The topic of religious conversion into and out of Islam as a historical phenomenon is mired in a sea of debate and misun
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Table of contents :
List of Figures
Part 1 Trans-imperial subjects: geo-political spatialities, political advancement and conversion
1 Trans-imperial nobility: the case of Carlo Cigala (1556–1631)
2 Conversion under the threat of arms: converts and renegades during the war for Crete (1645–1669)
3 Conversion to Islam (and sometimes a return to Christianity) in Safavid Persia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
4 Danube-hopping: conversion, jurisdiction and spatiality between the Ottoman Empire and the Danubian principalities in the seventeenth century
Part 2 Fashioning identities: conversion and the threat to self
5 The early modern convert as “public property”: a typology of turning
6 The moment of choice: the Moriscos on the border of Christianity and Islam
7 ‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’: the rhetoric of losing the true faith in seventeenth-century Italian textual and visual sources
Part 3 Translating the self: devotion, hybridity and religious conversion
8 Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam: Adam Neuser reads Murad b. Abdullah in Ottoman Istanbul
9 The many languages of the self in the early modern Mediterranean: Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh Al-Turjumān (1355–1423) – Friar, Muslim convert and translator
Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean
The topic of religious conversion into and out of Islam as a historical phenomenon is mired in a sea of debate and misunderstanding. It has often been viewed as the permanent crossing of not just a religious divide, but in the context of the early modern Mediterranean also political, cultural and geographic boundaries. Reading between the lines of a wide variety of sources, however, suggests that religious conversion between Christianity, Judaism and Islam often had a more pragmatic and prosaic aspect that constituted a form of cultural translation and a means of establishing communal belonging through the shared, and often contested articulation of religious identities. The chapters in this volume do not view religion simply as a specific set of orthodox beliefs and strict practices to be adopted wholesale by the religious individual or convert. Rather, they analyse conversion as the acquisition of a set of historically contingent social practices, which facilitated the process of social, political or religious acculturation. Exploring the role conversion played in the fabrication of cosmopolitan Mediterranean identities, the volume examines the idea of the convert as a mediator and translator between cultures. Drawing upon a diverse range of research areas and linguistic skills, the volume utilises primary sources in Ottoman, Persian, Arabic, Latin, German, Hungarian and English within a variety of genres including religious tracts, diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, apologetics, historical narratives, official documents and commands, legal texts and court records, and religious polemics. As a result, the collection provides readers with theoretically informed, new research on the subject of conversion to or from Islam in the early modern Mediterranean world. Claire Norton is Reader in History at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
Routledge Research in Early Modern History
In the same series: Penury into Plenty Dearth and the Making of Knowledge in Early Modern England Ayesha Mukherjee Violence and Emotions in Early Modern Europe Edited by Susan Broomhall and Sarah Finn India in the Italian Renaissance Visions of a Contemporary Pagan World 1300–1600 Meera Juncu The English Revolution and the Roots of Environmental Change The Changing Concept of the Land in Early Modern England George Yerby Honourable Intentions? Violence and Virtue in Australian and Cape Colonies, c. 1750 to 1850 Edited by Penny Russell and Nigel Worden Social Thought in England, 1480–1730 From Body Social to Worldly Wealth A. L. Beier Dynastic Colonialism Gender, Materiality and the early modern House of Orange-Nassau Susan Broomhall and Jacqueline van Gent The Business of the Roman Inquisition in the Early Modern Era Germano Maifreda Cities and Solidarities Urban Communities in Pre-Modern Europe Edited by Justin Colson and Arie van Steensel James VI and Noble Power in Scotland 1578–1603 Edited by Miles Kerr-Peterson and Steven J. Reid
Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean The Lure of the Other Edited by Claire Norton
First published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2017 selection and editorial matter, Claire Norton; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Claire Norton to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Norton, Claire, Dr., editor. Title: Conversion and Islam in the early modern Mediterranean : the lure of the other / edited by Claire Norton. Description: 1st [edition]. | New York : Routledge, 2017. | Series: Routledge research in early modern history | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016045582 (print) | LCCN 2016051275 (ebook) | ISBN 9781472457226 (alk. paper) | ISBN 9781315574189 Subjects: LCSH: Conversion—Islam. | Islam—Mediterranean Region— History. | Conversion. | Mediterranean Region—Religion—History. Classification: LCC BP170.5. C66 2017 (print) | LCC BP170.5 (ebook) | DDC 297.5/7409—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016045582 ISBN: 978-1-4724-5722-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-57418-9 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Apex CoVantage, LLC
List of Figuresvii Contributorsviii Acknowledgementsxi
Introduction1 CLAIRE NORTON
Trans-imperial subjects: geo-political spatialities, political advancement and conversion7 1 Trans-imperial nobility: the case of Carlo Cigala (1556–1631)
TOBIAS P. GRAF
2 Conversion under the threat of arms: converts and renegades during the war for Crete (1645–1669)
3 Conversion to Islam (and sometimes a return to Christianity) in Safavid Persia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
4 Danube-hopping: conversion, jurisdiction and spatiality between the Ottoman Empire and the Danubian principalities in the seventeenth century MICHAŁ WASIUCIONEK
vi Contents PART 2
Fashioning identities: conversion and the threat to self101 5 The early modern convert as “public property”: a typology of turning
6 The moment of choice: the Moriscos on the border of Christianity and Islam
HOUSSEM EDDINE CHACHIA
7 ‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’: the rhetoric of losing the true faith in seventeenth-century Italian textual and visual sources
Translating the self: devotion, hybridity and religious conversion179 8 Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam: Adam Neuser reads Murad b. Abdullah in Ottoman Istanbul
9 The many languages of the self in the early modern Mediterranean: Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh Al-Turjumān (1355–1423) – Friar, Muslim convert and translator ELISABETTA BENIGNI
1.1 Map of the Mediterranean 10 2.1 Map of the Eastern Adriatic 31 5.1 Thomas Cross, Rigep Dandulo, 144 mm × 87 mm, line engraving, mid-17th century 105 6.1 Map of the Morisco Localities in Tunisia 132 6.2 Mihrab of the Great Mosque of Testour 142 6.3 Star of David on the minaret of the Great Mosque of Testour 143 7.1 Giacomo Farelli, Il riscatto degli schiavi, 1672, Church of Santa Maria della Mercede e Sant’Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, Naples 163 7.2 Paolo Biancucci, La Vergine che protegge la Nazione lucchese, 1620–1630, Church of San Leonardo in Borghi, Lucca166 7.3 Frontispiece, Catalogus Captivorum Christianorum, quos Provincia S. Josephi, Ordinis Discalceatorum SSS. Trinitatis De Redemptione Captivorum, Erecta Ditionibus Haereditariis Augustissimae Domus Austriacae, Ab Anno 1777 usque ad Annum 1780, tum Africanis in öris praecipue Algerii, Mascherae & Tripoli; tum in Turcia Europaea & Asiatica, aut percolato litro nativa liberati restituit, aut pecunariis subsidiis ad eam recuperandam adjuvit, Viennae, Litteris Schulzianis  167
The editor Claire Norton is Reader in History at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. She works on early modern Ottoman history, particularly instances of cultural transfer and interaction among communities living in border areas and other liminal spaces. She is interested in the complexities of identity formation and the role past-focused narratives have in this process, subjects that are explored in her forthcoming book Plural Pasts: Power, Identity, and the Ottoman Sieges of Nagykanizsa. She has edited a number of books including The Renaissance and the Ottoman World (ed. with A. Contadini) (2013); Nationalism, Historiography and the (Re)Construction of the Past (2007). She has also written extensively on the theory of history including Doing History (2011) with Mark Donnelly.
The contributors Elisabetta Benigni is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Mediterranean Literature at the University of Turin. Her research explores South European and Arabic literary and intellectual encounters during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. She was a fellow of the Italian Academy, Columbia University and of the research programme “Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship”, Freie Universität Berlin. Her publications include studies on Arabic translations and readings of Dante and Machiavelli in the nineteenth and twentieth century. She has also published on Italian translations of The Thousand and One Nights against the backdrop of the Italian colonial history of Libya. She is currently completing a monograph on modern Arabic prison literature. Palmira Brummett is Professor Emerita of History at the University of Tennessee and Visiting Professor of History at Brown University. Her work assesses the rhetorics of cross-cultural interaction in the Ottoman and Mediterranean worlds. Her publications include: Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery (Albany, NY: S.U.N.Y.
Contributors ix Press, 1994); Image and Imperialism in the Ottoman Revolutionary Press, 1908–1911 (Albany, NY: S.U.N.Y. Press, 2000); The ‘Book’ of Travels: Genre, Ethnology and Pilgrimage, 1250–1700 (Leiden: Brill, 2009); Mapping the Ottomans: Sovereignty, Territory, and Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Cambridge: CUP, 2015) and numerous articles on Ottoman, Mediterranean and world history. Houssem Eddin Chachia obtained his PhD in 2014 from the University of Tunis. His thesis was titled “The Sephardim and the Moriscos: The Journey of expulsion and installation in the Maghreb (1492–1756), stories and itineraries”. He is now a researcher on the “Regions and Resources of Heritage in Tunisia” project at the University of Manouba (Tunisia). He mainly works on minorities in the Mediterranean, particularly the expulsion from Iberia of the Sephardi Jewish community (Spanish and Portuguese Jews) and the Moriscos community. He is interested in the processes and complexities of identity formation and religious conversion. Rosita D’Amora is Lecturer of Turkish Language and Culture at the University of Salento, Lecce, Italy. Her research ranges from Ottoman social history to contemporary Turkish literature and, most recently, to the investigation of gender, religious and cultural differences and borders in Ottoman and Turkish literary and historical sources. She is also interested in the politics of representation in Ottoman society, especially the role played by dress and headgear in the articulation and negotiation of different identities. She is the author of a Turkish grammar and of a number of articles exploring cultural exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She has also translated into Italian several Turkish authors such as Sabahattin Ali, Yusuf Atılgan and Mehmet Yashin. Tobias P. Graf is a Research Associate in Early Modern History at Heidelberg University and an Associate Member of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”. He read history at the University of Cambridge before pursuing a PhD in Heidelberg under the auspices of the interdisciplinary research group “Dynamic Asymmetries in Transcultural Flows at the Intersection of Asia and Europe: The Case of the Early Modern Ottoman Empire”. Graf’s interests in the conversion to Islam of European Christians and the deep entanglements between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe have resulted in The Sultan’s Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575–1610 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming). His current research focuses on Austrian-Habsburg foreign intelligence during the reign of Emperor Maximilian II. Domagoj Madunić (PhD in History, 2012, from Central European University Budapest), is an associate member of the project: “Military Life and
x Contributors Warrior Images In the Croatian Border Territory from 16th century to 1918”, at the Croatian Institute for History in Zagreb (ISP). He is also a visiting lecturer at Zagreb University and Dubrovnik University. His articles cover various early modern military topics, mainly focusing on the Venetian defensive system in the Adriatic during the War for Crete and the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). He is currently preparing a book on the Republic of Ragusa in the context of the tributary states of the Ottoman Empire. Martin Mulsow is Professor for Intellectual History at the University of Erfurt and director of the Gotha Research Center for Early Modern Studies. From 2005–2008, he was professor of history at Rutgers University in the United States. Mulsow has published numerous books on Renaissance philosophy, the Enlightenment, the history of scholarship and clandestine literature including, most recently, Prekäres Wissen. Eine andere Ideengeschichte der Frühen Neuzeit (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012) and Enlightenment Underground. Radical Germany 1680–1720 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015). He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and is a fellow of the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Giorgio Rota received his PhD from the Istituto Universitario Orientale (Naples) in 1996. Since 2003, he has been at the Institute for Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (currently as Senior Researcher). He also held visiting professorships at the universities of Trieste, Bologna, Munich and at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris). His main field of research is the military and political history of Safavid Persia (1501–1736), with a particular focus on the ghulams, the so-called slave members of the army and administration who were mostly of Caucasian origin and often Christians converted to Islam: he has written several articles on the subject. He is also the author of Under Two Lions: On the Knowledge of Persia in the Republic of Venice (ca. 1450–1797) and La Vita e i Tempi di Rostam Khan (edizione e traduzione italiana del Ms. British Library Add 7,655) (both Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009). Michał Wasiucionek is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the New Europe College – the Institute for Advanced Study in Bucharest, as a member in the ERC project Luxury, Fashion, and Social Status in Early Modern South-Eastern Europe (LuxFaSS). He obtained his PhD in 2016 from the European University Institute in Florence. His research examines cross-border patronage networks in early modern Polish-Moldavian-Ottoman relations. He has published extensively on the role of the Danubian principalities and their elites in seventeenth-century Eastern Europe, as well as other ceremonial practices in regional diplomacy. Currently, he is working on luxury consumption, space and social boundaries within the Danubian principalities and the Ottoman Empire.
This volume developed from a conference The Lure of the Other: Conversion and Reversion in the Early Modern Mediterranean held at St Mary’s University, Twickenham in June 2013. I would like to thank everyone who helped with the organisation of the conference. In particular, I am grateful to St Mary’s University and the Society for Renaissance Studies for providing generous grants that supported the event. I would also like to thank all the participants who gave papers and contributed to the interesting discussions we had both after the individual panels and during the coffee and lunch breaks – it made the conference a very enjoyable experience. Lastly my thanks go to the anonymous reader(s) and to the editorial team at Ashgate for their support for the volume and for making the publication process as painless as it can be.
Introduction Claire Norton
Religious conversion has often been viewed as the permanent crossing of, not just a religious divide, but in the early modern Mediterranean also political, cultural and geographic boundaries. Although conversion is frequently interpreted in terms of the active spiritual conviction of the convert, the paradigm of religious conversion as solely engendered by a self-conscious psychological and spiritual conviction is problematic in such a context as religious practice was not necessarily viewed as an entity separate from one’s identity and sense of communal belonging. Reading between the lines of a wide variety of sources suggests that religious conversion between Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the early modern Mediterranean often had a more pragmatic and prosaic aspect in that it constituted a form of cultural translation and a means of establishing communal belonging through the shared, and often contested articulation of religious identities. Following on from some recent ground-breaking work on early modern conversion the chapters in this volume take an approach to religious conversion that does not view religion solely as a specific set of orthodox beliefs and strict practices to be adopted indiscriminatingly by the religious individual or convert. Instead the chapters in this volume analyse conversion as the acquisition of a set of historically contingent social practices, which facilitated a process of social, political or religious acculturation and which did not necessitate a comprehensive relinquishing of previous identities. Moving beyond the normative cultural, geo-political and religious divisions that can delineate scholarship of the early modern Mediterranean, many of the contributors explore the role conversion played in the fabrication of cosmopolitan Mediterranean identities and examine the idea of the convert as a mediator or translator between cultures: a “transimperial subject”. The chapters in the first section explore the complex, but often flexible, confessional and communal allegiances and loyalties of Mediterraneanbased trans-imperial subjects. Their crossings of geo-political and religious boundaries in search of advancement or to escape difficult situations both reify spatialities of conversion and illustrate networks of interconnected
2 Claire Norton commercial, familial and diplomatic relationships. Tobias Graf approaches the early modern Mediterranean as an intersectional, symbiotic space in his exploration of the workings of Mediterranean cross-border, trans-imperial networks and the role that converts played in bridging geographical, political and religious boundaries. He focuses on the case of Carlo Cigala, a member of one of Genoa’s oldest noble families and a subject of the King of Spain, who sought to mobilise his trans-imperial familial connection in his attempts at social advancement. His brother, Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Paşa, a convert to Islam and high-ranking Ottoman official, in his capacity as admiral of the Ottoman fleet, sought to facilitate the appointment of Carlo Cigala to the Ottoman sancak of the Duchy of Naxos, demonstrating the role of converts in mediating and facilitating trans-imperial networks of patronage. In contrast, Domagoj Madunić analyses conversion during a time of conflict, in this case the seventeenth-century Venetian–Ottoman war for Crete (1645–1669). Focusing on a number of case studies of conversion from the Adriatic frontier zone, he argues that, during war, conversion could be a survival strategy to save one’s life, escape captivity or avoid forced labour in the galleys. His discussion of the case of Fra Giorgio who converted to Islam under threat of impalement foregrounds the complexity of early modern political relationships and the importance of familial networks that transcended religious and communal boundaries. Fra Giorgio’s sister was the wife of the Pasha of Herzegovina and, as a result of her intercession, a fetwa was issued annulling his conversion as contrary to Islamic law as it was made under duress. Madunić’s second example demonstrates that conversion motivated by self-preservation could also provide opportunities for personal advancement. Conte Vojin, a Montenegrin chieftain based on the Adriatic frontier, oscillated in his military and political support for the Venetians or Ottomans depending on how the war was progressing. Conversion was one of the strategies at his disposal that he employed to gain access to resources or demonstrate his loyalty. Embracing Catholicism in order to advance his career in the Venetian army, when captured by the Ottomans in 1649, he converted to Islam, took the name Cafer Ağa and then, as a member of the Ottoman military-administrative structure, became a staunch enemy of the Venetians. Eventually events would catch up with Cafer Ağa and, having alienated both Christian and Muslim communities along the frontier, he was killed by a chieftain of one of the competing Montenegrin clans and his head was delivered to Venice. Giorgio Rota focuses on conversion in the context of the Safavid Empire. In particular, he examines the complex interrelationship between Georgian vassal rulers, their Safavid and Ottoman overlords, conversion and political advancement. He explains how, in the sixteenth century, conversion to or from Shiite or Sunni Islam was employed by members of the Georgian administrative and military elite as a means of obtaining political
Introduction 3 and military support from the Shah or the Sultan respectively. Among the various individuals that Rota details, he examines the case of the Georgian Giorgo Saak’adze whose shifts in political and military allegiance between Georgia, Safavid Persia and the Ottoman Empire were accompanied by concomitant spatial and religious translocations. His moves to avoid enemies or seek personal advantage entailed his repeated conversion to and from Christianity and Shiite and Sunni Islam. Michał Wasiucionek too is interested in the spatial component of conversion. He concentrates on the spatial movements of the boyar elite to and from the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia that accompanied their religious conversions which were largely motivated by political, economic or judicial concerns. These cases of Ottoman non-Muslim subjects (zimmi) who turned Muslim and then turned non-Muslim illustrate an interesting variation in Ottoman cartographies of sovereignty and jurisdictional control. Although the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldovia were an integral part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, Wasiucionek demonstrates how the boyar elite north of the Danube were able to maintain the Christian identity of the socio-legal and geographical landscape by excluding converts from both the socio-political life of the principalities and from inheriting land or assets despite their generally tolerant and pragmatic view towards conversion to Islam by their compatriots. The chapters in the second section explore the ontologically (de)stabilising affect that the practical integration of converts into an existing religious community could have on early modern communities as well as the more abstract threats that conversion could pose. Palmira Brummett is interested in conversion as a process, one in which identities are layered or interleaved together and that can ‘be fast or slow; voluntary or coerced; complete or incomplete; “permanent” chronic, temporary, illusory; “real” or rhetorical’. She explores the legitimising utility of public conversions or ‘turning’ and the variety of ways it has been employed to project and reinforce identities. She illustrates her argument through an analysis of a series of conversion narratives to and from Islam including that of Philip Dandulo, a “borne Turk” who converted to Christianity in 1657 and whose story was the subject of a very popular pamphlet entitled The Baptized Turk, by Thomas Warmstry D.D. Houssem Eddine Chachia explores how Iberian Moriscos both before and after their expulsion from Iberia occupied a liminal space as new converts and cultural minorities: first as new, Arabic-speaking Christians in Spain following their forced baptism throughout the sixteenth century and then in the early seventeenth century as new Spanish-speaking Muslims in the Maghreb. Reading letters and texts by Moriscos as well as Inquisition documents, he discusses how they imagined and negotiated identities to either facilitate their integration into the cultural and religious life of the Maghreb or to argue for their status as Spanish Christians in Spain.
4 Claire Norton Rosita D’Amora explores the rhetoric surrounding the ransoming activities of Christian captives by various Christian religious orders and charitable organisations. In institutional texts, captives’ letters and the narratives of returned captives, the literary trope of saving Christian souls from the threat of conversion to Islam and eternal damnation through the provision of ransoms for captives is prevalent. D’Amora analyses this trope in a series of paintings, arguing that such images represent an important visual counterpart to the various written texts on captivity and illustrate the dangerous ontological implications of conversion to Islam for early modern audiences. The third section delineates the self-fashioning undertaken by converts themselves, and views conversion as a process by which multiple selves are interpolated and interwoven together rather than the simple substitution of religious subjectivities. Mulsow and Benigni analyse the hybrid and syncretic nature of religious conversion and devotional practices in the early modern Mediterranean and the ways that converts adopted, adapted and translated the religious traditions in which they participated. Martin Mulsow explores the self-fashioning of the Protestant, Antitrinitarian Heidelberg minister and convert to Islam, Adam Neuser, in the context of his recent discovery of some hitherto unknown papers of Neuser’s in the Gotha Research Library. Mulsow argues that the Gotha papers essentially constitute fragments of Neuser’s Apologia: an explanation of both his philosophical arguments and his actions in converting to Islam. Focusing on the cryptographic marginalia of the Gotha fragments and the theologian Jacob Palaeologus’ account of a debate he had with Neuser concerning arguments for the superiority of Islam outlined in Murad ibn Abdullah’s Guide for one’s turning towards God Mulsow examines the hybrid persona that Neuser fashioned in Istanbul. Here he was both a Muslim loyal to the Ottoman court, and a “Christian” still in contact with his friends and colleagues in western Europe. He was a scholar who was not only working on a Latin translation of the Qur’an, but was seeking to translate both Christian and Islamic doctrine in order to reconstruct an Islamic Christianity – the perfect synthesis between both religions. Elisabetta Benigni also investigates the complex identities fashioned by a convert to Islam, ʾAbdallāh al-Turjumān (Anselm Turmeda), through his Arabic and Catalan writings. Turmeda was a fifteenth-century Franciscan friar and renowned Catalan poet who converted to Islam and moved to Tunis where he authored a first-person conversion narrative and polemical treatise on the superiority of Islam entitled Tuḥfat al-Adīb. Like Neuser, ʾAbdallāh al-Turjumān appears to have been committed to his new faith and he also retained a complicated relationship with Christianity and his former Christian identity. Indeed, even after his conversion and move to Tunis, he continued to author works in Catalan directed at an implied Christian audience in which he openly recommended belief in the Trinity and the Catholic
Introduction 5 Church. The juxtaposition of his authorship of a polemical text in Arabic that condemned the concept of the Trinity and criticised the four Gospels as mendacious with Catalan works promoting the Trinity has led some scholars to accuse him of duplicity and a lack of sincerity in his religious beliefs. In contrast, Benigni explores al-Turjumān’s conversion as a process of self-translation through inclusion in the context of a fluid early modern Mediterranean world that facilitated the imagination of a “multiplication of identities”.
Trans-imperial subjects Geo-political spatialities, political advancement and conversion
1 Trans-imperial nobility The case of Carlo Cigala (1556–1631)1 Tobias P. Graf
Introduction On 15 Rebiülahir in the year 1007 after the Hijra (12 November 1598), Sultan Mehmed III issued a certificate of appointment (berat) to a certain ‘Carlo Cigala who lives in Messina’. According to the sultan’s orders, the man was ‘to bring, without delay and hesitation, . . . [his] mother and [to] go to the . . . Duchy of Naxos and enjoy and govern it in . . . [his] lifetime’.2 Messina, of course, was not part of the sultan’s ‘well-protected domains’, nor was Cigala one of his subjects. This imperial command, therefore, presents somewhat of a puzzle. Why would Mehmed III appoint a foreigner – and a subject of his greatest rival in the Mediterranean, the king of Spain, at that – to what was nominally a vassal state, yet effectively a sancak of the Ottoman Empire? Taking Carlo Cigala’s appointment to the Duchy of Naxos as a starting point, this article examines the links between members of the Cigala family and the Ottoman Empire. I argue that, at least as far as Carlo was concerned, Christendom’s “archenemy” had a crucial role to play in his quest for social advancement. In fact, Carlo aspired to be, and indeed considered himself to be, part of a trans-imperial nobility.3 To begin, however, it would be prudent to briefly comment on the main source for Carlo Cigala’s appointment to the Duchy of Naxos since the quotation from the berat is taken, not from an Ottoman original, but from an Italian translation preserved in the archives in Venice. At first glance, this may make the information rather spurious. Yet Joshua White, who has had the chance to compare a number of copies and translations of Ottoman documents from this period preserved in Venice to their originals in Istanbul, has concluded that the Venetian material is generally faithful and therefore reliable.4 In this particular instance, the genuineness of the sultan’s order is supported by the close correspondence of the Italian text to Ottoman diplomatics which, in fact, makes it possible to classify the command as a berat in the first place. Phrases such as ‘give faith to my imperial seal’, with which the body of the document ends, are commonplace elements to authenticate the document and affirm its validity.5 While this does not preclude the possibility that the berat kept in Venice is a forgery that is very unlikely, all the more so since the translation is contained among the dispatches of the
10 Tobias P. Graf
Figure 1.1 Map of the Mediterranean Source: Drawn by the author using geographical data provided by Natural Earth.
Venetian baili in Istanbul who stood to gain nothing from spreading false rumour in this case.
The Cigala family The Cigalas were one of Genoa’s old noble families. Carlo’s father Visconte had been born in the city in 1504 but later relocated to Messina. The Sicilian port was an ideal basis of operations for Christian corsairs like Visconte who targeted Muslim shipping. Apart from undertaking private raids in the Mediterranean, Carlo’s father on several occasions sailed with the famous admiral Andrea Doria and participated in Charles V’s naval campaigns in North Africa and against the Ottomans. The Cigala family also maintained close connections to the Vatican. While Visconte’s brother achieved the rank of a cardinal, two of his nephews by another brother joined the Jesuits.6 He himself had two daughters and three sons, of whom Carlo was the youngest.7 By the time Mehmed III issued the ferman for Carlo’s appointment to the Duchy of Naxos, the latter enjoyed considerable social standing in his own right. His wife Beatrice de Guidici was the daughter of a Messinese baron
The case of Carlo Cigala 11 and, according to the Venetian bailo Matteo Zane, by the early 1590s, Carlo was the recipient of ‘a pension of five hundred scudi annually’ from the king of Spain.8 In 1597, moreover, the Sicilian had been granted the title of count by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.9 In Carlo’s efforts to further enhance his prestige as much as that of his family, his elder brother played a crucial role. For, when the sultan saw fit to promote the younger Cigala in the Aegean, Carlo’s brother, who had been named Scipione by their parents, was none other than the Ottoman kapudan paşa, the admiral of the Ottoman fleet, Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha. Most probably born in 1544, Scipione Cigala was seventeen years old when he and his father were captured at sea by Maghrebi corsairs in 1561, one year after the disastrous defeat of the Spanish fleet at Djerba. The two men were brought first to Tunis and then to Istanbul where Visconte Cigala was imprisoned in the fortress of Yedikule while Scipione converted to Islam and entered the school of Topkapı Palace.10 Admission to the school destined him for a prestigious career in Ottoman state service and made his subsequent professional biography virtually indistinguishable from those of illustrious recruits of the devşirme, the infamous ‘boy levy’, such as Sokollu Mehmed Pasha.11 Less than two years after his graduation from the inner palace in 1573, he was appointed agha of the janissaries. He received his first provincial governorship, in Basra, after the outbreak of war with Safavid Iran in 1578.12 In the following years, he distinguished himself on the Eastern battlefield, notably in the conquest of Tabriz during the campaign of 1585.13 As early as 1579, he briefly assumed command of the Ottoman forces in the East when the current commander-in-chief (serdar), Grand Vizier Lala Mustafa Pasha, was summoned to Istanbul.14 In recognition of his services, Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha was promoted to the rank of vizier in 1583. As the war with Iran drew to a close after thirteen years of fighting, he finally secured the appointment which he had desired for years: the office of the kapudan paşa.15 When Mehmed III succeeded to the throne after Murad III’s death in 1595, the Italian-born admiral was dismissed as part of the usual reshuffling of positions in the Ottoman administration which accompanied a new sultan’s accession.16 In the following year, still out of office, he accompanied the sultan on campaign in Hungary where the so-called Long War with the Austrian Habsburgs had broken out in the summer of 1593. This campaign saw not only the conquest of the fortress of Eger (German: Erlau, Turkish: Eğri) by Ottoman troops, but also, in its aftermath, the effective routing of the Ottoman camp on the nearby plain of Mezőkeresztes. By several accounts, Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha played a crucial role in turning the tide of battle at the last minute, as a reward for which he was appointed grand vizier. However, owing to palace intrigues as well as the harsh treatment of alleged deserters, he was relieved of his duties after little more than a month.17 Subsequently, he was posted first to Damascus and finally reappointed to
12 Tobias P. Graf the kapudanlık in 1598. This time, he remained in office even when Ahmed I succeeded to the throne in December 1603.18 When the Italian-born pasha was removed from his post the following year, it was because his talents as a military commander were once again required in the Eastern provinces where a new war with Iran had broken out.19 He died during that campaign in 1606.20 During his lifetime as well as in the memory of later generations, Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha enjoyed considerable fame not just in the Ottoman Empire, but also in Christian Europe. In the middle of the seventeenth century, for example, a man claiming to be a son of the late admiral became the object of public attention. Although this self-styled Jean Michel de Cigala/Mehmed Bey in all probability was an impostor unconnected to the actual Cigala family, he had managed to convince the king of France of the truth of his claim. The episode, as Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha’s biographer Gino Benzoni has remarked, provides ‘eloquent testimony of the enduring fascination of the Christian world with the figure of Cigala, who remained an enigma in the West’.21 As late as the nineteenth century, the kapudan paşa appeared as the main character in an homage to William Scott by the German novelist Philipp Joseph von Rehfues, while the Italian singer/songwriter Fabrizio de Andrè dedicated a song to “Sinàn Capudàn Pascià” in 1984.22
Carlo Cigala’s quest for the Duchy of Naxos Against the background of his success in climbing the Ottoman hierarchy, Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha sought to re-establish contact with his family in Sicily. Sometime after his first appointment as kapudan paşa, the convert invited his younger brother Carlo to visit him in Istanbul, an invitation which the latter accepted in 1593. News of this journey instantly gave rise to the rumour that the younger Cigala had been dispatched by the king of Spain in order to breathe new life into negotiations for a truce with the Porte.23 If Carlo had indeed been on such a mission, it came to naught. In any case, during a meeting in the Ottoman capital, he reassured Bailo Matteo Zane ‘that he [was] here on his own private business alone’.24 That ‘private business’, however, was more than merely a reunion between two brothers. According to the Venetian diplomat’s relazione delivered to the Doge and Senate after his return from Istanbul in 1594, ‘the said Signore Carlo . . . was indulging in the belief that he could easily be given charge of Moldavia or Wallachia by paying the usual pension to the Porte. And when this turned out unsuccessful he hatched the idea of having the islands of the Archipelago in imitation of the [sultan’s] Jewish favourite Giovanni Miches [Joseph Nasi]’.25 In this undertaking, Carlo certainly hoped to benefit from his brother’s position in the Ottoman military-administrative elite, not least because Naxos and the other islands of the Cyclades, which were part of the
The case of Carlo Cigala 13 historical duchy, were subject to the kapudan paşa’s jurisdiction.26 Although Carlo had arrived in Istanbul with high hopes, they remained unfulfilled for the time being. After several months, he returned to Messina empty handed because, as Zane put it, ‘his brother the Capudan . . . [would] not support him’.27 On the surface, Carlo’s visit to Istanbul appears rather unusual. Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha’s invitation certainly contradicts the prevailing stereotype that conversion necessitated the severance of all previous ties to kith and kin expressed by Ottoman and Christian-European contemporaries alike.28 By and large, however, such contacts between converts and their families, even outside the Ottoman Empire, were a rather ordinary phenomenon. Maria Pia Pedani has drawn attention to the fact that, during the same period, a number of Venetians visited family members who had entered the Ottoman elite. Some of them stayed, others even converted themselves.29 Thanks to Eric Dursteler’s recent work, the best-known example of this pattern is certainly provided by the Venetian Michiel family which included the eunuch Gazanfer Agha one of the most powerful men of his day, and his sister Beatrice, who after her conversion became known as Fatima Hatun.30 That Gazanfer Agha had one of Fatima’s sons abducted from a Venetian boarding school and brought to Istanbul, where he, too, embraced Islam, makes it one of the most spectacular cases of such continuing contacts between converts to Islam in the Ottoman Empire and their families ‘back home’.31 Carlo Cigala’s hope to receive his brother’s patronage likewise finds parallels in the stories of Venetian families. Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha’s immediate predecessor in the kapudanlık, Uluç Hasan Pasha, for instance, petitioned the Venetian Senate for an annual income of one hundred ducats and a bakery for his sister Camilla who continued to reside in the Serenissima. During a visit to Istanbul in 1590, moreover, Camilla’s husband explicitly requested his “renegade” brother-in-law to intercede with the Venetian authorities on his behalf and help him secure either a lucrative appointment or a pension. Although Uluç Hasan Pasha complied, the initiative proved unsuccessful. Even before his appointment as admiral of the Ottoman fleet, he had repeatedly used his position as a governor-general in North Africa to obtain pardons for his brother and cousin.32 In the context of Carlo Cigala’s aspirations in the Aegean, it is noteworthy that both Zane and Mehmed III explicitly mention the example of Joseph Nasi as a model for the Sicilian’s appointment to the Duchy of Naxos. Selim II’s famous courtier had become duke of Naxos in 1566 when the duchy had been formally annexed by the Porte. Yet, even after the incorporation of the Cyclades into the Empire’s regular structure of administration as a sancak, which only occurred after Nasi’s death, it remained somewhat exceptional since the sancakbeyis who succeeded Nasi included non-Muslims such as Constantine Cantacuzino and the Croatian Gasparo Gratiani.33 As a general rule, similar positions in other parts of the
14 Tobias P. Graf Ottoman Empire were reserved for members of the all-Muslim militaryadministrative elite.34 The reference to Nasi, therefore, is an indicator that Carlo expected to avoid following his brother’s example of having to undergo religious conversion in order to qualify for this appointment in Ottoman state service. This conclusion is further supported by his initial attempts to become voivode of Moldavia or Wallachia, both of which were ruled by Christian vassals rather than Muslim provincial governors. The reference to Nasi may also indicate that, like the Jewish favourite, the Sicilian intended to send an agent to carry out the business of government while he himself resided elsewhere.35 Carlo’s aversion to embracing Islam is borne out by the events following Mehmed III’s command concerning his transfer to the Aegean. Although the berat had been issued in 1598, Carlo only arrived on Ottoman soil, notably on the island of Chios, in 1600 to meet up with his brother. Awaiting Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha’s arrival, the duke-to-be immediately began to renegotiate the terms of his appointment. In particular, he tried to effect the removal of the local kadi (judge) from the island, an undertaking which his brother considered ‘impossible because it would be an action contrary to the law which the scholars here would not tolerate’.36 Carlo did not, however, heed his brother’s advice to desist from this request, informing him that the permission for settlement on the Cyclades which he had received from King Philip III of Spain was conditional on the kadi’s removal from Naxos.37 That Carlo had felt the need to obtain – and managed to secure – royal approval for his undertaking is both remarkable and revealing. While he was happy to work for the sultan, he took care not to follow his brother’s example too closely in becoming an Osmanlı proper, a Muslim member of the Ottoman military-administrative elite. If nothing else, the younger Cigala wanted to avoid being branded a renegade and thus a traitor to Christianity and Christendom, quite possibly to ensure that he continued to be employable by the Spanish crown. Evidently, Philip III had sufficient trust in the steadfastness of his subject’s faith to consent to the undertaking. Since adherence to Islam had become the most important marker of loyalty to the sultan by the sixteenth century, it is remarkable that Mehmed III did not explicitly demand Carlo to embrace the sultan’s faith. The argument from silence, however, is a difficult one to make in this case since the sultan and his advisers may simply have taken the new appointee’s conversion for granted and hence felt no need to spell it out as one of the conditions for appointment in the berat. On the other hand, adopting the ruler’s faith was not the only means by which one could declare and ensure loyalty. In this context, the command that Carlo bring his mother to the sultan’s domains needs to be seen as a demand for a symbolic demonstration of the duke-to-be’s political loyalty. It mirrors the practice of
The case of Carlo Cigala 15 the newly appointed voivodes of Moldavia sending family members as hostages to Istanbul.38 Doubtlessly, the demand for the relocation of the Cigalas’ mother to the Ottoman Empire was meant to offset Carlo’s earlier ties to Spain, thereby preventing the Spanish crown from enforcing a similar claim to the man’s loyalty through the mother’s continued residence in Sicily. That the berat specifically demanded the relocation of Carlo’s mother, however, had wider implications. Carlo’s first visit to Istanbul in 1593 had caused quite a stir among a section of the Ottoman elite. As Zane reported at the time, there are some who are seeking a decision from the Mufti [the şeyhülislam] on this point, whether it is lawful to use force to compel the son of a Turkish woman, born at Castel Nuovo, carried slave into Christendom, to return to Islam, which is precisely the case of Signor Carlo Cicalla. Interestingly, Zane’s summary of the legal issue at stake closely mirrors the kind of abstractions commonly used in fetvas. If Bostanzade Mehmed Efendi, who was şeyhülislam at the time, indeed produced an opinion on this question, and if a collection of his fetvas was produced, it should be possible to identify it on the basis of the Venetian dispatch.39 The central issue in this controversy was the religious adherence of the Cigalas’ mother who, as other sources confirm, was a convert to Christianity from Islam.40 In this light, Mehmed III’s demand for her return to his domains derives from the sultan’s duty as the protector of Islam and Islamic law and, perhaps above all else, had propagandistic value. At the same time, the fact that the mother had become a Christian in this context turned the demand for her relocation to Ottoman territory into a special test of loyalty for a future servant of the Ottoman realm who would be charged with upholding Ottoman law, including the enforcement of the prescriptions concerning apostasy.41 Clearly, Carlo would only be worthy of his post, if he put his obligation to the sultan above even his filial loyalties. Whether or not the Ottomans expected Carlo to embrace Islam, he certainly did not abandon his Catholic faith. Nor did he transfer his mother’s residence to the Ottoman Empire. When he arrived in Chios in 1600, he arrived alone. Having failed to fulfil the conditions for his appointment and unable to convince the sultan of his loyalty to him, the Italian was never actually invested with the Duchy of Naxos. Nevertheless, he does not seem to have given up his desire until after his brother’s death. Until then, he maintained a second domicile on Chios. According to Emrah Safa Gürkan’s findings, during his time there he played a central role in gathering intelligence on the Ottoman Empire for the king of Spain, as well as vice versa – another sign of his political ambivalence.42
16 Tobias P. Graf
Carlo Cigala’s quest for social advancement Carlo Cigala’s attempts to be appointed to the Duchy of Naxos as well as his ambivalence towards the Ottomans need to be seen in the context of what was a life-long and ambitious quest for social advancement in which his elder brother Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha played a crucial role. Carlo’s strategic use of his connection to the upper echelons of Ottoman state service, moreover, was by no means restricted to his dream of establishing himself in the Aegean. It is also evident, for instance, in a letter which he sent to Queen Elizabeth I in 1601 concerning reparations for losses caused to his ships and the goods they carried at the hands of English pirates in the Mediterranean. In merely four pages, Carlo mentioned ‘my brother the Captain Pasha’ no less than six times.43 Although the Italian’s attempts to be employed by the Porte were ultimately abortive, in 1610, the wealth he had accumulated through various other ventures enabled him to buy the baronage of Tiriolo in Calabria. In addition to the nobilities of Genoa, Sicily and the Holy Roman Empire, Carlo thus gained admission to the peerage of the Kingdom of Naples. Three years later, like his father before him, he was admitted to the Order of Saint James of the Sword, an honour which required papal dispensation because his mother, as a former Ottoman subject, and thus he himself, lacked the noble pedigree which was normally required of all its members. In light of his attempts to enter the service of the sultan, this honour is particularly ironic. After all, Saint James had been symbolically central to the centurieslong efforts of driving the Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula, commonly referred to as the Reconquista, and the fight against Muslims was one of the main tasks with which the order was charged. Finally, in 1630, Philip IV of Spain elevated the younger Cigala to the rank of a prince.44 In attaining these favours from the papacy and the Spanish crown, Carlo’s relationship with his brother was crucial. When he arrived on Chios in 1600, the former had been authorised to negotiate with Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha for the latter’s defection to Christendom. By 1603, the plan, which had originally been conceived in the 1590s, had taken on truly millenarian proportions. Pope Clement VIII even had letters to the Ottoman admiral prepared in which he not only encouraged the kapudan paşa to return to his native religion, but also implored him to take up arms ‘against the tyranny of the Turks’, stage a coup d’état and install a Christian dynasty in Istanbul. Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha was to keep all territories which he conquered from the Ottomans, with the exception of Hungary and Jerusalem, which were to be ruled over by the Emperor and the king of Spain respectively. The plan, of course, was never put into practice and, in any case, had no chance of success. Since Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha was called to the Ottoman–Safavid border at the outbreak of
The case of Carlo Cigala 17 war with the Safavids shortly afterwards, the papal letters were never even dispatched.45 While it is doubtful that anyone but Clement VIII ever took the scheme seriously, even if Rudolf II and Philip III at least nominally supported it, Jan Paul Niederkorn has shown that Carlo Cigala explicitly linked his requests for various favours, particularly admission to the Order of Saint James, to his involvement in the negotiations for his brother’s defection.46 As late as the 1630s, now in his mid-seventies, the younger Cigala brother turned once more to the Porte in order to request the appointment of one of his sons as prince of Moldavia or Wallachia in order ‘most of all to satisfy the parents of an eminent woman from Bohemia meant to marry that same son of his’. Carlo Cigala died a few months after this visit to Istanbul on 26 July 1631, aged 75.47 The historian Gino Benzoni fittingly concluded that the kapudan paşa’s brother ‘was the jealous custodian of his family’s prestige, fond of pomp and splendour and no stranger to restless and devious ambitions for grandeur as well as risky intrigues in order to fulfil them’.48 Niederkorn has gone so far to call the involvement of Carlo Cigala as well as his Jesuit cousins Antonio and Vincenzo in the ambitious plan to overthrow the Ottoman Empire, ‘a nearly perfect fraud’ designed to enhance the family’s prestige.49 Regardless of whether Carlo Cigala actually engaged in such forms of deception and deceit, his skilful invocation of ties on both sides of the political dividing line between the realms of the king of Spain and the Ottoman sultan fits him into the category of trans-imperial subjects. Natalie Rothman, who coined this concept, uses it for individuals like him who ‘regularly mobilized their roots “elsewhere” to foreground specific knowledge, privileges, or commitments to further their current interests’. This was not merely an elite phenomenon or a strategy open only to individuals of noble birth as the examples from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Venice she discusses in her book make clear.50 Carlo Cigala, however, employed trans-imperiality as a strategy for further advancement within the Mediterranean nobility at large, rather than in the service of one particular ruler. In itself, this is perhaps not particularly surprising and seems to have been rather in keeping with his Genoese descent in emulation, for instance, of the career of Andrea Doria.51 Yet going so far to even consider Ottoman employment was rare, although Carlo’s story in many ways parallels the experiences of Christophe de Roggendorf and the Comte de Bonneval who both turned to the Ottoman Empire when they became disgruntled with those they served. Only for Bonneval, however, this changing of allegiance involved embracing Islam. Roggendorf resisted conversion only to switch sides once again, this time to the king of France, out of frustration over the lack of high-level career opportunities for Christians in the sultan’s service.52
18 Tobias P. Graf
Conclusion From the available evidence, both Carlo Cigala and Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha emerge as trans-imperial noblemen. In the latter’s case, this conclusion is further supported not least by the nisbe Ciğalazade itself, which literally means ‘son of Cigala’. Even after his conversion to Islam and admission to the Ottoman military-administrative elite, the association with his father’s house remained of considerable importance to the Italian-born convert, his contemporaries and even his descendants. For Carlo Cigala, the trans-imperial nature of his ambitions, of course, owed much to coincidence; his brother simply happened to be a high-ranking Ottoman. But even if the concrete means by which he sought social and economic advancement for himself and his family were the result of developments outside his control, he was both ready and savvy enough to seize the opportunities which presented themselves to him. Doing so was a highstakes gambit, especially for a subject of the Spanish crown. Carlo Cigala’s mere attempts to enter the sultan’s employment might easily have been construed as treason and cost him his life. Even his ambitions had limits, however. While he was willing to capitalise on his Ottoman brother and become an Ottoman vassal himself, his desire to remain part of the Christian-European nobility made him stop short of actually becoming Osmanlı, with everything this status implied. One wonders what role their mother’s Ottoman origins played in all this. As pointed out above, however, Carlo Cigala’s attempts to mobilise trans-imperial family ties and connections were not unique in principle. They find parallels in the cases of Venetian families such as the Michiels. In addition, Palmira Brummett has suggested that it would be more accurate to speak, not of trans-imperial nobles, but trans-imperial notables, drawing attention to a wider Mediterranean phenomenon. Indeed, the embeddedness of kapudan paşas in Mediterranean networks of patronage and correspondence may very well explain their relative success or lack of it in this office.53 Brummett’s point is well taken, although I would go even further to say that such cross-border networks were a wider Eurasian phenomenon which, as far as Ottoman–Christian-European contacts are concerned, just happens to have been best studied in the context of the Mediterranean.54 The case of Pál Márkházy, for example, suggests that embeddedness in transimperial networks was of equal importance in the context of the Ottoman Empire’s north-western frontiers. Márkházy, a Transylvanian nobleman, had converted to Islam in the 1570s and was subsequently posted in the provinces bordering his former home, precisely because he knew the region so well and had extensive contacts who could provide him with good intelligence.55 In the same vein, Martin Mulsow has shown the importance of continued contacts between the former Heidelberg preacher Adam Neuser,
The case of Carlo Cigala 19 who had converted to Islam and settled in the Ottoman Empire in 1573, and correspondents in Transylvania, as well as his son who was caught by the Austrian authorities while trying to join his father in Istanbul.56 In the last analysis, such contacts must be seen in the context of similar patterns of contact, travel and patronage which have already been studied among other groups with trans-imperial backgrounds, whether Chaldean Christians or Morisco and Converso refugees settling in the Islamic world. One needs to think only of Joseph Nasi or Samuel Pallache and their relatives.57 Further research will hopefully illuminate to what extent these groups tapped into similar networks to provide the infrastructure without which correspondence and mutual visits were impossible.
Notes 1 This article examines in greater detail material also discussed in chapters 4 and 5 of Tobias P. Graf, The Sultan’s Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575–1610 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). It has profited from insightful comments, incisive questions and a generous sharing of manuscripts by several of the participants of the conference “The Lure of the Other”. I would like to acknowledge my particular debt to Palmira Brummett, Gábor Kármán, Martin Mulsow and Joshua White. 2 Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Dispacci del Bailo a Costantinopoli al Senato, filza 51. As transcribed in Ilario Rinieri, “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala: Secondo Documenti Inediti,” pt. 6, La civiltà cattolica, series 16, 11/1132 (August 11, 1897): 411–12. Unless otherwise noted, all translations into English are my own. 3 For a detailed definition of E. Natalie Rothman’s concept, see her Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 11–15. 4 Joshua M. White, “Catch and Release: Piracy, Slavery, and Law in the Early Modern Ottoman Mediterranean” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2012), 65. 5 Quotation from Rinieri, “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala,” pt. 6, 412. On the diplomatics of berats, see Ludwig Fekete, Einführung in die osmanisch-türkische Diplomatik der türkischen Botmäßigkeit in Ungarn (Budapest: Veröffentlichungen des Königlichen Ungarischen Staatsarchivs, 1926), XLVI–XLVII and the document reproduced there on pp. 28–9. I am grateful to Gábor Kármán and Henning Sievert for bringing this correspondence to my attention. 6 On Visconte Cigala and his background, see Gino Benzoni, “Cicala, Visconte,” in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, ed. A. M. Ghisalberti and M. Pavan (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1981), 340–6; Domenico
20 Tobias P. Graf Montuoro, “I Cigala, una famiglia feudale tra Genova, Sicilia, Turchia e Calabria,” Mediterranea: Richerche storiche 6 (2009). 7 Benzoni, “Cicala, Visconte,” 345. 8 Luigi Firpo, ed., Costantinopoli (1590–1793), vol. 9 of Relazioni di ambasciatori veneti al Senato (Turin: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1984), 295. 9 The diploma of nobility has survived in Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv, Vienna, Adelsakten, Reichsadelsakten, box 65, no. 30. See Jan Paul Niederkorn, “Das negotium secretum der Familie Cicala,” Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 101 (1993): 432. 10 Benzoni, “Cigala, Scipione,” 320, 344. On the battle of Djerba, see the account in John Francis Guilmartin Jr., Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 123–34. 11 Gilles Veinstein, “Soḳollu Meḥmed Pasha,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ¯¯ ed., ed. P. J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 706–11. On the palace school, see Gülru Necipoğlu, Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapı Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1991), chap. 6; Barnette Miller, The Palace School of Muhammad the Conqueror (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1941). 12 Bezoni, “Cicala, Scipione,” 321. 13 Ibid., 321–3; V. J. Parry, “Čighāla- Zāde (dj ighāla- zāde) Yūsuf Sinān Pāshā”, ¯¯ ¯ ¯ ¯¯ ¯ ¯ ed., ed. P. J. in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd Bearman, T. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Brill, 1965), 34. 14 İbrahim Peçevi, Peçevî tarihi, ed. Murat Uraz, 2 vols. (Istanbul: Son Telgraf Matbaası, 1968–9), 330. 15 Benzoni, “Cicala, Scipione”, 322–3; Parry, “Čighāla- Zāde,” 34; İsmail ¯¯ Hâmı Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı (Istanbul: Türkiye Yayinevi, 1971), 184. 16 Rhoads Murphey, Exploring Ottoman Sovereignty: Tradition, Image, and Practice in the Ottoman Imperial Household, 1400–1800 (London and New York: Continuum, 2008), chap. 5. 17 Benzoni, “Cicala, Scipione,” 328–30; Jan Schmidt, “The Egri-Campaign of 1596: The Military History and the Problem of Sources,” in HabsburgischOsmanische Beziehungen/Relations Habsbourg-ottomanes: Wien, 15.–30. September 1583, ed. Andreas Tietze (Vienna: Verlag des Verbandes der wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaften Österreichs, 1985); William J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion 1000–1020/1591–1611 (Berlin: Schwarz, 1983), 19–21; Edward Barton to Thomas Heneage, Constantinople, 5 January 1596 Old Style [15 January 1597], London: The National Archives of the United Kingdom, State Papers [hereafter: TNA, SP] 97/3, 150r–154r; Rawdon Brown, Horatio F. Brown and Allan B. Hinds, eds., Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts Relating to English Affairs Existing in the Archives and Collections of Venice and in Other Libraries of Northern
The case of Carlo Cigala 21 Italy, 38 vols. (London, 1864–1947) [hereafter cited as CSP Venice], vol. 9, no. 524. 18 Benzoni, “Cicala, Scipione,” 330–1; Parry, “Čighāla- Zāde,” 34; Henry Lello ¯ ¯ Old Style [2 May 1598], to Sir Robert Cecil, Constantinople, 22 April 1598 TNA, SP 97/3, 237v; Henry Lello to Sir Robert Cecil, Constantinople, 1 July 1598 Old Style [11 July 1598], TNA, SP 97/3, 249r; Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, 184–5. On the reasons for the absence of the usual dismissals at Ahmed I’s accession, see Günhan Börekçi, “Factions and Favorites at the Courts of Sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603–17) and His Immediate Predecessors” (PhD diss., Ohio State University, Columbus, 2010), 77–92. 19 Benzoni, “Cicala, Scipione,” 336–7; Parry, “Čighāla- Zāde,” 34; “Di Cos¯ ¯ Staatsarchiv, Haus-, Hoftantinopoli li 22 Febraro 1604,” Österreichisches und Staatsarchiv, Vienna, Staatenabteilungen, Türkei I, box 87, bundle for 1604 February, 155r. 20 Benzoni, “Cigala, Scipione,” 337; Parry, “Čighāla- Zāde,” 34. ¯¯ was published as His 21 Benzoni, “Cigala, Scipione,” 338. An autobiography toire de Mehemet Bei, aujourd’huy nommé J. M. de Cigala, Prince du sang impérial des Ottomans (Paris, 1668). John Evelyn’s refutation of the story in his The History of the Three Late, Famous Impostors, viz. Padre Ottomano, Mahomed Bei, and Sabatai Sevi appeared in London the following year. I am grateful to John-Paul Ghobrial for bringing the impostor’s story to my attention. 2 2 Rehfues’s novel Scipio Cicala was published by Brockhaus in Leipzig in 1832. A second “completely reworked” edition appeared from the same publisher in 1840. Andrè’s song was released on the album Crêuza de Mä, Ricordi, SMRL 6308, 1984, 33⅓ rpm. 2 3 CSP Venice, vol. 9, nos. 170, 172, 197; Edward Barton to Lord Burghley, Constantinople, 23 December 1593 Old Style [2 January 1594], British Library, Cotton MSS, Nero B.XII, 12r; Emrah Safa Gürkan, “Espionage in the 16th Century Mediterranean: Secret Diplomacy, Mediterranean GoBetweens and the Ottoman Habsburg Rivalry” (PhD diss., Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 2012), 118 and 175–6. 2 4 CSP Venice, vol. 9, no. 198. 2 5 Firpo, Costantinopoli, 295–6. 26 Benjamin J. Slot, Archipelagus turbatus: Les Cyclades entre colonisation latine et occupation ottomane c. 1500–1718, 2 vols. (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te Istanbul, 1982), 1:88–104. 2 7 CSP Venice, vol. 9, no. 217. 28 See also Tijana Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011); Tijana Krstić, “Illuminated by the Light of Islam and the Glory of the Ottoman Sultanate: Self-Narratives of Conversion to Islam in the Age of Confessionalization,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 51 (2009); Claire Norton, “Lust, Greed, Torture, and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern
22 Tobias P. Graf Renegade,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29 (2009): 266–8; Ralf C. Müller, Franken im Osten: Art, Umfang, Struktur und Dynamik der Migration aus dem lateinischen Westen in das Osmanische Reich des 15./16. Jahrhunderts auf der Grundlage von Reiseberichten (Leipzig: Eudora, 2005), 288–90; Eyal Ginio, “Childhood, Mental Capacity and Conversion to Islam in the Ottoman State,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 25 (2001). 29 Maria Pia Pedani, “Safiye’s Household and Venetian Diplomacy,” Turcica 32 (2000): 19–23; Maria Pia Pedani-Fabris, “Veneziani a Costantinopoli alla fine del XVI secolo,” Quaderni di Studi Arabi 15 suppl. (1997). 30 Eric R. Dursteler, “Fatima Hatun née Beatrice Michiel: Renegade Women in the Early Modern Mediterranean,” The Medieval History Journal 12 (2009); Dursteler, Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), chap. 1; Pedani, “Safiye’s Household,” 25–7; Pedani, “Veneziani”. 3 1 Dursteler, Renegade Women, 26–8; Pedani, “Veneziani,” 75–6. On the phenomenon as a whole, see Tobias P. Graf, “Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives: Christian-European ‘Renegades’ in the Ottoman Empire and Their PreConversion Ties, ca. 1580–1610,” in Well-Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History, ed. Pascal W. Firges, Tobias P. Graf, Christian Roth and Gülay Tulasoğlu (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 137–49; Graf, Sultan’s Renegades, chap. 5. 32 Antonio Fabris, “Hasan ‘Il veneziano’ tra Algeri e Costantinopoli,” Quaderni di Studi Arabi 15 suppl. (1997): 60–1, quotation from 61; Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, 183–4; Kâtib Çelebi, The Gift of the Great Ones on Naval Campaigns, ed. İdris Bostan, trans. Uzman Tercüme Ltd. Şti. (Ankara: Prime Ministry Undersecretariat for Maritime Affairs, 2008), 11, 138. 3 3 Slot, Archipelagus turbatus, 1:103–4. 34 Claire Norton, “Conversion to Islam in the Ottoman Empire,” Wiener Zeitschrift zur Geschichte der Neuzeit 7 (2007): 31; Christine IsomVerhaaren, “Shifting Identities: Foreign State Servants in France and the Ottoman Empire,” Journal of Early Modern History 8 (2004): 117; Metin İ. Kunt, The Sultan’s Servants: The Transformation of Ottoman Provincial Government, 1550–1650 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983). 35 On Nasi’s administration of the Cyclades, see Slot, Archipelagus turbatus, 1:92–7. 3 6 Ciğalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha to Carlo Cigala, Constantinople, 24 April 1600, Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Dispacci del Bailo a Costantinopoli al Senato, filza 51. As transcribed in Rinieri, “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala,” pt. 6, 417. 37 Rinieri, “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala,” pt. 6, 417–8; Emrah Safa Gürkan, “Espionage,” 175. 38 Sándor Papp, “Moldavia,” in Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, ed. Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Masters (New York: Facts on File, 2009);
The case of Carlo Cigala 23 Ekkehard Völkel, “Moldau,” in Lexikon zur Geschichte Südosteuropas, ed. Edgar Hösch, Karl Nehring and Holm Sundhaussen (Vienna, Cologne and Weimar: Böhlau, 2004); Halil İnalcık, “Bog_h_dān,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed., ed. P. J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs, vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill, 1960). 9 CSP Venice, vol. 9, no. 198 (3 August 1593). On Bostanzade’s tenure as 3 şeyhülislam, see Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, 118. 0 Firpo, Costantinopoli, 343; Henry Lello to Sir Robert Cecil, Constantino4 ple, 21 October 1598 Old Style [31 October 1598], TNA, SP 97/3, 260r; Benzoni, “Cicala, Visconte,” 341; Montuoro, “I Cigala,” 280–1. 4 1 Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), chap. 5, esp. 123–4 and 170–2; Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 132, 165, 187. 42 Gürkan, “Espionage,” 175, 219. 43 Carlo Cigala to Queen Elizabeth I, Messina, 17 July 1601, TNA, SP 93/1, 6r–7v, quotation here from 7r. 44 Benzoni, “Cicala, Visconte,” 345; Montuoro, “I Cigala,” 299. On the economic activities of Carlo and his mother, see Montuoro, “I Cigala,” 295–8, as well as a number of memoranda concerning incidents of piracy suffered by Carlo Cigala and his mother Lucrezia in TNA, SP 94/14, pt. 2, 272r–287v. 45 Rinieri, “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala,” pt. 8, La civiltà cattolica, series 16, 12/1136 (7 October 1897): 154–67 (quotation from p. 163); Rinieri, “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala,” pts. 3 and 7, La civiltà cattolica, series 16, 10/1125 (20 April 1897): 272–85; La civiltà cattolica, series 16, 11/1134 (6 September 1897): 653–63. See also Niederkorn, “Negotium secretum,” esp. 426 and 434; Clement VIII to Giovanni Francesco Aldobrandini, papal envoy in Spain, Rome, 10 November 1594, in Die Hauptinstruktionen Clemens’ VIII. für die Nuntien und Legaten an den europäischen Fürstenhöfen, 1592–1605, ed. Klaus Jaitner, 2 vols. (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1984), 1:301–3. 46 Niederkorn, “Negotium secretum,” 431–4. 47 Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Senato Corti, reg. 1, c. 91r. As quoted in Benzoni, “Cicala, Visconte,” 345. See also Montuoro, “I Cigala,” 300. 48 Benzoni, “Cicala, Visconte,” 345. 49 Niederkorn, “Negotium secretum,” 434. 50 Rothman, Brokering Empire, 11–12. 51 Montuoro, “I Cigala,” 277–9. 52 See Isom-Verhaaren, “Shifting Identities,” 130–2; Claire Norton, “ ‘The Lutheran is the Turks’ Luck’: Imagining Religious Identity, Alliance and Conflict on the Habsburg-Ottoman Marches in an Account of the Sieges of Nagyakanizsa 1600 and 1601,” in Das Osmanische Reich und die Habsburgermonarchie in der Neuzeit: Akten des internationalen Kongresses zum 150-jährigen Bestehen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, Wien, 22.–25. September 2004, ed. Marlene Kurz, Martin Scheutz, Karl Vocelka and Thomas Winkelbauer (Vienna and Munich: Oldenbourg,
24 Tobias P. Graf 2005), 66–7, 74; Felix Konrad, “Soziale Mobilität europäischer Renegaten im frühneuzeitlichen Osmanischen Reich,” in Religion und Mobilität: Zum Verhältnis von raumbezogener Mobilität und religiöser Identitätsbildung im frühneuzeitlichen Europa, ed. Henning P. Jürgens and Thomas Weller (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010), 226–7. 53 Palmira Brummett made this suggestion during the course of the conference. Also see her “Placing the Ottomans in the Mediterranean World: The Question of Notables and Households,” Osmanlı Araştırmaları/Journal of Ottoman Studies 36 (2010). The integration of Ottoman kapudan paşas is illustrated, as Brummett points out, by the surviving correspondence of these officials discussed in Gilles Veinstein, “Les documents émis par le ḳapûdân paşa dans le fonds ottoman de Patmos”, Documents de travail du Cetobac, 1 (January 2010), http://cetobac.ehess.fr/docannexe/file/1353/ les_archives_de_l_insularite_ottomane.pdf (last accessed 07/04/16). 54 The possibility that membership of trans-imperial networks was similarly crucial to the success of Ottoman officials in other posts is explored more fully in Graf, The Sultan’s Renegades, chap. 4. 55 Sándor Papp, “From a Transylvanian Principality to an Ottoman Sanjak: The Life of Pál Márkházi, a Hungarian Renegade,” Chronica 4 (2004): 57–67. 56 Martin Mulsow, “Fluchträume und Konversionsräume zwischen Heidelberg und Istanbul: Der Fall Adam Neuser,” in Kriminelle – Freidenker – Alchemisten, ed. Mulsow (Cologne: Böhlau, 2014), 55–6. See also Mulsow “Antitrinitarians and Conversion to Islam: Adam Neuser reads Murad b. Abdullah in Ottoman Istanbul,” in this volume. 57 The ties and mobility of Eastern Christians are discussed in John-Paul A. Ghobrial, “Stories Never Told: The First Arabic History of the World,” Osmanlı Araştırmarları/Journal of Ottoman Studies 40 (2012); Ghobrial, “The Secret Life of Elias of Babylon and the Uses of Global Microhistory,” Past and Present, 222 (2014). The literature on the Jewish diaspora in the Ottoman Empire is extensive. Good starting points for the period discussed here are Benjamin Arbel, Trading Nations: Jews and Venetians in the Early-Modern Eastern Mediterranean (Leiden: Brill, 1995); Cecil Roth, The House of Nasi: Doña Gracia (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1948); Roth, The House of Nasi: The Duke of Naxos (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1948). Also see Mercedes García-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers, A Man of Three Worlds: Samuel Pallache, a Moroccan Jew in Catholic and Protestant Europe, trans. Martin Beagles (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). For the Moriscos, see Andrew C. Hess, The Forgotten Frontier: A History of the Sixteenth-Century Ibero-African Frontier (Chicago and New York: University of Chicago Press, 1978); Tijana Krstić, “Moriscos in Ottoman Galata, 1609–1620s”, in The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, ed. Mercedes GarcíaArenal and Gerard Wiegers (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014), 269–85; Houssem Eddine Chachia, “The Moment of Choice: The Moriscos on the Border of Christianity and Islam,” in this volume.
