paris: La Découverte, 2013.

Dakhlia, Jocelyne and Bernard Vincent, eds. Les musulmans dans l’histoire de l’Europe. Vol. 1. Paris: Albin Michel, 2011.

Garnier, Édith. L’alliance impie: François Ier et Soliman le Magnifique contre Charles Quint (1529-1547). Paris: Le Félin, 2008.

Hampton, Timothy. Fictions of Embassy: Literature and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.

Isom-Verhaaren, Christine. Allies with the Infidel: The Ottoman and French alliance in the Sixteenth Century. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2011.

MacLean, Gerald, ed. Re-Orienting the Renaissance: Cultural Exchanges with the East. Basingsoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Rouillard, Clarence. The Turk in French History, Thought, and Literature (1520-1660). New York: AMS Press, 1973.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1978.

Tinguely, Frédéric. L’écriture du Levant à la Renaissance: Enquête sur les voyageurs français dans l’empire de Soliman le Magnifique. Geneva: Droz, 2000.