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Mementos from Habsburg Life in Ottoman Istanbul

Episode 465
with Robyn Dora Radway hosted by Emily Neumeier
What was it like to be a foreigner living in Ottoman Istanbul? In this episode, our guest Robyn Dora Radway answers this question by providing an in-depth look at an unusual type of document: alba amicorum, or friendship albums, which were essentially the social media of the sixteenth century. Produced in the Habsburg embassy (aka the “German House"), these albums functioned like yearbooks in that the owners residing in the embassy would strive to collect all manner of mementos from their time abroad, including signatures, poems, short anecdotes, and even drawings and paintings. At the German House, men from all walks of life would end up assembling their own album amicorum, from the Habsburg ambassador to the cook (who was quite popular and had the largest album by far). We discuss how these albums can thus serve as a valuable resource for historians, as they offer a full picture of the social makeup of these kinds of …

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