The case of Carlo Cigala 25
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The case of Carlo Cigala 27 Friedmann, Yohanan. Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. García-Arenal, Mercedes and Gerard Wiegers. A Man of Three Worlds: Samuel Pallache, a Moroccan Jew in Catholic and Protestant Europe. Translated by Martin Beagles. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Ghobrial, John-Paul A. “Stories Never Told: The First Arabic History of the World.” Osmanlı Araştırmarları/Journal of Ottoman Studies 40 (2012): 259–282. ––– “The Secret Life of Elias of Babylon and the Uses of Global Microhistory.” Past and Present 222 (2014): 51–93. Ginio, Eyal. “Childhood, Mental Capacity and Conversion to Islam in the Ottoman State.” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 25 (2001): 90–119. Graf, Tobias P. “Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives: Christian-European ‘Renegades’ in the Ottoman Empire and Their Pre-Conversion Ties, ca. 1580– 1610.” In Well-Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History, edited by Pascal W. Firges, Tobias P. Graf, Christian Roth and Gülay Tulasoğlu, 131–149. Leiden: Brill, 2014. ––– The Sultan’s Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575–1610. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Griswold, William J. The Great Anatolian Rebellion 1000–1020/1591– 1611. Berlin: Schwarz, 1983. Guilmartin, John Francis Jr. Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974. Gürkan, Emrah Safa. “Espionage in the 16th Century Mediterranean: Secret Diplomacy, Mediterranean Go-Betweens and the Ottoman Habsburg Rivalry.” PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2012. Hess, Andrew C. The Forgotten Frontier: A History of the SixteenthCentury Ibero-African Frontier. Chicago and New York: University of Chicago Press, 1978. İnalcık, Halil. “Bog_h_dān.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed., edited by P. J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs, vol. 1, 1252–1253. Leiden: Brill, 1960. Isom-Verhaaren, Christine. “Shifting Identities: Foreign State Servants in France and the Ottoman Empire.” Journal of Early Modern History 8 (2004): 109–134. Konrad, Felix. “Soziale Mobilität europäischer Renegaten im frühneuzeitlichen Osmanischen Reich.” In Religion und Mobilität: Zum Verhältnis von raumbezogener Mobilität und religiöser Identitätsbildung im frühneuzeitlichen Europa, edited by Henning P. Jürgens and Thomas Weller, 213–234. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010. Krstić, Tijana. “Illuminated by the Light of Islam and the Glory of the Ottoman Sultanate: Self-Narratives of Conversion to Islam in the Age of Confessionalization.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 51 (2009): 35–65.
28 Tobias P. Graf ––– Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011. ––– “Moriscos in Ottoman Galata, 1609–1620s.” In The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, edited by Mercedes GarcíaArenal and Gerard Wiegers, 269–285. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014. Kunt, Metin İ. The Sultan’s Servants: The Transformation of Ottoman Provincial Government, 1550–1650. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. Miller, Barnette. The Palace School of Muhammad the Conqueror. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1941. Montuoro, Domenico. “I Cigala, una famiglia feudale tra Genova, Sicilia, Turchia e Calabria.” Mediterranea: Richerche storiche 6 (2009): 279–286. Müller, Ralf C. Franken im Osten: Art, Umfang, Struktur und Dynamik der Migration aus dem lateinischen Westen in das Osmanische Reich des 15./16. Jahrhunderts auf der Grundlage von Reiseberichten. Leipzig: Eudora, 2005. Mulsow, Martin. “Fluchträume und Konversionsräume zwischen Heidelberg und Istanbul: Der Fall Adam Neuser.” In Kriminelle – Freidenker – Alchemisten, edited by Mulsow, 33–59. Cologne: Böhlau, 2014. ––– “Antitrinitarians and Conversion to Islam: Adam Neuser reads Murad b. Abdullah in Ottoman Istanbul.” In Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: the Lure of the Other, edited by Claire Norton. London: Ashgate, 2016. Murphey, Rhoads. Exploring Ottoman Sovereignty: Tradition, Image, and Practice in the Ottoman Imperial Household, 1400–1800. London and New York: Continuum, 2008. Necipoğlu, Gülru. Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapı Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1991. Niederkorn, Jan Paul. “Das negotium secretum der Familie Cicala.” Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 101 (1993): 425–434. Norton, Claire. “ ‘The Lutheran is the Turks’ Luck’: Imagining Religious Identity, Alliance and Conflict on the Habsburg-Ottoman Marches in an Account of the Sieges of Nagyakanizsa 1600 and 1601.” In Das Osmanische Reich und die Habsburgermonarchie in der Neuzeit: Akten des internationalen Kongresses zum 150-jährigen Bestehen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, Wien, 22.–25. September 2004, edited by Marlene Kurz, Martin Scheutz, Karl Vocelka and Thomas Winkelbauer, 67–81. Vienna and Munich: Oldenbourg, 2005. ––– “Conversion to Islam in the Ottoman Empire.” Wiener Zeitschrift zur Geschichte der Neuzeit 7 (2007): 25–39. ––– “Lust, Greed, Torture, and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern Renegade.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29 (2009): 259–268. Papp, Sándor. “From a Transylvanian Principality to an Ottoman Sanjak: The Life of Pál Márkházi, a Hungarian Renegade.” Chronica 4 (2004): 57–67.
The case of Carlo Cigala 29 ––– “Moldavia”. In Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, edited by Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Masters, 389–391. New York: Facts on File, 2009. Parry, V. J. “Čighāla- Zāde (djighāla- zāde) Yūsuf Sinān Pāshā.” In Encyclopae¯ ¯¯ ¯ ¯by P. J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, ¯ ¯ C. E. Bosworth, dia of Islam.¯ 2nd ed., edited E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs, vol. 2, 33–34. Leiden: Brill, 1965. Pedani, Maria Pia. “Veneziani a Costantinopoli alla fine del XVI secolo.” Quaderni di Studi Arabi 15 suppl. (1997): 67–84. ––– “Safiye’s Household and Venetian Diplomacy.” Turcica 32 (2000): 9–31. Rinieri, Ilario. “Clemente VIII e Sinan Bassà Cicala: Secondo Documenti Inediti.” Pts. 1–10. La civiltà cattolica series 16, 9/1117 (12 March 1897): 693–707; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 10/1125 (7 April 1897): 151–161; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 10/1125 (20 April 1897): 272–285; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 10/1128 (9 June 1897): 671–686; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 11/1130 (7 July 1897): 153–172; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 11/1132 (11 August 1897): 410–420; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 11/1134 (6 September 1897): 653–663; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 12/1136 (7 October 1897): 154–167; La civiltà cattolica series 16, 12/1138 (11 November 1897): 417– 435; La civiltà cattolica series 17, 1/1142 (5 January 1898): 165–176. Roth, Cecil. The House of Nasi: Doña Gracia. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1948. ––– The House of Nasi: The Duke of Naxos. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1948. Rothman, E. Natalie. Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011. Schacht, Joseph. An Introduction to Islamic Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966. Schmidt, Jan. “The Egri-Campaign of 1596: The Military History and the Problem of Sources.” In Habsburgisch-Osmanische Beziehungen/Relations Habsbourg-ottomanes: Wien, 15.–30. September 1583, edited by Andreas Tietze, 125–144. Vienna: Verlag des Verbandes der wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaften Österreichs, 1985. Slot, Benjamin J. Archipelagus turbatus: Les Cyclades entre colonisation latine et occupation ottomane c. 1500–1718, 2 vols. Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te Istanbul, 1982. Veinstein, Gilles. “Soḳollu Meḥmed Pāshā.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ¯¯ C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel ed., edited by P. J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, and W. P. Heinrichs, vol. 9, 706–711. Leiden: Brill, 1997. ––– “Les documents émis par le ḳapûdân paşa dans le fonds ottoman de Patmos.” Documents de travail du Cetobac 1 (January 2010), 13–19. Last accessed 07/04/2016. http://cetobac.ehess.fr/docannexe/file/1353/les_archives_ de_l_insularite_ottomane.pdf. Völkel, Ekkehard. “Moldau.” In Lexikon zur Geschichte Südosteuropas, edited by Edgar Hösch, Karl Nehring and Holm Sundhaussen, 453–455. Vienna, Cologne and Weimar: Böhlau, 2004. White, Joshua M. “Catch and Release: Piracy, Slavery, and Law in the Early Modern Ottoman Mediterranean.” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2012.
2 Conversion under the threat of arms Converts and renegades during the war for Crete (1645–1669) Domagoj Madunić Introduction The problem of conversion in the circumstances of a major armed conflict constitutes the main research topic of this study. The conflict in question is the “War for Crete”, the longest war ever fought between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire, lasting from 1645 until 1669.1 In spatial terms, this chapter is limited to events that took place in the Adriatic theater of operations and its adjunct territories, that is: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Ottoman-controlled Slavonia.2 Through several case studies from this conflict, this chapter aims to reconstruct the conditions and circumstances under which conversions took place and demonstrate how, in the midst of war, conversion functioned as a survival strategy. Furthermore, the examples of conversion that this study deals with are only those involving Muslims and Christians; the question of inter-Christian conversions (between Catholicism and Orthodoxy), which was also widespread in Dalmatia in the years in question, is not discussed. The main reasons for this decision were the following: the lack of space, the complexity of the Catholic-Orthodox relationship in the Balkans – which, although it has already been the object of several studies, still remains a topic in need of further research – and finally, despite the fact that some Orthodox Christians undoubtedly served in the ranks of the Ottoman forces, the main participants in this conflict (namely the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire) came from different sides of the Christian-Muslim religious divide and I wanted to focus on cases of conversion between the main warring parties.3 The outbreak of a new war between the Republic and the Ottoman Empire in 1645 after more than seventy years of peace immediately resulted in a drastic increase of violence along the already volatile Venetian-HabsburgOttoman frontier in the Adriatic.4 Once the initial sporadic skirmishes escalated and hostilities started for real, full-scale military campaigns, raids and counter-raids came to be facts of life for the population on both sides of the frontier for the next two decades. Due to the nature of warfare in the
Conversion under the threat of arms 31 region, prisoners came to constitute one of the most valuable commodities that could be obtained from enemy lands. Over the course of twenty-five years, both Venetian and Ottoman forces captured an uncountable number of prisoners. This was especially the case in the years 1647 and 1648 when the most intense fighting took place in this area. During these years, in two spring campaigns, Venetian forces re-conquered the entire area between the Adriatic coast and the Dinaric mountains.5 Not only were all Ottoman strongholds south of the Dinaric mountain ranges neutralised, but the entire area was almost completely depopulated. This success of the Venetian army was accompanied by a whole-scale rebellion of the Ottoman-Christian subjects, known in the Venetian sources as Morlacchi, who in their thousands migrated to the coast or the Venetian-controlled islands.6 On the other hand, the local Muslim population and the Morlacchi who had refused to join the rebellion either fled to the north and the safety of the Ottoman-controlled lands of Bosnia and Lika, or fell prey to the Venetian regular and irregular forces and were taken into captivity. The number of prisoners, combatants and noncombatants alike, captured by the Venetian forces in these years were in the thousands. And all of them were facing an equally unfortunate future.
Figure 2.1 Map of the Eastern Adriatic Source: Drawn by Eszter Lázs.
32 Domagoj Madunić
Convert or row: prospects for Muslim prisoners captured by the Venetian armed forces Quelli, che non hanno voluto abbracciare la nostra fede, sono stati, o tenuti schiavi nelle gallere, o venduti con le donne a Pugliesi mercanti et transmessi in Italia, et altrove. Bernardo Florio Archbishop of Zadar/Zara (October 1648)7
For the Republic of Venice, all captured males older than age sixteen, with the exception of those of higher social standing, represented the manpower pool from which depleted crews of the Republic’s war galleys were replenished. Chained to the benches, badly provisioned with food and clothing, exposed to the elements and harsh conditions of galley service, these unlucky souls could count themselves fortunate if they managed to survive more than a few seasons. The prospects of the noncombatants, women and children, were equally appalling. They usually found themselves handed over to Italian merchants and sold in the slave markets of the Southern Italy. The safest way of escaping both of these outcomes was conversion to the Catholic faith. However, this did not always result in immediate liberation from the galley service; the converted Ottoman would serve not as a schivao – an oarsman chained to the bench – but rather under the much better conditions of a free oarsman. Thus, as it could be expected, with countless prisoners facing prolonged captivity, a premature death or the uncertain fate of the slave markets, the number of converts in times of war surpassed by far those of the peaceful pre-war years. In the first few years of the war, a key role in the conversion of Muslims, but also in that of Orthodox Christians and even some Protestant soldiers serving in the Venetian forces, was played by fra Bartolomeo di Verona, a Capuchin friar who held joint Papal-Venetian appointment as the spiritual governor of the Venetian forces in Dalmatia. During the years 1647 and 1648, the citizens of Zadar, the capital of the province, on several occasions witnessed ceremonies of mass conversions when dozens of Muslims were baptised by fra Bartolomeo. For example, on 9 December 1647, Lunardo Foscolo, governor-general in Dalmatia and Venetian Albania (provveditoregenerale di Dalmazia e Albania) – the head of both the civil administration and all the military forces in the province – informed his superiors in the Senate that, in only the previous week, fra Bertolomeo had baptised forty-two Muslims and the next Sunday another thirty baptisms of mainly women and children were scheduled, adding that, in total, fra Bartolomeo had converted to the Catholic faith more than 200 “Turks”.8 According to the report that reached the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, in the period between 1647 and 1655, a total of 570 Muslims (male and female) of all ages were baptised in Dalmatia, while many others had been sent to Venice to the Casa di Cathecumeni [Holy House of the Catechumens] and baptised there.9
Conversion under the threat of arms 33 Although the Venetian provincial magistrates dutifully participated in these ceremonies in the roles of patrons and godfathers, the rulers of the Republic had no reason to be overly pleased with the good works done by fra Bartolomeo.10 At the beginning of the hostilities, on 8 November 1646, the Senate authorised its governor-general in Dalmatia to pay 10 silver reales per head for each Ottoman prisoner fit to serve aboard the galleys.11 Due to the shortages of galley crews and increased war demands, by December 1646, the amount paid for Ottoman prisoners was raised to 20 reales, and additionally, the governor-general was instructed to deny the prisoners posted to the galleys an opportunity to ransom themselves.12 Thus, every soul “saved” by the diligent Capuchin friar resulted in one empty bench on the war galley one that needed, somehow, to be filled. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that once fra Bartolomeo’s mandate was finished in 1650 and he returned to Italy, no replacement to this post was ever again sent to Dalmatia. Performing a ceremony of baptism, however, was one thing, but ensuring the permanence of conversion was quite another matter. Since it was already losing valuable military resources, the Venetian administration was rather interested in not quickly losing its new subjects as well. Thus, the Republic, with the full support of the provincial Church, implemented a series of measures aimed to better integrate converts into their new society and to ensure their loyalty. Converted Ottoman soldiers were enrolled into the Venetian armed forces and if possible, together with their families, were transferred to garrisons on terraferma (Venetian mainland possessions). Young, unmarried women were betrothed and married to Venetian soldiers of local origin, with attention paid to ensure that that those belonging to better families were married to officers. Finally, with the active help of church officials, numerous children and women too old for marriage were placed as servants in well-off provincial households.13 How effective these measures were is hard to assess with any certainty. Yet, the silence of the Venetian sources regarding cases of converts fleeing back to their homeland can perhaps be taken as testimony of their success.
‛Fra Giorgio or Muhammed?’ The case of fra Giorgio Lerotich (Juraj Lerotić) Over the course of the twenty-five years of the conflict, no similar statesponsored or initiated mass conversion of Catholics by the Ottomans ever took place; neither among the numerous Venetian subjects that fell into Ottoman captivity nor the even greater number of Catholics already living in the border provinces of the Empire. Although the Ottoman Empire suffered several serious defeats in Dalmatia, and a large-scale armed uprising of its Christian subjects in Dalmatia, sporadic rebellions of Albanian Christians (mostly Catholics) and a revolt of various mountain Montenegrin clans (mainly Orthodox), no official policy, or coercive measures aimed
34 Domagoj Madunić at the conversion of Christian subjects of the Empire were promoted by the organs of the central or provincial administrations. Instead, the Ottoman government focused its anger mainly against the institutions of the Catholic Church, closing Franciscan monasteries in Bosnia and Albania and banishing Catholic clergy from its territory. Yet, it left its Catholic, tax-paying subjects at least officially in peace.14 This in turn, opened the way for a rather different threat to the Catholic communities of the Western Balkans. Already at the beginning of the war, the faction of the (Serbian) Orthodox Patriarchate of Peć (Pëjë in present-day Kosovo) aimed to exploit the disfavour in which the Catholic Church fell in order to spread its influence and affirm taxation rights over the Catholics in the areas of their jurisdiction.15 By the mid-seventeenth century, conflicts over taxation rights were not new, they had characterised Catholic-Orthodox relations in the Balkans since the late fifteenth century. However, the patriarchs of Peć, in the expectation of the liberation of the Balkan Christians from the “Ottoman yoke” and for the sake of establishing a common anti-Ottoman platform with the Holy See, were usually ready to promote a more conciliatory, “pro-Rome” policy and to restrain the anti-Catholic activities of their subordinates in the areas under their jurisdiction.16 Nevertheless, there was an abundant number of incidents or outbursts of violence against the Catholic (and Orthodox) subjects of the Empire, especially in Bosnia or Albania, the areas adjunct to the Dalmatian theater of operations. Military operations combined with an absence of Catholic clergy, increased taxation pressure and the selective reintroduction of the devşirme encouraged many to either change their faith and convert to Islam, or to migrate to more peaceful parts of the Empire all resulting in a significant reduction in number of Catholics in these areas.17 Probably, the most serious incident that can be singled out took place in the town of Bar/Antivari located in present day Montenegro, in 1648. Already at the outbreak of hostilities, in 1646, almost all the Catholic bishops from Albania (Shkodër/Skadar/Scutari, Lezhë/Alessio, Durrës/Durazzo) and coastal Montenegro (Bar), with the expectation of Venetian support, had begun plotting an uprising of Catholic subjects of the Empire in their domains. Yet, in 1646 and 1647, the Senate was more concerned with the deteriorating military situation in Dalmatia and assigned all of its available resources to that battlefield. Thus, it was not until late 1647 that negotiations between the representative of the bishops and the Senate were concluded and the start of rebellion was scheduled for the spring of 1648. Accordingly, in February 1648, the archbishop of Durrës assembled a force of some 6,000 men and ready to attack towns of Lezhë and Krujë awaited the arrival of the Venetian expeditionary force with troops and provisions. However, the Venetian commander in the field, governor-general Lunardo Foscolo, followed his own agenda and was not ready to depart for Albania before clearing all remaining Ottoman strongholds in Dalmatia (something which did not occur until mid-April 1648),
Conversion under the threat of arms 35 thus providing the Ottomans in Albania with ample time to discover the plot and act accordingly.18 Although after the failure of the Venetian forces to appear in the field the rebel force disbanded, this incident nevertheless caused unrest among the Ottomans in the province and a swift reaction. At the request of the enraged town mob the kadı (judge) of Shkodër ordered two Franciscan friars from the monastery in the town of Bar to be brought to him. In spite of interventions on their behalf by the local fortress commander (ağa) and mufti (expert in Islamic law) the kadı determined both Franciscans to be leaders of the alleged conspiracy, sentenced them to death and had them impaled. Fearing wholesale prosecution, the rest of the Catholic clergy from the province saved themselves by fleeing to Venetian-controlled lands.19 Yet this was just the beginning of the troubles for the Bar Catholics. In the course of the next year, according to the reports reaching Rome, a further seventy-three Catholics suspected of cooperating with the Venetians were killed, while all the rest, fearing for their lives either converted to Islam or fled, leaving the town of Bar without a single Catholic family.20 This represented just one of numerous local incidents in which local communities or individuals took matters into their own hands, with limited or no official support. Moreover, in this case, the actions of the town magistrate (kadı) did not even have the support of all the provincial dignitaries. As was mentioned, both the mufti and ağa of Shkodër fortress personally intervened on the behalf of the Franciscans and tried to prevent their execution, while the wife of the sancakbeyi of Shkodër (who at the time was absent from the province serving in the Ottoman forces fighting on the Island of Crete) personally helped the third accused Franciscan friar (padre Cherubino) to escape to the safety of Venetian lands. Furthermore, it seems that the Franciscans had rather good relations with the two most powerful local Ottoman lords: Ali-Pasha Čengić (Cengi) and the previously mentioned sancakbeyi of Shkodër, Jusufbegović, who were both a few years later engaged in negotiations to again open the lands of the sancak of Shkodër to Franciscan missionaries.21 The inefficacy and temporary nature of conversions made under a direct threat of arms is very nicely illustrated by the case of the Franciscan Giorgio Lerotich (Juraj Lerotić) from the monastery of St. Cross (Svetog Križa) on the Makarska littoral. The community of Makarska, where fra Giorgo’s monastery was situated, was one of the first to overthrow Ottoman rule and accept Venetian protection in August 1646.22 Yet, in the spring of 1647, fra Girogio was nevertheless elected as the envoy of his monastery (part of the Bosnian Franciscan province) to carry the usual annual gift to the pasha in Mostar in the sancak of Hercegovina. On his way from the Dalmatian coast to Mostar, fra Giorgio was intercepted by a group of Ottoman soldiers, who accused him of being a Venetian spy and were intent on killing him. The only way for the fra Giorgio to save his life was to renounce his faith and, as the sources put it, to become a “Turk”.23
36 Domagoj Madunić Although fra Giorgio was expediently circumcised, practically on the spot, this was not the end of the story. As with many other Bosnian Franciscans, fra Giorgio was not without friends and relatives among the Ottoman provincial dignitaries. In the case of fra Giorgio, his sister was the favourite wife of the pasha of Hercegovina. After repeated appeals by his wife on behalf of her brother and even threats to throw herself into the river (according to the report sent to the Congregation in Rome), the pasha assembled his court inviting the kadı and the molla (teacher of theology) and in public asked fra Giorgio what his name was, to which fra Giorgio replied that his name was Muhammed. After this the pasha warned fra Giorgio and asked again: ‘answer me faithfully, have you became Muslim because you like the laws and the faith of Muhammed, or due to some other reason?’24 Fra Giorgio’s answer was that he had ‛turned Turk’, because he was afraid of being impaled. Upon hearing this answer, the pasha turned to the molla and the kadı and asked them to give a judgement concerning whether a conversion based on fear for one’s life was valid or not and then he adjourned his court. The entire affair was resolved the following day when a fetva was issued annulling the conversion and fra Giorgio was ordered to return to his monastery. The pasha of Hercegovina bid farewell to fra Giorgio with the following parting words: ‘Go now, and If I ever see you again without your [Franciscan] habit, I will immediately have you impaled!’25 So it came to be that after being a Muslim for just three weeks, fra Giorgio Lerotich returned safely to his monastery in the Makarska region where he was absolved of “his errors” by a local bishop, whose acts were later confirmed by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. The only consequence of the entire affair for fra Giorgio Lerotich, apart from the physical legacy of the conversion, was that, at the suggestion of Rome, he was prohibited from holding mass or any other service in the Church for several years.26 Although the official policy of the Empire was not to promote (illegal) conversion by force or actively support confessional agitation, as was undertaken by Catholic church, still, the extraordinary circumstances of the war ensured that many Christians, at least nominally of their own free will, were ready to abandon their faith and become Muslims. For Christian prisoners, the only options to avoid Ottoman captivity (besides escaping) were to pay a ransom, to be exchanged for an Ottoman captive of similar rank held by the Venetians, or conversion to Islam.27 During the war for Crete, the price of 20 silver reales paid by the Venetian Republic for an Ottoman prisoner fit for galley service can be taken as the standard price of an able-bodied male in the state-run slave market. However, as Suraiya Faroqhi has already pointed out, captives’ ransoms were always set ‘far higher than the price the same person would fetch on the slave market’.28 Furthermore, the increase in the ransom for elite or high-ranking prisoners was exponential. The following few examples well illustrate this increase in ransoms. In 1651, Piero Marcovich (Petar Marković), a peasant from the fortified village of Kaštel
Conversion under the threat of arms 37 Stari/Castel Vecchio on the Dalmatian coast near Split/Spalato, after four months of captivity was able to ransom himself by the payment of the hefty sum of fifty silver reales (about eighty ducats).29 Similarly, in the summer of 1658, Ottoman corsairs from Leucas and Ulcinj/Dolcigno enslaved eightythree persons from the Papal State, and their ransoms were subsequently set at between seventy and eighty reales, or for a few captives, at a hundred reales.30 These rather disparate sources suggest that the ransoms for ordinary prisoners, “persons of no distinction” ranged between fifty and a hundred silver reales. On the other hand, the Venetian lieutenant Giacob Federico Ilirus in 1656, after sixteen months of captivity, paid a ransom that amounted to 300 silver reales, while the ransom of Lodovico Begna, a member of the notable patrician family from Zadar was, in 1654, set at 1,000 silver reales (approx. 1,613 ducats).31 Although the Venetian state undertook some measures to ease the financial burdens of paying a ransom, as for example acknowledging the time spent in captivity as active service and thus making it eligible for state pay, this was done on a case-by-case basis and each prisoner (or his relatives) had to submit an application to the Senate in Venice.32 In the course of this long war, more than a few chose to convert to Islam in an attempt to free themselves from captivity, or at least to improve their current conditions. Months, and even years of waiting for a ransom to be gathered by their relatives, or for the exchange negotiations to be brought to an end, proved to be too much for many. Venetian reports from Dalmatia speak of people of all social strata: peasants, soldiers of various nationalities (French, Germans, Italians), captured Dalmatian patricians and Albanian chieftains, all of whom succumbed to the hardships of captivity and decided to convert to Islam. As strange as it may seem, probably those most susceptible to the “lure of conversion” as a means of escaping the miserable conditions of prisoners of war were actually persons of middle social rank, such as Dalmatian nobles, Albanian chieftains, or officers in the Venetian army. Unlike captured Venetian patricians, in the cases of whom the state (run by their relatives) took a more active role in their release, they did not enjoy such privileged treatment. Their families had to use their own personal connections and channels in order to negotiate the terms of their release. Then, if an exchange of prisoners was part of the agreed terms of release, their relatives had to made a formal application to the Venetian state authorities for a particular prisoner in the possession of the Republic to be granted to them, which usually proved to be a lengthy and not-so-straight-forward affair.33 For some, such as captured highlyskilled craftsmen, ship builders, masons or weapon masters, who were in high demand in the times of war, conversion to Islam could prove to be a sure path to economic or social advancement. However, as the next case, that of Conte Vojin Jovanović-Tujković, testifies, the path of conversion to Islam was not without its dangers.
38 Domagoj Madunić
The case of renegade: Conte Vojin or Cafer Ağa/Džafer Aga The case of Conte Vojin Jovanović-Tujković or Cafer Ağa, serves as an illustrative case from this frontier zone. Conte Vojin (or Voin/Voyin) as he is most commonly known in the Venetian sources was one of the four principal chieftains of the county of Grbalj (or Zuppa), a strategically important area under the Ottoman control situated between the Venetian ports of Kotor/Cattaro and Budva/Budua in present day Montenegro. The county of Grbalj, consisting of twenty-five villages inhabited in 1614 by an Orthodox population, was under Ottoman rule and organised as a semiautonomous nahiya (the smallest administrative unit of sancak) run by its own notables who, depending on the circumstances, styled themselves with a range of Venetian, Slavic or Ottoman titles such as knez, conte, sipahi and voyvoda.34 At the beginning of the war in 1644, Conte Vojin, along with many other Montenegrin or Albanian notables, entered Venetian service and raised one infantry company for the service of the Republic. In September 1644, after receiving compensation for recruitment costs and the first few salaries for himself and his men, as was the standard Venetian practice, his company was shipped to Crete. However, while en route, Conte Vojin forced the ship to disembark his men and all the provisions it was carrying off the Montenegrin coast near his homeland. In short, he deserted Venetian service with the maximum of material benefits for himself and his companions. Thus, one could assume that, in the first years of the war (1645–6), Vojin considered the Venetian war effort to be a lost cause, one not worthy of supporting, and, if we are to believe Venetian reports, he was actively agitating among his compatriots for the Ottoman cause.35 However, rather spectacular Venetian victories in Dalmatia in the spring of 1647 changed all this. It seems that, impressed by the progress of the Venetian war effort in Dalmatia, by May 1647, pro-Venetian sentiments finally prevailed among his compatriots who decided to side with the Republic. So it happened that on 20 May 1647, four distinguished representatives of the nahiya of Grbalj came to Kotor and presented the Venetian extraordinary-governor (provveditore estraordinario) with a list of terms under which they were prepared to accept the suzerainty of the Venetian Republic. The Republic readily granted all their requests (except state stipends for the community notables), and, on 23 July, the people of Grbalj were, by the official decree of the Dodge Francesco Molino, accepted as subjects of the Republic.36 Although Conte Vojin was not personally present at the Kotor meeting, since at the time, due to his pro-Ottoman activities, he was in disfavour with the Republic, he sent his oldest son as the family representative to the meeting. Nevertheless, it did not take long for Vojin to return to the favour of the Venetian provincial administration. Already in July 1647,
Conversion under the threat of arms 39 Vojin was at the head of a small force of 400 men sent by the governor of Kotor to the Montenegro hinterland with the task of agitating the mountain clans and instigating a feud between them and their Ottoman lords with the aim of securing their support for the Venetian cause. It seems that Vojin’s incursion, combined with extensive Venetian diplomatic initiatives, bore fruit: in February 1648, all the major Montenegrin clans’ representatives led by Vladika Visarion (the Metropolitan of Montenegro) arrived at Kotor for secret negotiations with the Venetian governor.37 The provincial Venetian administration recognised Vojin as one of the key clan chieftains that could be counted upon and under the title of governatore (with allocated state stipend) he acted as the Venetian administrator of the Grbalj community. Furthermore, both Vojin and his son were enrolled in the Venetian army and served as the captains of two small, armed boats (barche armate).38 In addition to a political and military career, Conte Vojin also pursued other avenues of personal advancement and self-reinvention. The name of Conte Vojin from Grbalj also found its way into the offices of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith [Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide] in Rome. In May 1647, Conte Vojin, raised in the Orthodox faith, as the principal representative of the county of Grbalj, sent a personal letter, co-signed by three other chieftains, to the Catholic missionary Giovanni Pasquali, who had recently arrived in town of Kotor, inviting him to come to their lands and instruct them in spiritual teachings of the Catholic Church. Shortly afterwards, in August 1647, Pasquali could inform his superiors in Rome about the warm welcome he received from the people of Grbalj, and especially from Conte Vojin, who had promised to observe of his own will the Latin (Roman) rite.39 As with the many other new subjects of the Republic of Venice of Orthodox faith, Conte Vojin readily adjusted to the new political and religious context, recognising the supremacy of the Pope and accepting the Roman rite promoted by Catholic missionaries.40 Moreover, for Conte Vojin, the activities of the Catholic missionaries in his community served as an excellent means for self-promotion. Letters sent to Rome by Giovanni Pasquali concerning the progress of his work among the people of Grbalj quite often mention Vojin as one of principal supporters of Catholicism.41 Then in 1650, Conte Vojin’s career in the Venetian service came to an abrupt end. In August 1649, the Venetian governor of Kotor, Filippo Boldu, on his own initiative embarked on a rather ambitious campaign in the Montenegro hinterland with the aim of revitalising Venetian influence among the mountain clans. Yet the entire operation quickly ended in failure. When, on 28 August, the sancakbeyi of Skadar, in a short encounter on river Morača, routed the Venetian vanguard of 600 men led by Conte Vojin, the entire operation was aborted and the Venetian troops fled to the safety of the bay of Kotor. In addition to the significant loss of reputation among the Montenegrin clans, the Venetians also lost some fifty men in
40 Domagoj Madunić this vain and poorly planned operation, including Conte Vojin who was captured alive by the Ottomans.42 The Governor of Kotor was quick to exploit Vojin’s misfortune and use him as a scapegoat. In a report to his superiors, Boldu attributed the entire blame for failure of this operation, not to his own military incompetence, but rather to the treason of Conte Vojin, accusing him of conspiring with the Ottomans. Yet, other reports that reached the governor-general Lunardo Foscolo in Zadar, presented a different account; namely, that Conte Vojin was held in tight chains and would be, with other prisoners, sent to Constantinople. Well versed in the internal politics of the Republic, the governor-general Lunardo Foscolo abstained from offering any personal opinion on this matter, providing only a rather general comment to the Senate, that ‘time will reveal the truth from the lie’.43 As a proven rebel and traitor of the Empire, the captured ex-sipahi Vojin was facing almost certain death.44 Yet, the news that reached Venetian officials in the course of the next several months was rather surprising. Taken to Istanbul and presented at the Porte, it seems that Vojin was able not only to elude death, but also to enter into the grace of several powerful Ottoman patrons whom he managed to convince of his influence and importance in the region. His rather flexible attitude toward religion and state loyalty was further demonstrated by his conversion to Islam and his taking of the name Cafer Ağa. For Vojin, who became one of the most prominent advocates for a more vigorous Ottoman military effort in the Adriatic battlefield, switching allegiance in the midst of the war proved to be an entry to power and influence, surpassing by far the prospects offered by the Venetian state.45 And, as it turned out, upon his return to the region, he proved that the trust of his patrons was not misplaced. Over the years, Cafer Ağa became instrumental in suppressing Venetian influence among the Montenegrin clans and steadily rose in power and influence. While the other local Ottoman lords, including the sancakbeyis of Hercegovina and Shkodër were coming to an understanding that further fighting had become pointless and undertook various kinds of unofficial, non-aggression agreements with provincial Venetian magistrates, Cafer Ağa remained a staunch enemy of the Republic.46 The Republic did not remain idle, though, and repaid his actions in kind by arresting and transferring his wife to Zadar (in 1655), where she was put under guard.47 The star of Cafer Ağa reached its zenith in 1657 when he became the right-hand man of the new pasha of Shkodër, who was sent to the region by the Porte in order to revitalise the failing Ottoman war effort and capture the Venetian stronghold of Kotor. The subsequent failure of the siege, combined with the rising unpopularity of Cafer Ağa among both local Christians and Muslims who increasingly came to resent him as an upstart, seriously undermined his standing in the region. In 1657, the Republic put a price on his head and, in April 1658, Conte Vojin’s head
Conversion under the threat of arms 41 was brought to Kotor by a son of the chieftain of one of the competing Montenegrin clans.48 For the mountain clans, the long war between the Republic and the Empire presented an ideal opportunity to play out internal local power struggles in which changing imperial allegiances and conversion served as tools for ensuring material support and local influence.
Conclusion: conversion as a survival strategy What conclusions can be drawn from the examples discussed in the earlier sections? What must be noted in the first place is that the path of conversion did not provide equal opportunities for Muslims and Christians. As we have seen in the case of Conte Vojin, his demonstration of readiness to adopt the Latin (Roman) rite and then his conversion to Islam both provided opportunities for social advancement. Yet, for captured Muslims, conversion functioned primarily as a means of survival and a mechanism for their integration into a new homeland. Becoming a Catholic did not offer any direct prospects for economic or social advancement in the Venetian Republic. Moreover, it seems that those of higher social rank proved to be much less willing to choose conversion to Catholicism as a way out of captivity. Among almost 600 recorded names of the Muslims who were baptised in Dalmatia during the first ten years of the war only a few can be linked to members of influential Muslim families from this frontier and all of these were female names.49 The reason for this can probably be found in the fact that, for Ottomans of higher social rank, abandoning their faith could have quite the opposite effect, namely the loss of a timar and other family properties in the Empire, while at the same time not assuring any sort of compensation from the Venetians. It seems that for distinguished Ottomans defection to the Venetian side and concomitant conversion was considered as an option only in the most extreme case.50 The second point that I wish to make is that, due to the extraordinary circumstances of a prolonged armed conflict, the attitude of the state and church authorities regarding converts was stretched to extremes. On the one hand, conversion as a response to a threat to one’s life served as a convenient basis for a more benevolent attitude towards Christiansturned-Muslims who managed to find a way back from the Ottoman lands (as in the case of fra Giorgio Lerotich). Yet at the same time, as was shown in the case of Vojin Tujković aka Cafer Ağa, the state of war pushed the Venetian side to take more radical steps regarding Christian renegades of status and importance who actively participated in the Ottoman war effort. Putting a price on their heads, plotting poisoning or an assassination, these were all courses of action the Republic would not pursue lightly in times of peace.51
42 Domagoj Madunić
Notes 1 The topic of the long war for Crete has so far been the subject of numerous scholarly studies. I have therefore limited my references to a few classical studies available in English and German that provide a concise overview of this conflict: Ekkehard Eickhoff, Vendig, Wien und die Osmanen. Umbruch in Sudosteuropa 1645–1700 (Munchen: Verlag Georg D. W. Callwey, 1970), 17–176, 228–64; Kenneth M. Setton, Venice, Austria, and the Turks in the Seventeenth Century (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1991), 104–243. For an overview of the sea operations in the Aegean, see: Anderson C. Roger, Naval Wars in the Levant (1559–1853) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952), 121–84. 2 In addition to the general overviews of the war for Crete cited in note 1, for more specific and detailed coverage of the military operations and historical processes that took place in the Adriatic theatre of operations, see: Josip Vrandečić, Borba za Jadran u ranom novom vijeku: Mletačkoosmanski ratovi u venecijanskoj nuncijaturi 1524–1797 [Struggle for the Adriatic in the Early Modern Period: Venetian-Ottoman wars in the records of the Venetian Nuntio Archival Documents] (Split: Filozofski fakultet u Splitu, 2013); Tea Mayhew, Dalmatia between Ottoman and Venetian Rule (Roma: Viella, 2008), 29–48, 141–84, 191–4; Feruccio Sassi, “Le Campagne di Dalmazia durante la Guerra di Candia (1645–1648),” Archivio Veneto 20 (1937) henceforth Sassi 1; Sassi, “Le Campagne di Dalmazia durante la Guerra di Candia (1645–1648),” Archivio Veneto 21 (1937) henceforth Sassi II; Gligor Stanojević, “Dalmacija u doba kandijskog rata,” [Dalmatia in the Age of the War of Crete] Vesnik vojnog muzeja 5/2 (1958); Gligor Stanojević, Jugoslovenske zemlje u mletačko turskim ratovima XVI– XVIII vijeka [Yugoslav lands in the Venetian-Turkish Wars XVI–XVII ct.] (Beograd: Izdanje istorijskog instituta, 1970); Stanojević, “Crna Gora u doba kandiskog rata (1645–1669),” [Montenegro in the Age of War for Crete (1645–1669)] Istorijski Glasnik 1–2 (1953); Marko Jačov, Le guerre Veneto-Turche del XVII secolo in Dalmatia (Venezia: Società dalmata di storia patria, 1991). 3 For more on Catholic-Orthodox relationship in the Balkans see: Jovan Radonić, Rimska kurija i južnoslovenske zemlje od XVI do XIX veka [Roman Curia and the South Slavic Lands from XVI to XIX ct.] (Beograd: Naučna knjiga, 1950); Mile Bogović, Katolička Crkva i Pravoslavlje u Dalmaciji za mletačke vladavine [The Catholic Church and Orthodoxy in Dalmatia during Venetian Rule] 2nd ed. (Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnjost, 1993); Lászsló Hadrovics, Srpski narod i njegova crkva pod turskom vlašću [The Serbian People and its Church under Ottoman Rule] (Zagreb: Golden Marketing, 2000); Miloš Milošević, Boka Kotorska, Bar i Ulcinj od kraja XV do kraja XVIII vijeka [Boka Kotorska, Bar and Ulcinj from the end of the XV. until the end of the XVIII. ct.] (CID: Podgorica, 2008) 231–67. See also: Zdenko Zlatar, Our Kingdom Come. The Counter-Reformation, the
Conversion under the threat of arms 43 Republic of Dubrovnik, and the Liberation of the Balkan Slavs (New York, Columbia University Press, 1992), 225–50. 4 Though the Republic and the Ottoman Empire were formally at peace from the end of the Cyprus War (1572), the relationship between the two polities was far from ideal. The main cause of dispute between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire up until 1619 were the activities of the Christian corsairs in the service of the Austrian Habsburgs known as Uskoks who indiscriminately raided shipping in the Adriatic. For more on the Uskoks and the problems they caused in the Ottoman-Venetian relations see: Catherine W. Bracewell, The Uskoks of Senj: Piracy, banditry, and Holy War in the Sixteenth-Century Adriatic (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992); Suraiya N. Faroqhi, “The Venetian Presence in the Ottoman Empire, 1600–30,” in The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy, ed. Huri İslamoğlu-İnan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 314–17; Gligor Stanojević, Senjski uskoci, [The Uskoks of Senj] (Beograd: Vojnoizdavački zavod, 1973). With regard to border disputes and incidents directly preceding the outbreak of hostilities in 1645 see Gligor Stanojević, Dalmacija u doba kandijskog rata, 94–7; Tea Mayhew, Dalmatia between Ottoman and Venetian Rule, 23–9. 5 For more on these military operations see Josip Vrandečić, Borba za Jadran, 64–86; Tea Mayhew, Dalmatia between Ottoman and Venetian Rule, 36–40; Sassi II, 65–73, 84–8; Gligor Stanojević, Dalmacija u doba kandijskog rata, 109–22. 6 For more on the Morlacchi rebellion and their contribution to the Venetian war effort see Domagoj Madunić, “Capi di Morlacchi. Venetian Military Policies During the War for Crete (1645–1669) and the Formation of the Morlacchi Elite,” in Türkenkriege und Adelskultur in Ostmitteleuropa vom 16. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, ed. Robert Born and Sabine Jagodzinski (Leipzig: GWZÖ, 2013). Concerning the question of the identity of these Ottoman Christian subjects see: Vjeran Kursar, “Being an Ottoman Vlach: On Vlach Identity(ies), Role and Status in Western Parts of the Ottoman Balkans (15th-18th Centuries),” OTAM. Ankara Üniversitesi Osmanli Tarihi Araştirma ve Uygulama Merkezi Dergisi [Journal of the Center for Ottoman Studies – Ankara University] 34 (2013). 7 ‘Those who were not willing to embrace our faith, were either kept as slaves aboard the galleys, or sold together with their wives to Puglia merchants and taken to Italy or elsewhere’. This, and all other translations are by the author. Quote taken from the letter of archbishop of Zadar, Bernardo Florio to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, published in Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 198. 8 Archivio di Stato di Venezia (henceforth referred to as ASVe), Senato, Dispacci, PTM. b. 465, num. 349. (Zara, 9. Decembre, 1647.) 9 For the official report of Fra Bartolomeo of Verona, submitted to his superiors in Rome concerning his activities in Dalmatia, dated 1 June 1649: see Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche nei Balcani durante la Guerra di
44 Domagoj Madunić Candia (1645–1669) vol. I (Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca APOSTOLICA VATICANA, 1992), 223–5, henceforth Le Missioni Cattoliche I; A compiled report containing the list of names of the baptised Muslims can be found in Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 505–44. See also the report by the archbishop of Zadar Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 198–200. 10 The aforementioned report of fra Bartolomeo also records the names of padrini (godfathers) and padrine (godmothers) and among those one can find the names of governor-generals (Lunardo Foscolo or Girolamo Foscarini), their wives and other notable Venetian magistrates or military officials. Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 505–42. 11 ASVe, Senato Rettori, R(egistro)-17, (A di 8 Novembre 1646) f. 264v-265r. 12 ASVe, Senato Rettori, R-17, (A di 27. Decembre 1647) f. 305v. 13 The previously quoted report of Archbishop of Zadar from October 1648 to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith contains a good summary of the Venetian treatment of both converted Muslims and those who refused baptism. See Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 197–200. 14 For example, see the letter of the Archbishop of Ohrid (in present day Macedonia) Rafael Lenković, from May 1648, in which he reports flights to the Christian lands of various Catholic officials from Bosnia and Albania and informs the Congregation that all Franciscan monasteries in Bosnia, with the exception of the one at Olovo/Piombo are closed. Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 177–8. Concerning the prosecution of Franciscans in Albania (from 1651) see ibid., 375–7. 15 For example, see the following complaints sent to the Rome (from 1647– 1649) concerning the taxation of Catholics by Orthodox bishops: Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 144, 172, 252–7; or concerning the conversion of Catholics to Orthodoxy in Hercegovina (from 1648) because of the absence of Catholic clergy in the region, ibid., 196–7. For the taxation privileges of the Serbian Orthodox Church within the Ottoman Empire, see Lászsló Hadrovics, Srpski narod i njegova crkva pod turskom vlašću, [The Serbian People and Its Church under the Ottoman Rule] (Zagreb: Golden Marketing, 2000), 61–81. These tendencies were not limited only to the Serbian Orthodox Church, already in June 1646, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith was alarmed because of similar initiatives on the part of Greek Orthodox priests, and took steps accordingly. Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 48–50. 1 6 Lászsló Hadrovics, Srpski narod i njegova crkva pod turskom vlašću, 79–80, 104–7. 17 See the following reports from 1646 sent to Rome from various clerics in the field warning about the Islamicisation of the Catholics in Albania Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 45, 78–9. According to the report from 1655 of the bishop of Bosnia (with the seat in Đakovo in present day Croatia) Marijan Maravić concerning the state of Catholics in his bishoprics from the beginning of the war in 1645 some 2,000
Conversion under the threat of arms 45 Catholics migrated from Bosnia to Hungary. Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 544–65. 18 Franjo Difnik, Povijest kandijskog rata u Dalmaciji, [History of the Candian War in Dalmatia] (Split: Književni krug, 1986), 204–6. 19 Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 169–72. 20 Ibid., 247–8. 21 Ibid., 611–4. For more on Ali-Pasha Čengić and Jusufbegović see Domagoj Madunić, “Frontier Elites of the Ottoman Empire during the War for Crete (1645–1669): The Case of Ali-Pasha Čengić,” in Europe and the ‘Ottoman World’: Exchanges and Conflicts, ed. Kárman Gábor and Radu G. Paun (Istanbul: Isis Press, 2013). 22 Franjo Difnik, Povijest kandijskog rata u Dalmaciji, 94–5; Josip Vrandečić, Borba za Jadran, 59–64. 23 Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 130–1. 24 ‘Tu menti, gli disse il Pascia; ma il tuo nome e fra Georgio. E poi dimmi il vero: Sei fatto il Turco, perche ti piace la legge, e fede di Mohamed, o pure per altra caggione?’ Taken from the letter of fra Marino di Possegha, describing the entire event, sent to Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. Ibid., 141. 25 Ibid., 141. 26 Ibid., 132–3. 27 A good insight into the conversion of British prisoners taken by Maghrebi corsairs is provided in Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors and Englisghmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 71–82. 28 Suraiya Faroqhi, The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004), 124–5. 29 ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM, b. 471. num. 12. (Trau, 24. Marzo 1651) attachment to the letter. 30 ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM, b. 483. num. 207. (Spalato, 25. Agosto 1658). 31 ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM, b. 479. senza numero. (Zara, 7. Marzo 1656); PTM, b. 476. num. 147. (Spalato, 19. Luglio 1654). 32 For example, on 19 July 1652, the Senate gave a positive reply to lieutenant Michaele Matteovich’s application and ordered governor-general in Dalmatia to pay all overdue wages to the lieutenant for his time spent in captivity so he could at least partially pay his debts to creditors who had provided him with the money for his ransom. ASVe, Senato Maar, R-113, (Adi 19. Luglio 1652.) f. 244r. 33 Such was, for example, the case in March 1651 when the brother of engineer Tomaso Moretti, who had fallen into Ottoman captivity, petitioned the Senate that a specific Ottoman commander, who was a favourite of the Grand Vizier and at the moment in Venetian hands, be granted to him and exchanged for his brother. ASVe, Senato Mar, R-112. (Adi, 18. Marzo 1651). f. 62r-v.
46 Domagoj Madunić 34 For more on the county of Grbalj, see Ivo Stjepčević, Kotor i Grbalj [Kotor and Grbalj] (Split: Novo Doba, 1941). 35 Gligor Stanojević, “Crna Gora u doba kandijskog rata (1645–1669),” [Montenegro in the Age of the War of Crete (1645–1669)] Istorijski Glasnik 1–2 (1953): 21–2. 36 Ibid., 22; Stanojević, Jugoslovenske zemlje, 206. 37 Stanojević, Crna Gora u doba kandijskog rata, 24–7. 38 Letter of fra Giovanni Pasquali, dated 10 Giugno 1648, Cattaro. Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 178–9. For more on the organisation of the Venetian naval forces in the Adriatic during the war for Crete see: Domagoj Madunić, “The Adriatic Naval Squadron (1645–1669): Defense of the Adriatic during the War for Crete,” Povijesni Prilozi 45 (2013). 39 Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 119–23, 129–30. 40 For a full list of those who allegedly acknowledged the supremacy of the Pope, accepted the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and abandoned their schismatic beliefs, see the report sent to Rome in 1649 by fra Bartolomeo di Verona: Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 279–306. (Conte Voin’s name appears on page 286 as Governator Voyn). 41 For example, see the following letters sent to Rome by Giovanni Pasquali concerning the state of the county of Grbalj, dating from August 1647 until June 1648. Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 138, 174, 179. 42 Gligor Stanojević, Jugoslovenske zemlje, 214–7. 43 ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM, b. 469. num. 621. (Zara, 9. Settembre 1649). 44 ‘Od nas Voyvode Spahije’ [‘From us Voyvode Sipahi’] this is how Vojin presents himself to the Catholic missionary Gionvanni Pasquali in his letter from May 1647, shortly after becoming a Venetian subject. It is possible that Vojin’s use of this title indicates that he had indeed, at one time, been a sipahi, Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I., 119. 45 First such news reached Dalmatia in May 1651. According to the reports (avvisi) that reached governor-general Girolamo Foscarini from his Ragusan sources, Conte Vojin had offered to become a Muslim at the Ottoman Porte and asked that one squadron of galleys be put under his command. He promised in turn the capture of the Venetian stronghold of Kotor with the support of the forces of two nearby sancaks (Hercegovina and Shkodër) and his knowledge of the defensive weaknesses of that city. ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM. b. 470. num. 30. (Zara, 24. Maggio 1651). 46 Domagoj Madunić, Frontier Elites of the Ottoman Empire during the War for Crete, 57–63. 47 ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM. b. 477. num. 21. (Spalato, 22. Marzo, 1655). 48 ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM. b. 482. num. 161. (Zara, 21. Febraro 1657. mv.) attachment: Lettera di Cav.re Bolizza et di altri, che avvisano la morte data à Voino rinegato.
Conversion under the threat of arms 47 49 See the report by fra Bartolomeo di Verona published in Marko Jačov, Le Missioni Cattoliche I, 505–44. 50 One of the few recorded cases of Ottoman notables considering defection to the Venetian side can be found in the correspondence of governorgeneral Antonio Bernardo from September 1658. In his letter, the governorgeneral informed the Senate that he was contacted by the representative of an unnamed Ottoman commander, at the moment hosted at Sinj/Sign by Atlagić bey, at the time probably the most notable of the local Ottoman lords (principal Capo di questi Confini), concerning the possibility of sheltering him in Venetian lands. The person in question was one of the commanders of the Ottoman army which had been recently routed by the Transylvanian prince György Rákóczi and who, in fear for his life, took refuge on this frontier. ASVe, Senato, Dispacci, PTM. b. 484. num. 208. (Spalato, 6. Settembre 1658). 51 For a broader overview of Venetian policies and practices concerning the assassination of enemies of the state, mainly traitors or renegades, see Paolo Preto, I Servizi Secreti Veneziani (Milano: il Saggiatore S.P.A., 2010), 346–60.
Bibliography Archival sources (unpublished) Venice: Archivio di Stato di Venezia Senato Mar Senato Rettori Senato, Dispacci, Provveditori da Terra e da Mar Primary sources (published) Difnik, Franjo. Povijest kandijskog rata u Dalmaciji. Split: Književni krug, 1986. Jačov, Marko. Le missioni cattoliche nei Balcani durante la Guerra di Candia (1645–1669). vol. 1. Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1992. Solitro, Vicko. Povijesni dokumenti o Istri i Dalmaciji. Split: Splitski književi krug, 1989. Secondary sources Bogović, Mile. Katolička Crkva i pravoslavlje u Dalmaciji za Mletačke vladavine. Zagreb: Krščanska sadašnjost, 1982. Bracewell, C. Wendy. The Uskoks of Senj: piracy, banditry, and holy war in the sixteenth-century Adriatic. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.
48 Domagoj Madunić Eickhoff, Ekkehard. Vendig, Wien und die Osmanen. Umbruch in Sudosteuropa 1645–1700. Munchen: Verlag Georg D. W. Callwey, 1970. Faroqhi, Suraiya. “The Venetian Presence in the Ottoman Empire, 1600– 30.” In The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy, edited by Huri İslamoğlu-İnan, 311–344. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. ––– The Ottoman Empire and the world Around It. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004. Hadrovics, Lászsló. Srpski narod i njegova crkva pod turskom vlašću. Zagreb: Golden Marketing, 2000. Jačov, Marko. Le guerre Veneto-Turche del XVII secolo in Dalmatia. Venezia: Società dalmata di Storia patria, 1991. Kursar, Vjeran. “Being an Ottoman Vlach: On Vlach Identity(ies), Role and Status in Western Parts of the Ottoman Balkans (15th–18th Centuries).” OTAM. Ankara Üniversitesi Osmanli Tarihi Araştirma ve Uygulama Merkezi Dergisi 34 (2013): 115–161. Madunić, Domagoj. “The Adriatic Naval Squadron (1645–1669): Defense of the Adriatic during the War for Crete.” Povijesni Prilozi 45 (2013): 199–234. ––– “Capi di Morlacchi. Venetian Military Policies during the War for Crete (1645–1669) and the Formation of the Morlacchi Elite.” In Türkenkriege und Adelskultur in Ostmitteleuropa vom 16. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, edited by Robert Born and Sabine Jagodzinski, 29–47. Leipzig: GWZO, 2013. ––– “Frontier Elites of the Ottoman Empire during the War for Crete (1645–1669): The Case of Ali-Pasha Čengić.” In Europe and the ‘Ottoman World’: Exchanges and Conflicts, edited by Kárman Gábor and Radu G. Paun, 47–82. Istanbul: Isis Press, 2013. Matar, Nabil. Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Mayhew, Tea. Dalmatia between Ottoman and Venetian Rule. Contado di Zara 1645–1718. Rome: Viella, 2008. Milošević, Miloš. Boka Kotorska, Bar i Ulcinj od kraja XV do kraja XVIII vijeka. CID: Podgorica, 2008. Preto, Paolo. I Servizi Secreti Veneziani. Milano: il Saggiatore S.P.A., 2010. Radonić, Jovan. Rimska kurija i južnoslovenske zemlje od 16 do 19 veka. Beograd: Naučna Knjiga, 1950. Roger, Anderson C. Naval Wars in the Levant (1559–1853). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952. Sassi, Feruccio. “Le Campagne di Dalmazia durante la Guerra di Candia (1645–1648).” Archivio Veneto 20 (1937): 211–250. ––– “Le Campagne di Dalmazia durante la Guerra di Candia (1645–1648).” Archivio Veneto 21 (1937): 60–100. Setton, Kenneth M. Venice, Austria, and the Turks in the Seventeenth Century. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1991.
Conversion under the threat of arms 49 Stanojević, Gligor. “Crna Gora u doba kandijskog rata (1645–1669).” Istorijski Glasnik 1–2 (1953): 3–53. ––– “Dalmacija u doba kandiskog rata.” Vesnik vojnog muzeja 5/2 (1958): 93–182. ––– Jugoslovenske zemlje u mletačko turskim ratovima XVI-XVIII vijeka. Beograd: Izdanje istorijskog instituta, 1970. ––– Senjski uskoci. Beograd: Vojnoizdavački zavod, 1973. Stjepčević, Ivo. Kotor i Grbalj. Split: Novo Doba, 1941. Vrandečić, Josip. Borba za Jadran u ranom novom vijeku: Mletačkoosmanski ratovi u venecijanskoj nuncijaturi 1524–1797. Split: Filozofski fakultet u Splitu, 2013. Zlatar, Zdenko. Our Kingdom Come: The Counter Reformation, the Republic of Dubrovnik, and the Liberation of the Balkan Slavs. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1992.
