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Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


This thesis examines the writings of European diplomats, travelers and merchants in the Ottoman Empire in order to demonstrate that the historiographical tradition of the Ottomans as enemy to all Europeans was not the only opinion expressed in the early modern sources. Instead, the thesis will show that while the polemical voices were an important part of early modern European thought, they were responses to specific events in the course of European and Ottoman history, and they were not the only views held by diplomats and travelers familiar with the Ottoman Empire. In fact, the source material spans a wide range of opinions and attitudes of the Ottoman Empire, the people inhabiting it and the religion of Islam. While the Empire was in many ways unique, the voices of Europeans familiar with it demonstrate that it was an important part of diplomatic and trade relationships with Europe, and if not fully part of the continent, and an integral aspect of European politics and diplomacy. Fundamental to this thesis is the idea that eastern and central Europe follow a historical path quite distinct from the European nations of the Atlantic World. Rather than exploring and colonizing lands unfamiliar with Europeans, eastern Europeans faced a rival, often hostile, which maintained both a military advantage as well as a cultural and religious history that matched their own. As such, the population of eastern Europe was required to come to terms with historical circumstances that were quite distinct from those of western Europe, and those circumstances are reflected in the historical accounts left by those who interacted with the Ottoman Empire, as well as those who feared it.

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