Dragomans and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe

with Emrah Safa Gürkan

hosted by Chris Gratien

In Ottoman Istanbul, diplomatic and commercial relations were often mediated through a group of interpreters known as dragomans whose role frequently extended well beyond their linguistic function. In this podcast, Emrah Safa Gürkan discusses the emergence of dragomans within the Ottoman context, their role in the Ottoman capital, and the influence of the use of interpreters more broadly among European states.

Emrah Safa Gürkan is an Assistant Professor at İstanbul 29 Mayıs University. His work focuses on early modern Mediterranean and Ottoman History. (see academia.edu)
Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Georgetown University. (see academia.edu)

Episode No. 108
Release date: 24 May 2013
Location: Feriköy, Istanbul
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Bibliography courtesy of Emrah Safa Gürkan

Citation: "Empire in Translation: Dragomans and Diplomacy in the Early Modern Mediterranean," Emrah Safa Gürkan and Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 108 (May 24, 2013) http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2013/05/dragomans.html


E. Natalie Rothman, Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012).

E. Natalie Rothman, “Visualizing a Space of Encounter: Intimacy, Alterity and Trans-Imperial Perspective in an Ottoman-Venetian Miniature Album,” The Journal of Ottoman Studies, XL (2012): 39-80.

E. Natalie Rothman, “Interpreting Dragomans: Boundaries and Crossings in the Early Modern Mediterranean”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 51, 4 (October 2009): 771-800.

Christian Luca, “Il bailaggio veneto di Costantinopoli nel Cinque-Seicento: i dragomanni provenienti dalle famiglie Bruti, Borissi, Grillo,” in Dacoromano-Italica: Studie e ricerche sui rapporti italo-romeni nei secoli XVI-XVIII (Cluj-Napolca:Accademia Romena, Centro di Studi Transilvani, 2008), 105-128.

Alexander H. Groot, “Dragomans’ Careers: The Change of Status in Some Families Connected with the British and Dutch Embassies at Istanbul, 1785-1829,” in Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century, eds. Alastair Hamilton, Alexander H. de Groot, Maurits van den Boogert (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 223-246.

Alexander H. Groot, “The Dragomans in the Embassies at Istanbul, 1785-1834,” in Eastward Bound: Dutch Ventures and Adventures in the Middle East, eds. Geert van Gelder and Ed de Moor (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994), 130-158.

Francesca Lucchetta, “La scuola dei “giovani di lingua” veneti nei secoli XVI e XVII”, Quaderni di studi arabici, 7 (1989): 19-40.

G. Paladino, “Due dragomanni veneti a Costantinopoli,” Nuovo Archivio Veneto 33 (1917): 183-200.
Marie de Testa and Antoine Gautier, “Les drogmans au service de la France au Levant,” Revue d’histoire diplomatique 105 (1991): 7-101.

G. R. Berridge, “Notes on the Origins of the Diplomatic Corps: Constantinople in the 1620s”, Discussion Papers in Diplomacy, 92 (May 2004): 1-20.


Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.