3 Conversion to Islam (and sometimes a return to Christianity) in Safavid Persia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Giorgio Rota ‘It’s the code, sir. Code! That’s a big word with the men who live on the frontiers of Empire. Morale can crumble very easily out there. Drink, women and unpaid gambling debts, those are the steps down,’ he said. ‘Drink, women and unpaid gambling debts,’ he repeated. P. G. Wodehouse, Ring for Jeeves (London: Arrow Books, 2008), 93
In Persia during the first quarter of the seventeenth century, two men were oscillating back and forth between Christianity and Islam more or less in the same years. One of them, the Georgian military and political leader, Giorgi Saak’adze (1570–1629), fled to Persia in 1612 to escape the hostility of important members of the Georgian court. In Persia, he converted to Shiite Islam (although we do not know the details of his conversion) and rapidly earned the favour of Shah Abbas I (1587–1629), which allegedly allowed him to foster the career of Xosrow Mirza Bagrat’ioni (b. ca. 1562 – d. 1658), the illegitimate son of King David XI of Kartli (1562–1578), who played a key role under Shah Abbas’s successor, Shah Ṣafi (1629–1642). In 1625, the Shah sent Saak’adze to Georgia together with a Persian expeditionary force: when Giorgi was in his old country, however, he mutinied and joined forces with the rebels he was supposed to crush, becoming one of the leaders of the uprising (and presumably returning to Christianity). Later he fell out with the other rebel leader, King Teimuraz I of K’axeti (1606–1648), whereupon in 1626 Giorgi was defeated and forced to take shelter in the Ottoman Empire. There he became a Sunni Muslim (although, once again, we know nothing about how, when and where).1 In 1629, Giorgi was arrested and beheaded, officially on account of his mistreatment of the Muslim population of the province of Karaman, which was under his governorship. However, there is reason to believe that Giorgi Saak’adze’s demise was actually due to his plan to return to either Persia or Georgia, which of course would have entailed another conversion to either Shiite Islam or Christianity.2 As for the general perception of Giorgi’s true religious affiliation or persuasion, the Ottoman historian Mustafa Naima recorded verses that, according to him, were circulating among the troops and the civil population of the
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 51 empire: in the German translation provided by von Hammer, these read, ‘Ich trinke Wein und ess’ Pilaw, ich fress’ zu einem Stier mich an/Nicht Geber, Jud’ und Musulman, der Beg von Karaman, Maghraw’.3 In a similar vein, the Teatine missionary Cristoforo Castelli reported that, after his execution, Giorgi’s chest was split open and it was found that his heart was ‘double, as if it were twin’ (tanquam geminae duplex).4 The other man, Giovanni Francesco Flaminio, of whom we know nothing about his birthplace or age, travelled to Persia around 1597 as the agent of several Venetian traders. After squandering the capital entrusted to him, he became a Muslim, joined the Safavid army and allegedly married a Muslim woman. Later, however, he repented and was reconciled to the Christian faith by Fr. Juan Tadeo de S. Eliseo, the head of the Carmelite mission in Isfahan.5 In 1610, after his reconciliation, Flaminio was met by Alessandro Studendoli, the son of one of his former senior partners. Studendoli encouraged Flaminio to go back to Venice so that he could at least save his soul after wasting the money, promising that his family would take no legal action against him.6 In 1611 at the latest, Flaminio was again in Venice.7 These two men could not have been more different from each other: nonetheless, at the same time they are each quite typical (perhaps Saak’adze less so than Flaminio, for reasons I will discuss later) of the two groups that seem to have composed the majority of the foreign male Christian renegades in Safavid Persia. The first group were military men and administrators, mostly of Caucasian origin, in the service of the dynasty (the so-called ghulams, literally “slaves” or “servants”).8 The other group consisted of people whom I would like to call here “renegades of the classic model” (i.e. of the type well documented in scholarship on the Mediterranean basin and the Ottoman Empire), that is, Europeans who reached Persia for a variety of reasons and converted there under duress, in the hope of a better future, out of personal conviction, or, as Flaminio did, out of the sheer necessity of finding a solution to practical problems. In addition to these two groups, I would like at least to mention three other groups, which however cannot be dealt with in more detail here. The white eunuchs and the women of the royal harem, like the ghulams, were generally captured during military campaigns or bought in slave markets (with the exception of those women who arrived in Persia through marriage alliances or as pledges of political allegiance): they were overwhelmingly but probably not exclusively of Caucasian origin and, despite the important political role they often played, information about them and their careers is very scanty given the nature of their functions and the secluded nature of their life in the harem. Besides the white eunuchs, there were black eunuchs, about whom we know even less: they came from East Africa and perhaps India, and at least some of them may have originally been Christian.9 Finally, there was a large (at the time) Armenian minority in Persia, some members of which were occasionally subjected to forced conversion and later allowed to return to Christianity, either individually or as a group. Modern scholarship has not fully explained the reasons behind such forced conversions nor why they were allowed to
52 Giorgio Rota return to the old faith. However, the wish in some court circles (which did not necessarily include the ruler but may have been strong enough to obtain his support, at least for a while) “to rid the kingdom of unbelievers” on one side, together with the more mundane hope to extract money from the affluent Armenian trading community on the other certainly played a role. As for individual Armenians, the main reasons behind conversion seem to have been fiscal pressure and the legal possibility offered to converts to usurp the inheritance of their still-Christian relatives.10 As for the Caucasians (and, in particular, the Georgians) who served the Safavid dynasty in its army, administration and at the court, we tend for obvious reasons to have much more biographical information about the members of the Bagrat’ioni royal family which ruled over Kartli (central Georgia), K’axeti (eastern Georgia) and Imereti (western Georgia), the three kingdoms into which the unified Georgian state fragmented in 1462, than about the members of the aristocracy or commoners. Whereas, between 1501 and 1614, embracing Shiite Islam had often been an excellent way for Bagrat’ioni pretenders to the thrones of Kartli and K’axeti to secure Safavid support and recognition, between 1614 and 1633, a policy took hold under which conversion to Islam became the necessary prerequisite for rulers of either state while under Safavid suzerainty.11 This means that all the princes who ascended the thrones of Kartli and K’axeti between 1633 and 1736 (as well as some other male members of the family who did not rule) officially became Shiite Muslims sooner or later in their lives: probably most of them remained Muslims until their deaths, although there were a few who returned to Christianity, and at least one became a Sunni at a certain point to gain Ottoman support.12 Since the Bagrat’ioni family was the legitimate royal dynasty ruling two vassal states of Safavid Persia (and of an Ottoman vassal state), the interests at stake for its members were extremely high. Thus the dynamics governing the attitude of these members towards conversion to Islam did not necessarily apply to Georgians of non-royal blood. It may be nonetheless interesting to have at least a cursory look at the lives and careers of a few of these princes to see how this attitude could be very different from one case to another, not only on account of the stakes at hand, but also due to individual political allegiances and, perhaps, personal factors that today escape us. For instance, King Luarsab I (1534–1556) died as a Christian fighting against the Safavids. His son David XI (r. 1562–1578) converted to Islam in December 1561 in order to enlist Safavid help against his own brother King Simon I (r. 1556–1599) and was promptly acknowledged as “governor” of Tbilisi by Shah Ṭahmāsp I (1524–1576), receiving the name of Dāud Khan and the honorific title (laqab) of “son of the Shah”.13 When the Ottomans invaded Georgia in 1578, David/Dāud handed over those territories still under his control to them and eventually, in January 1585, he entered Constantinople where, according to a Venetian source, he “turned Turk”, later receiving a provincial governorship.14 As for Simon I, he was ruling
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 53 as a Christian king over Kartli and fighting against his rebellious brother David when he was captured by the Safavid forces during a battle in 1568 or 1569 and imprisoned in Persia by the order of the aforementioned Shah Ṭahmāsp I15. He was freed by Shah Ṭahmāsp’s son and successor, Ismail II (1576–1577), but he did not convert to Islam until 1578, when the throne was occupied by yet another Shah, Solṭān Moḥammad Xodābande (1578– 1587), who gave him the name of (Solṭān) Maḥmud Khan and the laqab of “brother”.16 Simon I/(Solṭān) Maḥmud Khan then returned to Georgia, ousted his brother from power and loyally fought several years against the Ottomans, even after Shah Abbas I signed a peace treaty with them in 1590.17 On 1 April 1598, Pope Clemente VIII (1592–1605), seemingly unaware that Simon had converted, addressed a letter to him praising his ‘constancy in the Catholic Faith’.18 In 1599, Simon was captured by the Ottomans and died in captivity in 1611, without becoming a Sunni Muslim. Xosrow Mirza, the illegitimate son of David XI/Dāud Khan, was born either in Persia in 1565 or in Georgia in 1566/7.19 Be that as it may, he was a loyal servant of the Safavid dynasty for his entire life and, to the best of our knowledge, he was also a Muslim for all of it, or at least for the longest and most significant part of it. At a later stage of his life he was “renamed” Rostam Khan, and the crowning achievement of his career was the appointment as vāli (governor, but king from the Georgian point of view) of Kartli, where he ruled successfully from 1633 until his death in 1658 under the name of Rost’om Mepe (King Rostam in Georgian). Once on the throne of his ancestors, he married Mariam, the sister of the Christian ruler of Mingrelia (western Georgia), Levan II Dadiani (1611–1657) in a double – Christian and Muslim – ceremony, disregarding the fact that the first husband of the lady was still alive.20 Xosrow Mirza/Rostam Khan/Rost’om Mepe is accused by the Georgian sources of the time to have introduced Persian customs and luxury to the Georgian court, but he is also praised for restoring the cathedral at Mcxet’a, the old capital of the country.21 Needless to say, both names under which he is known are Iranian names and both were made popular by the Šāhnāme, the epic poem which at the time was extremely popular both in Persia and in Georgia.22 As said before, the Bagrat’ionis were in an exceptional position as far as the conversion to Islam of the Georgians in Safavid Persia is concerned. Giorgi Saak’adze, strictly speaking, was most probably a molāzem (a “dependant” or personal retainer) of the shah rather than a member of the military corps of the ghulams proper (although he was of course a ghulam in the broad sense of the word, insofar as he was, like everybody else at court or in the army, a servant of the ruler). As for the ghulams, Europeans travelling in Persia in the seventeenth century variously assessed their numbers as between 8,000 and 30,000,23 which means that the information currently available to us about individuals concerns only a tiny fraction of the ghulams active in Persia at any given time in Safavid history. That said, a few general conclusions may nonetheless be drawn. Many ghulams were
54 Giorgio Rota captured during military campaigns or bought from slave dealers, whereupon they were converted and trained in a way that may have (or may not have, we are not well informed on this point) been reminiscent of the training undergone by the Ottoman janissaries.24 However, others were born (in Persia or the Caucasus) to Muslim fathers of Caucasian origin who were already in Safavid service: although the traditional view is that most ghulams were captured slaves, the available data does not actually allow us to establish which group was more numerous, nor how numerous they were. Some ghulams were people who had left Georgia after political or military setbacks and moved to Persia (as Giorgi Saak’adze had done).25 Others replaced, perhaps voluntarily, close relatives as ghulam or molāzem. Finally, some at least certainly volunteered: this was for instance the case of Abul Beyg, mouravi (governor) of the city of Kiziqi in Georgia, who was enrolled as a ghulam in 1695 upon the request of Kalb-ʿAli Khan Ziyādoġli Qājār Moṣāḥeb, beyglarbeygi of Qarābāġ, ḥākem of K’axeti and commanderin-chief (sardār) of the Safavid army in Georgia.26 Abul Beyg was clearly an adult man with an important post when he decided to join the ghulams, and it is reasonable to suppose that he saw enlistment as an advancement to his career.27 Returning to Christianity does not seem to have been very common among the ghulams, although it was somewhat more common among the Bagrat’ioni princes. Among the latter, re-conversion seems to have been determined by political expediency or a fall from royal grace, as in the case of King Arčil of K’axeti (1664–1675), who renounced Safavid allegiance to pursue his dream of ruling over Imereti.28 On the other hand, one must not forget that the only Christian country bordering Persia was Georgia itself, which could hardly be considered a safe haven for prominent defectors, deserters or apostates. A safer haven seems to have been provided by Russia, as it was for King Vaxt’ang VI (1719–1723),29 but this generally meant becoming hostage to Russian interests, exile without return and the end of one’s political ambitions. However, many Georgian ghulams displayed a favour for Christians (including the Catholic missionaries) or a dislike for Muslims, thus authorising contemporaneous observers, Christian and Muslim alike, to judge them as crypto-Christians. Once again, we are better informed about the attitude of Georgian aristocrats and members of the royal house than of the rank and file. For instance, a Persian historian stated that the governor of Qandahar, King Giorgi XI/Šāhnavāz Khan (1676–1688, 1703–1709) of Kartli, had badly mistreated the local Afghan population because he had remained a Christian at heart despite his conversion to Islam and, indeed, a Georgian officer in King Giorgi’s army, Sexnia Čxeidze, reported receiving communion before a fight against the Baluch in 1700.30 Giorgi’s nephew, King Kaixosro (1709–1711), who also fell fighting the Afghans at Qandahar, was secretly baptised by a Carmelite father who later followed him to Afghanistan and perished with him and the rest of the Georgian contingent.31 According to the Theatine missionary don Pietro
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 55 Avitabile, Dāud Khan Undiladze ‘donated his soul to God’32 but, when he later mutinied in Georgia in 1632, it does not seem that he openly became a Christian. Similarly, when the Safavid army occupied Georgia in 1633, as a consequence of that rebellion, its commander Rostam Khan Saak’adze told the same Avitabile that he would ‘slit the belly open’ of anybody stealing from the Catholic fathers or threatening their safety.33 Of course, it is difficult to assess the role played by personal religious convictions: for instance, Rostam Khan Saak’adze seems to have been a strict disciplinarian and particularly intolerant of theft, and therefore his threats against plunderers may have been due less to his favour for Christians than to his strict sense of justice, to which also Persian sources bear witness.34 The precise circumstances of individual conversions often escape us as well. In one particular episode, dreams play an important role: we are fortunate enough to have two different and mutually exclusive accounts of the same episode, one from the Georgian and one from the Persian side. Prince Luarsab, who was living at Isfahan as a hostage, was sent to far away Kirman after his brother, the aforementioned Giorgi XI/Šāhnavāz Khan, rebelled against Persian domination in 1688. According to the Georgian version of the events, at first, Luarsab refused to abandon Christianity but then, during the journey to Kirman, he scratched his nose, made it bleed and claimed that “the Imam” had struck him and ordered him to convert (with the aim, unstated by the source, to be allowed to remain in the capital). According to the Persian version, Luarsab claimed that “the Imam” had converted him in a dream along the way. Once in Kirman, he (unsurprisingly) chided Giorgi for his rebellion but also asked to be circumcised: this detail, if true, may be either seen as lending weight to the sincerity of his conversion or witnessing a desperate desire to stay in Isfahan at any cost.35 The story of Giorgi XI’s successor, Erek’le I (1688–1703), also has many interesting facets. The grandson of a staunch enemy of the Safavids, the aforementioned Teimuraz I, Erek’le was born in Georgia and in 1674 moved to Persia from Russia, where he had spent many years in exile. The following year, during a banquet at the shah’s court, he met the papal envoy, Father Francesco Piscopo, who later reported that the prince ‘was leaning towards the Catholic faith’.36 The prince remained in Persia as a Christian until 1688, when the Georgian members of his court (including his chaplain and spiritual guide) declared that they were ready to take his sin of apostasy upon themselves if he finally decided to become a Muslim, which he agreed to do: he was then allowed to ascend the throne of Kartli with the name of Naẓar-ʿAli Khan.37 His son David III/Emāmqoli Khan (1703–1722), who was born in Isfahan around 1678, embraced Islam together with his father and, when the latter returned to Georgia, remained at the Safavid court, where he ‘was raised among the Shah’s eunuchs’. By the time he became vāli/king of K’axeti at the age of 25, he had completely forgotten the Christian beliefs, ‘followed all the tenets of the Muslim faith’ and did not know the Georgian traditions, although he had mastered both the Georgian and
56 Giorgio Rota Persian language and literature.38 Later ‘he bowed to Georgian custom’ but, when he took part in banquets, he did not drink wine (unlike his father, who on the contrary was a strong drinker), both because he was a Muslim and on account of an illness that wine would have worsened.39 When it comes to personal convictions or motivations, however, King K’onst’ant’ine, who ruled very briefly over K’axeti in 1605 left us a short but nonetheless very interesting autobiographical statement: I intend to serve the great Sovereign Tsar even better than my father did. Though I am of the Moslem faith, I am not a Moslem of my own free will: my father had given me to the Shah. . . . My father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather were Christian sovereigns since days of old; and I myself was also a Christian and still remember the Christian faith. My father delivered me to become a Moslem when I was seven years old. It was not of my own free will that I have become a Moslem; God will judge my father for it. And now, without fail, I shall not subject Christians to oppression . . . I am the Shah’s servant, and in his letters the Shah calls me his son. Should your great Sovereign be as gracious towards me as the Shah, I am ready to be in the Sovereign’s grace.40 These few lines, although concise, lend themselves to some considerations. One seems to perceive in the words of the prince regret for his father’s decision, and also a rebuke. One sees as well pride in his own royal origin: fate may have changed K’onst’ant’ine’s official religious affiliation but it did not change or limit his natural right to rule. Indeed, it strengthened it by forging a strong personal bond with the shah, as is expressed in kin terminology implying full support from the Shah himself and son-like loyalty from the prince. And K’onst’ant’ine’s words are of course a political statement as well: the prince was not going to trade the power accruing to him as a vassal of the shah for a precarious independence as a fully-fledged Georgian king but, at the same time, he explicitly left the door open to Muscovite influence and help. The mention of having once been a Christian and not having forgotten the old faith must be understood as a suggestion that, under certain circumstances, the old faith could still be recovered. The phenomenon of the ghulams, as well as questions regarding their attitude towards religious conversion or the interplay between the latter and their career ambitions, would be better understood if treated in the wider context not only of Islamic military slavery, but also of the “international military market” (in other words, the recruitment of foreign mercenaries at an international level) in the early modern period in Europe, which could provide interesting terms of comparison from western history. Similarities between European states and the Ottoman Empire in the policy of recruiting foreign soldiers and administrators have been noticed.41 European armies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were indeed “mongrel forces”, which included large numbers of
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 57 foreign troops who did not always share the same religious persuasion of their employers,42 the most spectacular instance being probably the Protestant German Landsknechts storming and sacking Rome on behalf of the Emperor Charles V (1519–1556).43 However, despite this ethno-religious mix, religion was not the main reason for desertion or mutiny, although of course there were exceptions.44 Finally, while it is certainly true that in Persia ‘the Georgians changed their religion with remarkable sans-façon, but Islam too sat lightly on their shoulders’,45 there were notable exceptions. The aforementioned Erek’le I and Vaxt’ang VI converted to Islam only very reluctantly and after years of exile at the Persian court. Before them, Teimuraz I (Erek’le’s grandfather) never did convert, despite repeated defeats, the loss of his throne and the destruction of his family.46 It was indeed Teimuraz’s mother, Ketevan, who was tortured to death in Shiraz in 1624 on the orders of Shah Abbas I, who provided the most striking and most celebrated example of attachment to the Christian religion: her martyrdom did not fail to deeply impress European observers of the time.47 The praise, in a poem dedicated to Ketevan’s martyrdom, addressed by the unflinchingly Christian and anti-Safavid Teimuraz to the man who oversaw the torture and death of his mother48 (Emāmqoli Khan Undiladze, himself a Georgian ghulam like his father and his brother, the aforementioned Dāud Khan) bears eloquent witness to the complexity, and perhaps ambivalence, of the ties connecting the ghulams to each other, the homeland, the host country, and their employer and overlord the Safavid shah.49 Even if Safavid Persia was more difficult to reach than the Ottoman Empire and not as fabulously rich as Mughal India, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was nonetheless home to a certain number of renegades of European origin like Flaminio.50 Unfortunately, the amount of current information about such figures does not compare to what we know about the ghulams, yet a certain amount of (usually episodic) data is available which can give us a sense of the situation at large. The Ottoman–Safavid wars certainly provided an important channel for Europeans to end up in Persia, as either deserters or war prisoners. As early as 1507, for instance, a Venetian source mentions a Frenchman who escaped to the Safavid royal camp after twelve years of slavery in the Ottoman Empire.51 When two Imperial envoys reached the Safavid court at the end of the 1520s, their credentials were translated by a Portuguese renegade named Emāmqoli who, however, ‘did not know Latin well’ and therefore could not fully explain what the letters were about.52 He was perhaps a deserter from the Portuguese outpost of Comorão/Bandar Abbas or from the retinue of a diplomatic envoy. A very interesting case is that of another Portuguese, António Tenreiro: a member of an embassy which reached the Safavid court in 1524, he may have converted to Islam before starting his journey back home.53 In the seventeenth century, Persia was reportedly ‘full’ of Polish54 and probably also Russian slaves, some of whom must have become Muslims. These men,
58 Giorgio Rota and sometimes women, had clearly either fallen victim to Crimean Tatar raids or were captured by the Safavids while serving in the Ottoman army. This was for instance the fate of a Russian man named “Alessandro”, apparently thirty-five years of age, who was reconciled in front of the Holy Office in Venice on 24 January 1634. He stated that he had been kidnapped and taken to Persia by the “Tatars”, who sold him to a Muslim trader.55 He spent fifteen years with this trader, living ‘in the Turkish way’ (alla turchesca, that is, as a Muslim) but without reneging, being circumcised, entering a mosque or saying the Muslim prayers.56 In 1622 Shah Abbas I freed 87 Russian prisoners and sent them back to Russia as a sign of friendship to the Czar.57 We do not know how they had come to Persia, but a Safavid chronicle informs us about the ‘Frankish and Russian young ghulams’ serving in the Ottoman army and captured at the battle of Ṣufiyān (1605).58 A clearer connection between the wars of Shah Abbas and the presence of Christian renegades in Persia is established by an account written by Fr. Belchior dos Anjos, who met two such renegades in 1604. A ‘young German man’ captured in Hungary thirteen years earlier, who had become a Muslim but had expressed the wish to return to Christianity, was provided with letters of recommendation and sent to Goa. A Frenchman, who had likewise been taken prisoner in Hungary by the Ottomans (during the war of 1593–1606) and kept seven years as a prisoner, was later captured by the Safavid forces at the conquest of Tabriz (1603). He had never been forced to renege by his first master and wanted to return to Christendom. Interestingly, he stated that the “Moors” (by which he probably meant both the Turks and the Persians) thought he was a “Moor” himself because he was dressed like them and spoke Turkish well.59 Others, both Catholics and Protestants, were traders, artisans, physicians60 and painters61 who had come to Persia in search of fortune, or mercenaries who occasionally trained the Safavid troops.62 We know that some settled down in Persia63 and some may have converted.64 Europeans too, like the Caucasians, provided martyrs to the Christian faith: the most famous among them is probably Johann Rudolf Stadler, a Swiss Protestant clock-maker who refused to convert during the reign of Shah Ṣafi, a ruler otherwise supposed to be well-inclined towards Christians, and was therefore executed.65 As remarked earlier in the case of the Georgian ghulams, there were not many options left for those European renegades who may have wished to return to Christianity: a flight to Russia was out of the question for geographical reasons and also Portuguese Bandar Abbas must have been too far away for the majority of them. The situation improved from this point of view with the establishment of the first Catholic mission at Isfahan in 1602, as Flaminio’s case shows. Missionary sources sometimes provide data concerning the number of renegades brought to the Catholic faith. Fr. Juan Tadeo writes of about 2,000 Georgians, who had become renegades, persuaded . . . to return to the Faith . . . 59 children of Georgians, Jacobites, etc., who
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 59 voluntarily received the Roman rite . . . and a very large number of persons from Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Georgia, Valachia, Portuguese and Indian Christians reconciled to the Catholic church.66 Ten Georgians were baptised in July 1707.67 We must assume that the majority of these ex-renegades, especially the Georgians, could not leave Persia and were therefore forced to conceal their return to Christianity. However, not even the missionaries were entirely safe from the risk of apostasy. An Austrian traveller, Ferdinand Amadeus von Harrsch, who was in Persia around the year 1700, reported the recent apostasy of two priors of the Augustinian convent at Isfahan (the Portuguese Manuel de S. Maria and António de Jesus) who had become Muslims in one case because of a woman (1691), in the other after a quarrel with a Portuguese ambassador (1697). The first, according to von Harrsch, lived ‘miserably’ and regretted his decision, albeit not to the point of returning to the fold of the Holy Roman Church, while the latter had become a secretary to the Shah.68 This report is remarkable also because it confirms how individual and diverse both the path leading to conversion and the “new life” thereafter were. Indeed, in a final twist of fate, António de Jesus (by then ʿAliqoli Beyg Jadido’l-eslām) not only became the author of bitterly antiChristian religious treatises but even converted to Twelver Shiism another Portuguese man who, as the slave of a Yemeni master, had previously embraced the Zaydi branch of Shiism.69 Again, information is scarce and general conclusions are tentative, but it seems that in Safavid Persia (as far as the “classic renegades” are concerned) the reasons for converting to Islam were the same as those highlighted by modern scholarship on conversion in the Mediterranean basin and the Ottoman Empire: violence or the threat thereof (particularly in the case of purchased slaves, the occasional Ottoman prisoner of war of Christian origin, and local Christian communities), need, ambition, lust for adventure, personal religious conviction and of course what an Italian observer of the time would have called la lussuria del vivere turchesco (the lecherousness of the Muslim way of life). As an eyewitness like Pietro della Valle put it, ‘a half-witted man [un uomo di poco cervello]’ in Persia was always in danger of wavering in his Christian faith because of the lure of money, royal favour, a beautiful wife or similar reasons.70 The reasons for (possibly later) reverting to Christianity are more difficult to understand, but we may assume that, again as in the Mediterranean basin, disappointment with their new status as Muslims, the wish to return home (whether it was actually possible or not), the fascination exerted by the Catholic liturgy and an unextinguishable attachment to the old religion all played a role. The words quoted in the epigraph, ascribed by the great master of British humour to a fictional English white hunter living somewhere “east of Suez” in an a-temporal British empire, are singularly in agreement with the words of the more serious-minded Sirach, and this is not by chance.71 The fact is, that men living on the fringes of the empire (any empire) or beyond them
60 Giorgio Rota were by definition more likely to meet other cultures and new ways of life than their fellow countrymen who never left more inland regions of the same state. They were relatively free from the constraints that dominated life at home but they were also far away from that life and the protection it could offer. They often stood alone when facing unusual or unexpected challenges and, left to their own devices as they were, their response to the challenge may not always have been one that their society of origin would have approved of. More often than not, as both modern scholarship and primary sources show, it was practical problems (summarised by Wodehouse as drink, women and unpaid debts for the sake of brevity and, no doubt, irony), and not theological issues, that triggered the choice between two religions. The possibility to choose may have been hailed by some as a personal conquest72 or regretted by others as a heavy burden unfairly forced upon them by fate. For some it must have been like a ‘change of dress and coins’ without particular consequence, for others it was a step that could not be made lightly, or that could not be made at all.73 In either case, the modern scholar dealing with the phenomenon of renegades should always be aware of the importance of the human factor and not indulge in the temptation of imposing too-strict theoretical frames on what was, after all, a highly personal and unpredictable decision.
Notes 1 Histoire de la Géorgie depuis l’antiquité jusqu’au XIXe siècle, trans. MarieFélicité Brosset, II part, Histoire moderne, I livraison (St. Petersburg: Imprimerie de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences, 1856), 45–60, 163–67; W. E. D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1932), 166–8. On Giorgi Saak’adze and Xosrow Mirza, see Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 56. 2 The details of the death of Giorgi and of his possible plot to leave the Ottoman Empire can be found in Giorgio Rota, “A New Date for the Death of Giorgi Saak’adze,” Eurasian Studies 4 (2005) pp. 19–27. 3 Joseph von Hammer, Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches (Pest: Hartleben, 1827–35), vol. V 104 n. b. 4 Cf. for instance Bernadette Majorana, La gloriosa impresa (Palermo: Sellerio, 1990), 274, plate 61; also Rota, “A New Date,” 27 n. 32. 5 On Fr. Juan Tadeo, cf. A Chronicle of the Carmelites in Persia and the Papal Mission of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, ed. H. Chick (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012), vol. II, 920–34. 6 Venice: Archivio di Stato (hereafter: ASV), Sant’Uffizio (Tre Savi all’Eresia), busta 85 (fols. not numbered). Fr. Juan Tadeo arrived at Isfahan on 2 December 1607, which of course means that Flaminio’s reconciliation took place after this date, cf. A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. II, 921. One wonders if the ‘Venetian merchant so weighed down by debt that
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 61 he saw no alternative but conversion to Islam’, whom the Augustinian António de Gouveia met at the end of 1602 or beginning of 1603 in Isfahan, was Flaminio, see John M. Flannery, The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians to Persia and Beyond (1602–1747) (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013), 65. Unfortunately I did not have access to de Gouveia’s own account of his mission, Relaçam em que se tratam as guerras e grandes victórias que alcançou o grande rey de Persia Xa ‘Abbas [. . .] (Lisbon, 1611). 7 ASV, Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia, I serie, registro 143, fols. 87a–88a (31 March 1611). 8 On the ghulams, see in particular Giorgio Rota, “Caucasians in Safavid Service in the 17th Century,” in Caucasia Between the Ottoman Empire and Iran, 1555–1914, ed. Raoul Motika and Michael Ursinus (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2000); Willem Floor, Safavid Government Institutions (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2001), 166–76; Hirotake Maeda, “Ḥamza Mīrzā and the ‘Caucasian Elements’ at the Safavid Court: A Path Towards the Reforms of Shāh ʿAbbās I,” Orient’alist’i 1 (2001); Sussan Babaie a. O., Slaves of the Shah (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2004); Giorgio Rota, book review of Babaie a. O., Slaves of the Shah, The Middle East Journal, 59 (2005); Valerian Gabashvili, “The Undiladze Feudal House in the Sixteenth to Seventeenth-Century Iran According to the Georgian Sources,” trans. Manana Gabashvili, Iranian Studies 40 (2007); Rudi Matthee, Persia in Crisis (London: I. B. Tauris, 2012), 27–62 and passim. 9 Willem Floor, “Barda and Bardadārī. IV. From the Mongols to the Abolition of Slavery,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, vol. III (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1982–), 769–70; Mohammad Rafiʿ al-Din Ansâri, Dastur al-Moluk. A Safavid State Manual, trans. Willem Floor and Mohammad H. Faghfoory (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2007), 175–85; Kathryn Babayan, “Eunuchs. IV. The Safavid Period,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, vol. IX (London: Bibliotheca Persica Press 1982–), 67–8; Matthee, Persia in Crisis, 59–62. 10 The law applied to all non-Muslims and was issued ‘before ʿAbbas I died’ according to A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. I, 288. Aptin Khanbaghi, The Fire, the Star and the Cross (London–New York: I. B. Tauris, 2006), 128 suggests ‘around 1624’ as a date for the Shah’s edict but this is probably too early. On the Armenians (and Assyrians) under Safavid rule see, among others, Vartan Gregorian, “Minorities of Isfahan: The Armenian Community of Isfahan 1587–1722,” Iranian Studies 7 (1974); Vera B. Moreen, “The Status of Religious Minorities in Safavid Iran 1617–61,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 40 (1981): 128–32; Roger M. Savory, “Relations between the Safavid State and Its Non-Muslim Minorities,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 14 (2003): 441–58; Khanbaghi, The Fire, the Star, 111–29, 134–5; Rudi Matthee, “Christianity in Safavid
62 Giorgio Rota Iran: Hospitaliy and Harassment,” Studies on Persianate Societies 3 (2005) 15–37; Matthee, Persia in Crisis, 177–95; Flannery, The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians, 111–47. Also the Jewish community in Safavid Persia occasionally experienced forced conversion followed by permission to return to Judaism, for reasons which were largely the same as those outlined in the case of the persecution of the local Christians: cf. for instance Moreen, “The Status of Religious Minorities,” 123–5; Vera B. Moreen, “The Problems of Conversion Among Iranian Jews in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” Iranian Studies 19 (1986): 215–28; Savory, “Relations,” 449–53; Khanbaghi, The Fire, the Star, 102–11, 135–46; Matthee, Persia in Crisis, 183–93. 1 1 Allen, A History of the Georgian People, 176–7, 272–3; David Marshall Lang, The Last Years of the Georgian Monarchy, 1658–1832 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1957), 21–2; Gulkan Žoržoliani, Sakartvelo XVII sauk’unis 30–50–ian c’lebši (Tbilisi: Mecniereba, 1987), 35–7. 12 This was Iese, the brother and rival of King Vaxt’ang VI (1711–1714 and 1719–1723), who ruled over Kartli under Safavid suzerainty as ʿAliqoli Khan in 1714–1716 and in Ottoman service as Mustafa Pasha between 1724–1727: on him, see Lang, The Last Years, 108–9, 114–5, 139–40; Lang, “ ʾAlī-qolī Khan”, in Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, vol. I (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1982–), 874. Before him, David XI had also become first a Shiite and then a Sunni (see later in the chapter). 13 Ḥasan Beyg Rumlu, Aḥsano’t-tavārix, ed. ʿAbdo’l-Ḥoseyn Navā’i (Tehran: Bābak, 1357), 536; ʿAbdi Beyg Navidi Širāzi, Takmelato’l-axbār, ed. ʿAbdo’l-Ḥoseyn Navā’i (Tehran: Ney, 1369), 120; Qāżi Aḥmad b. Šarafo’ddin al-Ḥoseyn al-Ḥoseyni al-Qomi, Xolāṣato’t-tavārix, ed. Eḥsān Ešrāqi (Tehran: Entešārāt-e Dānešgāh, 1359–1363), vol. I, 434; Eskandar Beyg Torkmān, Tārix-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsi, ed. Iraj Afšār (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1334–1335), vol. I, 89. 14 Allen, A History of the Georgian People, 155; ASV, Senato, Dispacci ambasciatori, Costantinopoli, filza 20, no. 53, fols. 540b–541a (Giovan Francesco Morosini, Vigne di Pera, 29 January 1585 [1584 more veneto]). 15 Rumlu, Aḥsano’t-tavārix, 567–70; Qomi, Xolāṣato’t-tavārix, vol. I, 558– 9; Navidi Širāzi, Takmelato’l-axbār, 132; Torkmān, Tārix-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsi, vol. I, 90; Eskandar Beg Monshi, History of Shah ‘Abbas the Great, trans. Roger M. Savory (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1978), vol. I, 150; Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 33. 16 Rumlu, Aḥsano’t-tavārix, 628; Qomi, Xolāṣato’t-tavārix, vol. II, 622, 626–8; Torkmān, Tārix-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsi, vol. I, 90, 207, 227; Monshi, History of Shah ‘Abbas, vol. I, 150, 307–8, 339–40; Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 34. The Persian sources are not in agreement as to whether the word solṭān was part of Simon’s Muslim name or not. Most likely it
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 63 was, since this name was clearly modelled after that of Solṭān Moḥammad Xodābande. 17 Allen, A History of the Georgian People, 155–60; Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 35–43, 359–73; Giovanni Tommaso Minadoi, Historia della guerra fra Turchi, et Persiani (Venice: Andrea Muschio e Barezzo Barezzi, 1588). 18 A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. I, 63 n. 1 (English translation); Ilia T’abaġua, Sakartvelo Evrop’is arkivebsa da c’ignsacavebši (XIII–XVI ss.) (Tbilisi: Mecniereba, 1984), 228–30 (Georgian translation), 295–7 (Latin text) and 298–302 (facsimile of the Latin text); Givi Žordanija and Zurab Gamezardašvili, Rimsko-katoličeskaja missija i Gruzija, vol. I (Tbilisi: Izdatel’stvo Tbilisskogo Universiteta, 1994), 574–6 (Latin text); Epistolae ad principes, vol. III (Sixtus V – Clemens VIII, 1585–1605), ed. Luigi Nanni and Tomislav Mrkonjić (Vatican City: Archivio Segreto Vaticano, 1997), 418. 1 9 Žoržoliani, Sakartvelo, 19–21. 2 0 Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 69; Lang, The Last Years, 13. The wedding sealed the alliance between Rost’om and Levan II which was aimed at fighting Teimuraz I. 2 1 Lang, The Last Years, 13. ‘Nobody knows to which religion the prince [Rost’om Mepe] belongs: he never goes to church, he never fasts, he is a Moor with the Moors and makes the sign of the cross in front of his wife’ see Žordanija and Gamezardašvili, Rimsko-katoličeskaja missija, 704. On his reign, see also Nana Gelashvili, “Iranian – Georgian Relations during the Reign of Rostom (1633–58)”, in Iran and the World in the Safavid Age, ed. Willem Floor and Edmund Herzig (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012). 2 2 Donald Rayfield, The Literature of Georgia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 99–101; Lang, The Last Years, 129. 2 3 Floor, Safavid Government, 170. 24 On the training of the ghulams, see Floor, Safavid Government, 168– 9; Rota, “Caucasians in Safavid Service,” 109–10. Mirza Beyg Ḥasan b. Ḥoseyn Jonābādi, Rowżato’ṣ-ṣafaviye (Tehran: Mowqufāt-e Doktor Maḥmud Afšār Yazdi, 1378), 785 mentions the ġolām-e kučak (the little ghulams): were they future ghulams still under training, perhaps similar to the Ottoman acemi oğlans, who supposedly provided the replacements for the Janissaries? Even less clear is Pietro della Valle, Delle conditioni di Abbas re di Persia (Venice: Francesco Baba, 1628), 48; Pietro della Valle, Abbas re di Persia, ed. Antonio Invernizzi (Turin: Silvio Zamorani Editore, 2004), 66, where we read of the ‘pages’ (paggi) and ‘many others’ who were trained in ‘several houses’ under Shah Abbas I. Finally, serious doubts have been expressed recently about whether the main function of the acemi oğlans was really to serve as “cadets” to the Janissaries, and whether both corps received systematic military training:
64 Giorgio Rota see Gilles Veinstein, “On the Ottoman janissaries (fourteenth–nineteenth century),” in Fighting for a Living. A Comparative History of Military Labour 1500–2000, ed. Erich-Jan Zürcher (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013), 128–34. 25 We have two biographies of prominent ghulam officers, the untitled ms. British Library Add 7,655 for Rostam Khan Saak’adze and the Fotuḥāt-e Fereyduniye for Fereydun Khan Čarkas. The latter was captured by “brigands” when he was seven years old and sold to the Lezghians. He remained among them for at least seven years, after which he ended up in Persia and entered the Shah’s service under circumstances that remain unexplained, see Moḥammad Ṭāher Basṭāmi, Fotuḥāt-e Fereyduniye, ed. Seyyed Saʿid Mir Moḥammad Ṣādeq and Moḥammad Nāder Naṣiri Moqaddam (Tehran: Našr-e Noqṭe, 1380), 25–9. Rostam Khan Saak’adze was born in Georgia in 1587/8 and taken to Persia by his father, who had probably been in the service of a Georgian Royal prince who later became King Bagrat’ VII (1615–1619), another son of the aforementioned David XI/Dāud Khan. Rostam Khan entered the Shah’s service at age eleven: see Giorgio Rota, La Vita e i Tempi di Rostam Khan (edizione e traduzione italiana del ms. British Library Add 7,655) (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009), 52, 61–5, 276, 340, 343–4, 429, 52 n. 92, 62 n. 130. Rostam Khan was either unrelated or only very distantly related to Giorgi: cf. Rota, La Vita e i Tempi, 51–2 n. 92. 2 6 Mak’ar Xubua, Sakartvelos muzeumis sp’arsuli pirmanebi da hokmebi (Tbilisi: Sakartvelos SSR Mecnierebata Ak’ademiis gamomcemloba, 1949), 34, 36; Sp’arsuli ist’oriuli sabutebi Sakartvelos c’igntsacavebši, ed. Vladimer Puturidze, vol. I, part 2 (Tbilisi: Sakartvelos SSR Mecnierebata Ak’ademiis gamomcemloba, 1962), 58. 27 See also the remarks in note 43. 2 8 Lang, The Last Years, 88–90. 29 Ibid., 115–19, 134–5. 3 0 Mirza Moḥammad Marʿaši Ṣafavi, Mojmaʿo’t-tavārix, ed. ʿAbbās Eqbāl Āštiyāni (Tehran: Sanā’i and Ṭahuri, 1362), 4; Histoire de la Géorgie depuis l’antiquité jusqu’au XIXe siècle, trans. Marie-Félicité Brosset, II part, Histoire moderne, II livraison (St. Petersburg: Imprimerie de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences, 1857), 19. See also Rota, “Caucasians in Safavid Service,” 115. King Giorgi was met by a Portuguese ambassador while he was at the Safavid court: cf. Jean Aubin, L’ambassade de Gregório Pereira Fidalgo à la cour de Châh Soltân-Hosseyn, 1696–1697 (Lisbon: Comité national portugais pour la célébration du 2.500e anniversaire de la fondation de la monarchie en Iran, 1972), 72–7. 31 A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. II, 812–13. An early eighteenth-century source states that the vāli/king of Georgia ranked in importance after the vāli of Lorestān on account of the latter being a Muslim. Of course, the vāli
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 65 of Georgia too was officially a Muslim, but clearly not a real one in the eyes of the writer, see Tadhkirat al-Mulūk, ed. and trans. Vladimir Minorsky (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1943), 44. 32 Archivio Storico “de Propaganda Fide,” Rome (hereafter: SCPF), SOCG, Persia, Giorgia . . ., vol. 209, fols. 358–62 (don Pietro Avitabile, Gori, 1 October 1633). 3 3 SCPF, SOCG, Persia, Giorgia . . ., vol. 209, fols. 358–62 (don Pietro Avitabile, Gori, 1 October 1633). 3 4 Rota, La Vita e i Tempi, 64–65, 278, 344, 430 n. 678. See however Žordanija and Gamezardašvili, Rimsko-katoličeskaja missija, 693 (don Giusto Prato, Gori, 16 October 1633), 701 on his kindness towards the Christians in general and the Catholic missionaries at Gori in particular. 35 Mir Moḥammad Saʿid Mošizi Bardsiri, Taẕkere-ye ṣafaviye-ye Kermān, ed. Moḥammad Ebrāhim Bāstāni Pārizi (Tehran: Našr-e ʿelm, 1369), 541–3; Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 87. Dreams are omnipresent in the narratives of conversion, see for instance Mercedes García-Arenal, “Dreams and Reason: Autobiographies of Converts in Religious Polemics,” in Conversions islamiques: Identités religieuses en Islam méditerranéen, ed. Mercedes García-Arenal (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2001), 89–103. 36 A Man of Two Worlds. Pedros Bedik in Iran 1670–1675, trans. Colette Ouahes and Willem Floor (Washington, DC: Mage Publishers, 2014), 493 (see also 491–4, 497). 37 Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 87 (also 177–8). See also Lang, The Last Years, 96–7. 38 Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 181 (also 97). It is only seemingly paradoxical, given the contradictions inherent in imperial patronage and court education, that Teimuraz I’s Georgian poetry should have been heavily influenced by Persian literature, which he fervently admired, see Rayfield, The Literature of Georgia, 106–11. The poems of the anti-Safavid Arčil were closer to traditional Georgian metre, but ‘with conceits, forms, and themes inspired by Persia’ cf. Ibid., 112. 39 Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 87–8, 97, 181–2. 40 Quotations from Russian Embassies to the Georgian Kings, 1589–1605, ed. W.E.D. Allen, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), vol. II, 464, 465, 467. Other witnesses indeed confirm a certain degree of ambiguity in K’onst’ant’ine’s religious identity. Anthony Sherley met K’onst’ant’ine at the Safavid court in late 1598 or early 1599 and mentioned him twice as a Christian, see Sir Antony Sherley His Relation of His Travels Into Persia [. . .] (London: Nathaniell Butter and Ioseph Bagfet, 1613), 72–3. It is however unlikely that he was openly Christian, since Sherley himself states that the prince was appointed governor of Isfahan. In 1602, Shah ͑Abbās I introduced K’onst’ant’ine to de Gouveia as a Christian, which was again probably not true, at least not in the sense of the
66 Giorgio Rota official religious affiliation of the prince, see Flannery, The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians, 60. Whether the Shah meant that the prince had only embraced Islam outwardly or wanted to deceive the missionary cannot be ascertained. However, in 1604, the Bishop of Meliapor (Mylapore in southern India) saw K’onst’ant’ine in the camp of the Shah. According to him, the prince had a bishop and two priests in his retinue, and he led a body of 3,000 Christian Georgians who marched behind a ‘large cross’, see Luis Gil Fernández, “A Report of the Bishop of Meliapor to Philip III (6-XII-1606),” in The Spanish Monarchy and Safavid Persia in the Early Modern Period: Politics, War and Religion, ed. Enrique García Hernán, José Cutillas Ferrer and Rudi Matthee (Valencia: Albatros, 2016), 143. At the opposite end of the Mediterranean world, the episode of ʿAbdu’lMalik I (1576–1578) of Morocco sprinkling holy water on the renegades in his retinue and his comments on their reaction seem to show the sultan’s awareness of the complexity of their “identity” and ultimately his indifference towards their “real” faith, see Fernando R. Mediano, “Les conversions de Sebastião Paes de Vega, un Portugais au Maroc saʿdien”, in Conversions islamiques, ed. Mercedes García-Arenal, 189. 41 Christine Isom-Verhaaren, “Shifting Identities: Foreign State Servants in France and the Ottoman Empire,” Journal of Early Modern History 8 (2004): 110–23, 133–4. This article does however underplay the symbolic importance of conversion to Islam as opposed to change of confession within the Christian community. 4 2 Frank Tallett, War and Society in Early-Modern Europe, 1495–1715 (London–New York: Routledge, 1992), 88–91 (quotation from 88); Peter Burschel, Söldner im Nordwestdeutschland des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994), 158–9, 163–5. 43 European history during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries provides numerous instances of individuals or bodies of troops serving rulers across the divide between Catholics and Protestants. Three exemplary careers of this kind are outlined in Isom-Verhaaren, “Shifting Identities,” 109–34. This held true also in periods of intense confessional hostility. One of the most prominent Protestant military leaders of the first phases of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), Ernst von Mansfeld, was born a Catholic and both his father and half-brother loyally served the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs. He himself was in Imperial service for several years, but he entered the fray in 1618 in the service of the Catholic Duke of Savoy and in support of the Protestant cause and, above all, of the Duke’s hope to be elected Holy Roman Emperor: see Walter Krüssmann, Ernst von Mansfeld (1580–1626) (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2010), 27–30, 39–46, 55–90, 115–53, 625–31, 636–41. Analogous cases are mentioned in Burschel, Söldner im Nordwestdeutschland, 163–64 n. 396. However, the question whether Mansfeld actually converted to Protestantism (and to which form of it) cannot be answered with certainty. In this he resembles his famous
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 67 contemporary, the English-born adventurer Sir Anthony Sherley (1565– 1633), who served the Crown of Spain for many years (as well as the Empire, for a shorter spell), who shifted to Catholicism at a certain point of his life, although the precise circumstances of his conversion are not known today: cf. Krüssmann, Ernst von Mansfeld, 90–7; Giorgio Rota, “Real, Fake or Megalomaniacs? Three Suspicious Ambassadors, 1450– 1600,” in Dissimulation and Deceit in Early Modern Europe, ed. Miriam Eliav-Feldon and Tamar Herzig (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 168–73, 176–7 (with further bibliography). A more famous and more successful general than Mansfeld, the Imperial commander-in-chief Wallenstein (1583–1634) was born a Protestant and converted to Catholicism at a young age: cf. Krüssmann, Ernst von Mansfeld, 96–7. Analogous, albeit less frequent, instances can be found during the wars against the Ottomans. On occasion the Republic of Venice hired Balkan light horsemen who were often Muslims, and a whole French regiment in Imperial service (the garrison of the Hungarian city of Papa) famously defected to the Ottomans in 1600: see Caroline Finkel, “French Mercenaries in the Habsburg-Ottoman War of 1593–1606: The Desertion of the Papa Garrison to the Ottomans in 1600,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 55/3 (1992). In this latter case, the men deserted because of lack of pay and the ill-treatment they had received from their superiors and most of them never converted to Islam, see M. E. Mallett and J. R. Hale, The Military Organization of a Renaissance State. Venice c. 1400 to 1617 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 317–18, 328–9, 376–7, 459; Gregory Hanlon, The Twilight of a Military Tradition (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1998), 146; Géraud Poumarède, Pour en finir avec la Croisade (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2004), 587–95 (with further bibliography). It was not uncommon for veteran mercenary officers to try to obtain a commission for younger relatives in the army in which they were already serving, or for aspiring officers to remind a potential employer of the merit earned by relatives, see for instance Hanlon, The Twilight of a Military Tradition, 265–6; Poumarède, Pour en finir avec la Croisade, 580–2. However, conversion could still make a career easier: see Ines Peper, Konversionen im Umkreis des Wiener Hofes um 1700 (Vienna and Munich: Böhlau Verlag and Oldenbourg, 2010), 86–9, 111–12. 44 Michael Keiser, “Ausreißer und Meuterer im Dreißigjährigen Krieg,” in Armeen und ihre Deserteure, ed. Ulrich Bröckling and Michael Sikora (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), 54–5. 4 5 Tadhkirat al-Mulūk, 19. 4 6 Allen, A History of the Georgian People, 166–73; Lang, The Last Years, 12–16, 21–2. 47 Flannery, The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians, 197–225 (with further bibliography); Roberto Gulbenkian, “Relation véritable du glorieux martyre de la reine Kétévan de Géorgie,” in Estudos Históricos, vol. II,
68 Giorgio Rota Relações entre Portugal, Irão e Médio-Oriente (Lisbon: Academia Portuguesa da História, 1997), 247–323; Luis Gil Fernández and Ilia Tabagua, Fuentes para la historia de Georgia en bibliotecas y archivos españoles (siglos XV–XVII) (Madrid: Editorial Complutense, 1993), 56–62, 248– 53; della Valle, Delle conditioni di Abbas, 51, 91–4; della Valle, Abbas, 68–9, 98–100; Viaggi di Pietro della Valle (Brighton: G. Gancia, 1843), vol. I, 675. Ketevan’s martyrdom is the subject of Andreas Gryphius’ tragedy Catharina von Georgien oder Bewehrete Beständigkeit (1657). The chaplain of the queen had been murdered in 1618, see Gulbenkian, “Relation véritable du glorieux martyre,” 292; Gil Fernández and Tabagua, Fuentes, 55, 237, 247–8 (where the date 1610 is a missprint). Teimuraz’s two sons arrived at the Safavid court in 1613 together with Ketevan and were castrated in 1620, most probably not in odium fidei but “simply” in order to prevent them from succeeding to the throne, see Histoire de la Géorgie, II/I, 164–5; Viaggi di Pietro della Valle, vol. I, 663; della Valle, Delle conditioni di Abbas, 91; della Valle, Abbas, 98 (also Fernández and Tabagua, Fuentes, 237). However, a Russian ambassador saw them at the Safavid court in February 1622 and thought they had not yet been mutilated, see Histoire de la Géorgie, II/II, 341. They were also converted to Islam. Interestingly, della Valle met two Georgian sisters of noble origin who had been initially well received in Persia but then, because of their refusal to embrace Islam and Teimuraz’s rebellion, became destitute and kept virtually as prisoners: Viaggi di Pietro della Valle, vol. I, 469–70. 4 8 Rayfield, The Literature of Georgia, 109–10; see note 38. 4 9 On Emāmqoli Khan and his family, see Gabashvili, “The Undiladze Feudal House,” 37–56; Hirotake Maeda, “On the Ethno-Social Background of Four Gholām Families from Georgia in Safavid Iran,” Studia Iranica 32 (2003): 262–6, 272. 50 Pietro della Valle was of the opinion that the Europeans living in Persia in his time were ‘not good’, since those who were ready to undertake such a long journey were either mostly ‘knaves’ (mariuoli), who could not remain in Europe, or ‘madmen’ who roamed the world out of ‘madness’ cf. Viaggi di Pietro della Valle, vol. I, 702 (see also 540, 563 for similar remarks). 1 Šāh Ismāʿīl I nei “Diarii” di Marin Sanudo, ed. Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti 5 (Rome: Istituto per l’Oriente, 1979), 139. 52 Rudolf Neck, “Diplomatische Beziehungen zum Vorderen Orient unter Karl V.,” Mitteilungen des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs 5 (1952): 85 and also 86. 53 Jean-Louis Bacqué-Grammont, “Un rapport ottoman sur António Ten reiro,” Mare Luso-Indicum 3 (1976): 161–4, 169, 173. 5 4 A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. II, 1145. 55 Tatar was of course, at the time, a very vague term that included not only the Crimean Tatars, but also the Noghays and often the more or less Islamicised
Conversion to Islam in Safavid Persia 69 peoples of northern Caucasus. Each of these three groups was able to raid parts of southern Russia and then sell the prisoners in Persia or to Persian slave dealers active outside Persia. 6 ASV, Sant’Uffizio (Tre Savi all’Eresia), busta 90. Of course it was not uncom5 mon for renegades, especially after their return to Christendom, to claim that they had managed to preserve their Christian faith despite a formal conversion to Islam, or to claim that they had not converted at all, in some cases with the help of “true” renegades. For a few instances from other parts of the Muslim world, see Bartolomé and Lucile Bennassar, Les Chrétiens d’Allah (Paris: Perrin, 1989), 412; Mediano, “Les conversions de Sebastião Paes,” 180, 183–4, 187–8; Albertus Bobovius, Topkapı, trans. Annie Berthier and Stéphane Yerasimos (Arles: Sindbad – Actes Sud, 1999), 86. 5 7 Histoire de la Géorgie, II/II, 341. 5 8 Torkmān, Tārix-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsi, vol. II, 700; Monshi, History of Shah ‘Abbas, vol. II, 892. 5 9 Roberto Gulbenkian, L’ambassade en Perse de Luis Pereira de Lacerda . . . 1604–1605 (Lisbon: Comité national portugais pour la célébration du 2.500e anniversaire de la fondation de la monarchie en Iran, 1972), 82; see note 56. 60 Jean Calmard, “The French Presence in Safavid Persia: A Preliminary Study,” in Iran and the World, ed. Willem Floor and Edmund Herzig (London: I. B. Tauris), 315–6. The names of some of them can be found in T. W. Haig, “Graves of Europeans in the Armenian Cemetery at Isfahan,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1919): 324, 326, 334–5, 338, 340, 346. 61 Gary Schwartz, “Between Court and Company. Dutch Artists in Persia”, in The Fascination of Persia, ed. Axel Langer (Zürich: Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess AG, 2013), 158–65. 62 Bacqué-Grammont, “Un rapport ottoman,” 169 n. 18, 170 n. 20; a Dutch painter-gunner is mentioned in Schwartz, “Between Court and Company,” 160; French artillerymen on their way to Persia in search of employment are mentioned in ASV, Senato, Dispacci ambasciatori, Roma, filza 125, no. 217, fols. 243a–243b (Alvise Contarini, Rome, 3 August 1647). At least one of these mercenaries, Jürgen Andersen, left an account of his experiences in Persia and other places of the East: Jürgen Andersen and Volquard Iversen, Orientalische Reise-Beschreibungen in der Bearbeitung von Adam Olearius, ed. Dieter Lohmeier (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1980, 1st ed., Schleswig 1669). 6 3 Giorgio Rota, Under Two Lions. On the Knowledge of Persia in the Republic of Venice (ca. 1450–1797) (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009), 17–18; Haig, “Graves of Europeans,” 335–6, 339–42, 351; Calmard, “The French Presence in Safavid Persia,” 312–19. 64 The aforementioned painter-gunner, Juriaen Ambdis, seemingly converted in the Ottoman Empire: cf. Schwartz, “Between Court and Company,” 160.
70 Giorgio Rota 65 Haig, “Graves of Europeans,” 325–6; Axel Langer, “European Influences on Seventeenth-Century Persian Painting,” in The Fascination of Persia, ed. Axel Langer, 202. 66 A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. II, p. 932. See also Florencio del Niño Jesús, Biblioteca Carmelitano-Teresiana de Misiones, vol. III, En Persia (Pamplona: La Obra Maxima, 1930), 85; n. 6. 67 A Chronicle of the Carmelites, vol. II, 813. See also Haig, “Graves of Europeans,” 347–8. 68 More on the two renegade missionaries in Ferdinand Amadeus von Harrsch, Mémoires des Voyages Faits dans l’Empire Turc, et le Royaume de Perse, Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Vienna, Handschriften Weiß 706/30, fol. 39b; Flannery, The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians, 94–102; Francis Richard, “Un Augustin portugais renégat apologiste de l’islam chiite au début du XVIIIe siècle,” Moyen Orient et Océan Indien 1 (1984). The Portuguese ambassador must be Pereira Fidalgo, who, however, does not mention the incident: see Aubin, L’ambassade de Gregório Pereira Fidalgo. 69 Rasul Jaʿfariyān, Ṣafaviye dar ʿarṣe-ye din, farhang va siyāsat (Qom: Pažuheškade-ye Ḥowze va Dānešgāh, 1379), vol. III, 1037. 70 Viaggi di Pietro della Valle, vol. I, 562. 71 ‘Where wine and women bring about the apostasy of the wise,’ as in Flannery, The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians, 94 (quoted as 19:20). 72 The experience of the renegades can bee seen as ‘an important step in the development of modern individualism’ see Lucetta Scaraffia, Rinnegati (Rome–Bari: Laterza, 1993), 178 (also 174–9, 184–8). 73 Adriano Prosperi, L’eresia del Libro Grande (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2011, 1st ed., Milan 2000), 112–13 (quotation from 113). However, Bennassar, Les Chrétiens d’Allah, 327 notes the highly symbolic value of the change of name and dress, while Prosperi, L’eresia del Libro Grande, 102 and following shows the dangerous consequences that abjuration could have on the health of a deeply religious individual.
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4 Danube-hopping Conversion, jurisdiction and spatiality between the Ottoman Empire and the Danubian principalities in the seventeenth century Michał Wasiucionek Introduction As historians, we often benefit from past people’s tragedies, for the simple reason that throughout the centuries such dramatic situations have tended to produce more sources than happier ones.1 The court records, complaints, appeals and narratives of collective and personal suffering constitute the bulk of material that allows us a glimpse into past realities. This chapter is no exception to this rule, starting and concluding with a personal drama of a certain Ayşe, who lived in seventeenth-century Istanbul and saw her life tarnished by her husband, ‘Ali, in 1659. Seeking redress, she appealed to the divan, which resulted in the issuing of a ferman, which outlines the circumstances of her misfortune. The ferman narrates in short the story of Ayşe’s husband, ‘Ali. According to the document, before his conversion to Islam, he was an agent (kethüda) of Wallachia’s deputy treasurer Evstratie Leurdeanu. Following charges of embezzlement, both he and his patron, in order to escape punishment, sought refuge in Istanbul.2 While Leurdeanu later returned to Wallachia and held major offices in the principality, his former client chose another path, converting to Islam (out of fear, as the ferman informs us) and then marrying Ayşe. However, in 1658 – Ali sold all Ayşe’s property, including the house and jewellery, and ran away to Moldavia, leaving his wife destitute and without means. What is more, once in Moldavia, he reverted to Greek Orthodoxy. All this prompted the Porte to issue an order to the Moldavian voivode to find the culprit and bring him back to Istanbul. There is little to nothing we know about ‘Ali except for the information cited in the aforementioned ferman. We do not know his Christian name, nor do we know anything about his family or life before or after his conversions. It is only his association with Evstratie Leurdeanu, one of the most powerful Wallachian boyars of this period that allows us to fix the moment of his flight from the principality in 1646, when his patron was accused of embezzlement and fled Wallachia for Istanbul.3 Throughout his life, ‘Ali remains elusive and we are unable to recover more than has been conveyed to us in this one source.
78 Michał Wasiucionek What makes ‘Ali’s case interesting for us here is the connection between his shifting religious identities and his movement across spatial as well as jurisdictional boundaries. The first time he crossed a religious boundary, it was in order to escape the punishment by the Wallachian voivode, Matei Basarab. In order to do this, he took refuge in Istanbul, where he embraced Islam. In the second instance, his goal was apparently to escape Ottoman officials, and his religious shift (from Islam to Christianity) was complemented by a spatial (from Istanbul to Moldavia) and jurisdictional (from the territory under Ottoman administration to Moldavia) movement. The convergence between the three fault lines (religious, jurisdictional and spatial) and an individual’s ability to manipulate them for his own benefit forms the focal point of this study. At the first glance, there is nothing exceptional about ‘Ali’s trajectory. In a robust and growing body of scholarship, many scholars have noted the relationship between spatial movements and acts of religious conversion. As Natalie Rothman has pointed out, narratives of conversion in Venetian sources have stressed the role of converts crossing to Christian lands during the process of religious change.4 Similarly, Dora Zsom’s analysis of rabbinic responsa has shown that leaving ‘the land of persecution’ for countries which allowed for an open profession of faith was considered a crucial step in the reversion of Iberian conversos to return to Judaism.5 In this respect, we can crudely divide early modern converts between two ideal types, the renegade and the neomartyr.6 In the case of the former, the process of conversion implied movement across physical space, which allowed him to escape possible punishment. In the case of neomartyrs, a spatial transition did not follow the act of religious change, which left the convert vulnerable to reprisals and at risk of punishment or death. On the surface, ‘Ali’s case fits into the model of a renegade, someone who changed position and locality. However, what is striking is the fact that at no point did he leave the Ottoman sultan’s “well-protected domains”. The Danubian principalities, at least at the beginning of the sixteenth century, were considered part of the Ottoman Empire and their population were therefore zimmi, the protected non-Muslim inhabitants of the “Abode of Islam”. Therefore, the trajectory of ‘Ali can be described as one of zimmiturned-Muslim-turned-zimmi, all occurring within the bounds of the Ottoman Empire. This is rather surprising, given the fact that on the occasion of his second conversion his intention seems to have been to escape Ottoman jurisdiction and avoid any punishment for his crimes, including his apostasy from Islam. ‘Ali’s case begs the question, what made the Danubian principalities a viable space for his reversion to Christianity, despite the fact that in theory it constituted part of the Ottoman Empire? As I will argue, the underlying explanation of this situation rests on the peculiar position the Moldavian and Wallachian elites occupied and their vested interest in preventing any Islamic encroachment on the principalities. As the status of Moldavia and Wallachia was essentially unstable due to their
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 79 subordination to the Porte, the local elite, as a defensive strategy, attempted to enforce a Greek Orthodox identity on the landscape in order to protect their hold on power. As a Christian peripheral elite of the empire, the boyars of Moldavia and Wallachia could not prevent individual cases of conversion to Islam, but they made sure that the converts would be excluded from holding offices and owning land in the principalities. The socio-cultural and geographical landscape of the principalities was thus very different to that of the Ottoman territories south of the Danube. While the collective pressure of the Moldavian and Wallachian elites to demarcate the principalities as Greek Orthodox space resulted in converts to Islam moving south into Muslim territory, it also allowed for a movement of Muslims wishing to convert to Christianity in the opposite direction. Thus, a defensive strategy developed by the members of local elite created opportunities for individuals such as ‘Ali to abandon Islam in favour of Greek Orthodox Christianity. The present study consists of two key sections. Firstly, I address the spatial aspect of the relationship between the Danubian principalities and the Ottoman Empire. I argue that the “conversion of space” in the principalities to an exclusively Greek Orthodox landscape created a liminal experience for those crossing the Danube from one bank to the other. Ottoman travellers crossing to the Danubian principalities read the landscape as significantly different from that which they had been accustomed to in other parts of the empire. Then in the following section, I explore individual conversions to Islam in the context of the principalities. It seems that by the seventeenth century, boyars of Moldavia and Wallachia had accepted conversion to Islam as a political move, and did not necessarily condemn individual conversions of elite members. At the same time, however, they were steadfast in excluding converts from social and political life in the principalities.
