Cover image for Britons in the Ottoman Empire, 1642-1660
Britons in the Ottoman Empire, 1642-1660
Goffman, Daniel, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle : University of Washington Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xv, 310 pages : maps ; 24 cm.
Format :


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DR435.B74 G64 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Englishman abroad is often viewed as the imperialist incarnate, an image perhaps not so far from certain 19th century realities. Yet consider the English merchant or diplomat who ventured to Asia in the 17th century. Up against the huge, powerful, and refined Ottoman state, he was but a feeble and barely countenanced outsider. Far from bending the Ottoman Empire to English will, it was the English adventurer who had to conform -- and who sometimes found himself used for the Ottomans' political and military ends.

In this book, historian Daniel Goffman uses a wealth of English and ottoman primary sources to recreate the lives of some of the Englishmen who adapted -- or failed to adapt -- to life, commerce, and politics in the Ottoman Empire during the turmoil of the civil wars and interregnum at home. In describing the dramas of intrigue, shifting allegiances, and self-interest in which these Englishmen became embroiled, Goffman shows how they accommodated themselves to a profoundly foreign society. They fused themselves into the great diversity that was the Ottoman realm and laid the groundwork for a commercial and diplomatic network that their successor would forge into a great empire in Asia.

Author Notes


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Goffman, an Ottoman specialist well versed in Stuart England's historiography, uses extensive research in British and Turkish archives to provide a balanced, clear account of a neglected subject. He examines the complex commercial/diplomatic relations between England and the Ottoman Empire from the English Civil War to the Restoration of Charles II, a period that witnessed repeated upheavals in the Ottoman government (e.g., Sultan Ibrahim I's murder just before Charles I's execution); rivalry for eastern Mediterranean trade among the English, French, and the Dutch; and war between Venice and the Ottomans that involved the Western powers. English ambassadors and consuls were also officials of the Levant Company and sometimes held appointments from the Ottoman government. The English faced not only a bewildering array of Turkish officials but also influential groups of Armenians, Greeks, and Jews. English settlements at Istanbul, Izmir, and Aleppo often were at odds, with factions in each city frequently divided between royalists and parliamentarians. Among other intriguing characters, Charles I's ambassador, Sir Sackville Crow, battled his successor, Sir Thomas Bendysh, whose own loyalties were ambiguous. The royalist Henry Hyde (the earl of Clarendon's nephew) lost his head in the struggle. Goffman cautions against reading 19th-century British imperialism into this period and notes that the English were often at a disadvantage with the mighty Ottomans. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. W. B. Robison III Southeastern Louisiana University