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Allies with the Infidel: The Ottoman and French Alliance in the Sixteenth Century

Allies with the Infidel: The Ottoman and French Alliance in the Sixteenth Century
Christine Isom-Verhaaren

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In 1543, the Ottoman fleet appeared off the coast of France to bombard and lay siege to the city of Nice. The operation, under the command of Admiral Barbarossa, came in response to a request from Francois I of France for assistance from Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in France's struggle against Charles V, the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. This military alliance between mutual 'infidels', the Christian French King and the Muslim Sultan, aroused intense condemnation on religious grounds from the Habsburgs and their supporters as an aberration from accepted diplomacy. Memories of the Crusades were, after all, still very much alive in Europe and an alliance with 'the Turk' seemed unthinkable to many. Allies with the Infidel places the events of 1543 and the subsequent wintering of the Ottoman fleet in Toulon in the context of the power politics of the sixteenth century. Relying on contemporary Ottoman and French sources, it presents the realpolitik of diplomacy with 'infidels' in the early modern era. The result is essential reading for students and scholars of European history, Ottoman Studies, and of relations between the Christian and Islamic worlds.


'By systematically exposing the fallacy and distortion originating in notions of a monolithic Christian world in the West confronting a uniform and equally monolithic Islamic World in the East, Christine Isom-Verhaaren breathes fresh life into the oft-told tale of East-West relations told from the perspective of bi-polar confrontational politics and restores it to its fuller historical complexity. She provides a full account of the perspectives reflected both in contemporary French historical tradition and surviving Ottoman narrative and documentary accounts from the sixteenth century enabling the reader to re-examine the factual basis of this alliance free from the distorting lens that has traditionally favoured the Habsburg perspective and that has paid only marginal attention to the treatment of the French and Ottoman source traditions. As a result Dr. Isom-Verhaaren has produced a revisionist account of a much studied episode in Renaissance diplomacy that will serve as an indispensable point of reference for the future study of East-West relations in the Early Modern Age.'
Dr. Rhoads Murphey, Reader in Ottoman Studies, Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham

‘This book must be required reading for anyone who studies the relations between Muslims and Christians, Turks and Europeans, or the Islamic World and the West. Dispelling the notions of an inevitable clash between civilizations, Isom-Verhaaren demonstrates that the sixteenth-century Ottoman-French alliance in general and the allied military campaign of 1543-44 in particular were very much welcome by both parties and thought to be honorable affairs that benefited them both.’ 
Professor Baki Tezcan, Associate Professor, Religious Studies and History, UC Davis, University of California

‘It will stand as an important study of the relations between the Ottoman Empire and France and, more broadly, between East and West. It shows brilliantly that the Ottoman sultan was an integral player in European diplomacy but that the Turks remained the 'other'.’
Jacques Paviot, International Journal of Turkish Studies

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: Tauris Academic Studies
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: Library of Ottoman Studies

ISBN: 9781780764979
Publication Date: 30 Mar 2013
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 1 map

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