The conversion of space In his analysis of the Kadizadeli moment in the Ottoman Empire in the 1660s and 1670s, when the Porte allied itself with revivalist Islamic movements, Marc David Baer has proposed a framework for interpreting conversion in the Ottoman world as the intersection of three different modalities: conversion of self, conversion of others and conversion of space. In order to enhance imperial legitimacy, Sultan Mehmed IV and the Grand Vizier Köprülüzade Ahmed Pasha adopted a revivalist and scriptural interpretation of Islam, and both encouraged the spread of this interpretation among their Muslim subjects, as well as initiating a ‘hunt for converts’ across the empire.7 In terms of Baer’s conversion of space, this turn to piety was reflected in a sustained effort to mark the landscape of the capital with an indelible Islamic imprint. This was most visible, as Baer and Lucien ThysŞenocak argue, in the transformation, after the great fire of 1660, of the predominantly Jewish district of Eminönü in Istanbul into a visibly Muslim space with the construction of Yeni Valide Mosque and adjacent complex.8
80 Michał Wasiucionek While some of Baer’s conclusions met with criticism, the methodological framework he developed offers us a promising approach for researching the problem of conversion and reversion in the Danubian principalities. However, some adjustments have to be made in order to apply the model.9 Most importantly, I have decided to abandon the distinction between the conversion of self and conversion of others. Instead, I conflate them into an umbrella category – the conversion of people. The reason for such a change is dictated on the one hand, by the limitations of sources and lack of ego documents necessary to address the topic, and on the other by a focus on individual cases of conversion rather than state-sponsored attempts to encourage conversion. Therefore, drawing a binary distinction between conversion of people and that of space seems more fitting in this context than the tripartite model developed by Baer. If Istanbul was a showcase for Islam in the seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire, the Danubian principalities were at the other end of the religious spectrum, with no mosques built in Moldavia and Wallachia throughout the early modern period. This absence of Islamic architecture is often cited as evidence in support of the thesis that neither of the principalities were actually conquered by the Ottomans. This is best summarised by the quote from nineteenth-century French historian, Edgar Quinet: By an extraordinary exception that is striking to the eye, the Muslims, as soon as they reached this country, denied themselves the right to build a single mosque. . . . What demonstration could there be more convincing for the fact that the Romanian territory is not and has never been marked by the seal of conquest, that its autonomy and sovereignty have been respected.10 Quinet’s assertion has become a central tenet of Romanian historiography, with scholars arguing that the Danubian principalities remained autonomous throughout the early modern period with their status apparently confirmed by the Ottoman issue of “capitulations” (ahdnames), the documents by which the Ottomans regularised their relations with foreign states. However, these purported “capitulations” dating from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, were debunked as eighteenth-century forgeries by Constantin Giurescu over a century ago, although this has not prevented many Romanian scholars from using them as proof of Moldavian and Wallachian autonomy.11 In a number of articles, Viorel Panaite has rejected the idea of the Danubian principalities’ status as originating from any written acts. Instead he points out that the limits of Moldavian and Wallachian autonomy were set by customary rules rather than fixed in writing.12 Throughout this period, the Danubian principalities’ position within the empire was characterised by constant instability and it was at constant risk from the Porte’s interference. However, despite rumours about the imminent dissolution of the
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 81 administrative autonomy of the principalities throughout the seventeenth century, the only attempt to directly incorporate the principalities into the Ottoman Empire was in 1595, and it ended in an abysmal failure due to poor military performance, factional infighting at the Porte and pressure from Habsburg and Polish-Lithuanian forces that caused the Ottoman authorities to abandon the project.13 Subsequent attempts were aborted even before any military action was taken, and the officials at the Porte opted instead for a simple change of incumbent voivodes. In such moments of uncertainty about the principalities’ future, the Moldavian and Wallachian chroniclers of the seventeenth century emphasised the parallel between the fate of the principalities and the religious imprint it made on the physical landscape. When discussing the 1595 attempt to impose direct Ottoman administration in Wallachia, the anonymous author of the Cantacuzino Chronicle chose to show the scale of the tragedy by references to the landscape and religious edifices: ‘At this time . . . the Turks proceeded with the subjugation of Wallachia and the construction of their shrines and mosques. And the Christians started to suffer from the Turks’ tyranny . . . as they started to put the land and the Christian faith under their boots’.14 So as to make the description even more dreadful, one of the copyists of the manuscript inserted an additional description of the Ottoman soldiers burning churches and razing them to the ground, thus stressing that the imposition of the Ottoman-Islamic order would result in the conversion of the landscape and the obliteration of the old, Wallachian-Christian one.15 This connection between the autonomy of the principality and the Christian character of its landscape is even more prominent in the same author’s account of another plan to annex Wallachia, in 1660. According to the author, this took place after the incumbent voivode, Gheorghe Ghica, failed to pay the tribute to the Porte, prompting the grand vizier to consider the dissolution of the principalities and the introduction of direct Ottoman administration. A partisan of the Cantacuzino political faction, the author ascribes the central role in this narrative to Constantin Postelnic Cantacuzino, the head of the family at that time and presents him as a larger-than-life figure that – according to the chronicle – single-handedly managed to discourage the grand vizier from carrying out the plan. Again the danger looming over Wallachia is articulated through the landscape and built environment; Cantacuzino is said to have ‘wept for a long time and pitied the poor country and how it the [Christian] faith will perish and how its sacred churches will be converted into mosques’. Subsequently, Cantacuzino is eulogised because he ‘removed the land from the grasp of pagans and rescued the churches from the law of Muhammad’.16 While most outspoken in this respect, the author of the Cantacuzino Chronicle was not the only one to draw a parallel between the fate of the Danubian principalities and the presence of Muslim landmarks in the Moldavian-Wallachian landscape, even if it was a temporary measure. For instance, in an early-eighteenth-century Moldavian chronicle, Ion Neculce
82 Michał Wasiucionek cited two instances when the presence of the Ottoman army in the principalities made it necessary to provide a makeshift place of worship for the Muslim soldiers. Since there were no mosques in either Moldavia or Wallachia, the Ottoman soldiers often temporarily took over churches and monasteries, something which revolted Neculce. In 1672, the call from prayer was uttered from the bell tower of the Sfântu Niculae Monastery in Iaşi;17 however, far more shocking for the chronicler was the event during the Russian-Ottoman War of 1736–1739, when the Wallachian voivode Constantin Mavrocordat chose to assign a prayer space in the premises of the Wallachian Metropolite’s residence.18 The passage in which Neculce mentions this episode – in the middle of a long description of havoc wreaked by undisciplined Ottoman troops – leaves no doubt that he interpreted the establishment of a temporary mosque as a sign that everything around him was falling apart and the autonomy of the region was under threat. This emphasis on church buildings as visible signs of political autonomy comes as no surprise. As numerous scholars have emphasised, buildings – places of worship, palaces and fortresses – were and are a principal means of asserting sovereignty over space in both the actual landscape and in cartographic representations.19 The conversion of churches into mosques or the construction of new ones celebrated victories and at the same time increased the grip of the Islamic ruler over the symbolism of the landscape. While converting the landscape was not the only reason for the construction of mosques (mosques also accommodated the needs of the local Muslim community) it nonetheless played an important role in projecting the Ottoman presence across their “well-protected domains”. In this respect, the Moldavian-Wallachian case has its own specificity. At least on a discursive level, the attitude towards the confessional identity of the principalities’ landscape was clearly defensive and concentrated on the preservation of the religious status quo. This is not to say that no new churches or monasteries were established in Moldavia or Wallachia, since many boyars and voivodes undertook themselves to establish new places of worship. However, their main concern was preventing the religious conversion of space. If we take into account the unstable position of the Danubian principalities within the Ottoman Empire and the asymmetrical relations of power between the local elite and the Porte, this comes as no surprise. In order to maintain their hold on Moldavia and Wallachia against the possible encroachment of Muslim Ottoman elites, the Christian boyars resisted the establishment of Islamic landmarks in the principalities, thus creating an impression of their “otherness” from other parts of the Ottoman domain. This holds true for landholding as well. While the landed estates do not have a discernible religious identity in themselves, and they do not feature as landmarks within the physical landscape, we should remember that they had owners and proprietors, who in turn belonged to specific confessional communities. In the Danubian principalities, Muslims were often explicitly excluded from owning landed property, with the local elite claiming that such limitations were part of their formal arrangements with the Porte.
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 83 Most instructive in this respect are the alleged “capitulations” presented by the Moldavian and Wallachian boyars at the Russian-Ottoman peace conference at Focşani in 1772.20 Viewing the negotiations as an opportunity to obtain a formal document establishing the status of the Danubian principalities, the boyars fabricated a set of purported capitulations that had been supposedly given to the voivodes by the Ottoman sultans. As such, these forgeries should be seen as an expression of what the Moldavian and Wallachian elites wanted to obtain rather than as an accurate description of actual arrangements with the Porte. In these documents, concerns regarding landholding feature prominently and explicitly tie in with the resistance to establish Islamic places of worship, since ‘the Turks will not be allowed to acquire land in Moldavia, neither in order to build mosques nor for any other reason’.21 While this stipulation is nowhere to be found in Ottoman documents regarding the status of the Danubian principalities in the Ottoman administrative system, it is nonetheless present in Moldavian and Wallachian sources. For instance, the eighteenth-century Wallachian historian and poet, Ienachiţă Văcărescu, in his Ottoman History claimed that this ban on Muslim landholding applied not only to newcomers from other Ottoman lands, but also to converts to Islam from among the boyar class. According to him, those who ‘convert to the Muslim faith, . . . will lose their fathers’ [landed] property, slaves and all real estate and they will have to leave the country’.22 At least one case from the seventeenth century illustrates that this prohibition was applied in practice, and that the drive to prevent Muslim landholding overrode the inheritance rights of the converts. In the 1580s and 1590s, the representative (capuchehaia) of the Wallachian voivode at the Porte was Iane Banul (governor of Oltenia, the highest-ranking official in the Wallachian hierarchy) who was assisted by his son Apostol in performing his duties.23 However, when the incumbent voivode Michael the Brave (r. 1593–1601) rebelled against the Porte and joined the Habsburg camp in November 1594, his representatives found themselves stranded in the Ottoman capital.24 In order to save their lives, Iane and Apostol abandoned their positions and converted to Islam.25 It is unclear when Iane passed away, but in 1631 his son, Apostol, known under his Muslim name as Kürd Salman Çavuş, returned to Wallachia in order to reclaim his father’s gypsy slaves.26 However, his request was rebuffed by the voivode, Leon Tomşa: I have been searching for the Gypsies of my father, ban Iane, as I have found them dispersed among the Gypsies of other boyars. [Thus], I made appeal to the divan in order to reclaim them. However, the verdict of the divan was that I no longer have claim to my father’s Gypsies, since I had abandoned the [Christian] law.27 It seems plausible that this rebuttal contributed to the decision of Kürd Salman Çavuş to convert back to Christianity, as three years later he is mentioned as having reconverted.28
84 Michał Wasiucionek Thus, even while the 1772 forged capitulations were clearly a sham and there are no Ottoman documents that provide an explicit basis for the prohibition on Muslim landholding or establishment of Islamic places of worship in the Danubian principalities, it is clear that the elites of Moldavia and Wallachia actively sought to prevent Muslims, including converts, from acquiring the landed estates in the principalities and were successful. Of course, we should not see this preoccupation with keeping landholding in Greek Orthodox hands as driven solely by religious goals. The boyars had a vested economic interest in trying to prevent Muslim landholding. However, this does not mean that we should ignore the clear connection drawn in the sources between the absence of Islamic places of worship and the ban on Muslim landholding in the principalities. Rather, we should see both aspects as complementary measures to keep Muslims away from the social and political sphere of the principalities in an attempt to maintain the political and administrative autonomy of Moldavia and Wallachia. In addition, the ban on Muslim landholding helped prevent the intervention of kadıs (judges) in land disputes in the principalities, which if they had occurred would have eroded the autonomy of the Orthodox elites. Whereas a Muslim could appeal to a kadı court on the opposite bank of the Danube, where due to his religious allegiance, he would enjoy a clear procedural advantage in litigation over his Christian opponents, this was not the case in the principalities. Thus, we should see both the absence of mosques and the ban on Muslims landholding as a part of the Moldavian and Wallachian elite’s strategy to maintain political autonomy and their control of the resources of the principalities. As a result, two distinct landscapes emerged on the banks of the lower Danube, with Ottoman mosques on the southern bank facing Wallachian and Moldavian churches across the river. The Danube itself became a de facto boundary between two distinct spaces, even if the inhabitants on both sides were subjects of the Ottoman sultan.
Crossing the Danube as a liminal experience This bifurcation of the landscape thoroughly shaped the ways travellers crossing the Danube experienced the traversal during the seventeenth century. In the travelogues of Ottoman subjects making their way to Moldavia and Wallachia, crossing the river is expressed as a transition from the Ottoman space of the southern bank to a radically different landscape on the north. This sense of liminality was most eloquently conveyed by an Orthodox priest from Syria, Bulus b. Makariyos al-Halabi (known in historiography as Paul of Aleppo), who travelled to Moldavia and Wallachia in the entourage of his father, the Patriarch of Antioch, Makariyos Za’im in 1652–1659.29 After crossing the Danube from the Ottoman town of Maçın to the Moldavian port of Galaţi, Paul was amazed and enchanted by the prominence of Greek Orthodoxy, inscribed in the landscape and soundscape of the city: ‘People ring the bells of bronze, as is the custom here. It was the
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 85 first time in my life that I had ever heard this. May God not deprive me of this beautiful sound anymore’.30 For the Syrian priest, the crossing of the Danube clearly meant more than just a movement across space, but rather it was experienced as a transition from the Islamised space of the central Ottoman domains to a distinctively Christian space of the principalities. Describing the quay and settlement of Maçın, he referred to it as ‘the last town [on my way] within the Abode of Islam, while Galaţi was the place where the Moldavian domains start’.31 While for Paul, an Orthodox priest living in the core Ottoman provinces, the Christian character of Moldavian landscape was a cause for joy, the peripatetic traveller Evliya Çelebi saw this as a source of peril. Describing the Danubian fortress of Silistre, just across the river from Wallachia, Evliya conveyed the atmosphere of constant danger experienced by the Ottoman soldiers keeping ward in the fortress. According to him: The wards of this fortress keep their guard every night, invoking ‘God is great! God is great!’, since, when the severe winter comes and the waters of Danube freezes, they are very afraid, as they are on the border, and on the other side of Danube there is the land of Wallachian infidels [Eflâk Kâfiristanı].32 This perception of Wallachia and Moldavia as significantly different from the Ottoman lands stands in stark contrast with the official parlance of the Ottoman official sources. The documents produced by the Porte claimed that the principalities were provinces like any other and that the Christian populations were ‘as any other zimmis’ under Ottoman rule.33 However, it is clear from the quotes provided earlier that this official stance did not correspond to reality as experienced by individuals crossing the Danube, for whom transition from one side of the river to the other was not just a mundane logistical matter. Rather, it constituted a liminal experience of leaving familiar Ottoman space and entering a different landscape, one that carried a prominent Greek Orthodox imprint and was incommensurable with their perception of how the “Abode of Islam” should be. This divergence of landscapes between the Danubian principalities and the Ottoman core provinces had a profound impact on the perception of Moldavia and Wallachia in Ottoman mental geography. That this was the case can be inferred from numerous Ottoman documents and narrative accounts. As Viorel Panaite has pointed out, despite the official stance that Moldavia and Wallachia were an integral part of the “Abode of Islam”, the Danube was often referred to as the “river of gazis” well into the seventeenth century.34 During the campaign against Poland-Lithuania, the Porte felt compelled to issue an order prohibiting the enslavement of Moldavians by the Ottoman soldiers, restating once more that they were zimmis and thus enjoyed the sultan’s protection.35 Even if we assume that the Ottoman soldiers were more concerned with their own profit rather than religious
86 Michał Wasiucionek and political subtleties, it is striking that they had to be reminded that they were still in the “well-protected domains”. No doubt, much of this confusion was due to their immediate experience of the Moldavian and Wallachian landscape, which caused them to see the principalities as lying beyond the confines of the Ottoman Empire, despite the official stance of the Porte.
The conversion of people: accommodation and separation Unlike landscapes, people move across physical space. While one would intuitively assume that conversion would be a topic of concern for the authors, it is relatively absent in the Moldavian and Wallachian sources. This contrasts sharply with the interest taken in this matter by the Christian authors from the central Ottoman domains, where the conversion of the community’s members posed a considerable threat. In fact, the only references to conversion that we find in the Moldavian and Wallachian chronicles are those regarding the rulers that embraced Islam: Iliaş Rareş (1551), Mihnea II Turcitul (1591) and Alexandru Movilă (1616). Even in such cases, most narratives of conversion are surprisingly balanced and non-judgmental, presenting the act of embracing Islam in a matter-of-fact manner. For instance, seventeenth-century Moldavian historian Miron Costin, when discussing the conversion of the unfortunate voivode Alexandru Movilă (r. 1615–1616), who adopted Islam after falling captive to the Ottomans, utters no word of contempt or regret about the voivode’s decision.36 Even more explicit in his non-condemnation of conversion is the author of the Cantacuzino Chronicle in his treatment of Mihnea II Turcitul, the late sixteenth-century ruler of Wallachia (r. 1576–1583, 1585–1591). While the author was clearly preoccupied with the possibility of churches in Wallachia being converted into mosques, he refrains from any criticism against Mihnea’s decision to convert. He also does not ascribe to the voivode any of the moral vices usually associated with converts to Islam in Christian sources; on the contrary, he credits the ruler with great prudence and states that he was respected by the boyars. Instead, he presents Mihnea as the victim of an evil and corrupt boyar, Ban Iane (the same who later converted to Islam along with his son, Apostol), who schemed at the Porte to remove Mihnea from power. Seeing his position increasingly tenuous and fearing dismissal and execution, the voivode ‘escaped from the principality, went [to the Porte] and converted, so he could have a decent life’.37 Again, no word of criticism is uttered against the voivode, even though the chronicler points out that Mihnea’s conversion was voluntary. Instead, the brunt of moral outrage is directed against Iane, who through his harassment of Mihnea brought the latter to the decision to embrace Islam. It is also interesting that Iane’s subsequent conversion to Islam, a fact that could strengthen his depiction as a villain, was left out of the Cantacuzino Chronicle’s narrative. On the surface, this is surprising since the act of abandoning Christianity for Islam was often cited in Christian sources as a proof of convert’s “perverted”
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 87 nature. The fact that the author, who was so hostile towards Iane in other regards, decided to ignore his conversion and also refrained from criticising Mihnea’s decision to become Muslim, suggests that the boyars did not necessarily see conversion as a major breach of social norms or as betrayal. The only convert voivode that drew unanimous condemnation in the Moldavian sources is Iliaş Rareş (r. 1546–1551). When describing the voivode, seventeenth-century historian Grigore Ureche presents a unanimously negative portrait of Iliaş, describing him as indulging in feasts and debauchery and spending his nights in the company of Muslim women.38 While this depiction of the voivode was subsequently adopted by later authors, including Miron Costin and Axinte Uricariul, it stands in stark contrast with descriptions of the conversions by other boyars in contemporary sources, which are a much more neutral in their tone.39 In trying to explain this difference we should turn to the wider intellectual climate of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Moldavia and take into consideration Ureche’s sources. Until the end of the sixteenth century, the high culture of the Danubian principalities was predominantly a Slavonic one, centred on the institutions of the voivode’s court and monastic literary culture. Thus, all sixteenth-century chronicles produced in this period were composed in Romanian-Slavonic and authored by churchmen under the patronage of the voivodes, including the contemporary accounts of Iliaş Rareş’s conversion. However, as Panaitescu has pointed out, Moldavian literary culture experienced a dramatic shift in the seventeenth century corresponding to the growing self-assertion of the boyar class and the growth of a monetised economy.40 Subsequently, the historians of the seventeenth century were boyars composing their works in Romanian rather than monks writing in Slavonic, and Grigore Ureche was the first known author producing a work in this new milieu. However, although Ureche spearheaded this new development, the period covered in his Chronicle of Moldavia (from the emergence of Moldavia in the mid-fourteenth century until 1595) necessitated his reliance on the Slavonic chronicles of the sixteenth century, most importantly the works of Macarie, Eftimie and Azarie – all ecclesiastic figures of monastic intellectual formation. Ureche’s reliance on the sources produced within the monastic milieu provides us with a plausible explanation of his particularly harsh treatment of Iliaş Rareş. The story was first narrated in the RomanianSlavonic chronicle of the monk Eftimie. It is this monastic context that explains the insults thrown against the renegade voivode.41 Ureche, writing more than half a century later, simply incorporated this narrative. Thus, the perception of Iliaş Rareş as morally bankrupt in the chronicle of Ureche can be seen in many respects as a reflection of the attitude of the sixteenthcentury ecclesiastical historian, which indirectly made its way into the boyar historiography of the seventeenth century. It seems that attitudes towards conversion had changed by the seventeenth century, as evidenced in the more balanced treatment of converts in other sources. For example, even in
88 Michał Wasiucionek the case of the unanimously vilified Iliaş, Miron Costin attempted to soften his image, claiming that Iliaş redeemed his sins by reverting to Christianity on his deathbed.42 I would argue that this mild treatment of converts to Islam in boyar historiography reflects the fact that the Moldavian and Wallachian elite of the seventeenth century came to view and tolerate ‘turning Turk’ as a political tool and a viable option to escape the threats facing individual members of the elite. While regrettable in the eyes of the boyars, embracing Islam did not automatically imply the moral corruption of the convert, but was seen as a logical, if extreme response to the difficulties an individual faced. This pragmatic approach of the Moldavian and Wallachian political elites was in many respects unique. In western sources, the act of voluntary conversion was often perceived as subverting the most basic social values and was interpreted as proof of a convert’s moral corruption.43 In the case of the Christian population in the core provinces of the empire, the act of individual conversion constituted a viable threat to the moral community, and the response was often one of criticism of the converts and a eulogising of those who resisted conversion.44 This interpretation may create the impression that the Moldavian and Wallachian boyars were rather lukewarm in their religious zeal. However, such a conclusion would be misleading. First, Moldavian and Wallachian authors provide evidence that the boyars were preoccupied with maintaining confessional boundaries and enforcing adherence to the Greek Orthodox doctrine. Throughout the seventeenth century, one of the gravest accusations that could be made against members of the Moldavian and Wallachian elite was “being a Turk at heart”, i.e. harbouring sympathy for Islam despite an external adherence to Greek Orthodoxy. For instance, the author of the Cantacuzino Chronicle was especially revolted by the behaviour of Stroe Leurdeanu, one of the most powerful boyars of Wallachia in the second half of the seventeenth century and the main villain in the chronicle. Forced to enter a monastery, Leurdeanu allegedly insisted on adopting the name Receb as his monastic name.45 This brought upon Leurdeanu harsher criticism than that directed against actual converts to Islam. Second, as I have mentioned before, the act of “turning Turk” virtually excluded a convert from the local elite, since he forfeited all rights originating from his membership of the boyar class. This included land and office holding, as well as owning serfs and slaves. Thus, the act of conversion entailed cutting all formal ties with the principalities. Thus, while the boyars accepted the act of individual conversion as a viable option, this came at a considerable price, due to their insistence on preserving the homogeneous Christian character of the local ruling class. As a result, the boyar converts to Islam had to leave the Danubian principalities, coupling their religious shift with a spatial transition to the Islamic space south of the Danube. Indeed, all the Moldavian-Wallachian narratives of conversion to Islam indicate a shift in space coinciding with the religious crossing. A typical
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 89 phrase used by the authors is that an individual ‘went [to the Porte] and converted’.46 While this fits the model of conversion procedures outlined in official Ottoman sources, such insistence on a transition in space in the Wallachian and Moldavian sources indicates that there is more to this. I would argue that this had to do with the aforementioned preoccupation with keeping the Muslims “out” of the socio-political arena of the principalities. This accords with the landholders’ preoccupation with confessional identity. In the period when landholding was one of the principal criteria for delineating the boundaries of the elite, the insistence that a convert forfeited his claims to land served to exclude him from the ruling group and make him an outsider not only on religious grounds, but socio-politically as well. At the same time, the very fact that conversion to Islam could be a springboard for upward social mobility within the Ottoman Muslim community on the southern bank of the Danube meant a convert had little incentive to remain in the principalities, when he could move south and start a new career there. Thus, the emphasis on the uniform Greek Orthodoxy of the Danubian principalities – both in the sense of the religious identity of the landscape and the ruling, landholding class – allowed for the movement of individuals between otherwise clear religious, territorial and – as we will see in the following section – jurisdictional boundaries. In the context of an asymmetric balance of power between the principalities and the Ottoman heartlands, the movement to the north (and towards Greek Orthodoxy) was more difficult and created greater risks, but still offered considerable chances of success.
Jurisdiction and evasion: converts from Islam in the Danubian principalities Contrary to what we would suppose, the flow of converts between the Danubian principalities and the core provinces of the Ottoman Empire was not unilateral. While those willing to embrace Islam left the principalities, Muslims eager to abandon their faith in favour of Greek Orthodoxy migrated in the opposite direction in order to escape possible reprisals for apostasy. Unfortunately, there are no Moldavian or Wallachian sources comparable to the exhaustive registers of the Venetian Casa Pia dei Catecumeni.47 Particular cases of conversion are mentioned in passing in travelogues or diplomas issued by the principalities’ chanceries, but generally all that is recorded is the name of an individual and the information that he was a converted Muslim. For instance, among the witnesses of a land transaction concluded in 1646 we find a certain ‘Ştefan, a former Turk, whose name used to be Receb’.48 Since it is the only case when this individual appears in the sources and taking into consideration the fact that Ştefan was one of the most popular names of the Moldavian boyars, we are unable to identify him with any degree of certainty. This holds true for most of the converts we find in the Danubian principalities, severely limiting the possibilities for a comprehensive analysis.
90 Michał Wasiucionek However, the few cases that provide us with more detailed information allow us to sketch life trajectories of at least some converts, as well as draw some more general hypotheses concerning the reasons for their flight to the Danubian principalities and their abandoning of Islam in favour of Christianity. In this respect, the life trajectories of ‘Ali and Apostol vel Kürt Salman Çavuş are most informative. Since I have already discussed these two cases in some detail in the previous sections, I will now focus on possible explanations for their reversion to Christianity, supplementing their stories with additional information about other former Muslims in the seventeenthcentury Danubian principalities. In both cases, although we can only speculate about the reasons behind the individual’s conversion to Islam it seems plausible that they were attempting to escape possible reprisals as their fortunes took a turn for worse. In the case of ‘Ali, the major motive for his embrace of Islam was the fear that he would be handed over to the voivode of Wallachia, Matei Basarab (r. 1632–1654) and have to take the blame for his involvement in the embezzlement scandal. In the case of Apostol and his father, the decision to convert served to improve their political position and helped regain the trust of the Porte after the rebellion of the Wallachian ruler, Michael the Brave. While it is extremely difficult to theorise about the internal motivations of both converts, it seems that their religious shifts had little to do with their religious sentiments or convictions. Instead, they can be interpreted as driven by an attempt to use confessional fault lines to escape jurisdiction. At the same time, in both cases, conversion occurred in the imperial capital, which validates the claim that the territories south of the Danube and especially Istanbul itself constituted the site of conversion for Moldavian and Wallachian boyars embracing Islam. Following their conversion, ‘Ali and Kürd Salman Çavuş spent considerable time in the Ottoman capital: twelve and at least twenty-eight years, respectively. Again, we are unable to determine what caused both converts to return to the Danubian principalities and revert to Christianity. In the case of ‘Ali, it seems that his decision to flee to Moldavia was connected to the forced sale of his wife Ayşe’s possessions. On the surface, the decision to revert to Christianity in Moldavia in order to escape punishment by the Porte seems an unlikely choice since apostasy from Islam was punishable by death and constituted a serious breach of the Ottoman social order. As I mentioned earlier, the Danubian principalities constituted part of the Ottoman Empire, and at least in theory, the Porte could simply order the voivode to apprehend the culprit. However, it seems that this danger was mitigated by the political autonomy of the principalities and absence of Ottoman administrative institutions. In order to implement orders from the Porte, such orders had to be entrusted to the voivodes and their administrative apparatus. However, this cooperation was not a given, and the relations between the Ottoman and Moldavian-Wallachian administrations were often marred with conflict, competition and obstruction on both sides. Even in such matters as
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 91 highway banditry, cooperation between the Ottoman officials of the Danubian districts and the voivodes of Moldavia and Wallachia was not always forthcoming as a result of divergent interests between the two parties.49 It is logical to assume that if the extradition of bandits was a contentious issue between the officials of the principalities and their Ottoman colleagues, then the voivodes would be even less inclined to hand over a convert from Islam to Christianity, particularly if the convert was originally from the boyar elite. While the voivodes did not resist such orders openly, there is no indication that they actually acted on such commands. Thus, the obstruction of the Moldavian and Wallachian administration made the principalities a relatively safe haven, where converts from Islam could hide from the gaze of the Porte. That they were trying to hide is something of an overstatement, since converts hid neither their identity nor the fact of their conversion from fellow boyars. As I have mentioned in the case of the Ştefan/Receb, such individuals did not worry about their status as former Muslims being publically known, which suggests that they felt relatively secure and did not fear that they would be denounced to the Porte’s officials. At the same time, the act of conversion to Christianity was a precondition for acquiring land and (re-)entering the Moldavian and Wallachian boyar class. In this respect, the case of Apostol is instructive. In 1631, when he tried to take over his father’s inheritance, he was rebuffed by the voivode and boyars of Wallachia. However, a mere three years later – after he reverted to Christianity – the local elite readily accepted his claims.50 Thus, while we cannot know whether ‘Ali succeeded in his attempt to escape punishment for leaving his wife destitute and his subsequent apostasy from Islam, we can assume that there was a good chance that he did. With his native knowledge of Romanian and the customs of the land, he would not be an easy person for an Ottoman official to find. His conversion would have allowed him to acquire land and blend into the Moldavian elite, an impossible task if he had remained Muslim. While his fellow boyars would have been aware of his identity, it seems that they were not willing to denounce him to the Ottoman officials who had no means to conduct the search for the fugitive themselves. Thus, the existence of religious, jurisdictional and physical boundaries between the confessional spaces of the Danubian principalities and the core provinces of the Ottoman Empire created opportunities for ‘Ali, who could manipulate these structural gaps for his own benefit.
Conclusions As I have argued, the case of ‘Ali, a small-time crook trying to run away with his wife’s money and escape punishment, reveals a unique and complex relationship between the Danubian principalities and the wider Ottoman imperial space. In her discussion of the Ottoman imperial model, Karen Barkey has
92 Michał Wasiucionek pointed out that ‘when boundaries were blurred, people spent much time and energy trying to define them, making sure that categories were settled’.51 This was the case with the Danubian principalities as well. Faced with the unstable position of the principalities, Moldavian and Wallachian boyars embarked on a complex symbolic and socio-political effort to fix the boundaries between them and the wider Ottoman Empire. In order to do this, they engaged in construing the landscape of the principalities in opposition to the Islamised landscape of the core provinces of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, they worked to preserve the identity of the boyar elite as homogenously Greek Orthodox by denying Muslims the possibility of owning land in Moldavia and Wallachia even to the extent that it infringed on inheritance rights. In this way, the confessional identity of the Moldavian-Wallachian elites acquired a spatial dimension on the lower Danube, with Orthodox churches on the north facing mosques to the south. This landscape is reflected in the accounts of travellers who conveyed the feeling that crossing the Danube involved much more than the traversal of a river. However, as Barkey points out, the hardening of social boundaries between the communities permits social actors to manipulate the binaries and cross between different groups.52 Indeed, this is exactly what happened in the case of converts moving beyond the Christian space of the principalities or the Muslim space of the wider Ottoman Empire. For a boyar, who found himself in dire straits in the principality, moving to the south of the Danube and converting to Islam offered a possibility of escaping the voivode’s jurisdiction. At the same time, the absence of direct Ottoman administration and the Greek Orthodox identity of the boyar elite not only provided a safe haven for apostates from Islam, but also provided incentives for conversion to Christianity and absorption into the ruling elite of the principalities. In cases such as those of ‘Ali and Apostol, these fault lines could be manipulated multiple times, depending on the immediate goals of the individual. Thus, the ferman issued at the request of Ayşe uncovers a lot more than just the narrative of a single, failed marriage. Rather, it shows how the different agendas of the imperial centre, peripheral elites and particular actors converged in a complex process of “Danube-hopping”, which allowed enterprising individuals to manipulate the Ottoman system of governance in order to pursue their own goals, even if that meant stealing from one’s wife.
Notes 1 An earlier version of this contribution was presented as a paper during the at the ‘Lure of the Other’ conference at Saint Mary’s University. Versions have been read by Suzan Meryem Rosita Kalayci, Mukaram Hhana and Claire Norton, to whom I am greatly indebted for the constructive advice. 2 Ferman to Gheorghe Ghica, voivode of Moldavia, 9 September 1659, Mühimme Defterleri 93, doc. 79, Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi in Relaţiile Ţărilor
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 93 Române cu Poarta otomană în documente turceşti (1601–1712), ed. Tahsin Gemil (Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.S.R., 1984), 302. 3 Spiridon I. Cristocea, Din trecutul marii boierimi muntene: marele-vornic Stroe Leurdeanu (Brăila: Editura Istros, 2011), 64. 4 E. Natalie Rothman, Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 88–9. 5 Dora Zsom, “The Return of the Conversos to Judaism in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa,” Hispania Judaica 6 (2010): 338. 6 The literature concerning renegades and neomartyrs is huge and constantly growing. To name just a few works: Lucetta Scaraffia, Rinnegati: Per una storia dell’identità occidentale, Quadrante 64 (Roma: Laterza, 1993); Eric Dursteler, Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011); Natalie Zemon Davis, Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim between Worlds (New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2006); Marinos Sariyannis, “Aspects of ‘Neomartyrdom’: Religious Contacts, ‘Blasphemy’ and ‘Calumny’ in 17th-century Istanbul,” Archivum Ottomanicum 23 (2005– 2006); Elisabeth A. Zachariadou, “A Neomartyr’s Message,” Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies 8 (1990); E. N. Rothman, “Conversion, Convergence, and Commensuration in the Venetian–Ottoman Borderlands,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 41/3 (2009); Anton Minkov, Conversion to Islam in the Balkans: Kisve Bahası and the Ottoman Social Life, 1670–1730, The Ottoman Empire and Its Heritage (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004); Tijana Krstić, Contested conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011). 7 Marc David Baer, Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 6. 8 Lucien Thys-Şenocak, “The Yeni Valide Complex at Eminönü,” Muqarnas 15 (1998): 67; Marc David Baer, “The Great Fire of 1660 and the Islamicization of Christian and Jewish Space in Istanbul,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 36 (2004); idem, Honored by the Glory of Islam, 104. 9 See for instance Abdülkadir Özcan, “İstanbul’un Eminönü Semti XVII. Yüzyılda mı İslamlaştırıldı?,” Osmanlı Araştırmaları 37 (2011): 209–10. 10 Edgar Quinet, “Les roumains,” Revue des Deux Mondes 2/2 (1856): 26–7. Translation from Viorel Panaite, “The Legal and Political Status of Wallachia and Moldavia in Relation to the Ottoman Empire,” in The European Tributary States of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries, ed. Gábor Kármán and Lovro Kunčević (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013), 9–10. 11 For a discussion of the existence of capitulations as dogma in Romanian historiography, see Lucian Boia, History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness (Budapest: CEU Press, 2001), 24. 12 Viorel Panaite, “Custom in the 16th-18th Centuries Ottoman-Romanian Relationship: Starting Points for a Historiographical Debate,” Revue des
94 Michał Wasiucionek Études Sud-Est Européennes 31/1–2 (1993); idem, “Power Relationships in the Ottoman Empire: The Sultans and Tribute-Paying Princes of Wallachia and Moldavia from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century,” International Journal of Turkish Studies 7/1–2 (2001); idem, “The Voivodes of the Danubian Principalities – as Harâcgüzarlar of the Ottoman Sultans,” in Ottoman Borderlands: Issues, Personalities and Political Changes, ed. Kemal H. Karpat and Robert W. Zens (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003); idem, “From Allegiance to Conquest. Ottomans and Moldo-Wallachians from the Late Fourteenth to Mid-Sixteenth Centuries (II),” Revue des Études Sud-Est Europenées 49/1–4 (2011); idem, Război, pace şi comerţ în Islam. Ţările române şi dreptul otoman al popoarelor, 2nd, Historia (Iaşi: Polirom, 2013); idem, “The Legal and Political Status of Wallachia and Moldavia in Relation to the Ottoman Empire,” in The European Tributary States of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries, ed. Gábor Kármán and Lovro Kunčević (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013). 13 Mihai Maxim, “Voyvodalık ou beğlerbeğlik? La politique ottomane envers la Moldavie et la Valachie (november 1594 – février 1596) à la lumière des nouveaux documents turcs,” in idem Romano-Ottomanica: Essays & Documents from the Turkish Archives (Istanbul: Isis Press, 2001), 163–72 passim. 14 Dan Simonescu, ed., Istoria Ţării Romîneşti, 1290–1690: Letopiseţul cantacuzinesc (Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1960), 54–5; Istoriia Ţării Rumâneşti de când au descălecat pravoslavnicii creştini, MS Blaj 112, f. 1–127, The Library of Romanian Academy’s Section in Cluj, Cluj-Napoca, f. 37v. There are sixty-five extant manuscript copies of the chronicle, mostly from the eighteenth century. For a full list of the manuscripts, see I. Crăciun and A. Ilieş, eds., Repertoriul manuscriselor de cronici interne, sec. XV-XVIII privind istoria Romîniei, Croniciile medievale ale României 1 (Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1963), 148–61. All translations by the author, unless stated otherwise. 15 Romanian Academy Library, Bucharest, MS 196, f. 37v. Simonescu, Istoria Ţării Romîneşti, 1290–1690, 55. 16 Ibid., 145–6. Emphasis is mine. 1 7 Ion Neculce, Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei şi o samă de cuvînte, ed. Iorgu Iordan (Bucharest: Editura de Stat pentru Literatură şi Artă, 1955), 132. 8 Ibid., 337. 1 19 Donation of Kara Salman Çavuş to the Radu Vodă Monastery, December 1631, Direcţia Arhive Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest, Mănăstirea Radu Vodă xxxix/11. 20 For the account of this forgery, see Mihai Maxim, Ţările Române şi Înalta Poartă : cadrul juridic al relaţiilor româno-otomane în evul mediu (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică, 1993), 20–1. 2 1 Constantin Giurescu, Capitulaţiile Moldovei cu Poarta Otomană: Studiu istoric (Bucharest: Carol Göbl, 1908), 8.
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 95 22 Ienachiţă Văcărescu, Istoria othomanicească, ed. Gabriel Ştrempel (Bucharest: Editura Bibliotecilor Bucureştilor, 2001), 27. 23 Ion Matei, Reprezentanţii diplomatici (capuchehăi) al Ţării Româneşti la Poarta otomană, ed. Nagy Pienaru and Tudor Teotoi (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2008), 127. 24 Nicolae Stoicescu, Dicţionar al marilor dregători din Ţara Românească şi Moldova (sec. XIV-XVII) (Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.S.R., 1971), 64. 25 On conversion as an expression of loyalty to the ruler, see Christine IsomVerhaaren, “Shifting Identities: Foreign State Servants in France and the Ottoman Empire,” Journal of Early Modern History 8/1–2 (2004): 115. 26 Mihai Maxim, “New Turkish Documents Concerning Michael the Brave and His Time,” in idem L’empire ottoman au nord du Danube et l’autonomie des principautés roumaines au XVIe siècle: études et documents, (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1999), 131. 2 7 Direcţia Arhive Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest, Mănăstirea Radu Vodă xxxix/11. 28 Diploma of Matei Basarab for the Radu Vodă Monastery, 12 February 1634, Direcţia Arhive Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest, Mănăstirea Radu Vodă xxxix/12. 29 Paul of Aleppo, Jurnal de călătorie în Moldova şi Valahia, ed. Ioana Fedorov (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2014). 3 0 Ibid., 161. 3 1 Ibid. 3 2 Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatname (Istanbul, 1896), vol. 3, 333. My emphasis. 33 Panaite, “The Voivodes of the Danubian Principalities,” 59–60. 3 4 Panaite, Război, pace şi comerţ în Islam, 265–9. 35 Ferman of Sultan Mehmed IV to the officials of Tırnovi, Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi, İbnü’l-Emin Tasnifi, Dahiliye 436, published in Relaţiile Ţărilor Române cu Poarta otomană în documente turceşti (1601–1712), ed. Tahsin Gemil (Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.S.R., 1984), 342. 3 6 Miron Costin, Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei dela Aron Vodă încoace, ed. P. P Panaitescu (Bucharest: Fundaţa Regală pentru Literatură şi Artă, 1943), 50. 3 7 Simonescu, Istoria Ţării Romîneşti, 1290–1690, 53; Axinte Uricariul, Cronica paralelă a Ţării Româneşti şi a Moldovei, ed. Gabriel Ştrempel (Bucharest: Editura Minerva, 1993), vol. 2, 355. 8 Grigore Ureche, Letopiseţul Ţărâi Moldovei, ed. P. P Panaitescu (Bucharest: 3 Editura de Stat pentru Literatură şi Artă, 1958), 167. 3 9 Axinte Uricariul, Cronica paralelă, vol. 2, 355; Costin, Letopiseţul, 50. 4 0 P. P. Panaitescu, Începuturile şi biruinţa scrisului în limba română (Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1965), 193. 41 Cronicile slavo-române din sec. XV–XVI, publicate de Ioan Bogdan, ed. P. P. Panaitescu (Bucharest: Editura Academiei RPR, 1959), 120–1. 42 Costin, Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei, 50. 43 Scaraffia, Rinnegati, 50.
96 Michał Wasiucionek 44 Zachariadou, “A Neomartyr’s Message,” 62–3; Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam, 50. 45 Simonescu, Istoria Ţării Romîneşti, 1290–1690, 162. 46 See for instance Ibid., 53. 47 Rothman, Brokering Empire, 133. 48 The contract of sale of the village Braviceni, (1646), Direcţia Arhive Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest, Doc. istorice xxiii/251. 49 Michał Wasiucionek, “Przemiany w wojskowości a bandytyzm na pograniczu osmańskim nad dolnym Dunajem w XVII wieku,” in Na z góry upatrzonych pozycjach, ed. Bartłomiej Międzybrodzki, Magdalena Gajda, K. Fudalej and M. Przeperski (Warsaw and Zabrze: InfortEditions, 2011). 50 Donation of Kara Salman Çavuş to the Radu Vodă Monastery, December 1631, Direcţia Arhive Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest, Mănăstirea Radu Vodă xxxix/11; Direcţia Arhive Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest, Mănăstirea Radu Vodă xxxix/12. 51 Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 118. 52 Ibid., 119.
Bibliography Archival sources (unpublished) Bucharest, Direcţia Arhivelor Naţionale – Instituţie Centrală Doc. istorice xxiii/251 Mănăstirea Radu Vodă xxxix/11, 12 Bucharest, Romanian Academy Library MS 196 Cluj, The Library of Romanian Academy’s Section in Cluj MS Blaj 112 Primary sources (published) Axinte, Uricariul. Cronica paralelă a Ţării Româneşti şi a Moldovei. Edited by Gabriel Ştrempel. 2 vols. Bucharest: Editura Minerva, 1993. Costin, Miron. Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei dela Aron Vodă încoace. Edited by P. P Panaitescu. Bucharest: Fundaţia Regală pentru Literatură şi Artă, 1943. Evliya Çelebi. Seyahatname. Edited by Ahmed Cevdet. 10 vols. Istanbul: İkdam Matbaası, 1896. Gemil, Tahsin, ed. Relaţiile Ţărilor Române cu Poarta otomană în documente turceşti (1601–1712). Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.S.R., 1984. Neculce, Ion. Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei şi o samă de cuvînte. Edited by Iorgu Iordan. Bucharest: Editura de Stat pentru Literatură şi Artă, 1955.
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 97 Panaitescu, P. P., ed. Cronicile slavo-române din secolele XV-XVI, publicate de Ion Bogdan. Croniciile medievale ale României 4. Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1959. Paul of Aleppo. Jurnal de călătorie în Moldova şi Valahia. Edited by Ioana Fedorov. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2014. Simonescu, Dan, ed. Istoria Țării Romînești, 1290–1690: Letopisețul cantacuzinesc. Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1960. Ureche, Grigore. Letopiseţul Ţărâi Moldovei. Edited by P. P. Panaitescu. Bucharest: Editura de Stat pentru Literatură şi Artă, 1958. Văcărescu, Ienachiţă. Istoria othomanicească. Edited by Gabriel Ştrempel. Bucharest: Editura Bibliotecilor Bucureştilor, 2001. Secondary sources Baer, Marc D. “The Great Fire of 1660 and the Islamicization of Christian and Jewish Space in Istanbul.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 36 (2004): 159–181. ––– Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Barkey, Karen. Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Boia, Lucian. History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Budapest: CEU Press, 2001. Crăciun, I. and A. Ilieş, eds. Repertoriul manuscriselor de cronici interne, sec. XV-XVIII privind istoria Romîniei. Croniciile medievale ale României 1. Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1963. Cristocea, Spiridon I. Din trecutul marii boierimi muntene: marele-vornic Stroe Leurdeanu. Brăila: Editura Istros, 2011. Davis, Natalie Z. Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim between Worlds. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Dursteler, Eric. Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. Giurescu, Constantin. Capitulaţiile Moldovei cu Poarta Otomană: Studiu istoric. Bucharest: Carol Göbl, 1908. Isom-Verhaaren, Christine. “Shifting Identities: Foreign State Servants in France and the Ottoman Empire.” Journal of Early Modern History 8/1–2 (2004): 109–134. Kármán, Gábor and Lovro Kunčević, eds. The European Tributary States of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013. Karpat, Kemal H. and Robert W. Zens, eds. Ottoman borderlands: Issues, Personalities and Political Changes. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.
98 Michał Wasiucionek Krstić, Tijana. Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011. Matei, Ion. Reprezentanţii diplomatici (capuchehăi) ai Ţării Româneşti la Poarta Otomană. Edited by Tudor Teotoi and Nagy Pienaru. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2008. Maxim, Mihai. Țările Române și Înalta Poartă: cadrul juridic al relațiilor româno-otomane în evul mediu. Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică, 1993. ––– L’Empire ottoman au nord du Danube et l’autonomie des principautés roumaines au XVIe siècle: études et documents. Istanbul: Isis Press, 1999. ––– “New Turkish Documents Concerning Michael the Brave and His Time.” In idem L’empire ottoman au nord du Danube et l’autonomie des principautés roumaines au XVIe siècle: études et documents, 129–157. Istanbul: Isis Press, 1999. ––– Romano-Ottomanica: Essays & Documents from the Turkish Archives. Istanbul: Isis Press, 2001. ––– “Voyvodalık ou beğlerbeğlik? La politique ottomane envers la Moldavie et la Valachie (november 1594–février 1596) à la lumière des nouveaux documents turcs.” In idem Romano-Ottomanica: Essays & Documents from the Turkish Archives, 163–172. Istanbul: Isis Press, 2001. Międzybrodzki, Bartłomiej, Magdalena Gajda, Krzysztof Fudalej and Michał Przeperski, eds. Na z góry upatrzonych pozycjach. Warsaw and Zabrze: Inforteditions, 2011. Minkov, Anton. Conversion to Islam in the Balkans: Kisve Bahası and the Ottoman Social Life, 1670–1730. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004. Özcan, Abdülkadir. “İstanbul’un Eminönü Semti XVII. Yüzyılda mı İslamlaştırıldı?” Osmanlı Araştırmaları 37 (2011): 206–213. Panaite, Viorel. “Custom in the 16th-18th Centuries Ottoman-Romanian Relationship: Starting Points for a Historiographical Debate.” Revue des Études sud-est européennes 31/1–2 (1993): 171–185. ––– “Power Relationships in the Ottoman Empire: The Sultans and TributePaying Princes of Wallachia and Moldavia from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century.” International Journal of Turkish Studies 7/1–2 (2001): 26–54. ––– “The Voivodes of the Danubian Principalities – as Harâcgüzarlar of the Ottoman Sultans.” In Ottoman Borderlands: Issues, Personalities and Political Changes, edited by Kemal H. Karpat and Robert W. Zens, 59–78. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003. ––– “From Allegiance to Conquest. Ottomans and Moldo-Wallachians from the Late Fourteenth to Mid-Sixteenth Centuries (II).” Revue des Études Sud-Est Europenées 49/1–4 (2011): 197–212. ––– “The Legal and Political Status of Wallachia and Moldavia in Relation to the Ottoman Empire.” In The European Tributary States of the
Conversion, jurisidiction and spatiality 99 Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries, edited by Gábor Kármán and Lovro Kunčević, 9–42. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013. ––– Război, pace şi comerţ în Islam. Ţările române şi dreptul otoman al popoarelor. 2nd ed. Historia. Iaşi: Polirom, 2013. Panaitescu, P. P. Începuturile şi biruinţa scrisului în limba română. Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.P.R., 1965. Quinet, Edgar. “Les roumains.” Revue des Deux Mondes 2/2 (1856): 5–49. Rothman, E. Natalie. “Conversion, Convergence, and Commensuration in the Venetian–Ottoman Borderlands.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 41/3 (2009): 601–633. ––– Brokering Empire: Trans-imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012. Sariyannis, Marinos. “Aspects of ‘Neomartyrdom’: Religious Contacts, ‘Blasphemy’ and ‘Calumny’ in 17th-century Istanbul.” Archivum Ottomanicum 23 (2005–2006): 249–262. Scaraffia, Lucetta. Rinnegati: Per una storia dell’identità occidentale. Quadrante 64. Roma: Laterza, 1993. Stoicescu, Nicolae. Dicţionar al marilor dregători din Ţara Românească şi Moldova (sec. XIV-XVII). Bucharest: Editura Academiei R.S.R., 1971. Thys-Şenocak, Lucien. “The Yeni Valide Complex at Eminönü.” Muqarnas 15 (1998): 58–70. Wasiucionek, Michał. “Przemiany w wojskowości a bandytyzm na pograniczu osmańskim nad dolnym Dunajem w XVII w.” In Na z góry upatrzonych pozycjach, edited by Bartłomiej Międzybrodzki, M. Gajda, K. Fudalej and M. Przeperski, 117–124. Warsaw and Zabrze: Inforteditions, 2011. Zachariadou, Elisabeth A. “A Neomartyr’s Message.” Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies 8 (1990): 51–63. Zsom, Dora. “The Return of the Conversos to Judaism in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa.” Hispania Judaica 6 (2010): 335–347.
Fashioning identities Conversion and the threat to self
5 The early modern convert as “public property” A typology of turning Palmira Brummett
In December 1661, an advertisement appeared in the London weekly newsbook, Mercurius Publicus. The ad concerned one Philip Dandulo, ‘a Turke borne’ who had been ‘converted to the true Christian faith’ and given the king’s patents for his ‘Subsistence and releife’. It noted that Dandulo ‘was falsely reported to have been executed for some notorious crime’ and that collections for his support were so meager that he ‘had nothing to subsist on’. Quite the contrary, the gazette advised the public, these reports were false: ‘Philip Dandulo is now living with his wife and family at the 3 Crowns in Westminster, and it was a Moor that was executed’.1 Rigep (Recep) Dandulo, who took the name Philip when he was baptised in 1657, had become a cause celebre in London because the story of his conversion and the ceremonies surrounding it had been published in pamphlet form under the title: The Baptized Turk, by Thomas Warmstry D. D. (1609/1610–1665).2 Once published, the “born Turk’s” story was so popular that it was reprinted in multiple editions. Dandulo was thus a convert whose fate was a matter of some interest to the public. We do not know how the rumours of his execution or impoverishment got started. Nor do we know who was the ‘Moor’ mentioned in the paper, or what was his crime. But we can speculate that the rumours threatened Dandulo’s livelihood which was based on subscriptions to support converts, and also threatened the good names of his Christian sponsors who were people of some repute.3 Thus we find that “turning” in 1661 London had become a question of marketing, and Dandulo had become public property. We see the convert as a person with a family, a history, a reputation and an ongoing relationship with the crown, charitable institutions, and the public. Dandulo was an individual; but, in the literatures of the Christian kingdoms of early modern Europe, individual conversion was part of a broader narrative of spiritual, communal, national, and imperial struggle. At the time of Dandulo’s conversion, the outcome of that struggle was by no means settled. I am interested in the convert as a narrative and visual category. This chapter focuses on the former to propose a typology of “turning” through examining differing types of narrative about three kinds of convert: the ‘Turke borne’ (Ottoman Muslim) convert to Christianity, the Christian
104 Palmira Brummett convert to Islam and what I would call the “half-turned”, that is Christians in lands conquered by the Ottomans who are nominally Muslim but whose faith and practice retain the trappings of Christian culture and community. For purposes of this chapter, I will not address the ubiquitous pictorial representations of conversion and converts in the imagery of early modern Europe. But it is important to keep in mind that narratives of conversion translated very readily into pictures, capitalising on public interest in the contexts of both the Reformation and the trans-imperial struggle between Muslim and Christian kings for the spaces of Europe and the Mediterranean world.4 As the Ottoman Empire came to dominate more of those spaces in the sixteenth century, more European Christians became converts to Islam (voluntarily or under duress), a most worrisome phenomenon for the rulers and churchmen of Christendom.5 Many of these “turnings” were conversions of survival, but others were conversions of opportunity. What role, if any, spiritual conviction or piety actually played in those conversions is, of course, often difficult to discern.6 The Baptized Turk proposes that Dandulo was converted by means of arguments for the superiority of Christianity so compelling that he could not help but admit the error of Islam.7 Those arguments were bolstered by the fact that Dandulo had been exposed to the faith early on by a Christian mother.8 In any case, the disproportionate number of Christian converts to Islam, compared to the small number of Muslims who joined the Christian fold, almost guaranteed that a spotlight would be directed upon Muslims like Dandulo who “came over” to the Christian side.9 The National Portrait Gallery in London possesses a portrait engraving by Thomas Cross of “Rigep Dandulo, a Turke by 7 Descents . . . here Baptized into ye Christian Faith,” apparently done shortly after Dandulo’s conversion in 1657.10 Indeed, the interested modern consumer can still purchase online this image of the convert, emblazoned on both T-shirts and necklaces.11 Turning was a critical and essential process of identity for the early modern world. It was also a gendered phenomenon, the rhetoric of which helped construct and define the borders of sexual and social convention. It was an evolving process that enhanced communication, espionage and the development of networks of cross-cultural literature, art and translation. The convert was also a readily accessible symbol of the nature of ethno-communal difference. When he converted (the default narrative convert was male, in part because female identities were assumed to be subordinate to those of their male-protectors), the convert did not shed his old communal identity; rather, he added a new one on top of the old.12 Thus Dandulo continued to be labelled a “Turk” (a designation which clearly signified Muslim) even as his conversion to Christianity was trumpeted in narrative and image. But what do we most want to know about such turnings, and what can they tell us about the early modern observer’s typology of turning? Here Dandulo’s case, is instructive. One critical question is this: who cared about turning, and what did they do about it? That question leads to a series of others regarding situation and society: what difference does place make?
Figure 5.1 Thomas Cross, Rigep Dandulo, 144 mm × 87 mm, line engraving, midseventeenth century Source: © National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG D29244.
106 Palmira Brummett How was the convert incorporated (or not) into his or her adopted society? Do we see a clear moment of choice, or is that moment lost or ambiguous, or not a moment? And, finally, when does turning move from a moment of choice or coercion, and a centrepiece for enactments and re-enactments of religious and family drama, to a default category of existence – that is turning as a chronic state? Another category of questions concerns reception in text and image: how was turning translated? What were its genres? How did it move from one genre to another? What words were used to designate the turning, its situation, and its duration? How was the conversion publicised, satirised or used to project power and identity? All of these questions, applied to texts like The Baptized Turk, help reveal a web of personnel, institutional frameworks and information in which the convert was embedded. They show us something about connections among states, households, commercial enterprises, family members and associates in more than one “national” space. And they highlight claims of both ethnic and religious ownership. In the rhetoric of early modern Europe, turning was a natural subject for attention in the press, but it was also a convention of storytelling, news, complaint, satire and theatre. Each of the narratives in this article lends authority to a more complex picture of what turning actually meant in the early modern world. Dandulo, for example, was characterised as a ‘Turke borne’ or a ‘Turk of seven descents’, as he was called in the portrait by Thomas Cross. Yet his origins are murky at best. The published story of his conversion asserts that he had antecedents in the noble Dandulo (Dandolo) family from Venice. But some branches of that family had been ‘transplanted’ during the wars between the Ottoman Empire and Venice, resulting in Dandulo’s father, a silk merchant on the island of Chios, off the western Anatolian coast, being ‘a professed Turk’.13 His mother, on the other hand, was purportedly a Greek Orthodox Christian. This was a telling point for the convert’s English patrons and narrators, because it suggested a childhood affinity for Christendom. Dandulo’s family could easily have been caught up in the confessional schizophrenia engendered by the Ottoman conquests of what had for long been Christian territory in southeastern Europe and the Aegean.14 What mattered most, however, in Dandulo’s story was not his actual origins, but the fact that English authorities, society and the news-book reading public all perceived him as a “Turk” who had changed his allegiance from Islam to Christianity. It was critical that he be a real “Turk” in order for the significance of his conversion to be magnified. But Dandulo’s “Greek” mother gave him a ‘just title unto Baptism, even in his infancy’.15 That inheritance paved the way for his conversion and (partial) assimilation into English society. Along with his cosmopolitan experience, it marked him as acceptable to “civilised” society. In that regard, the rhetoric of Dandulo’s tale reminds us of the 1921 American silent film, The Sheikh, starring Rudolph Valentino and based on the 1919 romance novel of the same name by Englishwoman Edith
Convert as “public property” 107 M. Hull.16 In the film, Lady Diana Mayo is kidnapped by an Arab sheikh. Ultimately they fall in love. But to legitimise that union of opposites, the supposed Arab is reconstituted as the son of an English father and a Spanish mother and hence a suitable partner for the English Diana (who wears a cross around her neck to remind viewers of her Christian identity).17 Dandulo too was reconstituted; he was a ‘Turke borne’ but one with a Christian heritage. Hence his union with London society was a welcome rather than a threatening event. The Baptized Turk routinely likens him to the Prodigal Son.18 Although his colour was ‘something swarthy’ (like Valentino’s), it was said to derive from the ‘climates wherein he hath lived’, and his features were said to be ‘comely’.19 His identity as a Muslim was reinforced by his having been captured by ‘Moors’ at the age of six.20 But his identity as a potential Christian was reinforced by an inclination both to charity and to reason.21 Warmstry admits that the conversion of a ‘Turk . . . who hath been born and bred in that religion’ was a phenomenon ‘rarely seen’.22 But he sees Dandulo as naturally ripe for conversion. After various travels and turns of fortune, Rigep Dandulo arrived in London. There, although he was ‘yet a stranger to the English tongue’, he found hospitality at the home of ‘Lady Lawrence of Chelsea’, whose son he had met in Izmir.23 Dandulo’s turning, nonetheless, did not come easily. It required the use of an interpreter familiar with ‘Turkish parts’, and multiple long disquisitions with his various English patrons who did not hesitate to call in professional reinforcements when that seemed necessary.24 Indeed Thomas Warmstry, who prepared this testimonial to conversion in collaboration with the ‘worthy and learned Divine’ Mr. Peter Gunning, the instrument of Dandulo’s conversion, wrote that only ‘after some struggling [had Gunning] obtained from him. . . . (as if some violent beam of light and grace had broken in upon his soul) . . . his consent to be baptized’.25 Gunning (1614–1684), preacher, theologian, and pamphleteer, was then chaplain at Exeter House on the Strand. After the Restoration he served as master of Corpus Christi and of St. John’s at Cambridge, and bishop of Ely.26 Initially, Warmstry found Dandulo quite determined to retain the faith of his father.27 The prospective convert asked Gunning ‘How do you think I can do that [convert] without danger to my life? Except I should resolve never to see more my Country, and Parents, and Friends, and all that is in this world dear unto me?’28 That plaintive question suggests some of the social dilemmas attendant on both Dandulo’s conversion and his decision to remain in England. His ambivalence certainly seems understandable; Warmstry informs his readers that Dandulo not only had fought for the Ottomans, but had a fiancé back home whom he was forced to relinquish as a result of his conversion.29 After lengthy debate, a prophetic dream and much apparent soul searching, however, Dandulo did convert. And on 8 November 1657, he was conducted to a baptismal service held at Exeter-house chapel, the London congregation of the royalist Reverend Gunning. ‘The Convert came in in his
108 Palmira Brummett Turkish Habit and . . . desired several times that he might be admitted to the Baptism of the Christian Church’.30 Warmstry notes that the Countess of Dorset, the Lord George, and Mr. Philip Warwick were witnesses.31 After reciting the Apostles’ Creed and having answered questions concerning the Christian Covenant ‘usually answered by the Godfathers and Godmothers at the Baptism of Children . . . with such alterations as were necessary for this extraordinary case’, Dandulo was stripped to the waist, knelt, was baptised, and given the name Philip.32 With sermons by both Warmstry and Gunning, the festivities were concluded, but not before Dandulo returned to the chapel ‘in another Habit . . . (charitably provided for him by reverend Doctor Bernard of Grayes-Inn)’, in the ‘English fashion’.33 It is not clear that Dandulo was still accustomed to wearing “Turkish” dress; but it is clear from Warmstry’s description that the public change of garments was meant as a visible symbol of Dandulo’s change of identity.34 So too, the assembly of multiple clergymen and elite patrons, suggests that Dandulo’s baptism was a ceremony intended to bestow grace on more recipients than just the convert himself, and to create the opportunity for more didactic sermonising such as that enshrined in Warmstry’s text. Indeed, by the time The Baptized Turk was published in 1658 it had expanded to 150 pages, and included a tract criticising back-sliding, squabbling and lack of devotion among Christians. Warmstry concluded his story by writing that Dandulo, ‘at present lives in Holborn, at the house of the honourable and virtuous Lady Hatter, and is I conceive much improved in the Christian knowledge, as appeared by a discourse he had lately at Chelsea, and I hope will prove an eminent Christian’.35 He does not tell us about the expected role of hostesses like Lady Lawrence and Lady Hatter in facilitating the convert’s transition to Christian faith and English life. But we can speculate that these ladies were considered models of proper Christian comportment whose own access to grace was facilitated by the charitable work of helping a convert acclimatise. We do know from the previously noted advertisement in Mercurius Publicus that by 1661 Dandulo was a married man and father. But we know next to nothing about his life or his wife except that she was presumably a Christian. Dandulo was not the only Muslim convert celebrated in the London press. A shorter pamphlet published in 1586 recorded the baptism of yet another born Turk in: A Sermon preached at the Hospital of Saint Katherin, adioyning unto her Maiesties Towne the 2 of October 1586, at the Baptizing of one Chinano a Turke, borne at Nigropontus [Negroponte]: by Meredith Hanmer, D. of Divinity.36 This tract on winning over the “heathen” included a partial history of the Christian struggle against the Ottomans. The convert, one ‘Chinano’, is called a ‘Saracen’ and a ‘silly Turk’ who had been held captive for twenty-five years in Spain. Like Dandulo’s, the conversion of Chinano required an interpreter, for he did not understand ‘the English tongue’.37 Hanmer’s tract, like Warmstry’s, used the conversion of a “Turk” as the centrepiece for a lesson on Christianity, but his sermon takes a rather
Convert as “public property” 109 different tack, using the convert’s experience to attack the pope and Spain, and to illustrate how many unbelievers (Jews, Muslims and idolaters) could be converted if Christians could only sort out their own truths. It was neither knowledge nor reason which persuaded Chinano to convert, but works and the ‘courtesy, gentleness, friendly salutations . . . succor . . . pity and compassion of the English men’, that he encountered once he was brought to England. Those Englishmen purportedly provided a dramatic contrast to the behaviour of the brutal and corrupt Spaniards who had held Chinano in thrall.38 Like Dandulo, Chinano, in this pamphlet, was compared to the Prodigal Son and the lost sheep.39 The last two pages of Hanmer’s sermon record the ritual of his baptism: confession before the congregation, the answers (in Spanish) to questions posed by the English preacher through an interpreter, rejection of Muhammad, acknowledgement of Jesus as the son of god, and a request for baptism. Chinano was then christened ‘William’. Unlike the account of Dandulo’s baptism, there is no mention of gifts or a change of dress. Both narratives, however, resonate with early modern captivity narratives which were designed to show the enduring power of the Christian faith as well as to entertain (and warn) their readers.40 There are various counterparts to the accounts of Chinano’s and Dandulo’s conversions; but in the literatures of the Christian kingdoms we are more likely to meet Christians who have converted to Islam than Muslims who have converted to Christianity. Christians who turned might be characterised as traitors, unwilling victims or useful intermediaries who, hopefully, given the opportunity would revert to the “true” faith. Captivity narratives of those who turned, forcibly or voluntarily, while in the hands of Muslim captors were calculated to prompt the ire, sympathy and self-examination of Christian readers. But regardless of their actual intentions, such converts often became go-betweens who smoothed the way for Christian travellers sojourning in Ottoman domains. One example is the guide ‘Lombardi’, mentioned by the English scholar Richard Chandler (1738–1810) who made use of his services during a 1764 sojourn to study antiquities in Ottoman lands.41 While glad of Lombardi’s expertise, Chandler, like many other Christian travellers, made no secret of his contempt for a man who abandoned the fold of Christendom to embrace the heretical sect of the Prophet Muhammad. He saw Lombardi as an opportunist, and nothing more.42 Other authors were more sanguine about the ubiquity of converts and the value of their services, especially in the frontier zones between Ottoman domains and those of their Christian rivals.43 In his late sixteenth-century treatise on the Ottomans and ways to defeat them, Gherardo Borgogni (1526–1608) told his readers that he consulted a man named Hasan, ‘a Turk from Constantinople’, who was very knowledgeable about the Ottoman Porte. Hasan was a convert to Islam. He told his interrogator that he had been taken prisoner at the battle of Lepanto in 1571, having fought valiantly for the Christian side. Bergogni calls him ‘a most judicious and intelligent person’. He enjoyed their conversations, especially as Hasan ‘was
110 Palmira Brummett well versed in Italian’.44 Borgogni thus felt affinities of language, gender, experience and knowledge with this informant who provided insights into the life of the “Turk” and, more critically, was intelligible to the author and hence to his readers.45 That was the advantage of consulting with a convert; Hasan was a “Turk”, in his present condition, but not a ‘Turke borne’ like Dandulo (whose lack of English made Warmstry’s initial proselytising efforts difficult). What Hasan possessed, and Dandulo apparently did not, was the easy familiarity with “Christian” language, faith and a mode of living instilled in him since childhood, something that could not be wiped away by his conversion to Islam. Borgogni’s story, published in 1590, may be contrasted to that of Wenceslas Wratislaw, a Bohemian page who travelled with the Hapsburg embassy of Frederic Kregwitz from Rudolph II (r. 1576–1612) to the Ottoman court of Murad III (r. 1574–1595) in 1591.46 Wratislaw was an open-minded adolescent who learned some Turkish and made Ottoman friends. But he had no sympathy for Christians who converted to Islam. In particular, he told the tale of the embassy’s steward, ‘Ladislaw Mörthen’, who converted to Islam in 1593. Wratislaw’s narration of the steward’s story is worth citing at some length because it includes a description of the rituals of celebration attendant upon public conversion to Islam in Istanbul. Wratislaw tells us that Mörthen had ‘committed a capital crime’, and been confined to quarters by the ambassador. One day, however, he escaped: [He] sprang out into the street, and shouted at the top of his voice that he wished to become a Mussulman. The chiaous [çavuş] who was on guard by our house heard this exclamation with great joy, and immediately conducted the steward to a pasha, and laid before him the intentions of the godless villain. The pasha not only greatly commended it, but was delighted at obtaining so important a proselyte . . ., and immediately gave him a handsome red Turkish dress, a turban, and a fine Turkish horse, and ordered him to be conducted to circumcision with great pomp . . . Many hundred horse and foot soldiers went before and behind him past our house, all shouting ferociously, and wishing him joy, while he exhibited a joyful countenance, looked in at the windows, and carried himself haughtily. . . . This renegade, although he had at Prague a wife, . . . and a son . . . yet [he] forsook all, forgot his soul and wife, took immediately a Turkish woman to wife, and frequently walked and rode past our house.47 After the circumcision, according to the author, Mörthen was assigned pay of ‘forty aspers a day’. Even if Wratislaw embellished the story, this is a clear illustration of the ways in which the Ottomans used conversion rituals (and rewards) as propaganda, just like their Protestant counterparts in London.48
Convert as “public property” 111 Note that Wratislaw calls Mörthen a ‘godless villain’, suggesting that he had no faith, either Christian or Muslim.49 The steward presumably saw conversion as an easy way to escape punishment for his ‘capital crime’, at a time when Ottoman relations with the Hapsburgs were very tense. For the Ottoman authorities, however, having such a turncoat fall into their hands provided a clear opportunity to tout the superiority of Islam in a fashion even more public than Dandulo’s baptismal ceremony.50 What Warmstry had immortalised in text, the Ottoman authorities immortalised in spectacle. The public rituals of conversion were important whether the turning took place in Istanbul or London. Dandulo and Mörthen each received new clothes, gifts and a stipend.51 Each was subjected to the public gaze, either that of a certain class of London Protestants, or that of the masses in the Istanbul streets. Also noteworthy is the fact that each convert’s reception into his adopted society was certified by his abandonment of a woman back home (Dandulo left his fiancée and Mörthen his wife), and the taking on of a spouse whose faith matched that to which he had newly subscribed.52 The moment of decision so dramatically illustrated in the stories of Dandulo and Mörthen is not, however, a necessary element of the convert’s tale. In other narratives, the nature and timing of conversion (or the faith of the protagonist) may be unclear. Some converts had serial identities or maintained the ritual practices of more than one faith at once. These ambiguities are illustrated in various travel narratives, such as that of Domenico Hierosolimitano (c. 1552–1622) who was trained as a rabbi and who served as court physician to Sultan Murad III (r. 1574–1595). His path, unlike Mörthen’s, was one that traced its way from east to west: from Safed, in the Holy Land, to Istanbul, to Rome where he apparently converted to Catholicism – or at least so it seems.53 Domenico wrote his story from a Christian space, Rome. There, his (presumed) conversion along with his service to the sultan and years in Istanbul lent his narrative an air of authority. Like Wratislaw, Domenico suggests that institutional frameworks were available in Istanbul for making and dealing with converts. He writes of what he calls the ‘seventh commandment’ of the Muslims, Kâfirler Döğüşü (the struggle against the unbelievers), and the admonition ‘that everyone . . . be ready to make war against those opposed to the law of Muhammad’. Conversion, of course, was one way to “make war” on the infidels. This commandment contains the custom that if anyone goes over to his (Islamic) faith, [everyone] is obliged to give him [the convert] up to half of his goods and to support him; and he is considered blessed who can give (him) one of his daughters as a wife, and many who have no daughters free a slave girl and give her to him as a wife with a good dowry [and they consider him their son-in law]. [There was a lady] in Constantinople who, in order to observe the commandments of Muhammad well, made one of her slaves turn Turk
112 Palmira Brummett and gave him exactly half of whatever personal property and real estate she had straight away – and she was very rich . . . All the Ottoman Grand Turks, wishing to observe this commandment, have ordained that they can never give their daughters to a native Turk but (only) to a converted (rinegato) Christian. [Sultan] Süleyman [r. 1520–1566], for the better observance of this, took pains himself in person to convert a Latin Christian, a Greek, a Jew, and a Lutheran. And when he had converted them at various times, he gave to each one his daughters as wives, with a dowry of half the treasury advanced for the year he converted; and this he did in observance of this commandment.54 Domenico’s narrative here is full of hyperbole and invention.55 He misrepresents the Ottoman system of princess marriage, repeats the mischaracterisation of members of the askeri (military-administrative) class levied in the devşirme as “renegades”, and grossly exaggerates the processes of creating converts through marriage.56 But he was not mistaken when he asserted that the Ottoman court took seriously the legitimising utility of public conversions.57 Domenico’s account repeats some of the more persuasive elements of the conversion narrative found in the stories of Dandulo and Mörthen: state support for conversions, devout ladies deployed to facilitate the assimilation of converts, marriage as a mode of “guaranteeing” the longevity of conversion, and societal and legal support for converts articulated as a form of piety. Istanbul was, after all, a place where people came purposefully to convert; and in that regard it was like other large metropoles, particularly port cities.58 Natalie Rothman, for example, has demonstrated the institutional frameworks available in Venice for the support (‘patronage and surrogate kinship’) and integration of Muslims and Jews (either refugees or residents) willing to convert to Christianity.59 If these converts could formally become “proper Catholics” it is no leap of faith to imagine their counterparts in Istanbul becoming “proper Muslims”. The loyalties of the convert, however, particularly the convert who had moved from some other place, were always suspect. We have only to recall Dandulo and the rumour that circulated regarding his commission of a criminal act to remind us that assimilation was not easy, particularly when the convert was a foreigner. The convert as a suspicious (or disreputable) person is a standard trope of early modern literatures, one that translated readily into drama and fiction. Thus we have the eight-volume L’Espion Turc published in Italian and French in Paris between 1684–1686, and swiftly translated into English first in 1687 as Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy.60 This work, supposedly written by an Arab but actually written by a Genoese named Giovanni Marana, was so popular that it continued to be published in multiple editions in the eighteenth century. Its protagonist, the fictional “Turk” spy, was said to have resided “undiscovered” for forty-five years in Paris, pretending to be a Christian and sending valuable intelligence to the Ottoman Porte. His
Convert as “public property” 113 character played upon the audience’s knowledge (and fears) that there were such foreign people among them, people whose actual identity and faith were disguised or not readily apparent. Like Dandulo, they had taken up the “garments” of Christendom. In a “Note to the Reader”, the supposed “author” writes that he had been made a slave by the Christians and brought to Sicily where he was held in captivity and beaten by a brutish master.61 That biography reminds us of the story of the convert Chinano who had supposedly been a captive of the Spanish. Despite the hardships of captivity, l’Espion Turc educated himself, learned Greek and Latin and made his way to ‘one of the greatest and most peopled Cities of Europe’, Paris.62 The city itself and his having the appearance of cultivation rather than barbarism, served as his disguise.63 But he also changed his name and his dress. Instead of my Name, Mahmut the Arabian, I have taken on me, that of Titus the Moldavian; and with a little Cassock of black Serge, which is the Habit I have chosen, I make two Figures, being in Heart what I ought to be; but Outwardly, and in Appearance, what I never intended.64 In short, no one could tell that Titus was a “Turk”. He was just the sort of informed companion and master of the language that Borgogni found in his own renegade informant, Hasan. But the fictional Mahmut was not really a renegade. Instead he remained loyal to Islam and its paramount empire. So in the Turkish Spy we have a Genoese author pretending to be an Arabian who is pretending to be a Moldavian. The “spy” tells his reader: ‘I go into the churches as a Christian [but surreptitiously keeping a hand on the Qur’an] . . . I give no offense; I avoid disputes, mind my own concerns, and do nothing which may endanger my salvation’.65 The moral of the “Turkish Spy” was that when it came to turning, nothing was what it seemed. And Paris (like Istanbul, Venice or even London) was a place where Marana’s readers could imagine a network of “renegades” who pursued their own purposes while taking on the guise of converts.66 The message of opaque identity found in L’Espion Turc is repeated in the travel account of Evliya Çelebi (1611–1682) whose famous Seyahatname (Book of Travels) narrates adventures in Ottoman realms and beyond.67 Evliya was an Ottoman Muslim who commented on the murky faithpractices of converts in the once Christian-ruled territories of the GraecoBalkan peninsula. There he described the residents of another “conversional space”, or renegade zone, Albania.68 The villages were intermediate places because they existed in territory contested by Muslim and Christian empires, but also because they were located on the coast or in the mountains, places that shape the identities of their people in particular ways. They were just the sort of places from which converts like Dandulo emerged, places where Christian and Muslim ritual existed side by side. In fact, Evliya suggests that turning may not be such a useful category. He raises the possibility of what
114 Palmira Brummett we might call half-turning, sort of turning or simply doing religiously what one pleases. The Ottoman raconteur, for example, describes the town of Gjirokastër in Albania (where many of the inhabitants were presumed or professed Muslims of long-standing) as a place where ritual practice was mixed and unfamiliar. He was astonished by the lamentations for the dead: ‘Every Sunday, all the relatives of the dead person gather in a ramshackle house, paying professional mourners who weep and wail and keen and lament . . . No one can stand to be in town on Sundays’.69 Evliya calls these endless lamentations ‘quite pointless’; but, he is magnanimous: ‘every country has its own traditions’. He is less sanguine however about the alcohol consumption of the men, who shamelessly drink wine when celebrating (across denomination) weddings, the feasts of Christian saints and Muslim bayram festivals: ‘this is quite shameful behavior, characteristic of the infidels; but it is their custom, so we cannot censure it’.70 The territory had long been subject (at least nominally) to the Ottoman sultan; but in Evliya’s account it clearly retained its Christian and frontier identities. As he looks at the people of Gjirokastër, Evliya sees that they are at once both Muslims and ‘sinning’ infidels (kafirs).71 He is not speaking only of syncretism or lax religious practice, but of moral communities and flexible communal allegiance. Albania, had been turned (more or less); but conquest and Muslim rule did not correspond to a recognisable community of Muslim “believers”. Nor does Evliya seem to think it necessary to affix a definitive religious label to these villagers. How can one tell after all whether these men are Muslim or Christian, beyond acknowledging what they say they are? Evliya admits the ambiguities when he says of the male villagers southeast of Vlore/Avlonya on the Adriatic coast: ‘[they are] . . . black infidels, [kara keferelerdir] . . . but if you call them infidels, they will kill you’.72 There was no clear moment of conversion here. Conversion (both individual and group) was a process which could be fast or slow; voluntary or coerced; complete or incomplete; “permanent”, chronic, temporary, illusory; “real” or rhetorical. It was a process that was familiar to a large segment of the urban populations of the Mediterranean world, particularly those of port cities, where peripatetic Levantine sailors and commercial agents were recruited and where male and female converts (and captives) were integrated into the houses of masters and patrons. It was also familiar to large segments of the rural population in the broad frontier zones separating the Ottoman Empire and the realms of the Christian kings of Europe where language, ethnicity, religion and identity were often multiple or situational.73 There, what Evliya characterised as renegade life was practiced by many subjects of the sultan, the emperor and the Venetian Signoria. The situation of those who lived this “renegade” life was a far cry from that of converts like Dandulo or Mörthen. They were not strangers in a strange land, trying to establish their bona fides, assimilate, gain status or simply survive through conversion. Rather their space and society had
Convert as “public property” 115 been “turned” out from under them, while they remained the “locals”, subject to the scrutiny of outsiders like Evliya. Conversely, what the converts in the stories of Warmstry, Wratislaw, Evliya and even Marana share is their adaptation, in a variety of genres, to the rhetorical task of illustrating belonging and difference, who was part of the ‘cherished community’ and who was not.74 The narratives excerpted in the previous paragraphs problematise the simple dichotomy between forced vs. voluntary conversion. They suggest instead a matrix of conversion that may be chosen, imposed, feigned, “true”, chronic, temporary, illusory or literary. Conversion might be employed as marketing, or as entertainment. It served to legitimise faith, society and ruler. It could be adopted willingly or resisted routinely at multiple levels. It might make the foreigner palatable or simply highlight his inability ever to assimilate. It was signified through changes in dress or made ambiguous by continuity in customs and styles. The pamphlet literature on the “Turk” and conversion did not peter out in London as the early modern era became the modern. In 1872, a thirtysix-page pamphlet was published in London with the compelling title: History of a Turk. Intended to show the mistake of English women marrying Mohammedans.75 In this story, written in a breezy, journalistic style, the narrator claims to have personal experience of just such an unfortunate episode of cross-communal marriage. But the tropes of mixing sound remarkably familiar: women led astray (in need of redemption by coreligionists or conationals), and the complex dangers of fraternising with “foreigners”. The tale is both didactic and an exercise in style.76 Indeed this romance-gonewrong is emblematic of the ways in which exposure to the “Turk” nextdoor had become normalised in English literature.77 But the expectation of public interest seems little changed since Philip Dandulo protested his innocence, or had it protested for him, in the Mercurius Publicus in 1661. One cannot help drawing analogies to more current news. On April 15, 2013, two young Muslim brothers, ten-year residents of the United States (one recently made a citizen) but born as foreign nationals, set off bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing several Americans and wounding many others. The bombing was not only an act of terror but a public insult to the American cherished community. Rumours spread like wildfire regarding the brothers’ associates, nationality and how widely their network of confederates might extend both at home and abroad. But one person drew particular attention in the media. The wife of one of the brothers was an American from Rhode Island. She had converted to Islam in order to marry and had adopted the hijab. Was she ignorant of or complicit in her husband’s terror plots?78 For some, the fact that she was a born American, one of “us”, was enough to give her the benefit of the doubt. But for others, the fact that she had converted suggested that her loyalty to the United States was undeniably suspect. Her Islamic dress was a sign that she had rejected her identity and “turned” to something indelibly “foreign”. And so the public debate on
116 Palmira Brummett the convert (and her hierarchy of loyalties) goes on. The convert can never entirely abandon his or her old community or be welcomed entirely into the new. And dress, as an emblem of affiliation, remains a powerful signifier. For our purposes, the convert, paraded through the streets of Istanbul or London in his new clothes, is an icon of the ‘cherished community’. He, or she, serves to reinforce the bonds of that community, and to highlight its superiority over all others, without necessarily involving the reader in the messy logistical details of actual assimilation. The subject who turns to a faith is enlightened, a badge pinned to the breast of the community. The subject who turns away is a traitor who has publicly dishonoured that which should be cherished. And the subject who turns back is physical evidence of the centrifugal force of the community, if not the compelling power of the faith. In between is a middle ground of those who have turned part way. They are perhaps the most intriguing of all, because neither their looks nor their behaviour are conclusive indicators of who they really are. One cannot readily tell which community, if any, they truly cherish. Thus they become the subject of humour or hostility, and an uneasy mix of curiosity and distaste.
Notes 1 See Mercurius Publicus Comprising the Sum of Forraign Intelligence. (London. Published by Authority. Thursday, December 26, 1661 – Thursday, January 2, 1662), Numb. 53. ADVERTISEMENT: Whereas Philip Dandulo a Turke borne, by profession a Mahumetan who was converted to the true Christian faith by Dr. Wilde, Dr. Gunning, Dr. Warmstry, Dr. Thurstcross, and baptized therein having his Majestie’s Letters, Patents, for Collections to be made in London, Westminster, and other Counties, in England for his Subsistance and releife, was falsely reported to have been executed for some notorious crime, and that his Majestie’s gratious favor towards him was so streightned, and his Collection so small as that paying the Collection Charges he has nothing to subsist on. These are to certifie that the said Philip Daudulo is now living with his wife and family at the 3 Crownes in Westminster, and it was a Moor that was executed. On which the said report was falsely grounded, desiring all persons to be so charitable as to take notice of the same that he may not suffer thereby to his utter undoing. Dandulo’s conversion is dealt with extensively in the fourth chapter, “A Godly Instrument in a Sea of Darkness: “Turkish Converts and the Contest of Godliness,” of Laura Perille’s PhD dissertation, now in preparation for the History Department of Brown University. I thank Laura for this reference. 2 Thomas Warmstry, D. D., The Baptized Turk, or a Narrative of the Happy Conversion of Signior Rigep Dandulo, The Only Son of a Silk Merchant in the Isle of Tzio, from the Delusions of that Great Imposter Mahomet, unto
Convert as “public property” 117 the Christian Religion, and of His Admission unto Baptism by Mr. Gunning at Excester-house Chappel the 8th of Novemb. 1657 (London: J. Williams, T. Garthwairte, and Henry Marsh, 1658), may well be an extended version of a shorter original. This version is over 150 pages in length including a dedication, preliminary discourse on the debate of Dandulo and Gunning over religion and baptism, a disquisition on the convert’s dream, the conversion story and additional arguments regarding the superiority of Christianity over Islam. 3 The London Borough of Bexley, North Cray, http://www.bexley.gov.uk/ index.aspx?articleid=10382, website, accessed June 2013, notes that the parish registers of St. James Church there record for 1659, ‘4s 6d being given to Philip Dandulo, a Turk who had converted to Christianity, while in 1670 the sum of £4.10s was raised for the redemption of English slaves held by the Turks’. 4 For example, Cristelle Baskins, Chapter 2 in a book manuscript in progress, Books, Portraits, and Print in the Early Modern Mediterranean, for submission to Ashgate Press, notes an illustration, from Giovanni Francesco Bordini’s On the Worthy Deeds of Pope Sixtus V, (De rebus praeclarus gestis a Sisto V, Pon. Max. Carminum liber primus) (Rome: ex. offic. J. Tornerii, 1588), which celebrates the conversion of a woman from Algiers. 5 Nabil Matar, “The Renegade in English Seventeenth-Century Imagination,” Studies in English Literature 33/3 (1993): 492, 490–1 notes the ‘rising tide of conversion to Islam’ in the seventeenth century: ‘Two factors worried English writers about the renegade. First was the absence of any moral or spiritual anxiety associated with the act of apostasy. . . . Secondly, writers observed that the renegade, having given up his Christian faith, did not suffer subsequent divine punishment but happily prospered as a Muslim’. See also Matar and Gerald MacLean, Britain and the Islamic World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 124–55, on English captivity narratives. 6 See Tijana Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), 98–120, for a sophisticated commentary on some of the narratives and their claims. 7 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 23, 73, 96–8. 8 Ibid., 4, 11, 24–5. 9 For an image of the convert to Islam as enemy, his hand placed upon the Qur’an, fallen to the ground under the heel of a hooded figure bearing a chalice, see the cartouche of H. Jaillot’s 1693 version of Nicolas Sanson, “Le Cours du Danube,” (Paris: Chez Jaillot, 1693). Here the two enemies of the Christians are the warrior “Turk” and the traitor to Christianity who converts. 1 0 Thomas Cross, Rigep Dandulo, 144 mm x 87 mm, line engraving, midseventeenth century, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG D29244. 11 Via the website Zazzle, http://www.zazzle.com/muslim+converts+tshirts accessed September 5, 2015.
118 Palmira Brummett 12 But on female converts, see, for example, Eric Dursteler, Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011); and, for a later period, Selim Deringil, Conversion and Apostasy in the Late Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 89–90, 94. 13 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 2, 4–6. 14 See, for example, Antonis Hadjikyriacou, “Society and Economy on an Ottoman Island: Cyprus in the Eighteenth Century” (PhD Diss., SOAS, University of London, 2011), 102–3, 115–16. Cypriot Catholics were not permitted to remain on the island after the Ottoman conquest in 1570–1571, so many converted to Orthodoxy or Islam. 15 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 4. 16 E. M. Hull, The sheik, a Novel (Boston: Small, Maynard and Co., [c. 1921], reprint of London 1919 edition); and E. M. Hull, The Sheik, dir. George Medford (Los Angeles: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, 1922). 17 See Steven Caton, “The Sheik: Instabilities of Race and Gender in Transatlantic Popular Culture of the Early 1920s,” in Noble Dreams Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870–1930, ed. Holly Edwards (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). 18 Wamstry, The Baptized Turk, 74. 19 Ibid., 14. 20 Ibid., 6. 21 Ibid., 12–15. 22 Ibid., 66. 23 Ibid., 16–19. 24 Ibid., 22, 95–6, 137. 25 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, first page of “Postscript,” in unnumbered from matter, 23. Warmstry came from a prominent Worcester family and in 1661 was made dean of Worcester Cathedral; see Warmestry, Thomas (1609/10–1665), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–2015), online version, accessed June 2013. 26 Gunning, Peter (1614–1684), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online version. Nabil Matar, “Muslim Conversion to Christianity in the Early Modern Period: Arabic Texts, European Contexts,” in Mediterranean Identities in the Premodern Era: Entrepôts, Islands, Empires, ed. John Watkins and Kathryn Reyerson, (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2014), makes a case for the elaborate institutional and imperial frameworks for Muslim converts ‘seeing the light’, especially in those conversions taking place in spaces that were targets of colonisation. 27 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 20. 28 Ibid., “Postscript,” 6th unnumbered page, discourse between Gunning and Dandulo. 29 Ibid., 12, 14. 30 Ibid., 139.
Convert as “public property” 119 31 Possibly the young Philip Warwick, son of Sir Philip Warwick, see Warwick, Philip (bap. 1640, d. 1683), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online version. Both Philips were admitted to Gray’s Inn which provides a connection to Reverend Bernard. 32 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 139–40. See Gilliam Weiss, Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 38–9, 77–8, on the announcement in the French Mercure françois in 1632 of the ‘baptism of a Barbarian from the kingdom of Morocco at the Capuchin Church in Paris’, and other stories of Muslim baptisms. 33 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 140. A Nicholas Bernard was preacher at Gray’s Inn during the 1650s but it is not clear that this was he; see Bernard (Barnard), Nicholas (d. 1661), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online version. 34 G. Le Strange, ed. and trans., Don Juan of Persia, A Shiʽah Catholic, 1560– 1604 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1926), 292, 298–9.The change of clothes as a sign of changed identity is dramatically invoked in the account of so-called Don Juan of Persia, the Persian secretary Ulug Beg who accompanied an embassy sent from Shah Abbas I to the Vatican and other European courts in 1599. The author tells of the nephew, Ali Quli Beg, of the Safavid ambassador who had ‘come to appreciate the Spanish mode of life, and for convenience was accustomed now to wear the Spanish dress’. While this appeared at first to be a matter ‘of mere curiosity and amusement’, Don Juan tells his readers that it was really a sign of God’s will who intended to ‘soften’ the hard hearts of men from the ‘remotest part of Asia’. Ali Quli Beg thus determined to be baptised and become a Christian. Ulug Beg also became a convert in Spain. Here, however, as in Warmstry’s account, the voice of the conversion story seems to be a born-Christian one. Colin Mitchell, “Don Juan of Persia: A Shiʽah Catholic, 1560–1604 (London: Routledge Curzon, 2005, reprint of 1926 edition),” Abstracta Iranica [online], 28 (2005) document 172, 18 September 2007, accessed August 3, 2015, http://abstractairanica.revues.org/17712 points out that Don Juan’s spiritual guide, Alfonso Rémon extensively “helped” the convert in the preparation of his account and its translation from Persian into Castilian. 35 Warmstry, The Baptized Turk, 141. 36 Meredith Hanmer, A Sermon Preached at the Hospital of Saint Katherin, Adioyning unto her Maiesties Towne the 2 of October 1586, at the Baptizing of one Chinano a Turke, borne at Nigropontus [Negroponte] (London: Robert Walde-grave, 1586). Hanmer, Meredith (1543–1604), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (online version) was a clergyman and ‘historian of the early church’. 37 Hanmer, A Sermon, 10th unnumbered page. 38 Ibid., 69th unnumbered page. 39 Ibid., 67th and 68th unnumbered pages.
120 Palmira Brummett 40 See Gerald MacLean and Nabil Matar, Britain and the Islamic World, 1558–1713 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 127–55. 41 Richard Chandler, D.D., Travels in Asia Minor and Greece, new edition, Nicholas Revett, ed., 2 vols., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1825), 2: 185, 197–8, 203, 212, 215–16, 231, 304, 311, 338. See also Sir George Wheler, A Journey into Greece, by George Wheler Esq; in company of Dr Spon of Lyons (London: Printed for William Cademan, Robert Kettlewell, and Awnsham Churchill, 1689). Wheler (1651–1724), a clergyman and scholar, was also the author of a journey to the Holy Land, using Eusebius as his foundation: An Account of the Churches, or Places of Assembly, of the Primitive Christians; from the Churches of Tyre, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. Described by Eusebius (London: printed by S. Roycroft, for R. Clavell, 1689). 42 Others described renegades in more pointed terms, as evil, traitorous creatures, much worse than “born Turks”. See for example, Gábor Kármán, “Turks Reconsidered: Jakob Harsányi Nagy’s Changing Image of the Ottomans,” in Well-Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History, ed. Pascal Firges, Tobias P. Graf, Christian Roth and Gülay Tulasoğlu (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 114–15. 43 Not all captives converted (or admitted to converting) of course, and those who did not could still prove very useful to their new masters. See for example on issues of captive identity the narrative of Osman Aga, a late seventeenth-century Ottoman captured in the Ottoman-Hapsburg wars: Osmân Agha de Temechvar, Prisonnier des Infidèles: Un soldat ottoman dans l’Empire des Habsbourg, ed. and trans. Frédéric Hitzel (N.P.: Sindbad, 1998), 75–6. 44 Gherardo Borgogni, Le Discordie Christiane Le Quali Causarono La Grandezza di Cassa Ottomana, Insieme con la vera origine del nome Turco, & un breve Sommario delle vite, e acquisti de’Principi Ottomani, Et nel fine un Paragone della possanza del Turco, e di quella del Catol. Re Filippo, Da Gherardo Borgogni. Di nuova poste in luce All’Illust.mo Gran Cancellier Filiodoni (Bergamo: Comino Ventura, 1590), 29. Bibliotheca Correr, Cicogna 558.I8 (816.17). 45 For more on authority in the narration of Ottoman space, see Palmira Brummett, Mapping the Ottomans: Sovereignty, Territory, and Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 277–324. 46 The German version is Václav Vratislav z Mitrovic, Des Freyherrn von Wratislaw merkwürdige Gesandtschaftsreise von Wien nach Konstantinopel: so gut als aus dem Englischen übersetzt (Leipzig: Schönfeldschen Buchhandlung, 1786). The translation used in this chapter is Wenceslas Wratislaw, Adventures of Baron Wenceslas Wratislaw: What He Saw in Constantinople, in His Captivity, Committed to Writing in 1599, trans. Albert Henry Wratislaw (London: Bell and Daldy, 1862). Several Czech versions have been
Convert as “public property” 121 published, among them is Václav Vratislav z Mitrovic, Príhody Václava Vratislava z Mitrovic, které on v tureckém hlavním meste Konstantinopoli videl, v zajetí svém zakusil a po stastném do vlasti navrácení sám Léta Páne 1599 sepsal, ed. Alois Bejblík (Prague: Mladá fronta, 1977). 4 7 Wratislaw, Adventures, 109–10. Wratislaw’s narrative can be compared to that of Christopher Angelos, Christopher Angell, A Grecian, Who Tasted Many Stripes and Torments Inflicted by the Turkes for the Faith Which He Had in Christ Iesus (Oxford: John Lichfield and James Short, 1618). In this pamphlet, the author meditates on whether he can resist torture. After many enticements to ‘turn’, the ‘Turks’, he says, were even willing to settle for him selling out the Athenian merchants in Venice (3v-4v). Folger Shakespeare Library, STC 640. 4 8 See Weiss, Captives and Corsairs, 49–51, on conversion processions in North Africa and ‘redemption marches’ in France. 49 Tobias Graf, “Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives: ‘Renegades’ in the Otto man Empire and Their Pre-Conversion Ties, ca. 1580–1610,” in WellConnected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History, ed. Pascal Firges, Tobias P. Graf, Christian Roth and Gülay Tulasoğlu (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 135–7, using the correspondence of Kregwitz and other members of the embassy, provides a more elaborate context for the Mörthen affair, including the charge that Mörthen’s crime was consorting with a kitchen boy. 5 0 Deringil, Conversion and Apostasy, 80, 156–8, elaborates on changes in the politics of conversion, religion, and citizenship in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. 51 Dress, of course, was equated both with identity and with disguise, the latter a trope that was ubiquitous in captivity narratives and the fictions they generated. See, for example, Barbara Fuchs, Passing for Spain: Cervantes and the Fictions of Identity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 70–5, on “cultural transvestism.” 52 Graf, “Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives,” 135, 148–9, however, importantly points out that families left at home could prove a powerful draw on the convert and an incentive to abandon new loyalties. 53 Michael Austin and Geoffrey Lewis, trans. and ed., Domenico’s Istanbul (Warminster, Wiltshire: E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 2001), 1–3. Domenico’s characterisation of converts and renegades in Istanbul is also interesting, see 8, 12–14, 51. Francesca Lucchetta, “Il Medico del Bailaggio di Costantinopoli fra Terapie e Politica (Sec. XV–XVI)” Quaderni di Studi Arabi, suppl. al n. 15, Veneziani in Levante: Musulmani a Venezia (1997): 5–50, has written on Jewish physicians from Italy practicing in Istanbul in the sixteenth century and on the employment of such physicians (who were also important intermediaries and conduits for information) by the Venetian bailos. 54 Austin and Lewis, Domenico’s Istanbul, 51–2. Of course, once converted, it was unwise for such turners to return to their faith unless the situation
122 Palmira Brummett and location were favourable. Thus Robert Bargrave, a seventeenth-century English traveller, tells the tale of a repentant convert in Izmir, ‘At Smirna also there was but a few years since a Greek Servant to the English nation, martird; who having turned Turke & afterwards perplexed in Conscience for his crime, recanted, & (on advice from the Patriarch to save his lost Soule) reviled the Turks false faith, in the same place where he first was made a Turke: & therefore condemnd by theyr law to die, suffred stoutly his fiery triall, & was after canonizd a Saint’. See Michael G. Brennan, ed., The Travel Diary of Robert Bargrave Levant Merchant 1647–1656, Hakluyt Series III, v. 3 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1999), 73. Nonetheless, for Bargrave, civility was not limited to Christians and barbarity not limited to “Turks,” 106. 55 While it is true that the proximity (in time) of individual kuls to their Balkan and Christian roots (and hence to ethnic and communal identities) could be the subject of commentary or derision in Ottoman sources, the kul, I would suggest, stands outside the conventional sense of “renegade.” See Suraiya Faroqhi, Subjects of the Sultan (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007), 272; and Frederic Hitzel, “ ‘Osman Ağa, Captif ottoman dans l’empire des Hapsbourg à la fin du XVIIe Siècle,” Turcica 33 (2001). 56 One of the disconnects between Europeanist and Ottomanist understanding of the “renegade” in the early modern era is the assessment of the Ottoman kul system. Europeanist historiography regularly identifies those levied in the devşirme as “renegades.” For Ottomanist historians, these men, born Christian, cannot be turncoats, an essential characteristic of the Europeanist meaning of “renegade”, because their conversion to Islam was not a matter of choice and because they were, in effect, raised up within the Ottoman system (a system which the kuls have no desire to relinquish). See on ideas of “turning Turk”: Daniel Vitkus, Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, 1570–1630 (New York: Palgrave, 2003), 16–17, 196–7, on the devşiırme, and the broad and narrow construal of “turning”; Matthew Dimmock, New Turkes: Dramatizing Islam and the Ottomans in Early Modern England (Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2005), 20–86, on English notions of “Turkishness”; Constance Relihan, “ ‘Disordinate Desire’ and the Construction of Geographic Otherness in the Early Modern Novella,” in Prose Fiction and Early Modern Sexualities in England, 1570–1640, ed. Constance Relihan and Goran Stanivukovic (New York: Palgrave, 2003); and Cory Reed, “Harems and Eunuchs: Ottoman-Islamic Motifs of Captivity in ‘El celoso extremeño’,” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies LXXVI (1999). Reed speaks of the similarities in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century accounts of the sultan’s harem and of travellers’ preoccupation with ‘barriers, exclusion, and enclosure’, 202–4. 57 See Marc Baer, Honored by the Glory of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), on the active role Sultan Mehmed IV (r. 1648–87) took in creating converts and publically promoting conversion.
Convert as “public property” 123 58 The exchange of goods and information as well as religious identities is critical for understanding the “renegade” in the context of the urban entrepots of Istanbul and Venice. See for example, Cemal Kafadar, “A Death in Venice (1575): Anatolian Muslim Merchants Trading in the Serenissima,” Journal of Turkish Studies 10 (1986); Maria Pia Pedani-Fabris, “Veneziani a Costantinopoli all fine del XVI Secolo,” Quaderni di Studi Arabi, supplemento al n. 15 (1997); Eric Dursteler, “Commerce and Coexistence: Veneto-Ottoman Trade in the Early Modern Era, Turcica 34 (2002); and Suraiya Faroqhi, “Before 1600: Ottoman Attitudes Towards Merchants from Latin Christendom,” Turcica 34 (2002). 59 Natalie Rothman, “Becoming Venetian: Conversion and Transformation in the Seventeenth Century Mediterranean,” Mediterranean Historical Review 21/1 (June 2006). Rothman sees the Pia Casa dei Catecumeni as an institution of both charity and surveillance which contributed to the formation of ‘dense networks of patronage’ in the Signoria, 39. Other evidence of converts coming to Venice and seeking integration into the community is found in Michela Dal Borgo, “Neo-Convertiti aspiranti sensali (1569),” Quaderni di Studi Arabi, suppl. al n. 15 (1997). 60 I am using the English translation: Giovanni Paolo Marana, Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy, Written Originally in Arabick, first Translated into Italian, afterwards into French, and now into English, 4th ed (London, Printed for Henry Rhodes, 1692). See also, Virginia Aksan, “Is There a Turk in the Turkish Spy?” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 6/3 (1994). 61 Marana, Letters, Book 1, 5v. 62 Ibid., 1, 4v. 63 Ibid., 1, 6r. 64 Ibid., 1, 2. 65 Ibid., 1, 3. 66 Graf, “Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives,” addresses the question of renegade networks in Istanbul, a place where a critical mass of high powered converts was certainly in evidence. 67 See Evliya Çelebi, An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Celebi, trans. Robert Dankoff and Sooyong Kim (London: Eland, 2011), for English selections from Evliya’s (1611- c.1685) ten-volume Ottoman-Turkish narrative. 68 On ‘conversional spaces’, see Michał Wasiucionek “Danube-Hopping: Conversion, Jurisdiction and Spatiality between the Ottoman Empire and the Danubian Principalities in the Seventeenth-Century,” in this volume. The very idea of who constitutes a “renegade” in the Ottoman context, is problematic. When I polled colleagues on the question of what Ottoman-Turkish word we use for “renegade” there was often a long silence. Mühtedi, one who embraces the true faith, a convert to Islam, is one option, Sir James Redhouse, Türkçe/Osmanlıca-İngilizce Redhouse Sözlüğü, 17th ed (İstanbul: SEV, 1999), 815, from ihtida, conversion to Islam, 520. There is also the fugitive, or deserter, firari, Redhouse, Türkçe/Osmanlıca-İngilizce Redhouse
124 Palmira Brummett Sözlüğü, 375; and one who turns from his religion, dininden dönmüş. See also, Orhan Koloğlu, “Renegades and the Case of Uluç/Kılıç Ali,” http://www.storiamediterranea.it/public/md1_dir/b699.pdf, 513, accessed May 2013. Koloğlu writes of the difference between losing a believer and gaining a believer. The lost believer in the Ottoman case can be called a mürted (from apostasy, irtidad). Koloğlu also addresses the designation uluç and its derivations and possible meaning of ‘a Christian who becomes a Turk’, 526. See also Deringil, Conversion and Apostasy, 118–24. 6 9 Evliya Çelebi, Evliya Çelebi in Albania and Adjacent Regions (Kosovo, Montenegro, Ohrid): The Relevant Sections of the Seyahatname, ed. and trans. Robert Dankoff and Robert Elsie (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 83. See also, Brummett, Mapping the Ottomans, 258. 7 0 Evliya Çelebi, Evliya Çelebi in Albania, 85, 87. 71 Ibid., 143. He means the men because he uses the word facirleri to apply to fishermen and salt workers (fecereleri/facir: dissolute, adulterous, sinning). 7 2 Ibid., 145. 73 See, for example, Viorel Panaite, “Ethnicity and Religion in the Ottoman ‘Ahdnames (16th–17th Centuries), Terminological Considerations,” in Chretiens et Musulmans a l’epoque de la Renaissance, Actes du IIe congrès international, ed. Abdeljelil Temimi, (Zaghouan: Fondation Temimi pour la Recherché Scientifique et l’Information, 1997), 201–11. 7 4 Charles Press, The Political Cartoon (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1981), 50–79, advances the idea of the ‘cherished community’, that is one’s own beloved people/place (with affinities of faith, ethnicity, nation, etc.), as something the successful cartoon must appeal to. If the reader clearly sees his or her “own” community (something familiar, loved and enduring) juxtaposed to those things which are unfamiliar or threatening, then the cartoon will be readily understood and appreciated. 75 Edward St. John Fairman, History of a Turk. Intended to Show the Mistake of English Women Marrying Mohammedans (London: E. W. Allen, 1872), 36. Bodleian, (OC) 250 k.11 (1). 76 I have been able to find very little information on the author, although, in another pamphlet defending Halim Pasha as the rightful ruler of Egypt and critiquing Khedive Ismail and his English supporters, Fairman claims to have twenty-five years’ experience in Egypt and the Middle East. See Edward St. John Fairman, Prince Halim Pacha, of Egypt, a freemason. Egyptian Affairs, or, How Ismail Pacha Found, and Left, Egypt (London: by the author, 1884), title page and 7, on which he describes the Egyptian people as ‘patient and long suffering’. 77 See Emily Kugler, Sway of the Ottoman Empire on English Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century (Leiden: Brill 2012), 29–32, on a 1672 English, “Broad-side against Coffee: Or, the Marriage of a Turk.” 78 See, for example, Karen Lee Ziner, “Boston Bombing: Widow Quietly Carries on Life,” Providence Journal, (August 31, 2013), 1, 5.
Convert as “public property” 125
Bibliography Primary sources (published) Angelos, Christopher. Christopher Angell, A Grecian, Who Tasted Many Stripes and Torments Inflicted by the Turkes for the Faith Which He Had in Christ Iesus. Oxford: John Lichfield and James Short, 1618. Austin, Michael and Geoffrey Lewis, trans. and ed. Domenico’s Istanbul. Warminster, Wiltshire: E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 2001. Borgogni, Gherardo. Le Discordie Christiane Le Quali Causarono La Grandezza di Cassa Ottomana, Insieme con la vera origine del nome Turco, & un breve Sommario delle vite, e acquisti de’Principi Ottomani, Et nel fine un Paragone della possanza del Turco, e di quella del Catol. Re Filippo, Da Gherardo Borgogni Di nuova poste in luce All’Illust.mo Gran Cancellier Filiodoni. Bergamo: Comino Ventura, 1590. Bibliotheca Correr, Cicogna 558.I8 (816.17). Brennan, Michael G., ed. The Travel Diary of Robert Bargrave Levant Merchant 1647–1656. Hakluyt Series III, v. 3, London: Hakluyt Society, 1999. Çelebi, Evliya. Evliya Çelebi in Albania and Adjacent Regions (Kosovo, Montenegro, Ohrid): The Relevant Sections of the Seyahatname. Edited and translated by Robert Dankoff and Robert Elsie. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Chandler, Richard, D. D. Travels in Asia Minor and Greece. Edited by Nicholas Revett, 2 vols, new ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1825. Fairman, Edward St. John. History of a Turk. Intended to Show the Mistake of English Women Marrying Mohammedans. London: E. W. Allen, 1872, Bodleian, (OC) 250 k.11 (1). ––– Prince Halim Pacha, of Egypt, a Freemason. Egyptian Affairs, or, How Ismail Pacha Found, and Left, Egypt. London: By the author, 1884. Hanmer, Meredith. A Sermon Preached at the Hospital of Saint Katherin, Adioyning unto Her Maiesties Towne the 2 of October 1586, at the Baptizing of One Chinano a Turke, Borne at Nigropontus [Negroponte]. London Robert Walde-grave, 1586. London Borough of Bexley, North Cray, Accessed June 2013. http://www. bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10382 Marana, Giovanni Paolo (1642–1693). Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy, Written Originally in Arabick, First Translated into Italian, afterwards into French, and now into English. 4th ed. London: Printed for Henry Rhodes, 1692. Mercurius Publicus Comprising the Sum of Forraign Intelligence. London: Published by Authority. Thursday, December 26, 1661 – Thursday, January 2, 1662. Numb. 53. Warmstry, Thomas, D. D. The Baptized Turk, or a Narrative of the Happy Conversion of Signior Rigep Dandulo, The Only Son of a Silk Merchant in the Isle of Tzio, from the Delusions of that Great Imposter Mahomet, unto the Christian Religion, and of His Admission unto Baptism by
126 Palmira Brummett Mr. Gunning at Excester-House Chappel the 8th of Novemb. 1657. London: J. Williams, T. Garthwairte, and Henry Marsh, 1658. Wheler, Sir George. A Journey into Greece, by George Wheler Esq; in Company of Dr Spon of Lyons. London: Printed for William Cademan, Robert Kettlewell, and Awnsham Churchill,  1689. [Wratislaw] Vratislav z Mitrovic, Václav. Príhody Václava Vratislava z Mitrovic, které on v tureckém hlavním meste Konstantinopoli videl, v zajetí svém zakusil a po stastném do vlasti navrácení sám Léta Páne 1599 sepsal. Edited by Alois Bejblík. Prague: Mladá fronta, 1977. [Wratislaw] Vratislav z Mitrovic, Václav. Des Freyherrn von Wratislaw merkwürdige Gesandtschaftsreise von Wien nach Konstantinopel: so gut als aus dem Englischen übersetzt. Leipzig: Schönfeldschen Buchhandlung, 1786. Wratislaw, Wenceslas. Adventures of Baron Wenceslas Wratislaw: What He Saw in Constantinople, in His Captivity, Committed to Writing in 1599. Translated by Albert Henry Wratislaw. London: Bell and Daldy, 1862. Secondary sources Aksan, Virginia. “Is There a Turk in the Turkish Spy?” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 6/3 (April 1994): 201–214. Baer, Marc. Honored by the Glory of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Baskins, Cristelle. Chapter 2, book mss. in progress, Books, Portraits, and Print in the Early Modern Mediterranean, for submission to Ashgate Press. Bernard [Barnard], Nicholas (d. 1661). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–2015, online version. Brummett, Palmira. Mapping the Ottomans: Sovereignty, Territory, and Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Caton, Steven. “The Sheik: Instabilities of Race and Gender in Transatlantic Popular Culture of the Early 1920s.” In Noble Dreams Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870–1930, edited by Holly Edwards, 99–117. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. Dal Borgo, Michela. “Neo-Convertiti Aspiranti Sensali (1569).” Quaderni di Studi Arabi, suppl. al n. 15 (1997): 163–166. Deringil, Selim. Conversion and Apostasy in the Late Ottoman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Dimmock, Matthew. New Turkes: Dramatizing Islam and the Ottomans in Early Modern England. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2005. Dursteler, Eric. “Commerce and Coexistence: Veneto-Ottoman Trade in the Early Modern Era.” Turcica 34 (2002): 105–133.
Convert as “public property” 127 ––– Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. Faroqhi, Suraiya. “Before 1600: Ottoman Attitudes towards Merchants from Latin Christendom.” Turcica 34 (2002): 69–103. ––– Subjects of the Sultan. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007. Fuchs, Barbara. Passing for Spain: Cervantes and the Fictions of Identity. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003. Graf, Tobias. “Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives: ‘Renegades’ in the Ottoman Empire and their Pre-Conversion Ties, ca. 1580–1610.” In Well Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History, edited by Pascal Firges, Tobias P. Graf, Christian Roth and Gülay Tulasoğlu, 131–149. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Gunning, Peter (1614–1684). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–2015, online version. Hadjikyriacou, Antonis. “Society and Economy on an Ottoman Island: Cyprus in the Eighteenth Century.” PhD diss., SOAS, University of London, 2011. Hanmer, Meredith (1543–1604). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–2015, online version. Hitzel, Frederic. “ ‘Osman Ağa, Captif ottoman dans l’empire des Hapsbourg à la fin du XVIIe Siècle.” Turcica 33 (2001): 191–213. Kafadar, Cemal. “A Death in Venice (1575): Anatolian Muslim Merchants Trading in the Serenissima.” Journal of Turkish Studies 10 (1986): 191–218. Kármán, Gábor. “Turks Reconsidered: Jakob Harsányi Nagy’s Changing Image of the Ottomans.” In Well Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History, edited by Firges, Pascal, 110–130. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Koloğlu, Orhan. “Renegades and the Case of Uluç/Kılıç Ali.” Accessed May 2013. http://www.storiamediterranea.it/public/md1_dir/b699.pdf Krstić, Tijana. Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011. Kugler, Emily. Sway of the Ottoman Empire on English Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century. Leiden: Brill 2012. Lucchetta, Francesca. “Il Medico del Bailaggio di Costantinopoli fra Terapie e Politica (Sec. XV-XVI).” Quaderni di Studi Arabi, suppl. al n. 15, Veneziani in Levante: Musulmani a Venezia (1997): 5–50. Matar, Nabil. “The Renegade in English Seventeenth-Century Imagination.” Studies in English Literature 33 (1993): 489–505. ––– and Gerald MacLean. Britain and the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. ––– “Muslim Conversion to Christianity in the Early Modern Period: Arabic Texts, European Contexts.” In Mediterranean Identities in the Premodern
128 Palmira Brummett Era: Entrepôts, Islands, Empires, edited by John Watkins and Kathryn Reyerson, 211–229. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2014. Mitchell, Colin. “Don Juan of Persia: A Shiʽah Catholic, 1560–1604 (London: Routledge Curzon, 2005, reprint of 1926 edition).” Abstracta Iranica [online], 28 (2005) document 172, 18 septembre 2007. Accessed August 3 2015. http://abstractairanica.revues.org/17712 Panaite, Viorel. “Ethnicity and Religion in the Ottoman ‘Ahdnames (16th– 17th Centuries), Terminological Considerations.” In Chretiens et Musulmans a l’epoque de la Renaissance, Actes du IIe congrès international, edited by Abdeljelil Temimi, 201–211. Zaghouan: Fondation Temimi pour la Recherché Scientifique et l’Information, 1997. Pedani-Fabris, Maria Pia. “Veneziani a Costantinopoli all fine del XVI Secolo.” Quaderni di Studi Arabi, supplemento al n. 15, Veneziani in Levante, Musulmani a Venezia (1997): 67–84. Press, Charles. The Political Cartoon. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1981. Redhouse, Sir James. Türkçe/Osmanlıca-İngilizce Redhouse Sözlüğü, 17th ed. İstanbul: SEV, 1999. Reed, Cory. “Harems and Eunuchs: Ottoman-Islamic Motifs of Captivity in ‘El celoso extremeño’.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies LXXVI (1999): 199–214. Relihan, Constance. “ ‘Disordinate Desire’ and the Construction of Geographic Otherness in the Early Modern Novella.” In Prose Fiction and Early Modern Sexualities in England, 1570–1640, edited by Constance Relihan and Goran Stanivukovic, 43–59. New York: Palgrave, 2003. Rothman, Natalie. “Becoming Venetian: Conversion and Transformation in the Seventeenth Century Mediterranean.” Mediterranean Historical Review 21 (June 2006): 39–75. Vitkus, Daniel. Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, 1570–1630. New York: Palgrave, 2003. [Warmstry] Warmestry, Thomas (1609/10–1665). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–2015, online version. Warwick, Philip (bap. 1640, d. 1683). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004–2015, online version. Wasiucionek, Michał. “Danube-Hopping: Conversion, Jurisdiction and Spatiality between the Ottoman Empire and the Danubian Principalities in the Seventeenth-Century.” In Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other, edited by Claire Norton. London: Ashgate, 2016. Weiss, Gilliam. Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011. Ziner, Karen Lee. “Boston Bombing: Widow Quietly Carries on Life.” Providence Journal (August 31, 2013): 1, 5.
6 The moment of choice The Moriscos on the border of Christianity and Islam1 Houssem Eddine Chachia
Introduction Despite living in a world of impressive technological developments and truly extensive communication networks, religious boundaries, especially among the three Abrahamic faiths, seem to be stronger than ever and perhaps even more impermeable than in past periods of great religious conflict, such as during the Islamic Conquest, the Crusades or the Reconquista in Spain.2 The Reconquista not only effectively ended a unique situation of coexistence between Islam and Christianity on the northern shores of the western Mediterranean, but it also created the phenomenon of the forced baptism of Jewish and Muslim minorities, who became known as Conversos and Moriscos respectively. The former were forced to undergo this phenomenon at the end of the fourteenth century and the latter at the beginning of the sixteenth century; the result was a highly complex and fractured religious situation. Although this research derives from a much wider study on the Sephardim, my article will be restricted in its focus to the social situation of the Moriscos, a group whose characterisation is beset by a number of linguistic and terminological difficulties. It is possible to state that the Moriscos are an Iberian minority of Muslim origin, who were subject to forced baptism at the beginning of the sixteenth century and then subject to the decree of expulsion issued in 1609. After this date, some Moriscos managed to stay in Spain or eventually return to it, but many others migrated to a number of countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin, in particular to the Maghreb.3Regardless of the numerous trajectories that the émigré Moriscos would follow, the period in between the expulsion of 1609 and the settlement of the émigrés elsewhere represents a moment of choice between two worlds: a moment in which they had to define themselves through a choice of affiliation to the Islamic or Christian worlds. However, for many, this decision was not final or irreversible. Their identities fluctuated between the different religious and cultural spheres of the Mediterranean, a fluctuation that may itself represent the identities of those who were expelled. Therefore, my principle objective in this chapter is to understand the liminal situation of the Moriscos, the feeling of being “between worlds”. I will
130 Houssem Eddine Chachia examine their status as “new Christians” that occurred after their compulsory conversion and before the expulsion decree as well as the reaction of those who migrated to the Maghreb to being “new Muslims”. To do this, I will use sources primarily authored by the Moriscos themselves including letters of Molina de Trujillo and Ahmad b. Qasim al-Hajari; the work of the anonymous author of Tratado de los dos caminos [The Book of Two Paths] and Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi‘s book al-Anwar al-Nabawiyya fi Aba’ Khayr al-Barriyya [The Prophetic Light on the Ancestors of the most Excellent Creatures].4
New Christians: between evangelising and forced Christianisation The process of “religious change” in Iberia depended on certain principle factors: the government directly promoting it through its decisions and decrees and in a more indirect manner, the clergy attempting to convince the non-Christian population through proselytisation to embrace Christianity. The Reconquista did not imply simply the re-conquering of territories, fortresses and dwellings, but also the re-conquest of individuals and their souls. Thus, the sword of the knight re-conquered the physical landscape and the cross of the monk re-conquered souls. Since the fifteenth century, Spanish politics had operated on this basis, especially with regard to Iberian Jewish communities. The evangelical campaigns that concluded with the Alhambra decree (the Edict of Expulsion) of 1492 quickly developed into a choice between expulsion or coercive conversion to Christianity. Jews had to choose between retaining their faith and expulsion, or embracing Christianity and preserving their possessions.5 A similar process happened with regard to Iberian Muslims (the Moriscos) throughout the sixteenth century when their situation did not differ greatly from that of the Jews in the fifteenth century. The official strategy of the rulers fluctuated between evangelisation and non-violent attempts to convince Iberian Muslims to embrace Christianity and decisions to employ coercive conversion. The first attempt at the latter dates from 1502 when forced baptism was imposed first on the Muslims of Granada and those in Castile, before being employed in Navarre in 1515–1516, Valencia in 1521 and finally Aragon in 1525–1526.6 The different dates of the decisions to enforce baptism reflect the different policies of Christianisation from one region of Spain to another. In certain regions, such as Granada the issue of Christianisation superseded the question of faith and also encompassed cultural issues for instance new Christians or Moriscos were banned from using the Arabic language or from going to the hammam.7 Other regions were characterised by a relatively more open policy of Christianisation, for instance in Valencia where cultural tolerance was extended to the Moriscos and they continued using Arabic until the first half of the sixteenth century.8
The moment of choice 131 The reaction of the Moriscos to the policies of Christianisation differed from one group to another and from one period to another. By way of example, the reaction of Granadans was to flee to North Africa, to the Islamic world.9 Whereas other groups of Moriscos, such as the elites or nobles, chose to embrace Christianity in order to preserve their social status.10Others chose to oppose the policy of forced Christianisation, as evidenced by the repeated rebellions of Moriscos of which the most important was perhaps the revolt of las Alpujarras between 1568–1571.11 However, in the area around Valencia for example, where the use of Arabic continued to be permitted the process of Christianisation was characterised by a degree of prevarication whereby the Moriscos outwardly conformed to Christian norms, but practiced Islam in secret.12Moreover, the process of Christianisation was connected not only to the factors mentioned earlier, but also to the unfolding of events in the Mediterranean world as a whole during the sixteenth century. As the confrontation heightened between the Spanish Christian powers and their Ottoman Muslim rivals, so the harshness of Spanish Christianisation policies increased as well. The Spanish not only exercised an ever-increasing religious and political pressure on the Moriscos to embrace Christianity, but also demonstrated a lack of trust in the sincerity of the Christian faith of those Moriscos who had converted and in their political loyalties as well. It was thought that the preservation of their Islamic faith was evidence of their allegiance with foreign enemies, most notably the Ottomans or the Ottomans’ Maghrebi vassals.13 Despite the transformation of the Moriscos to “new Christians” in the first three decades of the sixteenth century in all of the Spanish regions, the evangelising campaigns and discussions surrounding the sincerity of their faith did not stop until the year of their expulsion.14For example there were campaigns in Valencia ending in 1530 and also one led by Antonio Ramírez de Haroin 1543.15 The discussions that developed out of the investigations into the nature of the Christianisation of the Moriscos under Hernando de Talavera at the end of the fifteenth century and which continued until the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century under Juan de Ribera and Jaime Bleda centred around the claim that the faith of the Moriscos on the whole was not sincere, and that indeed they were inherently incapable of internalising the true faith, that is, Christianity.16 This opinion of the Valencian clergyman, De Ribera, does not however, necessarily reflect the opinion of all clergymen, as some of them such as Pedro de Castro, the archbishop of Seville between 1610 and 1623, believed that the policy of Christianisation had not ended in failure, but that it was a continuous process.17 Moreover, the religious testimonies of certain communities of Moriscos, especially those of Castile, confirmed the success of the process of Christianisation.18 Despite this though, the ongoing belief that the Moriscos were not proper Christians and were not therefore truly loyal
132 Houssem Eddine Chachia to the Spanish state led to the expulsion decree of 1609. This decree, which announced the expulsion of 300,000 Moriscos who were officially Christian was an acknowledgement by the Spanish of the failure of the policy of Christianisation. The decree led to Morisco communities, who had already embraced Christianity to various degrees, to not only be forced to undertake a physical journey that would lead them from the north shore of the Mediterranean to its southern shores, but also have to undertake a new religious journey from Christianity to Islam.
New Muslims: efforts at Islamisation (Tunisia as a case study) While numerous scholarly works address the subject of the Christianisation of the Moriscos before their expulsion, the subject of the Islamisation of those who left for the Muslim world has been nearly absent from the research agenda.19 Many of the scholars who study the émigrés conceive of them in a similar manner to the Spanish powers who expelled them, namely, as Muslims “by nature” who were left unaffected by the long and complex process of Christianisation that was forced upon them. I have chosen to analyse the process of Islamisation among the Moriscos who migrated to Tunisia (see Figure 6.1) as there is an abundance of relevant material. Many studies claim that Tunisia accepted the largest number of exiled Moriscos, between 80,000 and 100,000 émigrés, who arrived in the
Figure 6.1 Map of the Morisco localities in Tunisia Source: Drawn by the author.
The moment of choice 133 country having received passage in French ships.20 They were primarily Castilian, Aragonese and Catalan; that is to say, these were communities that had been more firmly acculturated to Spanish Catholicism than other groups.21 Tunisian political power, in the person of the governor ‘Uthman Dey (1593–1610) encouraged the arrival of the Moriscos.22 He offered them a number of incentives to settle in the region. He also employed a clear and well-planned policy of settlement, often grouping the Moriscos by their geographical origins in particular neighbourhoods of the medina in Tunis or in Cap Bon and the Medjerda River valley.23In Tunisia at the end of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the most important person responsible for the spiritual or religious life of Tunisians was the famous saint (wali) Sidi Abu al-Gayt Al-Quachech (Bulgayz).24 He worked in cooperation with certain leaders of the Moriscos, especially Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rafi’, for the spiritual integration of the émigrés into an Islamic society, in what one could call a process of Islamisation. The Tunisian historical chronicles discuss the warm reception that Sidi Abu al-Gayt extended to the Moriscos, many of whom would have either been Christian or unfamiliar with Islam. Moreover, he also played a pivotal role in defusing potential conflict between the new arrivals and local communities such as the Tunisians who obeyed the Maliki school of jurisprudence and the Hanafi Ottoman Turks.25 For instance, Sidi Abu al-Gayt issued a fatwa that permitted the émigrés to perform their Islamic worship in Spanish as it seems that the issue of language represented a genuine problem to Islamic proselytising among the Moriscos.26 The Moriscos tried to preserve their culturally unique characteristics including their customs and the use of the Spanish language, which they tried to teach their children, and which some of the Moriscos continued to speak up until the first half of the eighteenth century. The Friar Francisco Ximenez presents us with many examples of this. In the afternoon, Father Lector Monasterio and I went to see Uncle Sidi Mahamut Jaznadal. He is a venerable old man speaking Spanish. He is a descendant of the Moors who were expelled from Spain, His family was of Aragon, a city of Zaragoza according to what he told us . . . [young Moriscos] have maintained the Spanish language, but the oldest have better pronunciation than the young.27 When he visited Testour in July 1724, he says, and so we talked for a long time in Spanish. They recalled many romances of the ancient Moors, Calahinos, Infants of Lara, the Moors of Granada and others. They were saying things and using Spanish in their conversations so I had the impression of being in a village in Spain.28
134 Houssem Eddine Chachia It seems that some even wished to preserve their Christian faith. they were accused of being Christians. In fact, some of them tend to Christianity, but the majority are Muslims.29 The policy of “flexible Islamisation” instigated by Sidi Abu al-Gayt AlQuachech, which protected the émigrés from criticism from local Muslims, ended with his death in 1622 and perhaps this explains the limited results of the policy. The end of this policy also resulted in the closure of the Spanish school that the Moriscos had built in the city of Tebourba.30After his death, we see a number of Morisco authors discussing a change in how the local inhabitants treated them – it seems that increasing pressure was exerted on the Morisco community to conform.31As a result, the leaders and elites of the Morisco community, especially those who were more knowledgeable about Islam or had migrated to Tunisia before the expulsion, undertook the responsibility of continuing the process of the Islamisation of their community. From this point onwards, we find a number of Morisco writers in Tunisia authoring books in Spanish on subjects that critique Christian theology.32 For example Juan Pérez, known as Ibrahim Taybili, who was writing in the city of Testour in the year 1627, presented such a work to the head of the Morisco religious elites in Tunis.33 There are also works on the subject of Islamic doctrine and worship written by Moriscos, such as Tratado de los dos caminos which was most probably written in 1630 by an unknown Morisco friend of Sidi Abu al-Gayt Al-Quachech.34 Likewise, Morisco elites including Shaykh al-Andalusi in Testur: Muhammad b. Mahfuz founded an Andalusian madrasa (school) in the city of Tunis in the year 1625 in order to teach Morisco children Arabic and the teachings of Islam.35 Among the first to teach in this madrasa was Sha’ban al-Andalusi, followed by Abu Rabi’ Sulayman.36 However, in spite of all of their efforts, more than a century after the Moriscos arrived in Tunisia, the image of the Morisco as essentially Christian remained present throughout Tunisian society. Take for instance, one of the Moriscos named Muhammad Corral al-Andalusi, who told the Spanish clergyman Francisco Ximénez de Santa Catalina in the year 1722 that the Moriscos were expelled from Spain on the basis that they were Muslim, yet in Tunisia they are accused of being Christian and are called ‘Christian sons of Christians’.37 This impression was again confirmed two years later by some of the Morisco inhabitants of Tebourba, who again told Ximénez that the local inhabitants of the city consider them to be nonMuslims.38 In a similar manner, high-ranking Moriscos such as Mahmud al-Sarayari who was second in command and also the treasurer in the government of Husayn b. Ali (1705–1735) were not immune from accusations of unbelief. In 1726, one of the jurists of the age ’Abd al-Rahman al-Jami, after hearing Mahmud al-Sarayari’s opinion on one of the Prophetic hadith, declared him an unbeliever and then said to him ‘that it was not his fault
The moment of choice 135 because he was an Andalusian infidel, son of an infidel’.39 The death of alSarayari followed in a matter of days something that Ben Youssef assumes to be a direct consequence of this episode.40
Views from inside the Morisco community Having sketched the trajectories of religious conversion and the process of religious and cultural fusion that the Moriscos experienced post-expulsion, I will now discuss the views of certain Moriscos concerning this process of religious and cultural conversion and assimilation. The first of these opinions is contained in the letter sent by a Morisco who had migrated to Algeria, called Molina, to his Spanish friend Don Jeronimo de Loysa, written 25 July 1611.41Molina left Spain with the Morisco community of Trujillo and went first to Marseille, then to Livorno, before settling in the city of Algiers. We know very little about him other than the fact that he was expelled between 1610 and 1611. This narrative can be considered the only Morisco testimony written by a Morisco living outside of Christian lands. The second source can be found in a letter written ten months after Molina’s letter by Ahmad b. Qasim al-Hajari. It is dated May 1612 and was sent from Paris to Moriscos living in Istanbul.42 Ahmad b. Qasim al-Hajari was born in the second half of 1569 and spent his childhood in the village of al-Ḥajar al-Aḥmar (Hornachos). The Christian name that he had before his expulsion was Diego Bejarano.43 It seems that when he was nineteen he headed to Granada and studied with the shaykh and jurist al-Ukayhil al-Andalusi and eventually became a translator ‘for the high priest’ Pedro de Castro with permission to translate from Arabic to ‘Ajamiyya (Spanish) and vice versa.44 In around 1598, alHajari, despite the ban of Moriscos travelling abroad, fled to the Maghreb by a complex and dangerous route. He journeyed to Marrakesh where he was employed by the ruler Mawlay Zidan as a translator.45 Some time later, he was sent to a number of French and Dutch cities as an advocate for Moriscos who had been robbed by the captains of French ships during their exodus from Spain.46 While in the Netherlands, he made the acquaintance of Dutch orientalists such as Thomas Erpenius and Jacobus Golius with whom he later corresponded by letter. He returned to the Maghreb in 1613 and remained there in the service of the sultans of Marrakesh until he undertook the haj to Mecca after which he lived in Tunisia until his death after 1641. He wrote a number of texts including Nāṣir al-Dīn ‘alà Qawm al-Kāfirīn [The Triumph of Faith over the Nation of Unbelievers] and Al-’Izzwa al-Manāfi’ li’l-Mujāhidīn fī Sabī lAllāh bi’l-Mudāfi [The Splendor and Benefits of the Mujahideen in the Cause of God with Artillery].47 In the letter to Moriscos in Istanbul, al-Hajari describes some individuals who belong to a particular group of Moriscos as ‘the lunatics’.48 He continues to refer to them in overly critical language and demands that this group be disassociated from the rest of the Moriscos. The reasons behind his critical attitude have not been investigated, but I argue that an explanation can
136 Houssem Eddine Chachia be found, in an indirect way, in the earlier letter of Molina. Molina describes the social and religious freedom that Moriscos enjoyed in Algiers ‘here we are not forced into any spiritual or physical ritual and no one asked us to give up what we used to do, and this has made me happy’.49 This cultural and religious latitude that was present in the Maghreb seems to have been a principal motivating factor in the departure of a number of Moriscos from Spain. The Moriscos who left Christians lands were, despite their possible religious affiliations, conscious of the cultural differences that distinguished them from the inhabitants of the southern shore of the Mediterranean, yet they still felt that they could fit in to Maghrebi culture. Consciousness of this difference was particularly heightened for those Moriscos who had been fully integrated into Spanish culture and who viewed the culture of the Christian world, its dress, its food, its passion for the theatrical works of Lope de Vega, as part of their culture. These Moriscos felt closer to a Spanish Christian culture than the Magrebi culture of their fellow Muslims. It is the behaviour of these Moriscos who were living in the Maghreb yet acting like Spaniards that Al-Hajari, in his letter, finds incomprehensible.50 Ahmed b. Qasim al-Hajari was one of the few Morsicos who addressed the topic of those who remained in or returned to Spain after the decree of expulsion, but he simplifies the complexities of Morisco identity by describing the Moriscos as Muslim ‘by nature’. In various writings, the author constructs Morisco identity as a Muslim community that fled from the infidel enemy with their faith intact. When writing specifically about Moriscos, as in the letter sent to Istanbul, al-Hajari uses Spanish, which suggests that he was addressing a Morisco audience, rather than Muslims in general. His writings on this subject are useful not simply for the documentary evidence that they provide, but also because they offer an insight into his thoughts on Morisco identity, but also on those Moriscos who did not leave Spain. The paragraph dealing with the issue of Moriscos who remained in, or returned to, Spain comes immediately after al-Hajari’s discussion of the conditions under which some of the Moriscos left for North Africa and the sad events that overwhelmed them as a result of their exile.51This therefore constructs a comparison between those who left and the sacrifices they made in order to preserve their religion, and the others who had chosen Christianity. He describes this latter group as bringing mockery upon themselves and as idiots. After this, he presents a story about the Spanish rulers’ treatment of them in a harshly sarcastic tone. He states that after they had been given a show trial and lost all of their goods, they were expelled: With respect to the lunatics who were in Spain litigating in order not to be included the king commissioned the count of Salazar to judge and see the evidence. After they had spent the money they were told to leave.52 This sarcastic tone increases in sharpness when the author discusses the exiles who returned to Spain after their expulsion to France. At first it seems
The moment of choice 137 to the reader that some charity has been extended to them by the Spanish state as he mentions that they were given clothing and excused from paying taxes for ten years. The reader then finds out that this is only because they have were condemned to row in the galleys. He says that ‘all [Moriscos] who return from France they give jackets and they are permitted not to pay they Alcabala for ten years – being in the galleys’.53After this mockery and sarcasm the narrator’s discourse regains some gravity. After offering his opinion on the details of the treatment of those Moriscos who had ‘gone astray’, he moves on to the necessity of abandoning them or separating them from the rest of the Morisco community. He argues that ‘one should not make a case for the people who stay in Spain or Christian territory’ as any relations with them would damage the image of the Moriscos as Muslims in their newly adopted countries and render their faith subject to greater suspicion. This would put them in a situation similar to that which they experienced in Spain before their expulsion when a mistrust of their religious conviction made the authorities suspect that not only was their Christian faith not sincere, but that their affinity with Arabic culture meant that they had close ties to North Africa and the Ottoman Empire and that they were essentially a fifth column for the enemies of the Spanish kingdom.54 In contrast to al-Hajari’s letter that directly addresses the issue of the Moriscos who remained in Spain, but similar to Molina’s letter which contains an indirect discussion of this question, an anonymous Morisco writer living in Tunisia indirectly discusses the Moriscos who remained in Spain in the Tratado de los dos caminos.55 We don’t know much about this author and all we know is contained in the Tratado. It appears he lived in Tunisia during the first half of the seventeenth century. He was very familiar with both the Catholic and Muslim faiths. He knew Castellan and Arabic and had a relationship with Sidi Abu al-Gayt Al-Quachech.56 The author discusses the two paths that the Moriscos followed: the path of departure or the path of remaining in, or returning to, Christian lands. According to the author, the path of those who chose Islam is the correct path and they will be rewarded by God for their decision.57 He praises them and emphasises the sacrifices they made in leaving Spain and choosing Islam. He understands the decision of those who sacrificed all of their possessions and put their lives at risk to leave and argues that they not only saved their souls from the darkness of unbelief, but also saved the souls of their children and grandchildren, implying that the choice of departure does not only operate on a personal level, but also determines the fate of what al-Hajari calls in his letter the Morisco ‘nation’ or religious community. While praising the groups of Moriscos who left for Muslim lands, the anonymous narrator makes a comparison between the migration of the Jews from Egypt and the Moriscos from Spain, indicating indirectly that Philip III and his officials are the pharaohs of the age; this also suggests that the Moriscos should be grateful and faithful to God for this blessing, the opposite of the Jews who were, as he says, ‘ungrateful and rebellious’.58
138 Houssem Eddine Chachia The second path, the author argues, was the path of those who did not choose Islam or were not faithful in their decision. He considered this path to be dangerous and argues those who chose it would be punished for their sins.59 It is possible to read his criticisms as directed at Christian beliefs in general or against Christian Moriscos in particular.60 His discussion of those who abandoned the true path is directed against the Moriscos who chose Christianity over Islam, ‘they will understand their ignorance when they are regretful and burning in hell because they have abandoned the way of the divine path’.61 Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi’, in his book al-Anwar al-Nabawiyya fi Aba’ Khayr al-Barriyya, in a similar manner to the anonymous author describes the expulsion of the Moriscos as a divine blessing or ‘prophetic miracle’ as by this means they returned to the true faith and the lands of Islam.62Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi‘ was a Morisco born into a family who traced their lineage to the Prophet, but who was educated in Christian schools in Murcia. Between 1604–1605, he and his family secretly escaped to France and then settled in Tunisia. He played an important role in the émigré Morisco community in the Maghreb and was their representative in interactions with the Ottoman government. He too had a relationship with Sidi Abu al-Gayt Al-Quachech. His lack of discussion of Moriscos who remained in Spain or who eventually returned suggests that, as far as he is concerned, all Moriscos without exception chose the same path, that is they chose to seek refuge in their ‘inherent’ religion and turned toward the lands of Islam. As further evidence of this view he depicts Phillip III as denying any distinctions among the Moriscos, asserting that ‘the enemy of religion, the infidel king, testified that they are all Muslim, and he confessed that he was not able to exterminate their faith from their hearts, and that they all cling to their faith’.63 The intentional omission of a discussion of those who embraced Christianity either before or after the expulsion in the work of Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi‘ suggests the importance of this issue. The narratives of Juan Gasque and Diego Diaz, Moriscos who chose to return to Christian lands and Christianity may help us understand this phenomenon of intentional omission. The narrative of Juan Gasque begins in 1622, the year in which his trial was held by the Inquisition.64 From these records, I am able to ascertain that he was a Morisco originating from Llombay, in the area of Valencia, and was resident in the city of Villarrubia de los Ojos. His trial took place because he did not know if he had been baptised, although he knew that he had been a Christian since he was a child. He left Spain when the decree of expulsion was issued in 1609 and headed to North Africa. After some time, he met a corsair from Holland named Husayn who was a convert to Islam. He spent two months on Husayn’s boat and when it drew near to the coast of Portugal he threw himself in the water and reached Faro by swimming, whence officials took him to Lisbon and from there the Count of Salazar, the deputy of Philip IV, sent him to Castile, because he had expressed his wish
The moment of choice 139 to be a Christian. In response to the questions of one of the inquisitors as to whether he had learned the practicalities of Islamic worship during his time living in North Africa, Juan responded in the negative. He also confirmed that he did not pray in the mosque, even though he was forced to go there. In the light of these responses and the information which he offered to the Inquisition court, the decision was issued that he was a Christian and he must join the Catholic Church.65 The narrative of Diego Diaz contains similar information, but with greater detail concerning the workings of the Inquisitional court that was held at Cuenca when the sincerity of Diego Diaz and his wife’s faith in Christianity was questioned by his former servant and other individuals.66In responding to these accusations and the questions of the judges, Diego presents us with the trajectory of his life. He said that he was one of the Moriscos who lived in Castile. He was seventeen years old when the expulsion decree was issued. After his departure, he headed from Spain to France, specifically to the cities of Bayona and San Juan de Luz, which were the two cities that most migrants headed to across the French border. He remained there for about fifteen days, after which he tried to return to Spain again, specifically to the city of Daimiel. However, he was discovered and imprisoned for two months, after which he was sent away with a number of Moriscos from the port of Cartagena, heading to Algeria. Despite the good reception that the Moriscos received from the Ottoman Turks in Algeria, he claimed that he had continued to live as a Christian in total secrecy and without telling anyone, except for a clergyman who had been imprisoned there and who took his confession once. He added that he did not enter the mosque except for once outside of the prayer times and only out of curiosity. After this, during the course of answering questions regarding the customs of the Ottomans, Diego indicated his shock at these customs, claiming that they were the opposite of those in Spain. In addition to their manner of dressing and the impossibility of meeting women, what shocked him the most was the tendency of the local people to acquire male slaves with whom to practice sodomy. Towards the end of his testimony, he confirms the presence of 6,000 Moriscos from Granada in Algiers – all of them Christian – but adds that there were also Moriscos from Aragon and Valencia there who were not Christian.67 In making this distinction – arguing that Granadan Moriscos were faithful Christians whereas those from Aragon and Valencia were not – Diego Diaz emphasises the distinction between the two different groups of Moriscos that al-Hajari and the anonymous author also make – those who stayed on the right path, left their home and remained faithful to Islam and those who were ‘lunatics’ in al-Hajiri’s words and who continued to embrace Christianity. So from these narratives, although Diego Diaz and Juan Gasque do not present us with direct examples of the issues faced by the exiles, particularly those who returned to Spain, they nonetheless illuminate an aspect of the experience that many Moriscos refrain from discussing, namely, the
140 Houssem Eddine Chachia issue of those who chose to belong to the Christian world. This issue is denied in the narrative of Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi‘ as he tried to erase all of the differences within the Morisco community and render it as a monolithic Muslim community who fled in order to preserve their religion from the infidel enemy. In contrast, Ahmad b. Qasim al-Hajari would have considered Juan Gasque and Diego Diaz to be ‘lunatics’ or at least members of the group who the rest of the Morisco community should disavow. He expresses his confusion over their choice to return, despite all of the dangers that awaited them at the hands of the Spanish powers in this world, and the punishment that awaited them in the afterlife. Similarly, the anonymous author of the Tratado de los dos caminos would also have argued that Juan Gasque and Diego Diaz chose the dangerous path and thus do not represent a clear example of the exiles or those who chose to belong to the Islamic world. Yet in another respect, Diego provides a response to alHajari’s wonder at how Moriscos could choose to return to Spain despite all of the dangers. While religious belief may have been important, it seems that the cultural shock of leaving Spain and arriving in the Maghreb was significant. Not only were the clothes different, but the visibility of women in public spaces and sexual habits were also found to be challenging. This cultural dissonance may have encouraged some of the Moriscos to try to return to Spain, despite all of the dangers, in an effort to find somewhere where they belonged.
Who am I? To which world do I belong? Unlike the members of the Inquisition, I do not seek to produce an answer as to whether those that al-Rafi described as ‘sinners’ were really Christian or Muslim. Nor will I make generalisations concerning the religious faith of the Moriscos such as those made by the Spanish. I will not make the generalisations that were made by the rulers who expelled the Moriscos to justify the expulsion, or those by some of the Moriscos who were trying to establish a sense of religious belonging in the new society in which they settled. Rather I will try to respond to the primary issues that were posed at the beginning of this study, namely, how the Moriscos found themselves in the midst of all of these events in the liminal status of being “in between”. I will explore their response to the questions: who am I? to which world do I belong? These questions were not easy to answer. They were questions that were not only asked by individual Moriscos, but also by the rulers who ordered their expulsion as well as the societies who received them and could not understand the multifaceted identities of those who maybe had in their hearts elements of both Christianity and Islam. One cannot answer these questions simply in religious terms – it was not simply a choice of belonging to the Islamic or Christian world. The true problem for many of the Moriscos who found themselves experiencing a crisis of identity and
The moment of choice 141 existing in a space between two worlds had begun as a result of their forced conversion to Christianity and an incomplete assimilation into Spanish Christian life that they experienced throughout the century leading up to their eventual expulsion. The policy of social integration built on discrimination that was applied to the new Christians by the religious and political leaders created this crisis of identity. The fabric of a hybrid culture is often a characteristic of a minority culture and the Morisco community was able to understand this, especially in their attempt to answer the question “who are we?” while in the diaspora. The group’s collective consciousness imagined the Moriscos as a community that both understood its difference from the society that expelled it, although they shared the same culture, but which also acknowledged that it differed culturally from the societies that received them, although they ostensibly shared the same religion. What distinguished the Moriscos as a community was that they were not local and that the relationships between the individuals of the group did not conform to geographical borders, but rather extended to wherever members of the community were found. In this context, Bernabé Pons and Herrera have established that both before and during the expulsion there was a network of Morisco individuals stretching from inside Spain to France and the North African countries who were smuggling Moriscos and their possessions out of Spain.68They mention, in particular, the role played by Zapata and Mustafa de Cardenas, who were the first two sheikhs of the Moriscos in Tunisia, as well as the Granadan Alonso Muley, Miguel Granada de Épila and Jerónimo Enríquez, who were in direct contact with the Ottoman and French powers and also organised the passage of a number of Morisco groups.69 However, after the expulsion and particularly after the first half of the seventeenth century, one can argue that there existed networks of relations between different individuals in the diaspora. For instance, networks of economic connections tied the Moriscos living in Tunisia to those residing in France or Italy. This is the case with the wealthy merchant Manuel Enríquez known as Mehmet Chelebi who was living in Venice.70It is also evident in the networks of political contacts that connected the Moriscos in the Ottoman provinces with Moriscos in Istanbul.71It would seem that processes of cultural understanding cannot be generalised to all Moriscos. The trajectory of social and religious fusion differed from one area of Spain to another and according to the time period in terms of its effectiveness. In addition, the social pressures exercised on the communities by the receiving society complicated matters further, such that a number of the exiled Moriscos prayed ‘to God to open their eyes and guide them to goodness’ and then painted a star of David in a room in their mosque (see Figure 6.3), incorporated the star into the tile-work on their minaret, drew a cross on the ceiling and made their mihrab (see Figure 6.2) in the form of church altar as with the Moriscos in Testour.72
Figure 6.2 Mihrab of the Great Mosque of Testour Source: Photograph by author.
Figure 6.3 Star of David on the Minaret of the Great Mosque of Testour Source: Photograph by author.
144 Houssem Eddine Chachia
Notes 1 The translation of this article from Arabic into English was done by Nur Sobers-Khan – thank you. I want also to thank Claire Norton for her careful proofreading. 2 The Muslim conquests began with the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which, under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates, saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power. For more details see Reuven Firestone, “Jihad,” in Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, ed. Josef W Meri (New York: Routledge, 2006), vol. 1, 418–20. For the crusades see David Morray, “Muslim-Crusader Relations,” in Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, ed. Josef W Meri (New York: Routledge, 2006), vol.1, 418–20. 3 See Juan Penella Roma, Los moriscos españoles emigrados al norte de África después de la expulsión (Barcelona: Universidad de Barcelona, 1971); Míkel de Epalza, “Estructuras de acogida de los moriscos emigrantes de España,” Alternativas 4 (1996): 35–58. 4 For Molina’s letter, see Florencio Janer, Condición social de los moriscos de España: causas de su expulsión y consecuencia que ésta produjo en el orden económico y político (Madrid: Imprenta de la Real Academia de la Historia, 1857), 350–1; Jaime Oliver Asín, “Carta de Bejarno a los moriscos de Constantinopla,” in Conferencias y apuntes inéditos, ed. Oliver Dolores (Madrid: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 1996), 145–50. For that by Ahmad see Gerard Wiegers, A learned Muslim Acquaintance of Erpenius and Golius: Aḥmad b. Kasim al Andalusî and Arabic studies in The Netherlands (Leiden: Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid, Rijksuniversiteit, 1988), 33–44. Anonymous, Tratado de los dos caminos por un morisco refugiado en Túnez, ed. Álvaro Galmés De Fuentes, Luce López-Baralt and Juan Carlos Amieva (Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid; Universidad de Oviedo, 2005), 200. Houssem Eddine Chachia, “Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi‘ and his work al-Anwar al-Nabawiyya fi Aba’ Khayr al-Barriyya.” in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1600–1700, ed. David Thomas, John Chesworth (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming). 5 Martínez A. Blasco, “Razones y consecuencias de una decisión controvertida: la expulsión de los judíos de España en 1492,” Kalakorikos 10 (2005): 9–36. 6 José Goñi Gaztambide, “La polémica sobre el bautismo de los moriscos a principios del siglo XVI,” Anuario de historia de la Iglesia16 (2007): 210. Rafael Benítez Sánchez-Blanco, “El verano del miedo: conflictividad social en la Valencia agermanada y el bautismo de los mudéjares, 1521,” Estudis 22 (1996): 27–51. Gregorio Colás Latorre, “Señores y moriscos en Aragón: el bautismo de 1526,” in Carlos V europeísmo y universalidad, ed. Francisco Sánchez-Montes González, Juan Luis Castellano (Madrid: Sociedad
The moment of choice 145 Estatal Para la Conmemoración de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, 2001), 221. 7 Antonio Gallego y Burín and Sandoval Alfonso Gamir, Los moriscos del Reino de Granada según el Sínodo de Guadix de 1554 (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1968), 198–205. 8 For more details, see Isabelle Poutrin, Convertir les musulmans. Espagne, 1491–1609 (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2012), 49–164; Youssef El Alaoui, “L’évangélisation des morisques ou comment effacer les frontières religieuses,” Cahiers de la Méditerranée 79 (2009), online http://cdlm. revues.org/4905 (accessed 19 January 2013); Michel Boeglin, “De la déportation à l’expulsion: évangélisation et assimilation forcée,” Cahiers de la Méditerranée 79 (2009): 109–30. 9 Joaquín GIL Sanjuán, “Las fugas de moriscos andaluces a Berbería.” in España y el Norte de África: bases históricas de unarelación fundamental, ed. M. Olmedo Jiménez (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1987), 333–8. 10 John Edwards, “Mission and Inquisition among Conversos and Moriscos in Spain,” in Persecution and Toleration, ed. W. J. Sheils (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984), 139–51; Ana Echevarría Arsuaga, “García Ramírez de Jaén, un converso de moro al servicio de los Reyes Católicos,” in Hommage à l’Ecole d’Oviedo d’Etudes Aljamiado, ed. Abdeljelil Temimi (Zaghouan: FTERSI, 2003), 211–33. 11 Luisa Isabel Álvarez De Toledo, “Los moriscos en la Guerra de las Alpujarras,” Voces de la Historia 1 (1994): 3–36. 12 Rafael Carrasco, “Historia de una represión: los moriscos y la Inquisición en Valencia: 1566–1620,” Areas, 9 (1988): 27–50. 13 Francisco Márquez Villanueva, “El mito de la gran conspiración morisca,” in Religion, Identité Religion, Identité: Actes du II Symposium International du C.I.E.M, ed. Abdeljelil Temimi vol. 2 (Tunis: Institut Supérieur de Documentation, 1984), 267–284. 14 José Sánchez Herrero, “El posible enfrentamiento entre Talavera y Cisneros en relación con la evangelización de los moros granadinos como para digmático del enfrentamiento entre Motolinía y Las Casas en la evangelización de los indios americanos,” in El Reino de Granada y el Nuevo Mundo: Congreso Internacional de Historia de América, ed. Diputación Provincial (Granada: Diputación Provincial, 1994), vol.1, 547–66. 15 Raphaël Carrasco, “Les morisques au XVIe siècle: de l’échec de l’évangélisation à la répressiongénéralisée,” Cahiers d’études du religieux. Recherches interdisciplinaires 2 (2008) on-line http://cerri.revues.org/286, DOI: 10.4000/cerri.286 (accessed January 17, 2012). 16 Isabella Iannuzzi, “Evangelizar asimilando: la labor catequetica de Fray Hernando de Talavera hacia los moriscos,” Areas 30 (2011): 53–62. Rafael Benítez Sánchez-Blanco, El escamoteo del tercer papel del Patriarca Ribera a favor de la expulsión de los moriscos,” Revista de historia moderna 27 (2009): 179–91. Jaime Bleda, Crónica de los moros de España (Valencia:
146 Houssem Eddine Chachia Felipe Mey, 1618), vol. 1, 1001–2; Jaime Bleda, Defensio fidei in causa neophytorum sive Morischorum regni Valentiae totiusque Hispaniae (Valencia: Apud J. C. Garriz, 1610), 20. 17 About Pedro de Castro, see Manuel Barrios Aguilera, “Pedro de Castro y los plomos del Sacromonte: invención y paradoja. Una aproximación crítica,” in Los plomos del Sacromonte: Invención y Tesoro, ed. Mercedes GarcíaArenal and Manuel Barrios Aguilera (Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 2011), 17–50. 18 Antonio Domínguez Ortiz and Bernard Vincente. Historia de los moriscos: vida y tragedia de una minoría (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1985), 81–2. 19 María Martínez Sampedro, “Los moriscos: entre el bautismo y la circuncisión”, in Religión y cultura. II Congreso de Religiosidad Popular, ed. Junta de Andalucia (Sevilla: Junta de Andalucía-Fundación Machado, 1999), vol.1, 671–8; Edwards, “Mission and Inquisition,” 139–51; Ángel Galán Sánchez, “Las conversiones al cristianismo de los musulmanes de la Corona,” in VIII Simposio Internacional de Mudejarismo. De mudéjares a moriscos: una conversión forzada, ed. Centro de Estudios Mudéjares (Teruel: Centro de Estudios Mudéjares, 2002), 617–60. 20 John Derek Latham, “Contribution à l’étude des inmigrations andalouses et leur place dans l’histoire de la Tunisie, ” in Études sur les moriscos andalous en Tunisie, ed. Míkel de Epalza and Ramón Petit (Madrid: Direction general de relaciones culturales, 1973), 30–1. Pierre Santoni, “Le passage des Morisques en Provence (1610–1613),” Provence Historique 185 (1996) 357. 21 Oltaz Villanueva Zubizarreta, “The Moriscos in Tunisia,” in The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, ed. Mercedes Garcia-Arenal and Gerard Albert Wiegers (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 357–88. 22 Abou ‘Abd Alah Ibn Abi Dinar, Al Mu’nis fi Akhbar Ifriqyawa Tunis (Beirut: Dar Al-Massira, 1993), 228. 23 Houssem Eddine Chachia, “La instalación de los moriscos en el Magreb: entre el relato oficial y el relato morisco,” in Actas del II congreso internacional de descendientes de andalusíes moriscos, ed. Enrique Pérez Cañamares (Ojos-Murcia: Ayuntamiento de Ojós, 2015), 132–3. 24 Míkel de Epalza, “Sidi Bulgayz, protector de los moriscos exiliados en Túnez (s.XVII). Nuevos documentos traducidos y estudiados,” Sharq Al-Andalus 16–17 (1999–2002): 145–76. 25 Al-Muntasir Al Gafsi, Nur al-armeach fi manaqib Sidi Abu al-Gayt AlQuachech, ed. Lotfi Aissa and Nouri Boujara (Tunis: Alatika, 1998), 137. 2 6 Anonymous, Tratado de los dos caminos, 200. 2 7 Francisco Ximénez, Discurso de Túnez (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, 1759), ms.9/6012, f°87v, 88r and ms.9/6010, f°144. All translations are by the author unless otherwise stated. 2 8 Ximénez, Discurso de Túnez, ms.9/6013, f°82r-100r.
The moment of choice 147 29 Abi Dinar, Mohamed Ibn, Historia de Túnez, traduacido del arábigo al español por Mohamet el Tahager de Urrea, siendo su amanuense Fr. Francisco Ximénez (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, 1759), ms.9/6015, f°254v. 30 Ximénez, Discurso de Túnez, ms.9/6013, f°75rv. 31 Anonymous, Tratado de los dos caminos, 203. 32 Leonard Patrick Harvey, “Textes de littératurereligieuse des Moriscostunisiens,” in Étudessur les moriscosandalous en Tunisie, ed. Míkel de Epalza and Ramón Petit (Madrid: Direction general de relaciones culturales, 1973), 199–204. 33 Luis Fernando Bernabé Pons, “L’écrivain morisque hispano-tunisien Ibrahim Taybili (Introduction à une Littérature Morisque en Tunisie),” in Mélanges d’archéologie, d’épigraphie et d’histoire:offerts à Slimane Mustapha Zbiss, ed. Institut National du Patrimoine (Tunis: Institut National du Patrimoine, 2001); Gerard Wiegers, “The Expulsion of 1609–1614 and the Polemical Writings of the Moriscos Living in the Diaspora,” in The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean diaspora, ed. Mercedes GarciaArenal and Gerard Albert Wiegers (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 398. 34 Anonymous, Tratado de los dos caminos. 35 Abdel-Hakim Gafsi, “La médersa des moriscos-andalous a Tunis,” Sharq Al-Andalus 5 (1988): 69–182. 36 Muhammad Al-Wazir al-Sarraj, Al-Hulal al-sundusiyya fi ’l-akhbar al tunisiyya, ed. Habib Al-Hila (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1984), 184. 37 Ximénez, Discurso de Túnez, ms.9/6012, f°37r. 38 Ximénez, Discurso de Túnez, ms.9/6012, f°37r. 39 Mohamed Ben Youssef, Al-mashra’ al-milkī fī salṭanat awlād Alī Turkī, Ahmed Touili (Tunis: Al-Matba’a Al-‘Assria, 2009), vol. 2, 73. 40 Ben Youssef, Al-mashra al-milkī, 74. 41 Molina’s letter can be found in the Archivo General de Simancas (AGS, Estado, Leg.494) and has also been published by Janer, Condición social de los moriscos, 350–1. 42 Jaime Oliver Asín, “Carta de Bejarno,” 145–50; Gerard Wiegers, A Learned Muslim, 33–44. For the biography of Ahmed b. Qasim al-Hajari see: Al-Ḥajarī, Nāṣir al-Dīn ‘alà Qawm al-Kāfirīn, Houssem Eddine Chachia (ed.), (Beirut: Adar al-Arabia le-dirasset w al-Nacher, 2015), 15–25. It is addressed to Doctor Perez Bolhaç, a Mr. Baldivia, and a Mr. Tapia. 43 Mercedes García-Arenal and Fernando Rodríguez Mediano, Un Oriente español: Los moriscos y el Sacromonte en tiempos de Contrarreforma (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2010), 151. 44 For information on al-Ukayhil al-Andalusī, see García-Arenal, Rodríguez, Un Oriente español, 110. For information on Pedro de Castro, see Manuel Barrios Aguilera, “Pedro de Castro y los plomos del Sacromonte: invención y paradoja. Una aproximación crítica,” in Los plomos del Sacromonte:
148 Houssem Eddine Chachia Invención y Tesoro, ed. Mercedes García-Arenal, Manuel Barrios Aguilera (Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 2011), 17–50. 45 Jaime Oliver Asín, “Carta de Bejarano a los moriscos de Constantinopla,” in Conferencias y apuntesin éditos, ed. Dolores Oliver, (Madrid, 1996), 146; for the English translation of this letter see Gerard Wiegers, A Learned Muslim Acquaintance, 33–44; for the Arabic translation of this letter, see Houssem Eddine Chachia, “Sephardic and Moriscos: The Journey of Expulsion and Installation in the Maghreb (1492–1756), different stories and itineraries,” (PhD diss., University of Tunis, 2014) vol. II, 59–69. 46 Ahmed Ibn al-Hajari, Nāṣir al-Dīn ‘alà Qawm al-Kāfirīn, ed. P. Sj. van Koningsveld, Qāsim Sāmarrā'ī and Gerard Albert Wiegers (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2015), 119–21. 47 There exist at least five copies known of this work, National Library of Algeria: MS 1511; National Library of Tunisia: MS 18488, MS 03433, MS 18120; National Library of the Moroccan Kingdom: MS 1342D. 4 8 Wiegers, A Learned Muslim Acquaintance, 42. Emphasis is mine. 4 9 Janer, Condición social de los moriscos, 351. 5 0 Wiegers, A Learned Muslim Acquaintance, 42. 5 1 Ibid. 52 Ibid. Emphasis is mine. 5 3 Ibid. 5 4 Ibid. 5 5 Anonymous, Tratado de los dos caminos see n.4 for full publication details. 5 6 Anonymous, Tratado de los dos caminos, 199–200. 5 7 Ibid., 195. 5 8 Ibid., 205. 5 9 Ibid., 195. 6 0 Ibid., 200–1. 6 1 Ibid., 201. 62 For the biography of Ibn ‘Abd al-Rafi‘, see: Houssem Eddine Chachia, The Sephardim and the Moriscos: The Journey of Expulsion and Installation in the Maghreb (1492–1756), Stories and Itineraries, [In Arabic] (Beirut-Abu Dhabi: Dar As-Souidi and Ad-Dar al-Arabiyya li-Dirasatwa al-Nachar, 2015), 245–51. Chachia, “Muḥammad IbnʿAbd Al-Rafīʿ,” forthcoming. 63 Abdelmajid Turki, “Wata’iq ‘an al-hijra al-andalusiyya al-ajira ilà Tãnis,” Hawliyyat al-jami’a at-tãnisiyya 4 (1967): 36. 64 AHN, Inquisición, Libro 1149, ff. 185r-187v. 65 Trevor J. Dadson, Los moriscos de Villarrubia de los Ojos: (siglos XVXVIII): historia de una minoría asimilada, expulsada y reintegrada (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2007), 1121–2; James B. Tueller, “Los moriscos que se quedaron o que regresaron,” in Los Moriscos: Expulsión y diáspora. Una perspectiva internacional, ed. Mercedes García-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers (València: Universitat de València, 2013), 205.
The moment of choice 149 66 Archivo Diocesano de Cuenca, Leg. 437, núm. 6169, included in Mercedes García-Arenal, Los Moriscos (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1996), 271–84. 67 García-Arenal, Los Moriscos, 273–274. 68 Luis Fernando Bernabé Pons and Jorge Gil Herrera, “The Moriscos Outside Spain: Routes and Financing”, in The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, ed. Mercedes Garcia-Arenal and Gerard Albert Wiegers (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 231. 69 John Derek Latham, “Muçt’afa de Cárdenas et l’apport des morisques à la societétunisienne du XVIII siècle,” in Etudes sur les Morisques Andalous, ed. Abdel-Hakim Gafsi, Mohieddine Boughanmi, Míkel de Epalza and Slimane Mostafa Zbiss (Tunis: Institut Nationale d’Archéologie et d’Art, 1983), 157–78. 70 Bernabé Pons and Herrera, “The Moriscos Outside Spain: Routes and Financing,” 231. 71 Miguel Angel Extremera, “Los moriscos en Estambul y Anatolia. Una aproximación a su estudio,” Miscelánea de estudios árabes y hebraicos, 60 (2001): 107–21; Tijana Krstić, “Moriscos in Ottoman Galata, 1609– 1620s,” in The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, ed. Mercedes Garcia-Arenal and Gerard Albert Wiegers (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 269–85. 72 Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha (San Francisco: Editorial Universitaria, 1990), vol 2, 386.
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152 Houssem Eddine Chachia Extremera, Miguel Á. Extremera. “Los moriscos en Estambul y Anatolia. Una aproximación a su estudio.” Miscelánea de estudios árabes y hebraicos 60 (2011): 107–121. Firestone, Reuven. “Jihad.” In Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia, edited by Josef W Meri, vol. 1, 418–420. New York: Routledge, 2006. Gafsi, Abdel-Hakim. “La médersa des moriscos andalous a Tunis.” Sharq Al-Andalus 5 (1988): 169–182. Galán Sánchez, Ángel. “Las conversiones al cristianismo de los musulmanes de la Corona.” In VIII Simposio Internacional de Mudejarismo. De mudéjares a moriscos: una conversión forzada. Actas, edited by Centro de Estudios Mudéjares, 617–660. Teruel: Centro de Estudios Mudéjares, 2002. Gallego y Burín, Antonio and Sandovol Alfonso Gamir. Los moriscos del Reino de Granada según el Sínodo de Guadix de 1554. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1968. García-Arenal, Mercedes. Los Moriscos. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1996. Goñi Gaztambide, José. “La polémica sobre el bautismo de los moriscos a principios del siglo XVI.” Nuario de historia de la Iglesia 16 (2007): 209–216. Harvey, Leonard Patrick. “Textes de littérature religieuse des Moriscos tunisiens.” In Études sur les moriscos andalous en Tunisie, edited by M. De Epalza and R. Petit, 199–204. Madrid: Direction general de relaciones culturales, 1973. Iannuzzi, Isabella. “Evangelizar asimilando: la labor catequetica de Fray Hernando de Talavera hacia los moriscos.” Areas 30 (2011): 53–62. Janer, Florencio. Condición social de los moriscos de España: causas de su expulsión y consecuencia que ésta produjo en el orden económico y político. Madrid: Imprenta de la Real Academia de la Historia, 1857. Krstić, Tijana. “Moriscos in Ottoman Galata, 1609–1620s.” In The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, edited by Mercedes Garcia-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers, 267–285. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Latham, John Derek. “Contribution à l’étude des inmigrations andalouses et leur place dans l’histoire de la Tunisie.” In Études sur les Moriscos Andalous en Tunisie, edited by Míkel de Epalza and Ramón Petit, 30–31. Madrid: Dirección General de Relaciones Culturales, 1973. ––– “Muçt’afa de Cárdenas et l’apport des morisques à la societé tunisienne du XVIII siècle.” In Etudes sur les Morisques Andalous, edited by AbdelHakim Gafsi, Mohieddine Boughanmi, Míkel de Epalza Slimane Mostafa Zbiss, 157–178. Tunis: Institut Nationale d’Archéologie et d’Art, 1983. Martínez Sampedro, María. Los moriscos: entre el bautismo y la circuncisión. In Religión y cultura. II Congreso de Religiosidad Popular, edited by Junta de Andalucia, vol. 1, 671–678. Sevilla: Junta de AndalucíaFundación Machado, 1999.
The moment of choice 153 Morray, David. “Muslim-Crusader Relations.” In Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, edited by Josef W Meri,vol. I, 418–420. New York: Routledge, 2006. Oliver Asín, Jaime. “Carta de Bejarno a los moriscos de Constantinopla.” In Conferencias y apuntes inéditos, edited by Oliver Dolores, 145–150. Madrid: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 1996. Penella Roma, Juan. Los moriscos españoles emigrados al norte de África después de la expulsión. Barcelona: Universidad de Barcelona, 1971. Poutrin, Isabelle. Convertir les musulmans. Espagne, 1491–1609. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2012. Raphaël, Carrasco. “Les morisques au XVIe siècle: de l’échec de l’évangélisation à la répressiongénéralisée,” Cahiers d’études du religieux. Recherches interdisciplinaires 2 (2008), Accessed January 17, 2012. http://cerri.revues.org/286 DOI: 10.4000/cerri.286. Sánchez Herrero, José. “El posible enfrentamiento entre Talavera y Cisneros en relación con la evangelización de los moros granadinos como paradigmático del enfrentamiento entre Motolinía y Las Casas en la evangelización de los indios americanos.”In El Reino de Granada y el Nuevo Mundo Congreso Internacional de Historia de América, edited by Diputación Provincial, vol. I, 547–566. Granada: Diputación Provincial, 1994. Sánchez-Blanco, Rafael Benítez. “El escamoteo del tercer papel del Patriarca Ribera a favor de la expulsión de los moriscos.” Revista de historia moderna 27 (2009): 179–192. Sanjuán, Joaquín Gil. “Las fugas de moriscos andaluces a Berbería.” In España y el Norte de África: bases históricas de una relación fundamental. Actas, edited by M. Olmedo Jiménez, 333–338. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1987. Santoni, Pierre. “Le passage des Morisques en Provence (1610–1613).” Provence Historique 185 (1996): 333–383. Toledo, Luisa Isabel Álvarez De. “Los moriscos en la Guerra de las Alpujarras.” Voces de la Historia 1 (1994): 3–36. Tueller, James B. “Los moriscos que se quedaron o que regresaron.” In Los Moriscos: Expulsión y diáspora. Una perspectiva internacional, edited by Mercedes García-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers, 191–209. València: Universitat de València, 2013. Turki, Abdelmajid. “Wata’iq ‘an al-hijra al-andalusiyya al-ajira ilà Tãnis.” Hawliyyat al-jami’a at-tãnisiyya 4 (1967): 25–63. Villanueva, Francisco Márquez. “El mito de la gran conspiración morisca.” In Actes du II Symposium International du C.I.E.M.: Religion, Identité Religion, Identité, edited by Abdeljelil Temimi, 267–284. Tunis: Institut Supérieur de Documentation, 1984. Wiegers, Gerard. “The Expulsion of 1609–1614 and the Polemical Writings of the Moriscos Living in the Diaspora.” In The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: a Mediterranean Diaspora, edited by Mercedes Garcia-Arenal and Gerard Albert Wiegers, 389–412. Leiden: Brill, 2014.
154 Houssem Eddine Chachia ––– A Learned Muslim Acquaintance of Erpenius and Golius: Aḥmad b. Kasim al Andalusî and Arabic studies in The Netherlands. Leiden: Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid, Rijksuniversiteit, 1988. Zubizarreta, Oltaz Villanueva. “The Moriscos in Tunisia.” In The Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, edited by Mercedes Garcia-Arenal and Gerard Albert Wiegers, 357–388. Leiden: Brill, 2014.
7 ‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ The rhetoric of losing the true faith in seventeenth-century Italian textual and visual sources Rosita D’Amora Throughout the early modern period, the uncountable incursions undertaken by both Muslim and Christian pirates and corsairs against the long, fragmented and highly exposed littorals of the Mediterranean basin and their continuous attacks on the ships travelling on the sea, had, as an immediate and devastating result, the capture of an enormous number of people from both sides.1 The people constituting this human booty were then brought to the lands of the infidel (kafir), a shared term that was used by both Christians and Muslims, where, deprived of their freedom, they were kept as slaves or captives.2 As the extensive research carried out in the last decades has shown, whereas most of the Muslim prisoners in Europe were sold as domestic slaves or used as a public labour force, mostly as galley rowers (galeotti), the primary economic function of captured Christian slaves was via the ransom asked for their release.3 The vast majority of these slaves, though, were poor sailors, fishermen or indigent inhabitants of the coasts, and were therefore not able to pay the often high price to regain their freedom. In fact, they did not pay, at least not personally. In Christian Europe, the task of ransoming slaves was mostly carried out by religious or secular institutions who fervently collected alms in order to raise sufficient sums of money to rescue their coreligionists not only from slavery, but also from the danger of converting to Islam and thus abandoning the true faith.4
Privateering, captivity and redemption Privateering, both Christian and Muslim, was an old practice in the Mediterranean dating back to medieval times. Similarly, assigning a monetary, or otherwise negotiable value, to those who were enslaved during the constant confrontation between Islam and Christianity, be they minor raids and incursions or major scale sieges and wars along the military frontiers opened by the Crusades, was an established practice. Indeed, the foundation of the first Christian charitable ransoming institutions dates back to the end of the twelfth century. In 1198, Pope Innocent III approved the Order of the
156 Rosita D’Amora Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives, also known as the Trinitarian Order, established by Jean de Matha and Felix of Valois in 1193.5 Shortly after, presumably around 1230, another caritative ransoming order was founded by Peter Nolasc and took the name of Order of Our Lady of Mercy, or the Mercedarian Order.6 By the sixteenth century, though, both privateering and captivity had assumed a new face. During the age of extensive, open military conflicts between the major Mediterranean Empires, privateering had been a sort of corollary to what Fernand Braudel defined as the grande guerre. After the epochal defeat of the Ottoman fleet by the army of the Christian Holy League at Lepanto in 1571, both sides became more concerned with solving internal affairs, and started several, although not very successful, attempts to establish a permanent diplomatic peace. Each one of these attempts failed, but, in practice, the age of major battles had come to an end. Privateering, in this period of apparent peace, was no longer contained in the frame of an organised army or a clear political antagonism, it overflowed in every possible direction and became almost impossible to control. As a consequence, the capture of slaves and the commodification of captivity grew considerably. Paradoxically, this was also due to the intense activity of the many ransoming institutions that were founded in that same period all over Europe which, by constantly ransoming captives, were reinforcing in the Muslim slave owners and dealers the idea that such a commodity was worth acquiring. Italy, positioned in the middle of the Mediterranean, was particularly vulnerable both to privateering and slavery. The peninsula was politically fragmented, the coastline mostly without effective fortifications and the territorial defence forces insufficient.7 In this context, starting from the midsixteenth century, many local ransoming institutions were established. The first one was founded in Naples in 1548 and was called Real Casa Santa della Redenzione dei Cattivi [Royal Holy House for the Redemption of Captives].8 Similar institutions proliferated, in fairly short order, not only in large coastal cities or larger centres more exposed to the “Turkish danger” such as Palermo (1596), Rome (1581), Genoa (1597) and Venice (1619),9 but also in smaller towns lying far from the front line, such as Bologna (1584), Lucca (1678) and Ferrara (1714).10 Despite the fact that ransoming a slave was, in practice, mostly an economic transaction, these institutions never explicitly presented the ransoming operations to the public as such. On the contrary, the entire ransoming machine – from the collection of the alms for financing the liberation of the slaves, to the ceremonies accompanying the return of those who were successfully ransomed – was informed and fuelled by the rhetoric of rescuing fellow Christians from the impending danger of abandoning the true faith and the perils of converting to Islam. The main fear was that slaves, finding themselves in close proximity to Islam, would apostatise in order to improve their economic or social situation and not because of a real change
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 157 in their religious beliefs. Ransoming slaves, therefore, was perceived as a true act of salvation, saving the slave from a potential sin and, indeed, it was often referred to as “redemption”. In contemporary Europe, anxiety about the pernicious effects of contact with Muslims, especially for individuals belonging to what were perceived as the more “vulnerable” groups such as children, women and young men, was pervasive. It emerges again and again from different official sources, as well as from the accounts and first-person narratives of slaves, former slaves and all the different actors who contributed to their rescue. It is harder to establish, though, how substantiated these fears were. A widespread belief was, for example, that Muslim masters were relentlessly trying to force the Christian slaves to abandon their faith and embrace Islam. However, besides any theological considerations, from a Muslim owner’s point of view, the conversion of a slave to Islam meant, first and foremost, a potential reduction of the free labour force at his disposal, or, if the slave was intended to be sold in exchange for a ransom price, a considerable loss of potential income. Furthermore, Muslim masters must have been well aware that some of these conversions might have been opportunistic and used by the slaves as an easy way to avoid more arduous tasks such as rowing in the galleys or working as heavy construction labourers. In other words, a slave was generally worth more than a convert and it is therefore quite unlikely that Muslim masters would constantly try to encourage or, somehow, force conversions.11 At the same time, it is beyond doubt that in the period under analysis the lure of Islam was powerful and boundaries between Christendom and the Muslim world thin and rather permeable. In this context, a considerable number of Christian individuals ‘rebelled against the faith’, embraced Islam and became, as they were referred to in the language of the age, “renegades” – thus reinforcing the idea and collective angst about the dangerous seduction of Islam.12 Building on this fear of conversion, the ransoming of slaves essentially meant rescuing them from the threat that they would either turn “Turk” or die without the sacraments while in the hands of the infidels. Each and every ransom had, therefore, as its main ideological motivation, the moral obligation enjoined on all the faithful to liberate poor Christian fellows who had been enslaved by the foe of the faith. Saving a slave therefore meant more than simply granting him his liberty, it was mostly, if not exclusively, about saving his soul, and thus eventually also the souls of all those who had contributed to his redemption. Like other charitable practices of the time, ransoming slaves followed the logic of a spiritual investment by the individual pro remedio animae, or, in other words, it was derived from the concern that eternal damnation would be reserved for those people who were not concerned with the suffering of others. Helping one’s neighbour would guarantee the salvation of both souls. A case in point is the Pio Monte della Misericordia, a charitable institution founded in Naples at the turn of seventeenth century that offered aid
158 Rosita D’Amora to needy people following the Catholic prescriptions of the Seven Works of Mercy. Among the activities performed by the Pio Monte there were those of the Opera della Redenzione dei Cattivi [Institution for the Redemption of Captives] that, together with the previously mentioned Real Casa Santa, were, for more than two centuries, the most important organisations for the ransoming of slaves in Naples.13 In several passages of the rich documentation testifying to the activities of this institution, it is possible to find many unambiguous references to the equation of saving a slave with saving his endangered soul. Ever since the establishment of the Opera della Redenzione dei Cattivi, for instance, a rule was made quite clear: no alms could be used to ransom those slaves who had renounced the Christian faith. The first sum of money set aside by the Pio Monte in November 1604 ‘for the liberation of poor Christians enslaved by the ships of the barbarous and infidels’ was a contribution to the Real Casa Santa in favour of two unnamed slaves in Tunis on the condition that they were not renegades.14 Furthermore, in April 1629, the Pio Monte decided to give a new impulse to the much needed ransoming activities starting from the consideration that there were in the infidel’s land a great number of ‘poor Neapolitans or Regni coli in captivity with the manifest peril that their souls will be soon captive too’.15 Later, in 1652, a new rule was introduced establishing that women and children should always be ransomed first, taking into consideration ‘the frailty of the female sex and of the young age’ in keeping the true faith.16 This textual discourse of fear and endeavour in preventing conversions to Islam was extensively used, in different forms, by other ransoming institutions as well. The Real Casa Santa, for example, gave precedence to the ransom of children and women presumably for the same reasons.17 Analogously, among the instructions given in 1607 by the Arciconfraternita per la Redenzione dei Cattivi of Palermo to the Genoese merchant Giovan Battista Dania, commissioned to carry out the liberation of some Sicilian slaves in Tunis, there was the explicit obligation to ransom first of all ‘boys till the age of fifteen years in order to remove them as soon as possible from the danger’. The danger referred to, also in this case, was almost certainly the possibility of them being fatally exposed to the perils of conversion.18
‘Souls in torment suffering the pains of hell’ It is interesting to notice how the “fear of losing the faith” is echoed also in other textual sources. It appears, for example, in the reports written by foreign consuls, merchants, ransoming agents or missionaries when describing the miserable condition of the slaves, hoping, especially in the case of the missionaries, to prompt the piety, and the donations, of their Christian audience. Analogously, this rhetoric permeates the different kinds of first-person narratives often produced by the slaves themselves both before and after their return back home, such as the letters written during their enslavement, the autobiographical accounts of their captivity, the individual or collective
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 159 petitions sent to ransoming institutions, the testimonies given during interrogations or the depositions made on the occasion of their ransom.19 Particularly significant are the slaves’ letters. It was quite common for slaves to write, when possible and probably with the help of scribes, rather graphic letters, addressing them usually to the members of their families in order to lament the desperate conditions in which they were forced to live and plead for help.20 These letters were probably used by the slaves’ relatives to appeal for financial aid and therefore are often found in the archives of ransoming institutions, as is the case of twelve letters, dated between July 1638 and September 1688, preserved in the archive of the Pio Monte.21 What is quite interesting in these texts is the way the slaves presented themselves, filling their lines not only with practical information for their potential redeemers, but also with the same vocabulary evoking torments, grief and looming threats of deviation from the “true faith”. All the slaves were claiming, almost inevitably, and with a few variations on the theme, to be ‘souls in torment suffering the pains of hell’, imploring God’s mercy to die as Christians and not ‘in the power of dogs’ (‘in poter di can’), begging to retain their religion and escape from the ‘continuous devil’s temptations’. Here, for example, is what Diego Mimmo, a slave in Tunis, wrote to his father on 15 of August 1650: I am writing to inform you that I am in good health but it would be better for me to be dead because I am in Tunis slave of the Pasha of this city, who is the cruellest pagan in the world, enemy of the faith of Christ. He shackled my hands and feet and he inflicts me thousands of martyrdoms to make me deny the name of Christ and his holy faith. I am ready though to tolerate everything with patience and die as a Christian for the name of Christ and his mother the Virgin Mary.22 This form of self-representation assumed almost the shape of a literary device and has to be evaluated not only as an attempt from the slaves to evoke fears in the readers back home, in order to stir their compassion and prompt them to intervene, but also as a conscious strategy to be “contained” within the frame of the ideological motivations of the ransoming institutions. In other words, the slaves must have been well aware that, for these institutions, apostasy represented a kind of eternal death treated essentially as a physical casualty, and they might have been using the claim of being under great pressure to convert to Islam to promote their chances of being ransomed even when this circumstance was not reflecting the truth.23 The perils of being forced into an unwilling conversion were also often recalled in the popular and widely circulated narratives produced by returned captives who, in their writings, dramatically described the events and tribulations suffered during their enslavement from the perspective of a person who had a lucky escape.24 These ex-slaves often referred to conversion not only as the inevitable result of the cruel practices supposedly used by the
160 Rosita D’Amora Muslims to force Christians to “turn Turk” but also, in some cases, as a deliberate choice by some captives to obtain easy access to the “sensual lusts and pleasure” offered by Islam. This is what, to take but one example, the English sailor John Rawlins, slave in Algiers, writes in his memoir in 1622: although it would make a Christian’s heart bleed to hear of the same, yet must the truth not be hid, nor the terror left untold. They commonly lay them [the Christians] on their naked backs or bellies, beating them so long till they bleed at the nose and mouth, and if yet they continue constant, then they strike the teeth out of their heads, pinch them by their tongues, and use many other sorts of tortures to convert them. . . . And so many, even for fear of torment and death, make their tongues betray their hearts to a most fearful wickedness and so are circumcised with new names and brought to confess a new religion. Others again, I must confess, who never knew any god but their own sensual lusts and pleasure, thought that any religion would serve their turns and so for preferment or wealth very voluntarily renounced their faith and become renegadoes. . . . And this was the first news we encountered with at our coming first to Argier.25 In the case of the returned captives, however, it was not only the necessity to raise awareness and compassion towards the other less fortunate Christians still enslaved that moved them to recall so vividly the danger of “turning Turk”. Their narrative also served the clear purpose of publicly demonstrating that their close proximity to the infidels and exposure to the threats and seductions of Islam had left no traces on their morals, religious integrity nor their body.26 The moment of the return of a slave was, indeed, a moment of great uncertainty and anxiety among the Christian community who had to reintegrate him. The suspicions were that, during captivity, his identity might not have been preserved and that contact with the Muslim “other” had resulted in some form of irreversible, although not immediately visible, contamination. From this point of view, the narratives produced by or about returned captives served also the main reassuring aim of openly proclaiming that the ex-slaves had remained steadfast in their faith as well as reaffirming their allegiance to the religious and political community to which they were returning. What I would like to analyse here is how this very same discourse was reflected in, and in many ways enhanced by, concomitant visual representations of enslavement and redemption, such as the processions organised on the occasion of the return of manumitted slaves and the paintings commissioned by the ransoming institutions to both celebrate and “advertise” their activities.
Celebrating the return The processions parading slaves returning from captivity were very popular in early modern Europe. The most famous and elaborate ones were those
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 161 staged by the Trinitarian and Mercedarian orders, but minor institutions, such as those of Bologna and Ferrara, were also very enthusiastic in publicly and pompously celebrating the arrival back home of their redeemed slaves.27 These processions had very similar arrangements. Usually, the freed slaves, in the presence of the religious and political authorities and together with some members of the ransoming institution, were paraded around the town, surrounded by religious emblems and children dressed as angels, music and firecrackers. The aim of these processions was to show, in a very effective way, the ideological motivation of the redeemers’ work, reinforce the idea of the need for intervention and, of course, raise money for future missions from the jubilant people attending the ceremony. Even though these processions were celebrating the successful deliverance of slaves who remained steadfast in their religious belief, the “fear of losing the true faith” was still a central element informing the entire event. However, evoking the danger of conversion to Islam was not only meant to prompt potential contributors to open their purses, but also to remind the public of the dangerous closeness to the Muslim world. In some processions, especially those organised by the Mercedarian fathers, but also in those taking place in Ferrara, the slaves were presented in shackles and chains and dressed in a sort of Muslim attire. It was, of course, quite unlikely that the slaves, after their return home, during the period spent in quarantine and then, while waiting for the procession to be organised, would have retained their rags and chains.28 Nonetheless, presenting the slave in the attire he would have worn during his captivity was not only used to increase the dramatic effect of these sort of tableaux vivants, providing an immediate and harrowing testimony of the tribulations the slaves might had suffered at the hands of the infidels, but also to recall the real possibility that they could have “turned Turk” and not only in their external apparel. Quite significantly, in Ferrara, for example, these processions would end with the ceremony of bestowing on the returned slave new clothes, described in a contemporary source as the ‘clothes of freedom’ (‘vestiti di libertà’).29 This was the last significant act of a collective reconciliation performance staged to visibly and symbolically reintegrate the returnees to their original status of free Christians and to ‘restore’, to use Ricci’s words, ‘the tainted identity’ of those slaves who, even though they did not abjure the Christian faith, underwent ‘a contagion still revealed by their clothes’.30 These processions must have had an enormous visual impact. However, they were very expensive to stage.31 They could be organised only in the cities where there was an active ransoming institution and, considering the difficulties of finalising each ransoming mission, they were not very frequent. From this point of view, the commission of painting advertising ransoming activities was a practice that could be considered as more effective. The paintings encapsulated most of the messages conveyed by the processions but in a more accessible and durable form that could be displayed over and over again, inspiring devotion, piety and the desire to do good.
162 Rosita D’Amora
Portraying slavery Like other charitable confraternities of the time who promoted their activities through the commission of works of art, many ransoming institutions considered the paintings they commissioned as their ideological manifesto, an iconographical text to promulgate the idea of redemption of both the slaves and the people who provided the ransoms. The financial contributions that constituted the ransoms would generally come from alms, bequests, collection boxes or direct appeals, and it was, therefore, essential to arouse in the possible donors compassion for the miserable conditions of the Christian captives. In order to maximise financial support for their ransoming operations, these institutions had to convey their message to the widest possible public. Considering the still very limited levels of literacy in the seventeenth-century Italian peninsula, the visual narrative and the evocative power of paintings could be accessed, “read” and understood more transversally, and certainly by a broader audience than written texts. Nonetheless, these iconographical sources have, so far, received very little scholarly attention in the studies of captivity and redemption. One of the most significant examples of this genre is the painting entitled Il riscatto degli schiavi [The Ransoms of the Slaves] (see Figure 7.1) produced in 1672 by Giacomo Farelli (1624–1706) as the altarpiece for the Neapolitan church of Santa Maria della Redenzione dei Captivi (now called Santa Maria della Mercede e Sant’Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori), which was founded in the mid-sixteenth century to host its homonymous ransoming institution. The pictorial scheme of the altarpiece is very interesting and brings together the themes of enslavement and redemption, misery and salvation, the dangerous closeness to conversion and the necessity of being loyal to the true faith. The scene takes place near the seaside, a setting clearly alluding to one of the Muslim costal cities where many Christians were kept captives. In the upper part of the painting, the Virgin Mary, holding baby Jesus in her arms, is supported and surrounded by angels, while attentively watching over a group of slaves dominating the lower right part of the composition. The slaves are all shabbily dressed, with shackles on their feet or hands. Two of them wear turban-like headgear not very dissimilar from the one donned by the “Turk” at the centre of the painting and also by the other turbaned figure who is visible on the rocks at the back, surrounded by slaves, and who was probably another Muslim slave master. All the slaves appear in distress pleading for salvation and, according to Bernardo de’ Dominici, ‘all their suffering and the hope of being freed’ is clearly expressed by the paleness of their faces.32 A further dramatic effect is produced by the presence among the slaves of some women and infants who resemble the angels surrounding the Virgin. Finally, in the lower left part of the painting, a man with a plumed hat, probably a Christian merchant, is kneeling down and holding a bag full of money to be used for the ransom.33 He is addressing the more central figure of an elegantly dressed “Turk” who is pointing at
Figure 7.1 Giacomo Farelli, Il riscatto degli schiavi, 1672, Church of Santa Maria della Mercede e Sant’Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, Naples Photo: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e il Paesaggio per la città di Napoli. Autorizzazione dell’Ufficio Diocesano Beni Culturali dell’Arcidiocesi di Napoli.
164 Rosita D’Amora the slaves with a frown on his face showing a rather cruel and threatening disposition.34 The painting, however, contains salvific elements too. The imposing representation of the Virgin Mary with her large cloak, occupying almost half of the scene, is intended to offer shelter and divine protection to the miserable slaves and, at the same time, to oversee their spiritual salvation. On the other side, the presence of the boat moored offshore and of the man with the plumed hat and the bag full of money indicates the arrival of a Christian ransoming mission and represents, therefore, the human mediation that will eventually grant the slaves their freedom. These two intersecting elements of human and divine intervention guaranteeing the slaves’ freedom and spiritual salvation recur also in other similar compositions, although not always together. The presence of the Virgin Mary, especially, has a particular prominence. Since the medieval period, the Virgin had been an ever-present ally of the Christians during their confrontation with the Muslims.35 One of the most emblematic iconographical testimonies of the recurrent presence of the Virgin Mary in Christian imaginary, and of the almost martial role she was credited with in securing victory for the Christians in crucial battles, is the famous votive picture by Paolo Veronese entitled Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto (c. 1571) produced to commemorate the Christian victory at Lepanto in 1571. In the picture by Veronese, as in Farelli’s painting, the presence of the Virgin is very notable. The painting shows how, while the battle with the Ottomans rages on the sea, in the clouds the patron saints of the three parties of the Holy League ask for the intercession of the Virgin. An angel throwing flaming arrows at the Ottoman fleet together with dark rays overshadowing the Ottoman ships, while a ray of celestial light illuminates the Christian ships, clearly indicates her decisive intervention in granting victory to the Holy League.36 The Virgin Mary, though, was also regarded as an ally in more individual battles, a “refuge” for slaves in distress who could assist them in preserving their Christian faith against the temptations of conversion and, possibly, also help them to obtain freedom. As noted by Amy Remensnyder, even though the Virgin was not the only miraculous figure that Christians held in captivity could appeal to, her popularity increased with time because ‘she possessed just the qualities a Christian slave would seek in a heavenly guardian: a mother’s boundless compassion and infinite mercy’.37 This maternal love was often symbolically represented by the act of the Virgin sheltering her devotees under her capacious cloak, just as in Farelli’s painting where Mary’s mantle seems to encompass almost the entire scene. The iconography of a group of people seeking refuge under the cloak of the Virgin Mary was linked, in particular, with the representation of the Virgin of Mercy and had been very popular, especially in Italy, since the thirteenth century. A beautiful example of this iconography connected with the theme of ransoming slaves is a painting produced by Paolo Biancucci and
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 165 now kept in the Church of San Leonardo in Borghi in Lucca. This painting entitled La Vergine che protegge la Nazione lucchese [Virgin Mary protecting the nation of Lucca] (see Figure 7.2) was probably commissioned with celebratory intent by a confraternity called Santa Maria Assunta del Gonfalone, founded in Lucca in 1577, and affiliated with the Arciconfraternita del Gonfalone in Rome that, since 1581, had among its charitable tasks the ransoming of Christian slaves.38 In Biancucci’s painting, the slave is in the foreground on the right and can be easily recognised by his shabby appearance, his shaved head and the broken chain at his feet, a symbolic element that unfailingly recurs in all the paintings representing manumitted slaves. He is paying homage to the Virgin encouraged by one of the members of the confraternity who is wearing a white tunic with the confraternity cross. The Virgin Mary stands out in the centre of the painting and is portrayed in the protective gesture of enfolding everybody in her cloak. The liberation of the slave is clearly attributed to Mary’s holy intervention. It celebrates how faith, personified by the Virgin Mary, could save the endangered souls of the slaves and reintegrate them into the Christian community. In contrast, the element of human contribution to the divine plan here is only hinted at thorough the portrayal on the left of the painting of some civil and religious personalities who might have helped with the provision of alms or influence in the liberation of the slave. In other paintings, however, the element of divine intervention is rather understated, confined to a less prominent part of the composition and, occasionally, completely neglected. These paintings are concerned almost exclusively with the ransoming operation portrayed as a commercial transaction and human enterprise. As in Farelli’s painting, they usually depict a scene taking place in a Muslim port, where Christian redeemers, in the presence of one of more slaves whose shackles are broken or, who are in the process of being unbound, present the ransom money to a greedy “Turk” who is waiting to collect the sum. Most interestingly, this iconographical repertoire of images occurs quite often in Trinitarian circles, as in the paintings usually preserved in churches connected with the Order, such as the canvas by Giovanni Carobio (1691–1752), kept in the church of San Faustino e Giovita in Brescia and entitled San Giovanni de Matha paga il riscatto per la liberazione degli schiavi [Saint John de Matha pays the ransom for the liberation of the slaves].39 Moreover, the same iconographical repertoire also appears on the placards the Trinitarians paraded during their processions of ransomed slaves and on the cover page of the printed lists, or cataloghi, they published enumerating the slaves that they had successfully redeemed.40 See for example the cover page of Catalogus captivorum christianorum (Figure 7.3).41 Often, the only religious reference in these paintings is the clerical figures conducting the ransoming operations, usually a humble and barefoot Saint John de Matha accompanied, sometimes, by Saint Felix of Valois, considered the co-founder of the Trinitarian Order. However, also in these paintings in which the commercial aspects of the ransom are foregrounded there
Figure 7.2 Paolo Biancucci, La Vergine che protegge la Nazione lucchese, 1620– 1630, Church of San Leonardo in Borghi, Lucca Source: Courtesy of the Soprintendenza Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le provincie di Lucca e Massa Carrara – Archivio Fotografico.
Figure 7.3 Frontispiece, Catalogus Captivorum Christianorum, quos Provincia S. Josephi, Ordinis Discalceatorum SSS. Trinitatis De Redemptione Captivorum, Erecta Ditionibus Haereditariis Augustissimae Domus Austriacae, Ab Anno 1777 usque ad Annum 1780, tum Africanis in öris praecipue Algerii, Mascherae & Tripoli; tum in Turcia Europaea & Asia tica, aut percolato litro nativa liberati restituit, aut pecunariis subsidiis ad eam recuperandam adjuvit, Viennae, Litteris Schulzianis  Source: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. Scan courtesy of Österreichische Nationalbibliothek-Google Books cooperation.
168 Rosita D’Amora is, from time to time, clear references to the threat of conversion. In Giovanni Carobio’s painting, for example, even though the scene is dominated by the commercial transaction, we also see a naked slave raising thankfully his unbounded shackles and his eyes towards an apparition of Virgin Mary in the sky. Next to him, a caftan-like robe and a turban lay on the ground alluding to the clothes he might have been forced to wear during his captivity. The association of one’s outward attire with one’s inward religious faith indicates the danger that Muslim dress posed for captives – the danger that, if the captive had not been redeemed, he might have converted to Islam and assumed that attire permanently.42 The paintings analysed here offer some significant examples of how the iconographical texts produced to celebrate and publicise the activities of the ransoming institutions represented an important visual counterpart to the various written texts on captivity and how they emphasised the danger of captives converting to Islam. The main aim of these paintings was to visually recount how Christianity responded not only to the practical problem of returning captives home but also to the moral and religious challenges posed by slavery. Interestingly, all the paintings contain similar elements but also significant variations. Celestial apparitions contrasting with the earthly scenes of enslavement and sorrow; religious figures watching over chained, shabby and distressed slaves waiting to be freed and grim-faced “Turks” and jubilant crowds of Christians constituted a common repertoire of images that all artists could resort to. Some of the paintings, however, foregrounded the liberating power of faith itself, while others seemed to focus almost exclusively on portraying the ransoming operation as a commercial transaction and essentially a human enterprise. All of them, though, clearly tried to define the differences between believers and infidels, true faith and heresy, in order to keep the boundaries between Islam and Christianity sharp. At the same time, these paintings and the parallel reading of iconographical and written texts allows us to trace how a discourse concerning the perils of conversion and the fear of “turning Turk” in captivity developed in various sources, giving us an idea of how conversion constituted a significant source of anxiety in early modern Christian Europe through its constant contact and confrontation with Islam. Nonetheless, as far as the discourse of conversion is concerned, the boundaries between Islam and Christianity proved to be rather permeable. A closer analysis of these different though intersecting visual and textual narratives of conversion reveals all the complexity of this process. From these sources, conversion does not emerge merely as a personal possible rupture of the single individual caught between two antagonistic beliefs, but rather as a constant attempt to articulate the coexistence of multiple identities. It also appears, in an intricate interplay of inclusion and exclusion, as a complex process that involves all the various communities that the person who has converted or has been simply tainted by a proximity with Islam belongs to, crosses and returns to.
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 169
Notes 1 Although for a long time it has been generally agreed that pirate and corsair slaving activities were mostly a Muslim phenomenon, more recent studies, such as Salvatore Bono, Schiavi musulmani nell’Italia moderna. Galeotti, vu’ cumprà, domestici (Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1999), have shown how this phenomenon also had a significant counterpart in Christian Europe. More problematic is, instead, to find reliable estimates among the widely fluctuating figures of the people who were actually enslaved. This issue is effectively discussed in Robert C. Davis, “Counting European Slaves on the Barbary Coast,” Past & Present 172 (2001), which focuses on the problem of offering an accurate reckoning of the number of Europeans living as slaves in the main cities of the Maghrebi coast between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. 2 The distinction between the words “slave” and “captive” exists in all the languages of the Mediterranean basin: in French esclave and captif, in Spanish esclavo and cautivo, in Italian schiavo and cattivo. These designations usually refer to two different kinds of prisoners: the slaves were the prisoners used as a labour force, while the captives were provisional slaves who were intended to be sold in exchange for a ransom price. See Michel Fontenay, “Esclaves et/ou Captifs. Préciser les Concepts,” in Le commerce des captifs. Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe-XVIIIe siècle ed. Wolfgang Kaiser (Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008), 21–2. Also in Arabic and Turkish there is the same distinction, and a “captive” or a “prisoner of war” is more properly indicated with the word ‘asīr in Arabic (esir in Turkish). 3 A comprehensive study of the condition of Muslim slaves in the early modern period Italian peninsula is offered, for example, in Bono, Schiavi musulmani. 4 Such a broad phenomenon has produced, as may be imagined, a truly extensive bibliography. As a starting point see Robert Davis, “The Geography of Slaving in the Early Modern Mediterranean, 1500–1800,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 37/1 (2007). 5 For a synthesis of the information concerning the foundation of the Trinitarian Order and its principals as well as a critical discussion of the available bibliography, see John Flannery, “The Trinitarian Order and the Ransom of Christian Captives,” Al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 23/2 (2011): 135–8. 6 The ransoming activities of Mercedarians were more limited compared to those of the Trinitarians and the bibliography is mostly comprised of general histories of the Order, the most recent one being, La orden de Santa María de la Merced (1218–1992): Síntesis histórica (Rome: Instituto Histórico de la orden de la Merced, 1997). 7 Robert C. Davis, “Slave Redemption in Venice, 1585–1797,” in Venice Reconsidered. The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State,
170 Rosita D’Amora 1297–1797, ed. John Martin et Dennis Romano (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 455. 8 On the foundation and activities of this institution, see Giuliana Boccadamo, “Prime indagini sull’origine e l’organizzazione della confraternita napole tana della “Redenzione dei Cattivi” (1548–1588),” Campania Sacra 7/8 (1977/1978); Giuliana Boccadamo, La redenzione dei Cattivi a Napoli nel Cinquecento. Lo statuto di una confraternita (Napoli: M. D’Auria Editore, 1985); Giuliana Boccadamo, “I ‘redentori’ napoletani. Mercanti, religiosi e rinnegati,” in Le commerce des captifs. Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, ed. Wolfgang Kaiser (Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008). 9 For the activities of the different institutions devoted to the ransoming of Christian slaves operating in each one of these cities, see respectively: Giuseppe Bonaffini, La Sicilia e i Barbareschi. Incursioni corsare e riscatto degli schiavi 1570–1606 (Palermo: Ila Palma, 1983); Sergio Pagano, L’Archivio dell’Arciconfraternita del Gonfalone: cenni storici e inventario (Città del Vaticano: Archivio Vaticano, 1990); Enrica Lucchini, La merce umana. Schiavitù e riscatto dei Liguri nel Seicento (Roma: Bonacci, 1990); Davis, “Slave Redemption,” 466. 10 The presence of ransoming institutions and also Muslim slaves in cities that were both far from the sea and the land borders of the Ottoman Empire show how pervasive the phenomenon of slavery was. See in particular: Raffaella Sarti, “Bolognesi schiavi dei ‘Turchi’ e schiavi ‘Turchi’ a Bologna tra Cinque e Seicento: alterità etnico-religiosa e riduzione in schiavitù,” Quaderni Storici 2 (2001); Marco Lenci, “Riscatti di schiavi cristiani dal Maghreb. La Compagnia della SS. Pietà di Lucca (Secoli XVII-XIX),” Società e Storia 31 (1986); Giada Spirito, Schiavi del Turco infedele. La confraternita del riscatto nella Ferrara del Settecento (Ferrara: Centro stampa comunale, 1999). 11 Davis, “Slave Redemption,” 464. Davis also suggests, though, that there were certain categories of slaves for whom Muslim owners could actively encourage conversions such as women, children and men skilled in any craft in demand at the time. See Davis, “Counting European,” 116. 12 Eric R. Dursteler, Renegade Women. Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 111. On this subject, the classic work of Bartolomé Bennassar and Lucile Bennassar, Les chrétiens d’Allah: L’histoire extraordinaire des renégats, XVIe-XVIe siècles (Paris: Perrin, 1989) remains relevant. See also Lucetta Scaraffia, Rinnegati. Per una storia dell’identità occidentale (Bari: Laterza, 1993); Lucia Rostagno, Mi faccio turco. Esperienze ed immagini dell’islam nell’Italia moderna (Roma: Istituto per l’Oriente, 1983) and Claire Norton, “Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern Renegade,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29/2 (2009).
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 171 13 On the foundation and the activities of the Pio Monte, see Rosita D’Amora, “Some Documents Concerning the Manumission of Slaves by the Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples (1681–1682),” Eurasian Studies 1/1 (2002); Rosita D’Amora, “Il Pio Monte della Misericordia di Napoli e l’Opera della Redenzione dei Cattivi nella prima metà del XVII,” (Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008), 231–250; in Le commerce des captifs, ed. Wolfgang Kaiser. 14 Rosita D’Amora, “Some Documents,” 39, Archivio Storico del Pio Monte della Misericordia (hereafter APMM), Libro delle Conclusioni A (1603– 1624), fol. 3v. 15 Rosita D’Amora, “Some Documents,” 41, APMM, Libro delle Conclusioni B (1624–1631), fol. 154v. The term regnicolo was used to refer to an inhabitant of the provinces of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Naples. 16 Rosita D’Amora, “Il Pio Monte,” 244, APMM, Libro delle Conclusioni E (1650–1658), fol. 55v. 17 Boccadamo, “Prime indagini,” 146. 18 Giuseppe Bonaffini, “Intermediari del riscatto degli schiavi siciliani nel Mediterraneo (secoli XVII-XIX),” in Le commerce des captifs, ed. Wolfgang Kaiser (Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008), 252. 19 See Wolfang Kaiser, “Le mots du rachat. Fiction et rhétorique dans les procédures de rachat de captifs en Méditerranée XVIe-XVIIe siècles,” in Captifs en Méditerranée (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles). Histoire, récits et légendes, ed. François Moureau (Paris: PUPS, 2008), 104; Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 74–5; Daniel J. Vitkus, ed., Piracy, Slavery and Redemption. Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 347–58 and Norton, “Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity,” 265. 20 See also Sarti, “Bolognesi schiavi,” 444, 446 and Davis, “Slave Redemption,” 461. 21 See, for example, the forty-nine letters included in the appendix of Bonaffini, La Sicilia e i Barbareschi, 131–205 or the letters of English captives in Vitkus, Piracy, 347–53. 2 2 APMM, Da II, doc. 95. 23 Davis, “Slave Redemption,” 465 and Sarti, “Bolognesi schiavi,” 443–4. 24 In recent years, there have been numerous studies and editions of narratives describing captivity under Muslim masters. For a general overview, see Salvatore Bono, “Récits d’esclaves au Maghreb considérations générales,” in Récits d’Orient dans les littératures d’Europe (XVIe-XVIIe siècles), ed. Anne Duprat et Émilie Picherot (Paris: PUPS, 2008) and the online archive ‘Répertoire Nominatif des Récits de Captivité en Méditerranée’ http://www.oroc-crlc.paris-sorbonne.fr/index.php?/visiteur/ProjetCORSO/Ressources/R.N.R.C accessed on 7 January 2016. Some works are based on the nationality of the returned captives or the language in
172 Rosita D’Amora which the accounts were written. The aforementioned Vitkus, Piracy, for example, presents seven complete captivity narratives from among the twenty-five or so extant accounts written by Englishmen slaves in North Africa between 1577 and 1704; Paul Baepler ed., White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999) includes nine texts, originally published between 1703 and 1904, about Americans who were kept as slaves on the Barbary Coast; the contributions by Ernstpeter Ruhe, “Dire et ne pas dire: les récits de captifs germanophones et les cérémonies de retour,” in Captifs en Méditerranée, ed. Moureau and “L’aire du soupçon. Les récits de captivité en langue allemande (XVIe–XIXe siècles),” in Récits d’Orient, ed. Duprat et Picherot have shed light on captivity accounts written in German. Although there are numerous similar accounts written in Italian, they have not yet been comprehensively studied. Particularly interesting are the Ragguagli di schiavitù, booklets published on the occasion of the redemption of a slave and recounting the main events of his liberation. These booklets were often handed out to the crowd attending the ceremonies celebrating the return of the slave, see Celebrating the return. For the Ragguagli produced respectively in Bologna and Ferrara see Sarti, “Bolognesi schiavi,” 444–8 and Giovanni Ricci, “Restauri di identità contaminate: gli schiavi liberati dai ‘Turchi’,” in Identità collettive tra Medioevo ed Età Moderna, ed. Paolo Prodi et al. (Bologna: CLUEB, 2002), 65–6. 25 John Rawlins, The Famous and Wonderful Recovery of a Ship of Bristol, called the Exchange, from the Turkish Pirates of Argier in Vitkus (ed.), Piracy, 98–120. The quote is at 102–3. 26 In some cases, upon their return home, male slaves were stripped naked to check whether during their captivity they had been circumcised, which would have been a clear sign of their apostasy. See Matar, Turks, Moors, 72. 27 For an example of a triumphal procession, see the description of those organised by Trinitarians in Venice in 1727 and 1764, Davis, “Slave Redemption,” 470–6. For the smaller scale processions often organised for the return of single slaves, see Sarti, “Bolognesi schiavi,” 442–4 and Ricci, “Restauri di identità”. 28 Ricci rightly suggests that the “outfits” and chains of the slaves were probably expressly produced to be used during these processions and mentions the case of the Bolognese slave Giovanni Maria Ghiselli, ransomed by the Venetian bailo in Constantinople in 1683. From the documents recounting his liberation, we learn that his enraged Ottoman master handed him over to the bailo completely naked, depriving him ‘even of his shirt’. Still, during the procession organised in Bologna upon his return, he was flaunting ‘the insignia of his slavery’ [‘le insegne della propria schiavitudine’]. See Ricci, “Restauri di identità,” 77. 29 Ricci, “Restauri di identità,” 70.
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 173 30 Ibid., 80. 31 On the basis of the documentation concerning the procession organised by the Trinitarians in Venice in 1764, Davis points out that ‘such elaborate spectacles were vey likely to cost more than they could ever bring in’ see Davis, “Slave Redemption,” 474. 32 de’ Dominici is the author of a famous mid-eighteen century collection of biographies of Neapolitan artists. In his work, Farelli’s painting is defined as ‘worthy of every praise’, not only for its expressivity, the quality of the drawings and the beautiful colouring, but also for having been ‘conceived’ with the ‘noble idea’ of celebrating the charitable activity of ransoming slaves. See Bernardo de’ Dominici, Vite de’ pittori, sculturi, ed architetti napoletani. Non mai date alla luce da autore alcuno (Napoli: Stamperia Ricciardi, 1743), vol. 3, 462. 33 Farelli’s painting was executed almost a century after the foundation of the Real Casa Santa, at a time when its ransoming procedure was already well established. The man with the plumed hat could, therefore, represent a Christian merchant as the intermediation of merchants was the main channel used by the institution to redeem slaves. 34 Portraying “Turks” as rapacious and ill-natured was a very common practice in paintings representing the activity of ransoming slaves. An exception is the figure of the benevolent “Turk” contained in the painting San Paolino che riscatta lo schiavo [Saint Paulinus who ransoms the slave] c. 1626–1630 kept in the Pio Monte della Misericordia by Giovanni Bernardino Azzolino celebrating the Opera della Redenzione dei Cattivi. See D’Amora, “Il Pio Monte,” 231–2. 35 See Amy G. Remensnyder, “Christian Captives, Muslim Maidens, and Mary,” Speculum 82/3 (2007): 645–6. 36 See Paul Benjamin, “ ‘And the Moon has Started to Bleed’: Apocalypticism and Religious Reform in Venetian Art at the Time of the Battle of Lepanto,” in The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450–1750. Visual Imagery before Orientalism, ed. James G. Harper (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 73. 37 Remensnyder, “Christian Captives,” 652–3. 38 It is also known as La Madonna della Misericordia [The Virgin of Mercy] however, Marco Lenci has suggested a new reading of the painting and a new title: La Madonna del Gonfalone che accoglie lo schiavo redento [The Virgin of the Gonfalon welcoming the redeemed slave]. See Marco Lenci, “Lucca e i barbareschi. Considerazioni circa la titolatura di una tela di Paolo Biancucci,” Rivista di Archeologia Storia Costume 3/4 (2001). I would like to thank Professor Lenci for having shared his knowledge with me and having brought this painting to my attention. 39 Another work celebrating Trinitarian activities in Italy is the fresco attributed to Carlo Cesi (1626–1686) with the title San Giovanni de Matha e san Felice di Valois riscattano prigionieri e schiavi [Saint John de Matha
174 Rosita D’Amora and Saint Felix of Valois ransom prisoners and slaves]. This fresco used to be in the Church of San Dionigi alle Quattro Fontane in Rome, but was destroyed in 1939. Similarly of interest is the painting, by an unknown artist and entitled Redenzione di uno schiavo [Redemption of a slave], now kept in the Curia Arcivescovile in Lucca. Originally it was placed in the church of San Gerolamo, also in Lucca, that was, after the second half of the seventeenth century, used by the Trinitarian Order. I would like to thank don Daniele Martinelli from the Ufficio dei Beni Culturali e Arte Sacra dell’Arcidiocesi di Lucca for providing me with important information about this painting. 40 Davis “Slave Redemption,” 473, mentions that during the procession organised in Venice in 1764 the Trinitarian fathers were accompanied by ‘two enormous placards [soleri],’ one of which was ‘showing the imagined scene of two of the fathers negotiating the ransom, in a port in Barbary’. 4 1 Catalogus captivorum christianorum, Vienna 1780. 42 In early modern Italian, the expression prendere il turbante (to take the turban) was a synonym for “embracing Islam”. This idiom had also a French equivalent conveying the anxiety about French subjects embracing Islam, as it appears in the phrase ‘prennent le turban aussi facilement qu’un bonnet de nuit’, attributed to a French consul during the time of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, see Gillian Weiss, “Commerce, Conversion and French Religious Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean,” in The Adventure of Religious Pluralism in Early Modern France, ed. Keith Cameron, Mark Greengrass and Penny Roberts (Bern: Peter Lang, 2000), 276. This anxiety is equally expressed by English writers who often emphasised the link between conversion to Islam and the turban. See Nabil I. Matar, “Renaissance England and the Turban,” in Images of the Other: Europe and the Muslim World before 1700, ed. David Banks, (Cairo: American University in Cairo, 1996), 49–51.
Bibliography Archival sources (unpublished) Napoli: Archivio Storico del Pio Monte della Misericordia, Libro delle Conclusioni A (1603–1624). Napoli: Archivio Storico del Pio Monte della Misericordia, Libro delle Conclusioni B (1624–1631). Napoli: Archivio Storico del Pio Monte della Misericordia, Libro delle Conclusioni E (1650–1658). Primary sources (published) de’ Dominici, Bernardo. Vite de’ pittori, sculturi, ed architetti napoletani. Non mai date alla luce da autore alcuno. Napoli: Stamperia Ricciardi, 1743.
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 175 Secondary sources Baepler, Paul, ed. White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999. Benjamin, Paul “ ‘And the Moon Has Started to Bleed’: Apocalypticism and Religious Reform in Venetian Art at the Time of the Battle of Lepanto.” In The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450–1750. Visual Imagery before Orientalism, edited by James G. Harper, 67–94. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011. Bennassar, Bartolomé and Lucile Bennassar. Les chrétiens d’Allah: L’histoire extraordinaire des renégats, XVIe-XVIe siècles. Paris: Perrin, 1989. Boccadamo, Giuliana. “Prime indagini sull’origine e l’organizzazione della confraternita napoletana della “Redenzione dei Cattivi” (1548–1588).” Campania Sacra 7/8 (1977/1978): 121–158. ––– La redenzione dei Cattivi a Napoli nel Cinquecento. Lo statuto di una confraternita. Napoli: M. D’Auria Editore, 1985. ––– “I redentori napoletani. Mercanti, religiosi e rinnegati.” In Le commerce des captifs. Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, edited by Wolfgang Kaiser, 219–230. Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008. Bonaffini, Giuseppe. La Sicilia e i Barbareschi. Incursioni corsare e riscatto degli schiavi 1570–1606. Palermo: Ila Palma, 1983. ––– “Intermediari del riscatto degli schiavi siciliani nel Mediterraneo (secoli XVII-XIX).” In Le commerce des captifs. Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, edited by Wolfgang Kaiser, 251–266. Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008. Bono, Salvatore. Schiavi musulmani nell’Italia moderna. Galeotti, vu’ cumprà, domestici. Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1999. ––– “Récits d’esclaves au Maghreb considérations générales.” In Récits d’Orient dans les littératures d’Europe (XVIe-XVIIe siècles), edited by Anne Duprat and Émilie Picherot, 115–122. Paris: PUPS, 2008. D’Amora, Rosita. “Some Documents Concerning the Manumission of Slaves by the Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples (1681–1682).” Eurasian Studies 1/1 (2002): 37–76. ––– “Il Pio Monte della Misericordia di Napoli e l’Opera della Redenzione dei Cattivi nella prima metà del XVII.” In Le commerce des captifs. Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, edited by Wolfgang Kaiser, 231–250. Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008. Davis, Robert C. “Slave Redemption in Venice, 1585–1797.” In Venice Reconsidered: The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297–1797, edited by John Martin et Dennis Romano, 454–487. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. ––– “Counting European Slaves on the Barbary Coast.” Past & Present 172 (2001): 87–124.
176 Rosita D’Amora ––– “The Geography of Slaving in the Early Modern Mediterranean, 1500– 1800.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 37/1 (2007): 57–74. Dursteler, Eric R. Renegade Women: Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. Flannery, John. “The Trinitarian Order and the Ransom of Christian Captives.” Al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 23/2 (2011): 135–144. Fontenay, Michel. “Esclaves et/ou Captifs. Préciser les Concepts.” In Le commerce des captifs. Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, edited by Wolfgang Kaiser, 15–24. Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008. Kaiser, Wolfang. “Le mots du rachat. Fiction et rhétorique dans les procédures de rachat de captifs en Méditerranée XVIe-XVIIe siècles.” In Captifs en Méditerranée (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles). Histoire, récits et légendes, edited by François Moureau, 103–117. Paris: PUPS, 2008. La orden de Santa María de la Merced (1218–1992): Síntesis histórica. Rome: Instituto Histórico de la orden de la Merced, 1997. Lenci, Marco. “Riscatti di schiavi cristiani dal Maghreb. La Compagnia della SS. Pietà di Lucca (Secoli XVII-XIX).” Società e Storia 31 (1986): 53–80. ––– “Lucca e i barbareschi. Considerazioni circa la titolatura di una tela di Paolo Biancucci.” Rivista di Archeologia Storia Costume 3/4 (2001): 51–62. Lucchini, Enrica. La merce umana. Schiavitù e riscatto dei Liguri nel Seicento. Roma: Bonacci, 1990. Matar, Nabil I. “Renaissance England and the Turban.” In Images of the Other: Europe and the Muslim World before 1700, edited by David Banks, 39–54. Cairo: American University in Cairo, 1996. ––– Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Norton, Claire. “Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern Renegade.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29/2 (2009): 259–268. Pagano, Sergio. L’Archivio dell’Arciconfraternita del Gonfalone: cenni sto rici e inventario. Città del Vaticano: Archivio Vaticano, 1990. Remensnyder, Amy G. “Christian Captives, Muslim Maidens, and Mary.” Speculum 82/3 (2007): 642–677. Ricci, Giovanni. “Restauri di identità contaminate: gli schiavi liberati dai ‘Turchi’.” In Identità collettive tra Medioevo ed Età Moderna, edited by Paolo Prodi and Wolfgang Reinhard, 65–83. Bologna: CLUEB, 2002. Rostagno, Lucia. Mi faccio turco. Esperienze ed immagini dell’islam nell’Italia moderna. Roma: Istituto per l’Oriente, 1983.
‘Saving a slave, saving a soul’ 177 Ruhe, Ernstpeter. “Dire et ne pas dire: les récits de captifs germanophones et les cérémonies de retour.” In Captifs en Méditerranée (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles). Histoire, récits et légendes, edited by François Moureau, 119–133. Paris: PUPS, 2008. ––– “L’aire du soupçon. Les récits de captivité en langue allemande (XVIeXIXe siècles).” In Récits d’Orient dans les littératures d’Europe (XVIeXVIIe siècles), edited by Anne Duprat and Émilie Picherot, 185–200. Paris: PUPS, 2008. Sarti, Raffaella. “Bolognesi schiavi dei Turchi e schiavi Turchi a Bologna tra Cinque e Seicento: alterità etnico-religiosa e riduzione in schiavitù.” Quaderni Storici 2 (2001): 437–473. Scaraffia, Lucetta. Rinnegati. Per una storia dell’identità occidentale. Bari: Laterza, 1993. Spirito, Giada. Schiavi del Turco infedele. La confraternita del riscatto nella Ferrara del Settecento. Ferrara: Centro stampa comunale, 1999. Vitkus, Daniel J., ed. Piracy, Slavery and Redemption. Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. Weiss, Gillian. “Commerce, Conversion and French Religious Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean.” In The Adventure of Religious Pluralism in Early Modern France, edited by Keith Cameron, Mark Greengrass and Penny Roberts, 275–288. Bern: Peter Lang, 2000.
Translating the self Devotion, hybridity and religious conversion
8 Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam Adam Neuser reads Murad b. Abdullah in Ottoman Istanbul Martin Mulsow Sixteenth-century Antitrinitarians saw themselves in the forefront of the Protestant reformation, reading the Bible with historical-critical attention and denying any Biblical foundations of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Usually it was only confessional polemics that linked them with Islam and its strict monotheism. However, in a few cases, there were indeed personal encounters between these theologians and Muslims, and even a few cases of conversion to Islam. Adam Neuser, a Heidelberg minister, is such a case: he ended up as a Muslim in Istanbul.1 What kind of identity did he develop? Under what circumstances did he convert, and how did he live among the Ottomans? Neuser had originally been baptised as a Lutheran, but then, as an inhabitant of the Electoral Palatinate, became Calvinist along with the land when Elector Frederik III introduced the Reformed Religion in the 1660s. In any event, Neuser became an opponent of the Trinity doctrine; in 1570, he wrote a letter to the Sultan in Istanbul, Selim II, asserting that Christianity was corrupt, that Islam was better and that the Sultan should therefore take his army and conquer Europe. That was of course high treason on Neuser’s part. He never did send this letter, but to his chagrin it was found in his possession and he and his friends were condemned to death. Neuser eventually fled and attempted on several occasions to breach the “Iron Curtain” between Christian Europe and Ottoman-held territory, a border that went straight through Hungary. When he finally did make it across it to the Ottoman side, he was apprehended and had no choice but to convert to Islam, otherwise it was likely that he would have faced a long imprisonment on suspicion of espionage, or – even worse – been extradited to the Habsburg Empire. He ended his days in Istanbul, where he eked out an impecunious living as a translator among other renegade Germans. The eighteenth-century scholar Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wrote about Neuser and his conversion.2 I have recently started to examine more closely the story of Neuser, for, at the library in Gotha, I have found some exciting new material pertaining to the case. Until now, Neuser’s notorious letter to the Sultan was not
182 Martin Mulsow to be found in the Latin original but only in its translated German form. In the Gotha library, certain parts of the Latin text have now emerged as well as depictions of Neuser’s interrogation in Heidelberg, his self-justifications for the flight from Germany, letters from his son and arguments that he sketched out against the Trinity – all of this penned by Neuser himself.3 My interpretation of this bundle of papers is that they are fragments of an apologia that Neuser had been working on and in which, from memory, he reconstructed the content of his letter to the Sultan as well as his interrogation in Heidelberg. Why did Neuser feel it necessary to explain himself? Well, first of all, he was under all kinds of pressure. In Germany, his homeland, he had been defamed with a number of false accusations. His son was arrested in Vienna. And he himself had been tempted by the prospect of perhaps being granted amnesty and returning to Heidelberg, where his wife and other children awaited him. In 1573, a Habsburg imperial delegation arrived in Istanbul, where they made contact with Neuser and offered to free his son and allow Neuser to return home with impunity if he would work for them as a spy. The Habsburg offers were all empty promises – but that is not the focus here. Of far more interest is Neuser’s activity as a double-agent for the Ottomans who also wanted him to spy on the Habsburg delegation and decipher their letters. So, what did Neuser eventually do? Before answering this, I should like to examine the cryptographic marginalia of the Gotha fragments. At first I thought that these marginalia were Turkish or Hungarian, but they are in fact not in a foreign language, but are encoded characters. The question then was how to decode them? After several failed attempts, I was finally able to crack the code with the assistance of a colleague. For his marginalia, Neuser used the so-called Caesar Code. It bears this name because Suetonius recounted how Julius Caesar used a certain code in which each letter of the uncoded message would be replaced by a letter at some fixed number of positions down the alphabet. For example, with a shift of three, as Caesar used, the letter A would be replaced by the letter D, the letter B by E, C by F and so on. During the Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti had in fact developed a cipher disc to decrypt the Caesar Code and perhaps Neuser employed such a device. As an interpreter and occasionally also a spy at the Istanbul court, he had naturally gathered experience in encoding.4 If one is to understand Neuser’s role in this situation, perhaps the most important word in the coded marginalia is ‘labudge’. Decoded the word is ‘zopirus’.5 But who or what is ‘zopirus’? As it turns out, Zopyrus was the name of a man that Herodotus mentions in his Histories. Zopyrus was a highborn Persian in the service of King Darius who mutilated himself in order to win the trust of Babylonian insurgents against Persian rule. Zopyrus told the insurgents that the mutilation had been perpetrated by
Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam 183 Darius and that he, Zopyrus, wanted to go to the Babylonians in his exile. It was through this ruse that he was appointed commander of the Babylonian forces, and he succeeded in so weakening their army that Darius was once more able to conquer Babylonia.6 Why did Neuser use the name of this Persian soldier? There is one possible answer. He wanted to indicate that his conversion to Islam and his relocation to Constantinople was a mere trick to insinuate himself among the Ottomans so as to transmit information to the Christians. Just as Zopyrus had cut off his own nose and ear, so too did Neuser submit to circumcision (one can deduce this from his comparison) in the service of his Imperial Majesty. Could it be that Neuser’s encrypted marginalia was intended to be understood thus by the Christian reader; a meaning that was meant to stay hidden from Muslim audiences? Did Neuser wish to inform the Christians – that is to say, the delegation along with the Emperor and the Elector Palatine, all of whom considered Neuser a cause célèbre – that he was one of them? Was he saying that he would spy for them, if they would just let him go home? We will see, however, in the rest of this chapter that reality was more complex and nuanced. Living in Istanbul as a former Christian and as someone who favoured heterodox religious interpretations was not easy. Neuser could observe everyday what might happen to heterodox persons even on the Muslim side. In June 1573, he attended the public execution of a certain sheikh. In the report that we have no name is given, but it seems probable that the sheikh was Hamza Bali, a man from Bosnia, who had been persecuted by the grand vizier Sokullu Paşa.7 Neuser and his friends listened to the whispers that circulated about what this man believed and what his opinions were. If it was in fact Hamza Bali, then this is an instance which almost mirrored Neuser’s position in Christianity. Hamza Bali was executed as a zindiq, as a heretic or freethinker. According to some sources, he esteemed Jesus to some extent more than the prophet Muhammed – in a similar manner to other Bosnian Sufis of the Malāmiyya and the Bayrāmiyya sects. While Neuser was accused by the Christians of denying the Trinity, in the Ottoman Empire, sufi adherents of the Bektashiyya sect were accused, in contrast, of adhering to the Trinity: a trinity of Allah, Muhammad and Ali.8 But let us get back to the question of Neuser’s identity. How much did tactics play a role in Neuser’s styling of himself as a modern-day Zopyrus? Certainly some. He was still a convinced Muslim and when Antitrinitarian visitors came to Istanbul, he did the best he could to convert them to the Islamic faith. This is demonstrated by another source, a printed travelogue authored by Jacob Palaeologus, which very hard to come by today, the Epistola of 1573. Palaeologus was a Greek from Chios who asserted that he was descended from the Byzantine royal house and who had been a monk in Italy, but was then persuaded to reject the Trinity through the writings
184 Martin Mulsow of Servet.9 In Italy, he had been condemned to death but had been able to flee and was, in the 1570s, travelling through the Balkans and Istanbul. In his Epistola we still have his accounts of those conversations he had with Neuser in 1573, including talks they had about a tract intended to motivate people to convert to Islam. In the Epistola Palaeologus describes the tract as ‘a Turkish book [that] was given to me, which had certain passages translated into Latin by one of six royal translators, a man of not insubstantial learning, a former cleric, at first with the Christians, then with the Turks. The book explained the Turkish religion in its entirety’.10 Which book was he referring to? Palaeologus mentions neither title nor author. At first glance it would seem impossible to identify a particular text among the thousands in circulation at the time. Even Palaeologus’ subsequently more detailed description that ‘the entire middle section is a treatise on virtue’ does little to advance our inquiry. And yet there is a prominent text that had emanated from Istanbul’s dragoman (interpreter) milieu and which matches the points identified by Palaeologus.11 This book is the Guide for One’s Turning Towards God [Kitâb tesviyetü t-teveccüh ila l-hakk], a book designed to convert non-Muslims to Islam and which enjoyed a certain prominence at the time. The author of the book was Murad ibn Abdullah, himself a convert from Hungary who as a boy had been abducted at the Battle of Mohács in 1526.12 Murad wrote the piece in the years 1556 and 1557 in Ottoman-Turkish and ten years later furnished it with a Latin translation that was placed around the Ottoman-Turkish text. The very copy that Neuser and Palaeologus once held in their hands still exists today – in the British Library in London.13 This tract, which was intended to encourage converts to Islam, was presented to the Christian theologian Palaeologus by his Islamic hosts apparently with the challenge to him to counter the arguments put forward in the work in favour of Islam as the one true religion. Resident Europeans quickly picked up on this news. Palaeologus writes: ‘when he heard it, this Adam [Neuser] came with his companions and asked me if I could give him my opinion of this book. He himself didn’t wish to contradict me or risk saying anything’.14 Neuser was curious, while at the same time reassuring Palaeologus that this was not some veiled attempt to convert him. Neuser would have been acquainted with Murad ibn Abdullah as he himself either lived with or had lived with a dragoman and thus it is more than likely that their paths would have crossed as the circle of dragomans in Istanbul was not that large. So, we have here the opinion leader Neuser and certain of his friends such as Pentner and probably Ferber crowding around Palaeologus, curious as to how he will react to Murad’s arguments for Islam. Because Neuser must be careful, he pledges restraint. But Palaeologus wants to speak openly; he wants to find out what is the true religion as he writes ‘I answered him: If truth must be silent, then it would be better not to contradict Rome’.15 And he had already contradicted Rome and Catholicism so
Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam 185 seriously that he had been condemned to death in absentia. Neuser defends himself by saying that this is not a question of untruthfulness but selfprotection: ‘But he [Neuser] replied that all Christian soldiers who had been turned into Turks would – were they to be asked what they believed and wishing not to incur the displeasure of the clerics – be compelled to say that which the Sultan believed. Only in this way could they avoid unpleasant repercussions’.16 Howsoever risky it might be, a dispute does ensue, ‘but now [Neuser] came and asked: have you read this book? And I said: yes, I have read it. Then he said: so quickly?’. The question is a legitimate one, for this tract is some 340 pages long. ‘And I [replied]: why not, when I have spent my whole life in reading and commenting [on texts]. And he [said]: what do you think? Do you wish to become a Turk?’.17 Evidently Neuser had been dying to say this the entire time. Would Murad’s arguments, with which Neuser apparently identified, persuade this Antitrinitarian and move him to convert? Palaeologus counters, ‘a great work, I say, yet I am far from harbouring this notion. For the beginning and end is influenced by Muhammed, the Qur’an is cited, and all of the middle portion is a treatise on virtue. But on civic virtue you should read the Greek and Latin authors who lived before Christ and Mohammed’.18 Palaeologus recognised that Murad ibn Abdullah, who had had a certain basic Christian-humanistic education, had essentially produced a humanistic text framed by Islamic elements. At the core of the text is an extended discussion of the superiority of Muslim virtues over Christian but one set out in a humanistic manner. Tijana Krstic has recently analysed this work and examined the conversion story with which it begins.19 The main part of the text, however, still awaits analysis. Let me just give a random example of the text’s argument. In one chapter, Murad talks about the belief in miracles and examines the Christian claim that Moses and Jesus worked miracles. He counters this by arguing for a progression in the level of scientific education over time: in Moses’s time, there were already learned men and especially necromants that could do great things; but with the help of God Moses surpassed them all. Likewise, Jesus was supported by God to bring a man back to life although there were many well trained physicians around. And in Muhammad’s time there was again more learning, not only scientific, but even in rhetoric and in the refined humanistic disciplines (subtilioribus humanitatibusque tanti praestantiorus), but still Muhammed surpassed the others with the help of the Qur’an.20 It was without difficulty that Palaeologus discerned the humanistic elements of Murad’s text, but he instead argues that rather than read a text that uses derivative arguments it is preferable to go straight to the ancient authors and read them in the original Greek and Latin. Why deal with arguments about virtues, if one could take them directly from Plato or Aristotle? Then he changes the subject and introduces a specific critique vis-à-vis Neuser’s strategy of argumentation, which was always in favour of Islam.
186 Martin Mulsow Whenever the interpretation of the Qur’an was at issue, Neuser was quick to criticise Bibliander’s Latin translation of the Qur’an as a bastardisation, ‘but you do not wish to speak of Mohammed unless you have given us a good translation of the Qur’an, after you have said that it has been badly translated by Christians, but that you will read it well translated – then what can I say?’.21 Palaeologus complains that he cannot really dispute with Neuser if he insists on casting doubt on the textual basis for his arguments while constantly mentioning that there will be a better translation in the future. We can reasonably conclude from these comments that Neuser was undertaking a new Latin translation of the Qur’an, or at least of parts of it. We know that in Heidelberg he had annotated his copy of Bibliander’s Latin translation of the Qur’an with copious notes and corrections and also while in Istanbul he owned another edition of Bibliander, along with other writings in whose margins he was constantly scribbling his commentary.22 From those pages found in the library in Gotha, Neuser writes in code, ‘one can compare my copy of the Qur’an at the section where I annotated the book De doctrina Mahometis’.23 This text was a translation of Masā’il Abdallah b. Salām and was bound together with the Bibliander Qur’an.24 He says this in a marginal gloss on a passage in his reconstructed letter to the Sultan, the gloss ending with the summary, ‘on the basis of these stories it would appear that Christianity and the Qur’an do not represent differing views’.25 Neuser kept himself busy with old versions of the Gospels, with his own translations from the Qur’an and with comparisons between Christian and Islamic doctrine so as to reconstruct a true and pristine “Islamic” Christianity that would be a kind of synthesis of both religions. But Palaeologus was not persuaded. To sum up, the story of Adam Neuser demonstrates the conversion of a person from being a Calvinist to an Antitrinitarian position and finally to adopting Islam. In order to accomplish such a conversion, Neuser had to enter the contact zone between Christianity and Islam. He had to physically cross the border between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires in Transylvania. But somehow he was caught in between: in his years in Istanbul, Neuser developed a hybrid persona. He was a Muslim cooperating with the court of the Ottoman Sultan, but simultaneously a “Christian” looking for ancient manuscripts that could support his Antitrinitarian views who was still in contact with friends in Western Europe. In order to make this hybrid position comprehensible to himself, he forged a selffashioning as “Zopyrus” – the Persian undercover agent in Mesopotamia. In encrypted annotations to his Qur’an and in other writings, he tried to define both the extent to which he could agree with Islam and the extent to which he disagreed. In doing so, he worked on a book which would both serve as an apology for his conversion and a true account of his life. This book, however, was never finished as Neuser died in 1576, but we do have a draft of this work in the form of the bundle of papers found in the Research Library in Gotha.26
Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam 187
Notes 1 On Neuser (ca. 1530–1576) see Christopher J. Burchill, The Heidelberg Antitrinitarians: Johann Sylvan. Adam Neuser. Matthias Vehe. Jacob Suter. Johann Hasler (Baden-Baden/Bouxwiller: Koerner, 1989); Georg Veesenmeyer, “Noch etwas von Adam Neuser,” Theologische Studien und Kritiken 2 (1829); Hans Rott, “Neue Quellen für eine Aktenrevision des Prozesses gegen Sylvan und seine Genossen,” Neues Archiv für die Geschichte der Stadt Heidelberg und der rheinischen Pfalz 8 (1910), and 9 (1911); Curt Horn, Der Kampf zwischen Calvinismus und Zwinglianismus in Heidelberg und der Process gegen den Antitrinitarier Johann Sylvan, (Heidelberg: J. Hörning, 1913); Curt Horn: Der Kampf zwischen Calvinismus und Zwinglianismus in Heidelberg und der Process gegen den Antitrinitarier Johann Sylvan, Heidelberg 1913 (also in: Neue Heidelberger Jahrbücher 17 , pp. 219–310, as: Joh. Sylvan und die Anfänge des Heidelberger Antitrinitarismus); Antal Pirnát: Die Heidelberger Flüchtlinge (Neuser und Glirius), in his: Die Ideologie der Siebenbürger Antitrinitarier in den 1570er Jahren (Budapest: Academy of Sciences, 1961), pp. 117–134; Paul Philippi, “Sylvanus und Transsylvanien. Ein Stück Toleranzgeschichte zwischen Heidelberg und Siebenbürgen,” in Sechshundert Jahre Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg 1386–1986, (Heidelberg: Springer, 1985); Raoul Motika, “Adam Neuser. Ein Heidelberger Theologe im Osmanischen Reich,” in Frauen, Bilder und Gelehrte. Studien zu Gesellschaft und Künsten im Osmanischen Reich. Festschrift Hans Georg Majer, ed. Sabine Prätor and Christoph K. Neumann (Istanbul: Simurg, 2002); Ralf C. Müller, Franken im Osten. Art, Umfang, Struktur und Dynamik der Migration aus dem lateinischen Westen in das Osmanische Reich des 15./16. Jahrhunderts auf der Grundlage von Reiseberichten, (Leipzig: Eudora, 2005), 217–31; Martin Mulsow, “Fluchträume und Exilräume zwischen Heidelberg und Konstantinopel: Der Fall Adam Neuser,” in Freidenker – Kriminelle – Alchemisten. Räume des Untergrunds in der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Mulsow (Köln: Böhlau, 2014); Mulsow, “Adam Neusers Brief an Selim II. und seine geplante Rechtfertigungsschrift. Eine Rekonstruktion anhand neuer Manuskriptfunde,” in Religiöser Nonkonformismus und frühneuzeitliche Gelehrtenkultur, ed. Friedrich Vollhardt (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2014). 2 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, “Von Adam Neusern, einige authentische Nachrichten,” in Lessing, Werke und Briefe, vol. 8, ed. Arno Schilson (Frankfurt: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1989) 57–114; and commentary 789–841. 3 Gotha: Research Library, Chart. A 407, fol. 345r-353v. Two letters from Neuser’s son Adam to his father 340r-343v; letter by Caspar Baumann to Neuser 345r-346v; theological arguments against the trinity 347r, 348r-348v; fragments of the minutes of Neuser’s interrogation in prison 347v, 350r, 353r-353v; notes and autobiographical fragments 349r, 350v; letter to Sultan Selim II, with marginalia in encoded script, version B 351r-351v; letter to Sultan Selim II, version A (shorter) 352r-352v, with additional notes on fol. 352v at the bottom. The bundle of papers is part of a collection of letters to the
188 Martin Mulsow Tübingen theologian Stephan Gerlach, who was in Istanbul as a missionary preacher from 1573–1578, and who was in contact with Neuser. The two versions of the letter to Selim II cannot be original, as that was presumably confiscated in Heidelberg. Instead, there is good reason to believe that, in his notes, Neuser reconstructed the letter and the interrogation from memory (hence the differences between these versions and the only known German translation of the letter), as part of his attempt to defend himself with an Apologia against defamation. It is thought that he hoped to print them in Transylvania in 1572, which meant entering Ottoman territory. While in Istanbul, Neuser appears to have continued working on his Apologia. 4 On coded letters in diplomacy, see Anne-Simone Rous and Martin Mulsow, eds., Geheime Post: Kryptologie und Steganographie der diplomatischen Korrespondenz europäischer Höfe während der Frühen Neuzeit (Berlin: Dunker and Humblot, 2015). 5 Research Library Gotha, Chart. A 407, fol. 351v. 6 See Herodotus, Historiae, ed. K. Hude, (Oxford: 1963), book III, 153sqq. 7 See Epistola Iacobi Palaeologi, de rebus Constantinopoli et Chii cum eo actis, lectu digna. Anno 1573 ([s.l.], 1591), fol. B iii v (in the 1594 edition: p.18f.), ‘Redeo Constantinopolim, ubi die 7. Iunii, spectante Adamo illo Neyssero, crudelissime est Sechus unus caesus a Turcis, jussu sacerdotum aliorum, et ipse Sacerdos. Is audita concione, in qua narrabatur, Deum septem orbes, & septem caelos creasse, misisseque equum e caelo Ad Mahumetem, per Gabrielem Archangelum, ut ille conscenso equo perlustrare posset omnes septem orbes, ut deligeret locum, in quo habitare cum suis posset: dixit hanc esse fictam fabulam, & persistendum esse in Alcorani narrationibus, cui nihil esset addendum: & ita egit, ut magnam & splendidam multitudinem in suam sententiam pertraxerit’. On Hamza Bali see Tayyib Okiç, “Quelques documents inédites concernant les Hamzawites,” in Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Congress of Orientalists, ed. Ahmet Zeki Validi Togan (Leiden: Brill, 1957). 8 See Frederick W. Hasluck, Christianity and Islam under the Sultans (Oxford: OUP, 1929); Irène Mélikoff, Hadji Bektash: un mythe et ses avatares. Genèse et évolution du soufisme populaire en Turquie, (Leiden: Brill, 1998). 9 On Palaeologus, see Mihály Balázs, Early Transylvanian Antitrinitarianism (1566–1571): From Servet to Palaeologus (Baden Baden: Koerner, 1996); Antal Pirnát, Die Ideologie der Siebenbürger Antitrinitarier in den 1570er Jahren (Budapest: Academy of Sciences, 1961). 1 0 Epistola Iacobi Palaeologi (see n. 7), fol. B iii v (1594: p. 19) ‘Eodem tempore, quo ista fierent, datus est mihi legendus liber Turcicus, cum apposita ad singulos versus Latina interpretatione, ab interprete uno Regio sene, et non indocto viro, sacerdote olim, prius Christianorum, deinde Turcorum: in eo tota religio Turcica explicabantur’. All translations from the Latin are done by the author unless otherwise indicated. 11 Dragoman comes from the Arabic word tarjuman meaning translator or interpreter. Dragomen working in Istanbul, either for the Ottoman state or
Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam 189 attached to foreign embassies often undertook diplomatic roles as well as the duties of translation. Because of the need to be very familiar with European languages as well as Ottoman-Turkish (Arabic and Persian), converts from Christianity were often employed in this role. 1 2 Kitab-l tesviyetü’t-teveccüh ila‚ l-hakk, London: British Library, Add. 19894. On Murad, see Tijana Krstić, “Illuminated by the Light of Islam and the Glory of the Ottoman Sultanate: Self-Narratives of Conversion to Islam in the Age of Confessionalization,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 51 (2009); Franz Babinger, “Der Pfortendolmetsch Murad und seine Schriften,” in Literaturdenkmäler aus Ungarns Türkenzeit, ed. Franz Babinger, Robert Gragger, Eugen Mittwoch and J. H. Mordtmann. (Berlin and Leipzig: De Gruyter, 1927); Josef Matuz, “Die Pfortendolmetscher zur Herrschaftszeit Süleymans des Prächtigen,” Südost-Forschungen, 34 (1975); E. Nathalie Rothman, “Interpreting Dragomans: Boundaries and Crossings in the Early Modern Mediterranean,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 51 (2009); Pál Ács, “Tarjumans Mahmud and Murad. Austrian and Hungarian Renegades as Sultan’s Interpreters,” in Europa und die Türken in der Renaissance, ed. Bodo Guthmüller and Wilhelm Kühlmann (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000). 13 The British Library copy seems to be an autograph and the sole copy that Murad produced. 1 4 Epistola, fol. B iii v (1594: S. 19f.) ‘Hoc audito Adamus ille cum suis sociis venit ad me, rogans, ne iudicium meum in librum illum / dicere nec contradicere vellem ne periclitarer’. 1 5 Epistola, fol. B iii v (1594: p. 20) ‘Respondi: Si tacenda est veritas, satius erat Romae reticere’. 1 6 Epistola, fol. B iii v (1594: p. 20) ‘Dicebat autem, omnes milites ex Christianis factos Turcos, cum rogarentur quid crederent, ut vitarent improbitatem Sacerdotum, cogi dicere Id quod Rex credit, ita enim vitare omnes molestias’. 1 7 Epistola, fol. B iii v (1594: p. 20) ‘Venit igitur ille, et dixit, Legistine librum? Perlegi, inquam ego: et ille: Tam cito? Quid ni, inquam, cum vitam traduxerim legendo, commentando? Et ille. Quid sentis? Eris Turcus?’ 1 8 Epistola, fol. B iii v (1594: p. 20) ‘Multum, inquam ego, longiquus sum ab hac sententia: nam liber vester principia et fines habet de Mehemeto, et citat Alcoranum. Media omnia continet tractatum de virtutibus. De virtutibus autem civilibus vellem legisses scriptores Graecos et Latinos eos, die fuerunt ante natum Christum et Mehemetum’. 1 9 Tijana Krstić, “Illuminated by the Light of Islam,” n. 11. 20 British Library, Add. 19894, Kitâb tesviyetü t-teveccüh ila l-hakk, fol. 55 ‘Miraculum igitur revivificationis cadaverum, ut si populus eiusdem temporis videret potuit vidit et exemplum et doctrinam capiens ad fidem divinam conversus fuerit. Utilitas saltem ipsi sibimet profuit. Sed app[ar]ire hoc miraculum quomodo usque ad finem etatis mundi superest. Videtur num unquam deficiet medicinaque eius et salmificatio per ipsum semper
190 Martin Mulsow supra fidelis appregitur [?]. Miraculum autem revivificationis mortuorum et resanatio morborum corporalium per dominum jesum propterea abundantius demonstratum est. quoniam populus sui temporis in arte phisica pluris laborantes addipisci studebant. Et docti fuerant. Jesus tempore medicorum peritissimorum advenerat. Ergo ut omnes illos phisicos superet et vincat propterea sibi deus altissimus omnipotens, etiam et revivificationum mortuorum concesserat, per virtutem et potentiam nominis dei maximi quodquidem addoctus fuerat itaque etiam et mortuos resuscitabat. Item quemadmodum populus temporis moisi artem nigromanticam addipisci versabatur, tamen moises per miraculum magnum omnes nigromantes vinxit. Sic etiam tempore muhamedi homines docti et . . . omniarum periti et scientiarum posie eruditi laborabant. Et autem eloquentiarum addipitabant, subtilioribus humanitatibusque tanti praestabtiorus urant ut unum pilum quod viginta partes dividebant ergo omnes ipsos medio miraculorum huius sacratissimi alcurani superavit et vinxit’. 2 1 Epistola, fol. B iv r (1594: S. 20): ‘De Mehemeto autem, nisi Alcoranus abs te bene vertatur, postquam dicis, fuisse Christianis male versum, et ego bene versum legero, quid dicere possim?’ Bibliander’s Latin translation of the Qur’an was published in 1543 and was the first text to acquaint the west with the Qur’an on such a large scale. 22 A hint to Neuser’s Heidelberg copy is in Ludwig Christian Mieg, ed., Monumenta pietatis et literaria virorum in re publica et literaria illustrium selecta (Frankfurt: Maximilan, 1701), “Praefatio” p. *6, ‘cujus [Neuseri] Epistola, quam publicamus, & notae, quas Alcorani sui margini allevit, quasque penes nos asservamus’. 23 Gotha: Research Library, Chart. A 407, fol. 351v, marginalia left side on the bottom, ‘inspiciatur meus alcoran ubi mea manu scripsi in librum de doctrina mahometis’. 24 On the Masā’il Abdallah b. Salām, see Hartmut Bobzin, Der Koran im Zeitalter der Reformation (Beirut: Orient-Institut, 2008; first edition 1995), 50, 217, 331ff. See the Bibliander edition of the Qur’an, Machumetis Saracenorum principis eiusque successorum vitae ac doctrina, ipseque Alcoran, quo velut authentico legum divinarum codice Agareni et Turcae, alii[que] Christo adversantes populi reguntur . . . His adiunctae una cum excelentiß. Theologi Martini Lutheri praemonitione . . . adiunctae sunt etiam, Turcarum . . . res gestae maxime memorabiles . . . Haec omnia in unum volumen redacta sunt, opera et studio Theodori Bibliandri (Zürich: Oporinus, 1543). There, the Masā’il Abdallah b. Salām is on 189–200, Incipit Doctrina Mahomet, quae apud Saracenos magnae authoritatis est: ab eodem Hermanno translata, cum esset peritissimus utriusque linguae, Latinae scilicet atque Arabicae. 25 Gotha: Research Library, Chart. A 407, fol. 352r, ‘Ex quibis historiis videtur apparire Christianismum et Alcuranum non dissentire.’ 26 See n. 3.
Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam 191
Bibliography Archival sources (unpublished) Gotha: Research Library. Chart. A 407, fol. 345r-353v London: British Library. Kitâb tesviyetü t-teveccüh ila l-hakk Add. 19894, fols 1b-167a Primary sources (published) Bibliander, Theodor. Machumetis Saracenorum principis eiusque successorum vitae ac doctrina, ipseque Alcoran, quo velut authentico legum divinarum codice Agareni et Turcae, alii[que] Christo adversantes populi reguntur . . . His adiunctae una cum excelentiß. Theologi Martini Lutheri praemonitione . . . adiunctae sunt etiam, Turcarum . . . res gestae maxime memorabiles . . . Haec omnia in unum volumen redacta sunt, opera et studio Theodori Bibliandri. Zürich: 1543. Palaeologus, Jacobus. Epistola Iacobi Palaeologi, de rebus Constantinopoli et Chii cum eo actis, lectu digna: anno 1573. 1591. Secondary sources Ács, Pál. “Tarjumans Mahmud and Murad. Austrian and Hungarian Renegades as Sultan’s Interpreters.” In Europa und die Türken in der Renaissance, edited by Bodo Guthmüller and Wilhelm Kühlmann, 307–316. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000. Babinger, Franz. “Der Pfortendolmetsch Murad und seine Schriften.” In Literaturdenkmäler aus Ungarns Türkenzeit, edited by Franz Babinger, Robert Gragger, Eugen Mittwoch and J. H. Mordtmann, 33–69. Berlin and Leipzig: De Gruyter, 1927. Balázs, Mihály. Early Transylvanian Antitrinitarianism (1566–1571): From Servet to Palaeologus. Baden Baden: Koerner, 1996. Bobzin, Hartmut. Der Koran im Zeitalter der Reformation. Beirut: OrientInstitut, 2008, first edition 1995. Burchill, Christopher J. The Heidelberg Antitrinitarians: Johann Sylvan. Adam Neuser. Matthias Vehe. Jacob Suter. Johann Hasler. Baden-Baden/ Bouxwiller: Koerner, 1989. Hasluck, Frederick W. Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, 2 vols. Oxford: OUP, 1929. Herodotus. Historiae. Edited by K. Hude. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963. Horn, Curt. Der Kampf zwischen Calvinismus und Zwinglianismus in Heidelberg und der Process gegen den Antitrinitarier Johann Sylvan. Heidelberg: J. Hörning, 1913.
192 Martin Mulsow ––– “Joh. Sylvan und die Anfänge des Heidelberger Antitrinitarismus; Antal Pirnát: Die Heidelberger Flüchtlinge (Neuser und Glirius).” Neue Heidelberger Jahrbücher 17 (1913): 219–310. ––– Die Ideologie der Siebenbürger Antitrinitarier in den 1570er Jahren. Budapest: Academy of Sciences, 1961. Krstić, Tijana. “Illuminated by the Light of Islam and the Glory of the Ottoman Sultanate: Self-Narratives of Conversion to Islam in the Age of Confessionalization.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 51 (2009): 35–63. Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim. “Von Adam Neusern, einige authentische Nachrichten.” In Lessing, Werke und Briefe, edited by Arno Schilson, vol. 8, 57–114. Frankfurt: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1989. Matuz, Josef. “Die Pfortendolmetscher zur Herrschaftszeit Süleymans des Prächtigen.” in Südost-Forschungen, 34 (1975): 26–60. Mélikoff, Irène. Hadji Bektash: un mythe et ses avatares. Genèse et évolution du soufisme populaire en Turquie. Leiden: Brill, 1998. Mieg, Ludwig Christian ed. Monumenta pietatis et literaria virorum in re publica et literaria illustrium selecta. Frankfurt: Maximilan, 1701. Motika, Raoul. “Adam Neuser. Ein Heidelberger Theologe im Osmanischen Reich.” In Frauen, Bilder und Gelehrte. Studien zu Gesellschaft und Künsten im Osmanischen Reich. Festschrift Hans Georg Majer, edited by Sabine Prätor and Christoph K. Neumann, 523–538. Istanbul: Simurg, 2002. Mulsow, Martin. “Adam Neusers Brief an Selim II. und seine geplante Rechtfertigungsschrift. Eine Rekonstruktion anhand neuer Manuskriptfunde.” In Religiöser Nonkonformismus und frühneuzeitliche Gelehrtenkultur, edited by Friedrich Vollhardt, 293–318. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2014. ––– “Fluchträume und Exilräume zwischen Heidelberg und Konstantinopel: Der Fall Adam Neuser.” In Freidenker – Kriminelle – Alchemisten. Räume des Untergrunds in der Frühen Neuzeit, edited by Mulsow, 33–60. Köln: Böhlau, 2014. Müller, Ralf C. Franken im Osten. Art, Umfang, Struktur und Dynamik der Migration aus dem lateinischen Westen in das Osmanische Reich des 15./16. Jahrhunderts auf der Grundlage von Reiseberichten. Leipzig: Eudora, 2005. Okiç, Tayyib. “Quelques documents inédites concernant les Hamzawites.” In Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Congress of Orientalists, edited by Ahmet Zeki Validi Togan, vol. 2, 279–286. Leiden: Brill, 1957. Philippi, Paul. “Sylvanus und Transsylvanien. Ein Stück Toleranzgeschichte zwischen Heidelberg und Siebenbürgen.” In Sechshundert Jahre RuprechtKarls-Universität Heidelberg 1386–1986, edited by Semper Apertus, vol. 1, 213–230. Heidelberg: Springer, 1985. Pirnát, Antal. Die Ideologie der Siebenbürger Antitrinitarier in den 1570er Jahren. Budapest: Academy of Sciences, 1961.
Antitrinitarians and conversion to Islam 193 Rothman, E. Nathalie. “Interpreting Dragomans: Boundaries and Crossings in the Early Modern Mediterranean.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 51 (2009): 771–800. Rott, Hans. “Neue Quellen für eine Aktenrevision des Prozesses gegen Sylvan und seine Genossen.” Neues Archiv für die Geschichte der Stadt Heidelberg und der rheinischen Pfalz 8 (1910): 184–259 and 9 (1911): 1–70. Rous, Anne-Simone and Martin Mulsow, eds. Geheime Post: Kryptologie und Steganographie der diplomatischen Korrespondenz europäischer Höfe während der Frühen Neuzeit. Berlin: Dunker and Humblot, 2015. Veesenmeyer, Georg. “Noch etwas von Adam Neuser.” Theologische Studien und Kritiken 2 (1829): 553–559.
9 The many languages of the self in the early modern Mediterranean Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān (1355–1423) – Friar, Muslim convert and translator Elisabetta Benigni Massignon’s reading of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān in Cairo Cairo, 1917. French Orientalist Louis Massignon (1883–1962) was working as translator and advisor for the French government. The government appointed him temporarily to the rank of captain for his expertise in Arabic and his knowledge of Islam. In the political frame of the FrancoBritish Sykes-Picot mission, Massignon was working on the implementation of the agreements already signed in London in 1916. During his stay in Cairo, Massignon combined his activity as a scholar and diplomat for the French government with his participation in a prayer group. The prayer group aimed at sharing moments of contemplation between Oriental and Latin Christians and at reinforcing belief within the local Christian community. In order to better understand this intermingling of scholarly, political and missionary activities, one needs to look at the personal life of Louis Massignon. When he first arrived in Cairo in 1906 as an appointed member of the IFAO (French Institute for Oriental Archaeology), Louis Massignon was a young, enthusiastic scholar of Islamic culture who immersed himself in the study of Islamic tradition.1 In 1909, he left Cairo to join an archaeological mission in Iraq. During this mission, although already culturally Christian, he went through a dramatic experience of spiritual conversion which led him to become a convinced, believing Christian.2 Therefore, when he returned to Cairo in 1909–1910, he was in some ways a completely different person, someone who manifested a strong desire to actively disseminate the message of Christianity. In Egypt, driven by his enthusiasm and desire to manifest his new faith, he founded the prayer group that was later to become the Badaliya Prayer Association.3 This prayer group was still active when he went back to Cairo in 1912–1913 to deliver a course on Islamic Philosophy at Cairo University, and in 1917 during his diplomatic mission for the French government.4
The many languages of the self 195 It was while participating in the wider activities of the Cairene Christian community that Massignon for the first time came across a fifteenthcentury Arabic polemic against Christianity written by a Catalan Franciscan friar who moved to Tunis and converted to Islam. The polemic, signed with the Arabic name of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān (‘Abdallāh the Translator) and entitled Tuḥfat al-Adīb fī al-Radd ‘alā Ahl al-Ṣalīb [A Unique Find for the Intelligent Mind: A Treatise of Riposte to the People of the Cross], was translated by the Arabist Jean Spiro (1847–1914) with the title Le présent de l’homme letteré puor refuter les partisans de la croix.5 The text in translation instigated a crisis of belief in a member of Massignon’s prayer group. Massignon’s reaction to the threat of conversion to Islam of a member of his prayer group was immediate. After having spent many nights discussing ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s polemic with his Christian brother in order to help him to overcome his crisis of faith, Massignon was able to persuade him concerning the truthfulness of Christianity and undermined the Islamic polemical attack through a solid academic and theological argument.6 This argument was so convincing that his interlocutor invited Massignon to put it in written form and to publish it.7 Massignon’s argumentative essay on the anti-Christian polemic by the convert ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān raises a series of interesting questions related to the act of “conversion”. Both Massignon and ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān were converts who defended their faith confronting the “lure” of the “other” belief. Obviously the term “conversion” (intiqāl or tabdīl) implies a different meaning for the twentieth-century scholar of Islam who converted to Christianity and for the fifteenth-century friar who converted to Islam. Conversion for Massignon meant an intimate “return” to his Christian beliefs through the inspiration given by his knowledge of Islam and of Arabic traditional literature. For ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, conversion corresponded to a moment of revelation and came as a consequence of his reading of the Gospels and of the writings of the Church Fathers, which he claimed had been falsified and not correctly interpreted. The two stories of conversion are, in this sense, related and symmetrical: ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān reached his revelation through the study of Christian texts and Massignon was illuminated by the light of Christianity after years spent studying Islamic tradition. Massignon’s reading of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s story of conversion is not merely a scholarly analysis of a medieval text but a refined theological treatise with a specific spiritual aim. To analyse ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s text, Massignon applies the same methodology that he used for his studies dealing with the tenth-century Sufi mystic Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj, namely the merging of sociology, historiography and comparative theology.8 Specifically, in the Examen du “Présent de l’homme lettré” he refers to Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Summa contra gentiles, comparing Christian and Islamic theologies within the framework of a detailed analysis of their respective languages.
196 Elisabetta Benigni The importance Massignon gives to apologetic writing is related to his perception of the genre as a spiritual “in-between” stage, in which the soul of the reader is divided between the two realms of Christianity and Islam.9 In order to minimise the power of the seduction of al-Turjumān’s antiChristian polemic, Massignon attacks Muslim apologetics as ‘literalist and destructive’ (‘littérale et destructrice’) and compares them with Christian apologetics which he defines in contrast as ‘genuine and vivifying’ (‘réelle et vivifiante’).10 He also tries to minimise the importance of the work by al-Turjumān in comparison with other anti-Christian polemics.11 And yet, despite Massignon’s attempts to downplay the significance of the Tuḥfa, his engagement with this text clearly shows that he was intrigued by the story of the converted friar and even concerned by its power to seduce, five centuries later, his fellow Christian friends in Cairo.12 There is a note of irony in Massignon’s serious Christian engagement with ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s apologetics for Islam: just a few years before he wrote his Examen, with a coup de théâtre which had a resonance through the fields of Spanish and Catalan philology and Arabic studies, the author of the Tuḥfa, ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān was revealed to be the Franciscan Friar and Catalan renowned Christian poet Anselm Turmeda. The detail that Massignon ignored was in fact important: the author of the anti-Christian polemic ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, even after his conversion to Islam and move to Tunis, was still composing texts in Catalan addressed to a Christian audience, signing them not only with his Christian name, Anselm Turmeda, but also with the title of fray – the Catalan word for friar. The conflation of the two identities of the Muslim convert and the Christian friar aroused accusations of a double personality and a number of controversies. The Catalan Christian literary legacy by Anselm Turmeda and the Arabic Islamic treatise by ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān had had independent circulations until the twentieth century. After it was realised that they had been written by the same person, they were henceforth read in conjunction, and audiences became acutely aware of the life story of this seemingly shattered and schizophrenic character encompassing both a Christian and an Islamic identity. This chapter examines the problematic reception of the idea of the multiplication of identities, mobility and conversion in the early modern Mediterranean. I shall argue that before the era of the confessionalisation of empires, the porous space of the Mediterranean offered to travellers and scholars like Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān opportunities for the transgression of borders and the multiplication of identities.13 This multiplication was facilitated by their familiarity with many languages and by the act of translation as variously understood. The story of Anselm Turmeda or ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān takes place in the fluid space of the travelling of texts and ideas, notably in the space of the circulation of languages and translations of the early modern Mediterranean.14 The tendency of modern and
The many languages of the self 197 contemporary scholars to look at only one side of this intrinsically “double” story, accusations of a lack of integrity that were made against him and a mistrust in the sincerity of his conversion will be discussed in light of an alternative paradigm which sees conversion as an act of self-translation and as a multiplication of the languages of the self.
Multiplying the identities through manuscripts and critical editions The ‘liquid archive’ of the Mediterranean is rich with fictive and real stories of conversion.15 In some parts, these two dimensions overlap. The story of the friar Anselm Turmeda, born on the Catalan island of Mallorca and who converted to Islam adopting the name ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, corresponds and at the same time subverts the paradigm of a conversion narrative. Whereas conversion narratives are often based on a clear divide between two lives, the old life and the new one, Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s life is impossible to split.16 The continuation of his Christian writings after his conversion to Islam and move to Tunis, the multiplications of Islamic and Christian traditions about his life and fate and, finally, the circulation and appreciation of his two written legacies across the modern Mediterranean are all aspects that make the life of the Catalan friar a puzzling story. Yet, although the ‘archive of the Mediterranean’ preserves the apparently contradictory two lives of Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān through oral legends and literary references, the first-person conversion narrative and polemical treatise titled Tuḥfat al-Adīb narrates a clear-cut divide between an old and a new identity.17 This does not mean that what al-Turjumān narrates about his life in the Tuḥfa should to be seen as “real” in contrast to other sources and stories about his conversion. However, the Tuḥfat al-Adīb has a specific relevance because it is the form within which the story was narrated presumably by the author to an implied readership.18 Places cited in the Tuḥfa’s first-person story encompass various important centres of the Mediterranean early modern geography of learning. The place of birth of Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, Catalonia, was the centre of the Aragonese Empire, which dominated the Mediterranean during the fourteenth century, its maritime power confronting the Muslim sultanates further along the coast. The Western Schism at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century was a time of great crisis with the expansion of the mendicant orders and the spread of a polemical spirit against the material power of the Church.19 According to what the converted friar says about himself, in the early stages of his life he was trained to read the gospels and then he left Mallorca with the aim of becoming a scholar.20 He first went to study in Lleida, the university town in Catalonia and afterwards he moved to Bologna to study law and
198 Elisabetta Benigni theology.21 During his stay in Bologna, his life suddenly took a completely different trajectory as he decided to reject his Franciscan commitments and to convert to Islam. This turning point occurred when his professor of theology, Niccolò Martello, fell ill and did not come to class one day. Despite the absence of the professor, the students carried on the lesson by themselves. Their discussion centred on the nature of the Paraclete who is mentioned repeatedly in the Gospel of John.22 Dissatisfied with these debates, Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān went to his ill professor’s home and summarised the students’ arguments for him.23 The professor carefully paid attention to him, but dismissed these judgements as fallacious. Then, not without hesitation and fear, he secretly confessed to his student the real nature of the Paraclete: it/he is indeed not the spirit of Christ but Muḥammad, the Prophet of Islam.24 It should be noted that Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, before narrating the episode of his conversion, underlines in the course of narration his intimate relation with his teacher Niccolò Martello, to the extent that he was familiar to his house and was given access to all the rooms except for one hidden room, whose key was prohibited to him and where the student had assumed the many presents received by his teacher from his students are stored.25 The motif of the key and of the prohibited room are well known in fairy tales and folkloric accounts and it is probably from one of the many circulating narratives that Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān appropriated this idea.26 His sudden discovery of his teacher’s practice of Islam may suggest the concrete and symbolic meaning of this ‘secret and inaccessible’ room. If the room existed, then it is likely that it either stored Islamic books or it may have been a prayer room. On a symbolic level, the closed room stands for the secrecy and inaccessibility of the revelation. The reference to the missing key remains suspended in his account and Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān does not come back to this issue. However, it is important to note that the author frames the account of his stay in Bologna and his conversion as a ‘journey of initiation’. After the shocking revelation by Niccolò Martello, Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān left Bologna, returned for a short period of some months to Catalonia, then went to Sicily and from there finally headed towards the “other” shore, crossing the Mediterranean in order to arrive in the lands of Islam.27 In Tunis, after a period in which he hid his identity, he publicly confessed his new faith and changed his name to ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān. He eventually married, had a child and became an important translator and diplomat in the Hafsid court of Tunis.28 The autobiographical section in Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s work occupies only the first part of the manuscript. The second section contains a description of his life in Tunis and a laudatory biography of the Sultan of Tunis Abū Fāris, whereas it is in the third part that he develops his counter-Christian polemic.29 It was the third part that attracted the
The many languages of the self 199 attention of the nineteenth-century translator Jean Spiro and subsequently Louis Massignon. This is a polemic against Christianity, which unfolds through a strict argumentative logic divided into nine chapters. In chapters one to six, the author underlines the mistakes in the Gospels. He describes the divisions of Christians into different sects and discusses the historicity and corruption of the formulas in the creed. He also demonstrates that the prophecy of Muḥammad was already foretold in the Torah, Psalms and the Gospels and discusses their subsequent corruption and incoherence.30 In chapters six and seven, he takes issue with the falsifications of the Gospels and with the Christian dogmas of baptism, the trinity, incarnation, the Eucharist and confession. He concludes by rejecting the divine nature of Jesus as the incarnation of God.31 In the conclusion of his text, Anselm Turmeda/underlines in the course of narration Abdallāh al-Turjumān lists the accusations that Christians make against Muslims and argues for the truthfulness of Muḥammad’s mission.32 The aim of this chapter is not to offer a strictly philological analysis of the Tuḥfat al-Adīb. Many scholars have already devoted their attention to the text, assessing with philological rigour the language, purpose and spirit of the polemical text.33 Rather, I will present the fascinating story of the text’s circulation, reception and re-framing across different regions of the Mediterranean during the early modern and modern periods. Miguel De Epalza, who offered the first complete critical edition of ‘Abdallah al-Turjumān’s work, accompanied his accurate study with a reflection on the issues relating to the circulation and reception of the text. According to De Epalza, the story of the circulation of the Tuḥfat al-Adīb. can be divided into three periods. The first period extends from 1420, when the work was initially composed, to 1603, when it was translated into Ottoman-Turkish for the Ottoman sultan Aḥmad I. Interestingly, the original Arabic manuscript is no longer extant and the Tuḥfa is not cited in any contemporary Arabic bibliographic or literary source. Therefore, it would appear that there is no recorded circulation of the manuscript before 1603.34 In 1603, to celebrate the ascension of Ottoman sultan Aḥmad I, an Ottoman-Turkish translation of the Tuḥfa was made in the semi-autonomous Ottoman province of Tunis by Muḥammad b. Sha‘bān with a foreword by Muḥammad Abū al-Gayth al-Qashshāsh, who subsequently delivered the text to the Ottoman capital and presented it in person to the new sultan. The purpose of this translation was clearly political with al-Qashshāsh hoping to obtain political support and economic aid from the new Ottoman sultan.35 Al-Qashshāsh was an important political and cultural figure in Tunis, well known for his protection of Spanish Moriscos in the region. Al-Qashshāsh was also close to the Grand Mufti of Tunis Aḥmad al-Ḥānafī, a Spanish Morisco who found protection in Tunis after he was expelled from Spain and the author of many treaties dealing with Islam, jurisprudence and
200 Elisabetta Benigni anti-Christian polemics. Given that there is no extant manuscript copy of the Tuḥfa prior to this period, some scholars have argued that the text is a forgery attributed to the false persona of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, suggesting that the Morisco al-Ḥānafī was the real author of the Tuḥfa.36 Although the hypothesis attributing the entire authorship to Aḥmad al-Ḥānafī has been rejected, it is likely that a Morisco, probably al-Ḥānafī himself, rewrote the text against the background of the political circumstances of seventeenth-century Mediterranean after the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain.37 The anti-Christian polemics by Moriscos, which were mobilised to support anti-Christian ideological propaganda, prepared the ground for treatises like that of Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān.38 According to De Epalza, mistakes concerning the knowledge of Christian rites and theology in the polemic, already noticed by Massignon, would be hard to attribute to the convert Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān as he had been a Franciscan friar. De Epalza instead argues that they can be attributed to the re-writing of the text by the Morisco al-Ḥānafī and to his inadequate knowledge of Christianity.39 This Ottoman-Turkish translation and its reception in the Ottoman Empire ensured that the text received widespread fame. From this time onward, various versions of the manuscript were disseminated all across the Ottoman world, including Egypt.40 Copies of the Tuḥfa were initially mainly produced in Tunis and Istanbul. However, the copies soon began to be reproduced in other Ottoman provinces. References to the anti-Christian polemic by the convert al-Turjumān appear in literary repertories and encyclopaedias, including Kātib Çelebī’s (1609–1657) Kashf al-ẓunūn, which provides a summary of the content of the Tuḥfa.41 It also appears in European bibliographical works such as Barthélemy d’Herbelot’s Biblioteque Orientale, which is essentially a replication of the structure and content of the Kashf al-ẓunūn.42 De Epalza also identifies a third phase in the circulation of the manuscript. This phase starts with the first Arabic-language anonymous edition printed in Europe around 1875.43 This edition differs from the previous manuscripts because of the inclusion of a modern critical commentary and the systematic suppression of all curses against Christians and Christianity.44 It was disseminated throughout libraries and book markets in Arab countries and was also translated again into Ottoman-Turkish. Subsequently, a second and then a third Arabic-language edition were produced in Cairo in 1895 and 1904. The first appeared under the Greek pseudonym of Spiridon Stephanos and the third under the name of Aḥmad ‘Alī al-Malījī.45 The editor Aḥmad ‘Alī al-Malījī was specialised, together with his brother Muḥammad, in the publication of anti-Christian polemics. These two editions were produced in Cairo during nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when a degree of antiChristian polemic was fostered by some Muslim intellectuals as a response to the change in social status of the non-Muslims in the social life of the Ottoman Empire and to the increased presence of Protestant and Catholic Christian missionaries.46
The many languages of the self 201 Following the mention of the Tuḥfa in d’Herbelot’s Biblioteque Orientale and in Flügel’s Latin translation of Kashf al-ẓunūn, the Lexicon bibliographicum et encyclopaedicum (1835–1858), orientalists started to critically examine the story of the converted friar.47 In 1861, Adrien Berbugger dedicated an article to ‘Abd allah Teurdjeman, renégat de Tunis in 1388’ [‘Abdallah al-Turjumān, renegade from Tunis in 1388’] and, in 1885, the aforementioned French translation of the Tuḥfa was published by Jean Spiro as “Le Présent de l’homme letteré puor refuter les partisans de la croix” in the Revue de l’histoire des religions. Within this time interval, it is possible to locate a number of references to Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s work in European languages, particularly within the framework of the study of medieval Islamic anti-Christian polemics.48 At any rate, it was Spiro’s translation that gave the text notoriety in Europe. As discussed previously, a few decades later, Massignon based his counter-polemic on this French translation. However, both Spiro and Massignon were ignorant of the fact that the Christian identity of the author of the Tuḥfa, ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, was not that of an unknown Catalan friar but was rather Anselm Turmeda, one of the best known and celebrated poets and authors of the medieval Catalan tradition.
Enigmas and controversies: identification of a puzzling character Unlike ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s life, which is clearly narrated in the first person in the Tuḥfa, the life of the popular Catalan poet and writer Fray Anselm Turmeda was for a long time surrounded by the shadows of legends and suspended between history, popular belief and traditional narratives. Until the mid-nineteenth century, Anselm Turmeda was only known as an early fifteenth-century friar and the author of the famous work in Catalan language the Libre de bons amonestaments, a collection of moral sentences in metric form which had a widespread dissemination in the Catalan tradition. Fray Anselm Turmeda’s fame was also related to the legends of his escape from the convent and his conversion to Islam, but he was not identified as ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān. The stories related to Turmeda’s conversion are available in different versions. However, there are common aspects that can be found in all these stories, namely Turmeda’s flight to Tunis after his conversion, his re-conversion to Christianity and eventually his death as a martyr. Unlike ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s account, whose flight to Tunis coincided with his marriage and the beginning of a happy new life as a translator for the local ruler, the legendary life story of Anselm Turmeda is characterised by martyrdom and death in the name of the Christian faith. Diego Monfor i Sors’s Historia de los Condes de Urgel [History of the Counts of Urgel], written between 1641–1650, is among the first texts that tell the story of Anselm Tumeda.49 Monfor i Sors narrates that the Countess of Urgel had a prophetical dream about Friar Anselm Turmeda. She dreamt about him fleeing to Tunis and abandoning the Christian faith.50
202 Elisabetta Benigni A few decades later, the story of Turmeda, his travel to Tunis and his search for a new faith appears in the life account of the monk Pere Marginet from the Catalan monastery of Poblet. Marginet’s turbulent life is narrated in a seventeenth-century chronicle about the history of the monastery of Poblet entitled Historia de las grandezas de Poblet [History of the greatness of Poblet] written in 1694 by Baltasar Sayol. According to Sayolon, Marginet was born in the second half of the fifteenth century in the city of Validara to a family of farmers. His monastic vocation led him to the Cistercian monastery of Poblet. After many years living an exemplary life he abandoned the monastery together with a monk from the nearby monastery of Montblanch. This monk was known as Anselm Turmeda. According to the story reported by Baltasar Sayolon, Marginet and Turmeda lived a dissolute life, but eventually Marginet came back to his monastery and lived in penitence, while Turmeda radically abandoned Christianity.51 According to Pere Serra i Postius in his Prodigios y finezas de los Santos Angeles (1726) [Wonders and Kindness of the Saint Angels], back in his monastery, Marginet prayed for the salvation of his friend Turmeda.52 As a response to his prayers, some angels visited him and brought him to Tunis on an imaginary night trip. In Tunis, he found Turmeda preaching Islam in front of a crowd of people. The miraculous apparition of Marginet shocked Turmeda who reconverted immediately to Christianity.53 During the eighteenth century, the legend of Turmeda’s conversion gained fame and circulation, particularly in books devoted to the history of Christianity in Catalonia. These works were based on the biographies of a number of key exponents of Christian Catalonia. Jaume Coll reports the same story narrated in the Prodigios y finezas de los Santos Angeles in his book Crónica Seráfica de la Santa Provincia de Cataluña [Seraphic Chronicle of the Saint Province of Catalonia] written in 1738, also adding the important detail that Turmeda was not only a friar in the monastery of San Francisco de Montblanch, but also a “cathalán de nación” (a member of “the Catalan nation”).54 The fact that the national identity of Turmeda is explicitly mentioned shows how the figure of the apostate friar and martyr was increasingly associated with the rise of a Catalan identity. The bishop and scholar Fèlix Torres Amat includes Turmeda in his dictionary of Catalan writers, written in 1836.55 The section devoted to Turmeda includes the anecdote about his martyrdom already recounted by Serra i Postius and Jaume Coll.56 Fèlix Torres Amat is also known as the first scholar who attributed the authorship of two previously anonymous “classic” medieval Catalan works to the quasi-legendary figure of Anselm Turmeda: the Disputa de l’Ase [Dispute with the Donkey] and the Profecies [Prophecies].57 Both works offer key biographical data about the author that can help in reconstructing his double-identity. Over the nineteenth century, the legendary and visionary aspects of Turmeda’s story disappeared, while philological works focussing on his legacy
The many languages of the self 203 gained ground. Adolfo de Castro in volume 56 of the Biblioteca de autores españoles (1873) [Library of Spanish Authors] looks at Turmeda as a disciple of the theologian and Arabist Raymon Lull, and writes that Turmeda’s works are all characterised by his ‘gran ingenio y lozanía de imaginación’ (‘great intelligence and imagination’).58 By analysing the Disputa de l’Ase he locates Turmeda’s place of birth as Mallorca and ultimately rejects the theory that Turmeda was killed in Tunis after his return to Christianity. Adolf de Castro’s choice to include Turmeda and his work in his Biblioteca de autores españoles confirms that, by the end of the nineteenth century, Turmeda’s story was integrated into the modern national literary canon represented by encyclopaedias and dictionaries related to the history of the Iberian Peninsula.59 The famous Spanish philologist and literary scholar Marcelino Menendez Pelayo first wrote about the figure of Turmeda in his Historia de los Heterodoxos Españoles [History of Spanish Heterodoxies 1880–1882].60 The work is a masterful investigation of the history of Spain from the medieval period up to the end of nineteenth century, focusing on the role and activities of writers and actors persecuted by the Catholic Church. Historia de los Heterodoxos Españoles is infused with a strong Spanish nationalism, Catholicism and an anti-Krausist spirit.61 Menendez y Pelayo defines Anselm Turmeda as ‘fraile corrompido y apóstata vicioso’ (‘a corrupted friar and vicious apostate’), but he leaves open the question of his Islamic identity.62 Around the same period, the translation of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s Tuḥfa by Jean Spriro was published. Spiro’s ignorance of the story of the apostate Anselm Turmeda and his incapability to relate him to the figure of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān is expressed in his own words: Concerning our author (i.e. ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān), we do not know anything but the narrative he offers. Despite all our efforts, we do not know more than this. We are ignorant of his name before conversion and the year of his death. We only know that he is buried in Tunis and his tomb, located in the middle of the market of saddlers, is still today widely venerated. Arab authors also do not add anything to our knowledge.63 A decisive step towards the conflation of the two identities was accomplished in 1900 with the publication of a document of safe-conduct issued by Alfonso V. The document was produced in 1423 for Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, allowing the circulation of ‘nostrum fratem Antelmum Turmeda alias acaydum Abdalla’ (‘our brother Antelmum Turmeda also called Abdalla’).64 This document provided historical evidence concerning the legends about Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān and connected the two names for the first time.
204 Elisabetta Benigni A further step towards the convergence of the two divided legacies into one character came with the publication of Orígenes de la novella [Origins of the novel] in 1905 by Marcelino Ménendez Pelayo.65 The works by the apostate friar Anselm Turmeda, writes Ménendez Pelayo, ‘contain many enigmas and contradictions, so that literary criticism just recently began to clarify them’ (‘presentan tales enigmas y conraddiciones, que bien puede decirse que la crítica apenas comienzas a dilucidarlas’).66 However, an accurate double check of the date in the safe-conduct and the biographical details offered in the Disputa and the translation of the Le Présent de l’homme lettré – which had just recently circulated in Europe in the translation by Jean Spiro – led Ménendez Pelayo to solve the enigma, arguing that the Catalan poet Turmeda and the Muslim apostate author of the Tuḥfa ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān were in fact the same person.67 However, by solving the enigma, Ménendez Pelayo also raised a plethora of questions. Ménendez Pelayo’s argument complicated the picture, shedding light on the complex identity of a Muslim convert who maintained a strong connection to his Christian identity. All the Christian works by Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān are written in Catalan and only the Tuḥfa is in Arabic: his encounter with Islam, which is likely to have occurred in 1386, apparently did not prevent al-Turjumān from authoring Christian works as Friar Turmeda after his conversion. The Llibre dels bons amonestaments [The Book of Good Precepts] is dated April 1398, eleven years after Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s conversion and settlement in Tunis.68 It is curious that this poetic work found its way back to Catalonia and was read and taught as national literature, despite the fact that it was written in Tunis. It was highly popular in Catalan-speaking areas until the late nineteenth century where its author was known in schools as franselm (from “fra Anselm”). The allegorical and autobiographical poem Cobles de la divisió del Regne de Mallorques (1398) [Cobles on the partition of the Kingdom of Majorca] was written at the same time as the Llibre dels bons amonestaments.69 Composed of 123 stanzas in rhyme, it has political and civic undertones. In a short introduction, Anselm clarifies that the work had been written upon the request of Majorcan traders. As the title suggests, the work had a clear and direct Majorcan audience. The case of the Disputa de l’Ase [The Dispute of the Donkey], which I will discuss in the next section, is even more difficult to decipher.70 This text was probably written in 1417, although it was banned by the Spanish inquisition for a long time and only published much later in Lyon, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, in a French translation. As I will discuss in the next section, the work was interpreted as a proof of Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s conversion to Islam and knowledge of Arabic. It was seen as plagiarism from an earlier Arabic work and as the epitome of the inherent contradictions in the author’s life.
The many languages of the self 205
Making one out of two: Anselm Turmeda and ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān ‘The majority of the hilarious and huge contradictions highlighted by the biographers of Turmeda came from their a priori assessment about his apostasy. Their interest aimed either at negating or admitting his apostacy, or at refusing or mitigating its relevance and they did not put any effort in understanding its real meaning’.71 This judgement was spelled out by Agustín Calvet, a scholar writing in 1914, showing how Turmeda’s apostasy was, just a few years after Menendez Pelayo’s discovery, at the centre of lively and heated discussions. The juxtaposition of the identity of Anselm Turmeda with that of ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān raised a series of questions related to his “duplicity”. This “duplicity” was intensified by the fact that all the Catalan works attributed to Turmeda, although they were sometimes imbued with an anti-clerical polemical tone common at that time, did not express any evidence of sympathy towards Islam and did not openly mention his conversion.72 Apart from a few details about his location in Tunis and his Arabic name, he never explicitly refers to his conversion.73 Even more significantly, despite the fact that in the Tuḥfa he condemns the Christian concept of the Trinity and criticises all four Gospels as mendacious, in his Catalan writings, he openly recommends belief in the Trinity and the Catholic Church.74 Given this ambiguity, when philologist Menendez y Pelayo recognised Anselm Turmeda as the author of the Tuḥfa and related the Arabic anti-Christian polemic to the Catalan Christian legacy of the Franciscan friar, he questioned the personal integrity of both Anselm and ‘Abdallāh, raising obvious questions about his sincerity and accusations of ambiguity. Facing the puzzling evidence that Anselm’s Christian works were completed after his conversion to Islam, critics attributed his conversion to opportunism, philosophical indifference or material desires rather than sincere faith. In line with his disclosure, Menendez y Pelayo in his Orígenes de la Novela defined Anselm/‘Abdallāh as a ‘corrupt friar’, and a ‘vicious apostate whose conscience fluctuates between the Muhammadan law to which he apparently belongs and defends and Christianity, which he never rejected from the depth of his soul’.75 In 1914, the Spanish Arabist Asín Palacios echoed the negative judgement of Menendez Pelayo in his comparative analysis of Turmeda’s work La Disputa de l’Ase.76 Written in the Catalan language in 1418, only two or three years before the Tuḥfa, La Disputa de l’Ase, is a Christian philosophical and allegorical text in which Turmeda compares the virtues of men and those of beasts. As suggested by the title, the work presents a dispute between a friar and a donkey. In the lively debate, other animals occasionally intervene. The friar named Anselm – a literary construction of the author – defends the superiority of human nature over beasts through a series of examples. However, Fray Anselm’s attempts to prove the superiority of man over beasts
206 Elisabetta Benigni fail as the donkey offers a prompt answer to all his examples. Anselm’s last attempt to silence the crowds of wise animals leads him to claim that God’s incarnation was into the body of a human being (Jesus Christ) and not into a beast. Disputa de l’Ase’s sarcastic and irreverent tone was strongly revaluated in a nineteenth-century movement called the Catalan Renaixença promoted by Valentí Almirall.77 Although the Catalan original had not survived because it was banned and interdicted by censorship, the text was reassembled and retranslated into Catalan in the twentieth century on the basis of the earliest surviving version, a French translation published in Lyon in 1554.78 At the time in which the text was fully re-integrated in the Catalan national canon, Anselm Turmeda’s work started to be regarded as a masterpiece within Catalan literature. Its philosophical and picaresque tone was considered a manifestation of the genius loci of Catalan literature and Turmeda a precursor of Rabelais and Disputa de l’Ase, a Catalan counterpart of Boccaccio’s Decamerone.79 Asín Palacios’s scorn towards Turmeda’s Disputa was not only a result of the apostasy of the friar; he also accused Turmeda of being a plagiarist who largely drew the inspiration and the content of his work from an Arabic source. Asín Palacios defined the work of Anselm Turmeda as ‘plagio estupendo’ (‘wonderful plagiarism’) or ‘plagio ejemplar’ (‘an exemplar of plagiarism’).80 In order to support his accusation, he lists a series of textual correspondences in order to demonstrate that the Disputa de l’Ase is largely taken from the tenth-century Arabic work Tadāʿī al-ḥayawānāt ʿalā al-insān ʿinda malik al-Jinn [The Case of the Animals versus Man before the Jinn]. The work is preserved in volume twenty-one of the collection of al-Rasā’il [The Epistles] known to be composed by the famous tenth-century group of thinkers and scholars Ikhwān al-ṣafāʾ [The Brethren of Purity]. On the basis of similarities between the two works, Palacios alleged that Turmeda’s work was a forgery, and refused to grant Turmeda even the merits of originality and intelligence (‘pronunciada originalidad – mucho ingenio y agudeza’) that Menendez Palayo acknowledged the Catalan friar possessed.81 According to the Spanish Arabist: ‘Turmeda is not even an intelligent translator. Apart from his devaluation and degradation of the rigorous solemnity of the Arabic apologue, his rough and pedestrian style and the poverty of his vocabulary prevent him from translating in a faithful manner the delicate filigree of literary Arabic’.82 Asín Palacios’s scorn for Turmeda can be explained by situating his criticism in the wider context of the philological and intellectual debates of the beginning of the twentieth century, which demonstrated the Arabic origins of Christian medieval literature.83 According to this strand of thinking, which was infused with the spirit of comparativism and positivism, medieval Christian authors such as Dante, Raymon Lull, Juan de la Cruz, “assimilated” Islamic literary models and integrated them into
The many languages of the self 207 Christianity. However, Asín Palacios views Anslem Turmeda as an exception to other Christian authors and accuses him of plagiarism. His double Christian and Islamic identity elicited in Asín Palacios a profound sense of disconcertion. Instead of considering the possibility of there being a genuine coexistence of the two faiths, Asín Palacios claimed that the simultaneous Arabic and Catalan writings of the converted friar derive from his ‘audacious ambition of acquiring fame as a writer in both religious traditions and literatures’ which he pursued by ‘appropriating works that did not belong to him and falsifying those works considered his own literary production’.84 The first two decades of the twentieth century saw the emergence of studies grappling with the enigmatic figure of Turmeda, his “duplicity” and the “originality” of his works. In the same year as Asín Palacios’s El Original Árabe de la “Disputa del Asno” was published, Agustín Calvet published his book Fray Anselmo Turmeda: Heteodoxo Español [Friar Anselm Turmeda: A Spanish Heterodox]. The position of Calvet differs from that of Asín Palacios. He did not consider Turmeda an exceptional case of ambiguity and deception; rather, he regarded Turmeda as a sceptic, a representative of the Averroistic spirit that informed the university of Bologna and North Italy around the end of the fourteenth century. From the perspective of Agustín Calvet, the Disputa does not differ substantially from the Tuḥfa: both works were created within the context of cultural crisis which characterised the medieval period, paving the way for the rational spirit of Renaissance. According to this teleological perspective, Turmeda is not an exception but is the figure who most eccentrically embodied the culture of rationalism and the widespread criticism of the Church during the Renaissance: Taking into account the moral and religious decadence of his times, the figure of Anselmo loses much of his extravagant originality but he becomes perfectly understandable. He appears . . . as a characteristic embodiment of the spirit of his century: religious and Christian by tradition, instinctively rationalist, passionate about occultism, a sceptic, sensual; a confused mix animated by flashes of wonderful sarcasm, by a deep and instinctive lust for life, a weak but unequivocal sign of the proximity of the Renaissance.85 In the light of these different views, who is Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān? Is he an apostate, a plagiarist, a completely schizophrenic figure or is he a living illustration of an age of crisis and of the beginning of the Renaissance, as argued, for instance, by Agustín Calvet? Moreover, how should we judge his conversion if, according to the dates of his texts, it did not bring about a full detachment from his previous self but rather a multiplication of selves?
208 Elisabetta Benigni
Translating the languages of the self Asín Palacios’s accusation of plagiarism is problematic for various reasons, starting with the fact that works created in the manuscript culture of the medieval period and in the intricate web of interconnection and mutual influence that characterised the medieval Mediterranean are alien to the contemporary notion of intellectual property.86 As María Lourdes Alvarez points out, we can go further in the analysis, examining the extent to which we can distinguish an act of “translation” or assimilation of models as opposed to “imitation” as well as asking who the legitimate or authentic “inheritors” of literary, philosophical or cultural traditions might be.87 The concept of literary “originality” and of legitimate “inheritors” are, as she observes, still central to many discourses of national, ethnic and religious identity, despite the fact that positivist philology and catalogues of “influences” have been repudiated by most medievalists.88 The important questions of originality and translation raised by María Lourdes Alvarez can be also applied to other works by Anselm Tumeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān produced in Tunis after his conversion to Islam: The Libre de bons amonestaments – 1394 [The Book of Good Advice], for instance, is a Catalan adaptation of the Italian thirteenth century work Dottrina dello Schiavo di Bari.89 To be sure, issues of translation, language and textual analysis play an important role not only in Catalan works by Turmeda but also in his refutation of Christianity, the Tuḥfat al-Adīb. On the one hand, the Tuḥfa’s themes such as naskh (abrogation) in the unfolding of prophecy and taḥrīf (falsification) of scriptures by Jews and Christians can be traced back to the template of Islamic antiChristian polemical literature. On the other hand, its main argument is the resort to language as a source of authenticity. Anselm Tumeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān’s knowledge of languages and original texts and his ability to read the languages of the Gospels and to translate them is viewed as one of his most important qualities.90 The entire life and the legacy of Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān both in Catalan and in Arabic represent a challenge to positivistic pretensions of “originality” and “purity”, thus offering the opportunity for a deep intellectual engagement with the theory of translation and textual sources. In light of his ability to switch between languages and faiths, we may tentatively argue that the answer to the puzzling question of his double faith can be found in his identity as a translator. Turmeda/ al-Turjumān’s ability to translate and switch forms, languages and beliefs was an integral part of his own life, as his own Arabic second name al-Turjumān indicates. In this sense, instead of looking for the “real” Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān, Islamic or Christian, we may assume that his authorship and authority is based on his inherent duality
The many languages of the self 209 as both Muslim and Christian, both convert and translator. This duality can perhaps only be appreciated if we consider his conversion as a process of re-interpretation of the self through inclusion rather than as a process of transforming the self through exclusion, an act similar to that underlying a translation process. Rather than seeing him as an eccentric isolated case, the close semantic relationship between conversion and translation invites us to challenge the conventional understanding of conversion and to transcend the line of a rigid separation between languages and religious beliefs. Along these lines, biography of this seemingly fragmented figure of an Islamic-Christian friar and translator, prompts a rethinking of the relationship between “conversion” and “translation” as both concepts and practices. Translation studies, especially since the work of Walter Benjamin, has stressed that translation is not just a verbatim movement across words and languages, but also a process of transformation that occurs inside the text and between the translator and the text.91 The perfect translator is indeed one who is capable of transforming himself or herself (self-translating) in the very act of translation. From this perspective, Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān epitomises the linkage between the two concepts. His life’s trajectory is characterised by the movement from one religious practice to another, by his determination to transform the self and finally by the construction of a new and different whole, which nevertheless still retains pre-existing features, in a complex confrontation between originality and innovation. In the story of Anselm Turmeda or ‘Abdallāh al-Turjuman, conversion is the process of refashioning an identity out of a multiplication of languages and narratives, an identity that comes into being in the fluid space of translation and mobility. The search for the true identity of Anselm Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān in the nineteenth and twentieth century, the anxiety to identify the original sources of his works and even the polemics surrounding his Arabic work are a clear illustration of the difficulties in appreciating the promise of self-fashioning and personal enrichment that characterised the act of conversion and translation in the Early Modern Mediterranean.
Notes 1 In Cairo, Louis Massignon was asked by the director of the IFAO, Gaston Maspero, to study the field research conducted by the Institute on the area of Darb al-Aḥmar. His personal interests, however, led him to abandon the topographical research in Darb al-Aḥmar and to participate in French archaeological missions all over Egypt. Massignon’s life in Egypt was also characterised by his passionate friendship with the Spanish nobleman convert to Islam Luis de Cuadra (1877–1921) whom he met on board the ship
210 Elisabetta Benigni that brought him to Egypt. See Louis Massignon au coeur de notre temps, ed. Jacque Keryell (Paris: Karthala, 1999), 154. 2 During his mission in Iraq, Massignon was thrown in prison by OttomanTurkish authorities on suspicion of being a spy. According to Massignon’s diary, in a night of utter desperation and after attempting suicide, he was saved by Christianity. The importance of his knowledge of Arabic and Islam in his becoming Christian is stressed in his diary. He claims to have pronounced his first prayer in Arabic and that during the night of his conversion he received a visit from ‘a man with a green turban’ (‘Seyyid à turbant vert’) who read for him verses from the Qur’an. Daniel Massignon, Le voyage en Mésopotamie et la conversion de Louis Massignon en 1908 (Paris: CERF, 2001), 145–6. 3 See Louis Massignon, Badaliya: Au nom de l’autre 1947–1962 (Paris: CERF, 2011). 4 Louis Massignon, Cours d’Histoire des Termes philosophique arabes: 25 novembre 1912–24 avril 1913 (Le Caire: I.F.A.O., 1983). 5 The translation was published in a series of anonymous articles in the Revue de l’histoire des religions in 1885 with the title “Le présent de l’homme lettré pour refuter les partisans de la croix, par Abd-Allāh ibn Abd-Allāh, le Dragoman,” Revue de l’Histoire des religions 12 (1885): 68–9; 180–201; 279–301. In 1886, the articles were collected and published in Le présent de l’homme lettré puor refuter les partisans de la croix, par Abd-Allāh ibn Abd-Allāh, le Dragoman (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1886). Massignon uses this translation to construct his argument and did not consult the Arabic original. See Daniel Massignon, “Cours de Louis Massign au Collège de France sur l’apologétique musulmane” in Louis Massignon, Examen du “Présent de l’homme lettré” par Abdallah Ibn al-Torjoman (Roma: P.I.S.A.I., 1992), 79. 6 Foreword by Daniel Massignon to Louis Massignon, Examen du “Présent de l’homme lettré” par Abdallah Ibn al-Torjoman (Roma: P.I.S.A.I., 1992), vi–vii. The name of Abdallāh Ibn al-Turjūman used by Massignon is a mistake, it should be ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān. The misspelled name is already in Jean Spiro who translated the work from the edition by Aḥmad ‘Alī al-Malījī (Cairo: 1904) which contains the mistake. 7 The typewritten theological counter-polemic entitled Examen du “Présent de l’homme lettré” [Examination of the “Présent de l’homme lettré”] remained for a long time unpublished. Despite Massignon’s efforts in constructing a strong theological argument to dispute the converted Muslim polemicist’s position, he was concerned that there were some shortcomings with regard to Christian theology. As a consequence, he sought official approval for his arguments from scholars of theology and theologians that he knew. He first hoped that Father Albert Lagrange (1855–1938) – the Dominica founder of the École Biblique in Jerusalem whom he met in Rome in 1918 – might read the text. However, Albert Lagrange was too
The many languages of the self 211 absorbed by his work, and in 1924–1925, he gave the manuscript back to Massignon accompanied only by some minor remarks. Determined to publish his text, Massignon approached his friend and scholar of Thomism Jacque Maritain, but Maritain did not show an interest in the text. He also tried unsuccessfully to give the manuscript to some of his students but none of them was prepared to discuss Massignon’s text in the manner that he expected. See Daniel Massignon, Examen du “Présent de l’homme lettré”, viii. 8 Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj and Islamic Mysticism were the subjects of Louis Massignon’s doctoral thesis: La Passion d’al-Hallāj [The Passion of al-Hallāj] and Essai sur les origine des termes techniques de la mystique musulmane [Essay on the Origins of Technical Terms of Muslim Mysticism]. The two volumes of the dissertation proofs were sent to Louvain in 1914 to be published but were destroyed in a fire caused by bombing. Massignon had to rewrite his work on the basis of his notes and he published them in 1921 and 1922. See Louis Massignon La Passion d’al-Hallāj (Paris: Geuthner, 1922) and Essai sur les origine des termes techniques de la mystique musulmane (Paris: Geuthner, 1922). 9 He describes the soul shattered between two friends: ‘Son ami musulman demeure résolument impassible. . . . Son ami chrétien l’observe avec compassion’. Massignon, Examen, 63. 1 0 Ibid., 39. 11 According to Massignon, Examen, 63, the Tuḥfah lacks al-Warrāq’s ‘subtilité philosophique’ (‘philosophical finesses’), Ibn Ḥazm’s ‘souplesse acérée’ (‘acute elegance’), Ibn Rushd’s ‘plenitude dogmatique’ (‘dogmatic strength’) or Ibn Taymiyyah’s ‘violence concentrée’ (‘solid violence’). Massignon’s interests in anti-Christian apologetic writings is also testified by the course he offered in 1927–1928 at the Collège de France on Histoire de l’apologétique musulmane au-dedans et au-dehors [The History of Muslim Apologetic from the Inside and Outside]. 12 Massignon’s lack of confidence in publishing his apologetics was driven by his desire to adhere as far as possible to Christian orthodoxy. Until the end of his life, he continued to manifest his doubts, as testified in a letter to his son Daniel Massignon, written many years after the drafting of Le Présent de l’homme letteré: ‘I am not sure if some aspects of Catholic theology that I exposed are completely orthodox. I have unsuccessfully tried to submit the text to expert theologians. Facing my doubts, I abstained from publishing it until now’. Just before his death, Massignon gave his son Daniel permission to publish the text. And so he did, and in 1992, the book was published in Rome with the help and supervision of Father Henri Cazalles. The letter is included in Daniel Massignon’s foreword to Louis Massignon, Examen du “Présent de l’homme lettré”, ix. The translation into English is mine. 13 From this moment onward, I will refer to the double name Anselm Turmeda/ ‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān to underline the coexistence and mutual interaction
212 Elisabetta Benigni of the two identities in one life and legacy. For the use of the term confessionalisation, see Tijana Krstic, Contested Conversions to Islam Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2011), 100 and Illuminated by the Light of Islam and the Glory of the Ottoman Sultanate: Self-Narrativesof Conversion to Islam in the Age of Confessionalization in Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 51, No. 1 (Jan., 2009), pp. 35–63. 14 For an intercultural perspective on the study of the life and the legacy of Anselm Turmeda, see: Robert Beier, Anselm Turmeda: eine Studie zur interkulturellen Literatur Bonn, Romanistischer Verlag, 1996. 15 On the concept of “liquid archive”, see Iain Chambers, Le molte voci del Mediterraneo (Milano: Cortina, 2007). See also Peter Matvejevic, Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape, trans. Michael Henry Heim (Berkeley: University of California, 1999). 16 On conversion as a second birth, see the pioneering studies on conversion and its psychological impact by William James, Writings 1902–1910 (New York: Library of America, 1987). See also Gerald Peters, The Mutilating God: Authorship and Authority in the Narrative of Conversion (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993). 17 See Dwight Reynolds, Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 194–201. 18 I consider here Gérard Genette’s distinction between histore and récit discussed by Ryan Szpiech, Conversion and Narrative. Reading and Religious Authority in Medieval Polemic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 4. See also Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, trans. Jane E. Lewin (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), 26–7. 19 The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a divide within the Roman Catholic Church between the Roman and the French cardinals which lasted from 1378 to 1417. During these four decades, the Western Church was divided into rival camps headed by two – and eventually three – competing popes. The schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414–1418). The Schism provoked a profound anxiety among the ordinary faithful and clerical circles. Mystics, poets and prophets of that period often read the schism as an apocalyptic sign of the end times, represented iconographically by images of the divided Church as a two-headed monster or a suffering widow. See Renate Blumenfeld-Kosimski, Poets, Saints, and Visionaries of the Great Schism, 1378–1417 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); and Michael A. Ryan, “Byzantium, Islam, and the Great Western Schism,” in A Companion to the Great Western Schism (1378–1417) ed. Joëlle Rollo-Koster and Thomas M. Izbicki (Leiden and Boston: Brill 2009).
The many languages of the self 213 20 Anselm Turmeda, La Tuḥfah, autobiografia y polémica islámica contra el Cristianesimo de Abdallāh al-Taryumān (Fray Anselmo Turmeda) ed. Míkel de Epalza (Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 1971). Reprinted as Fray Anselmo Turmeda (Abdallāh al-Taryumān) y su polémica islamo-cristiana: Edición, tradución y estudio de la Tuḥfa, (Madrid: Hiperión, 1994). In this chapter, I am using the first edition (1971). 21 Turmeda, La Tuḥfah, 211. 22 Ibid., 213. 23 Ibid., 215. 24 Ibid., 217. 25 Ibid., 211. The idea that the presents received by Niccolò Martello were stored in a hidden room in the house can be read as a subtle polemic against the wealth and corruption of the clergy. This kind of polemic was widespread at that time and the author refers to it in his Catalan work La Disputa de l’Ase that will be discussed later in this chapter. 26 On the psychoanalytic interpretation of the motif, see the classic work by Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (New York: Knopf, 1976). 27 Turmeda, La Tuḥfah, 223. 28 Ibid., 231. 29 For the biography of the sultan of Tunis, see Turmeda, La Tuḥfah, 231–71, for the polemic, see 273–497. 30 Ibid., 273–403. 31 Ibid., 405–49. 32 Ibid., 451–97. 33 The first critical edition was produced by Miguel de Epalza in 1971. For a more recent engagement with the content of the text, see Ryan Szpiech, “The Original is Unfaithful to Translation: Conversion and Authenticity in Abner of Burgos and Anselm Turmeda,” eHumanista 14 (2010): 146–77 and also Ryan Szpiech, Conversion and Narrative. Reading and Religious Authority in Medieval Polemic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2013), 174–213. 34 De Epalza, La Tuḥfa, 43–7. 35 Ibid., 48. 36 Ibid., 49. 37 Ibid. 38 Mikel De Epalza, “Notes puor une histoire des polémiques antichrétiennes dans l’Occident musulman,” Arabica 18 (1971): 99–106. 39 De Epalza, La Tuḥfa, 49. On the fascinating story of the Ottoman translation of the Tuḥfa see: Tijana Krstić, Reading Abdallāh b. Abdallāh al-Tarjumān’s Tuḥfa (1420) in the Ottoman Empire: Muslim-Christian Polemics and Intertextuality in the Age of “Confessionalization”, in AL-QANTARA XXXVI 2, julio-diciembre 2015 pp. 341–401.
214 Elisabetta Benigni 40 Copies of the manuscripts circulating in the Ottoman world were also transmitted to western Europe. According to De Epalza, the original copy donated to the sultan – or one very close to the original – is today in the Library of Leiden University (Leiden: Cod. or. 432). Curiously, the copy is part of the Levi Warner collection. This collection had already arrived at Leiden’s library by 1665. De Epalza, La Tuḥfa, 50. 41 Muṣtafā b. ‘Abdallāh Kātib Celebī Ḥājjī Khalīfa, Kashf al-ẓunūn ‘an asāmī al-kutub wa al-funūn (Baghdad: Maktabat al-Muthannā, 1941) I: 362. 42 Barthélemy d’Herbelot, Biblioteque Orientale (Maestricht: Dufour &Roux, 1776), 883. 43 According to the studies of De Epalza and Jean Spiro, this edition was printed in Great Britain. See De Epalza, La Tuḥfa, 53 and Spiro, Le présent de l’homme lettré, 5. 44 De Epalza, La Tuḥfa, 53. 45 ‘Abdallāh Ibn al-Turjumān, Tuḥfatu al-Arīb fī Radd ‘alā Ahl al-Ṣalīb supplemented by ‘The Strange Question’ a reply to the ‘People of the Cross’, ed. Aḥmad ‘Alī al-Malījī (Cairo, 1904) quoted in Arthur Jeffery, “A collection of anti-Christian books and pamphlets founds in actual use among the Mohammedans of Cairo,” The Muslim World 15 (1925): 26–37, 32. 46 On anti-Christian polemics published in early twentieth-century Egypt, see the edition of the Gospel of Barnabas by Rashīd Riḍā (1908) based on Lonsdale and Laura Ragg trans., The Gospels of Barnabas, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1907). See Jeffery, “A collection of anti-Christian books,” 33–5. See also Umar Ryad, “Muslim Responses to Missionary Literature in Egypt in the late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” in The Character of ChristianMuslim Encounter: Essays in Honour of David Thomas, ed. Douglas Pratt, Douglas Pratt, Jon Hoover, John Davies and John Chesworth (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 292–312. See also: Krstić, Reading Abdallāh b. Abdallāh al-Tarjumān’s Tuḥfa, 370. 47 Gustavus Flügel, Lexicon bibliographicum et encyclopaedicum a Mustafa ben Abdallah Katib Jelabi, dicto et nomine Haji Khalfa, celebrato compositum. Ad codicum Vindobonensium, Parisiensium et Berolinensis (London: Printed for the Oriental translation fund of Gt. Brit. & Ireland, 1835–58), vol. 2, 220. 48 Adrien Berbrugger, “Abd Allah Teurdjman, renégat de Tunis en 1388,” Revue Africaine 5 (1861): 261–75; Moritz Steinschneider, Polemische und apologetische Literatur in arabischer sprache (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1877), 15, 34–5, 409; Ignaz Goldziher, “Ueber muhammedanische Polemik gegen Ahl al-kitāb,” Zeitschrift der Deutsches Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 32 (1878): 375–6; Thomas W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam (Westminster: Constable, 1896), 454–9; Ignazio Di Matteo, “Il “taḥrīf” od alterazione della Bibbia secondo i musulmani,” Bessarione 26 (1922): 243–6; “Le pretese contraddizioni della sacra scrittura secondo Ibn Ḥazm,” Bessarione 27 (1923): 77–127; La predicazione religiosa di Maometto e i suoi oppositori
The many languages of the self 215 (Palermo: Tipografia Stella, 1934); Erdmann Fritsch, Islam und christentum in Mittelalter. Beiträge zur geschichte der Muslimischen polemik gegen das christientum in arabischer sprache (Breslau: Müller & Seipfert, 1930); Martin Schreiner, “Zur geschichte der Polemik zwischen Juden und Muhammedaneren,” Zeitschrift der Deutsche Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 42 (1888): 591–675. 49 Diego Monfar y Sors, Historia de los condes de Urgel, escrita por Diego Monfar y Sors, y publicada de real órden por Próspero de Bofarull y Mascaró (Barcelona: J.E. Monfort, 1853), vol. 2, 453. 50 See Manuel de Montoliu, Eiximenis, Turmeda i l’inici de l’humanisme a Catalunya: Bernat Metge (Barcelona: Editorial Alpha, 1959), 66. 5 1 de Montoliu, Eiximenis, 66. 52 Pedro Serra y Postius, Prodigios y finezas de los Santos Angeles hecha en el principio di Calaluña (Barcelona: Jayme Surià: 1726), 178. 53 Serra y Postius, Prodigios y finezas, 177. 5 4 Jaume Coll, Crónica Seráfica de la Santa Provincia de Cataluña (1738), cited in de Montoliu, Eiximenis, 67. 55 Fèlix Torres Amat, Memoria para ayudar a formar un diccionario critico de los escritores catalanes y dar alguna idea de la Antigua y moderna literature de Cataluña (Barcelona: Imprente de J. Verdaguer, 1836), 635. 5 6 Torres Amat, Memoria, 635. 5 7 de Montoliu, Eiximenis, 67. 58 Adolfo de Castro, Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, LXV (Madrid: Rivadeneyra, 1873), 20. 5 9 de Montoliu, Eiximenis, 68. 60 Marcelino Menendez Pelayo, Historia de los Heterodoxos Españoles (Madrid: Imprenta de F. Maroto e hijos, 1880–1882). 61 The Spanish philosophical movement called ‘krausismo’, which was based on the thought of the German philosopher Karl Krause (1781–1832), was characterised by a belief in pantheism and the harmonic rationalism of the world and of human societies. The elitism and pantheism of krausism was strongly criticised by Menendez Pelayo. See María José Rodríguez Sánchez de León, ed., Menéndez Pelayo y la literatura: estudios y antología (Madrid: Verbum, 2014), 32. 2 Menendez Pelayo, Historia, cited in de Montoliu, Eiximenis, 67. 6 3 Spiro, Le Présent de l’homme letteré, 4. 6 64 Aguiló Mariano Y Fuster, ed., Cançoneret de les obretes en nostra lengua materna mes divulgades durat los segles XIV, XV, e XVI (Barcelona: Àlvar Verdaguer, 1884–1900) cited in Agustín Calvet, Fray Anselmo Turmeda: Heterodoxo Español (Barcelona; Estudio, 1914), 41. 65 Marcelino Ménendez Pelayo, Orígenes de la Novela (Madrid: Casa Editorial Bailly-Bailliere, 1905–15). 6 6 Ménendez Pelayo, Orígenes, I: CV. The translation is mine. 67 Considering what the author of the Tuḥfat al-Adīb (written in 823 H. /1420 A.C.) writes about his life, his conversion and settlement in Tunis, Anselm
216 Elisabetta Benigni Turmeda/‘Abdallāh al-Turjumān probably moved to Tunis in 1387. On the basis of this information, all the works written in Catalan were produced after his conversion. 6 8 Anselm Turmeda, Llibre dels bons amonestaments (Valencia: Manuscrito del Ateneo Barcelonés, 1594) and other editions. 6 9 Anselm Turmeda, Cobles de la divisió del Regne de Mallorques, first published in Aguiló Mariano, ed., Cançoneret de los obretes (Barcelona: Àlvar Verdaguer, 1900) and other editions. 7 0 First edition, Disputa d’un ase contra frère Anselme Turmeda, touchant la dignitè, noblesse et preminance de l’homme par devant les autres animaux. Utile, plaisante et recreative à lire et ouyr. Il y a aussi une prophetie dudit Asne, de plusieurs choses qui sont advenues et advennient encor iournellement en plusiurs contrees de l’Europe, dez l’an 1417, auquel temps ces choses on esté escrites en vulgaire Espanol, et depuis traduites en langue Française. Tout est revue et corrige de nouveau (Lyon: Pampelune puor Guillaume Buisson, 1606) and other editions. 7 1 Calvet, Fray Anselmo, 35. 72 See, for instance, strophe 22 of the Llibre de bons amonestaments in which Anselm Turmeda advises the audience to mistrust Franciscan and Dominican friars. Bernat Metge – Anselm Turmeda, Obres minors, ed. by M. Olivar (Barcelona, 1927), 144–59. 73 Only three passages in his work account for his residence in Tunis and his Arabic name: See Szpiech, The Original is Unfaithful to the Translation, 164. 74 Armand Llinares, Introduction to Anselm Turmeda. Dispute de l’Ane (Paris: Librairies Philosophique, 1984), 3; Szpiech, The Original is Unfaithful, 164. 75 ‘Fraile corrompido’, ‘vicioso apóstata, cuya conciencia fluctúa entre la ley mahometana que esteriormente profesa y defiende; el cristianesimo, al qual, en fondo de su alma, no rinunció nunca’. Menendez Pelayo, Orígenes de la Novela (Madrid: Casa Editorial Bailly-Bailliere, 1905–1915) I: 174. 76 Asín Palacios, “El Original Árabe de la “Disputa del Asno Contra Fr. Anselmo Turmeda,” Revista de Filología Española 1 (1914). 7 7 Valentí Almirall, Lo Catalanisme (Barcelona: Libreria de Vraguer, 1886). 78 The reconstruction of the Catalan text based on the French translation was completed by R. Foulché-Delbosc, “La disputation de l’Asne (Anselm Turmeda),” Revue Hispanique 24 (1911): 358–479. 79 See Lluis Deztany, “Introduction” to Llibre de Disputacio de l’Ase contra fraire Encelm Turmeda, (Barcelona: J. Horta, 1922). 80 Asín Palacios, “El Original Árabe de la “Disputa del Asno Contra Fr. Anselmo Turmeda,” Revista de Filología Española 1 (1914): 1, 2. 81 Palacios, “El Original Árabe,” 3. 82 ‘Ni siquiera le resta a Tirmeda el mérito de un modesto adaptador inteligente, porque aparte de la torpeza y mal gusto con cuje empequeñeció y rebajó la seriedad solemne del apólógo árabe, su estilo vulgarísmo y pedestre y la inopia de su léxico no le permetieron verter fiel
The many languages of the self 217 y exactamente las delicadas filigranas del árabe literario’. Placios, “El Original Árabe,’ 51. 83 See Elisabetta Benigni, “Dante and the Construction of a Mediterranean Literary Space. Revisiting a 20th Century Philological Debate in Southern Europe and in the Arab World.” In a special issue of Lingua Franca: Toward a Philology of the Sea, edited by Michael Allan and Elisabetta Benigni, forthcoming in Philological Encounters 2 (2017). 4 Ibid. 8 8 5 Agustín Calvet, Fray Anselm Turmeda: Heterodoxo Español (Barcelona: Estudio, 1914), 141. 86 María Lourdes Alvarez, “Beastly Colloquies: Of Plagiarism and Pluralism in Two Medieval Disputations between Animals and Men,” Comparative Literary Studies 39/3 (2002): 180. María Alvarez Lourdes quotes the study of Everette E. Larson as an example of a work which points to the common practice of textual borrowing in the medieval period. See Everette E. Larson, “The Disputa of Anselmo: Translation, Plagiarism or Embellishment?” in Josep Maria Solà Soli: Homage, homenaje, homenatge: Misuldnea de estudios de amigosy discpulos, ed. Antonio Torres Alcala, Victorio Aguera and B. Smith Nathaniel (Barcelona: Puvill, 1984), 285–96. 87 Alvarez, “Beastly Colloquies,” 180. 8 8 Ibid. 8 9 The Dottrina dello schiavo di Bari [Doctrine by the Slave from Bari] was composed in the first half of thirteenth century by the jester known as “schiavo di Bari”. It is a poem composed of 77 strophes characterised by a strong moralistic and didactic tone. Francesco Zambrini, ed., Dottrina dello Schiavo di Bari, secondo la lezione di tre testi antichi a penna (Bologna: Romagnoli, 1862). On the translation of the text by Turmeda/al-Turjumān into the Libre de bons amonestaments, see Jordi Rubió y Balaguer, Història de la literatura catalana (Montserrat: L’Abadia de Montserrat, 1984), 395; Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala, “Fray Anselmo Turmeda,” in Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History, ed. D. Thomas and A. Mallett vol. 5 (1350–1500) (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 327. 90 Szpiech, “The Original is Unfaithful to Translation”, 158; Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam. 91 Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator,” in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings. Volume I 1913–1926, ed. M. Bullock and M. W. Jennings (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1996), 253–63.
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