The French Renaissance in Search of the Ottoman Empire

  • Philip Mansel


The Renaissance owed much to the influence of Greeks from Istanbul, who helped western Europeans rediscover the Greek classics—in particular the works of Plato—and other works, such as Ptolemy’s geography, the base of all European maps of the Near East until the eighteenth century.1 The Renaissance’s debt to another group of people from Istanbul, namely European diplomats and travellers living there in the sixteenth century, is the subject of this essay.


Sixteenth Century French Writer Byzantine Empire Travel Book French Embassy 
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  1. 1.
    Alexandra Merle, Le Miroir Ottoman: Une image politique des hommes dans la literature géographique espagnole et français (XVIe-XVIIe siècles) (Paris: Sorbonne, 2003), p. 36.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Merle, Miroir, p. 171; and see Philippe Du Fresne-Canaye, Le Voyage du Levant (Paris, 1986), p. 127.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Throughout, I have quoted Nicolay’s Navigations from Stéphane Yerasimos, éd., Dans l’empire de Soliman le Magnifique (Paris, 1989), pp. 14–17; hereafter cited as Nicolay, Navigations.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Cited by Frédéric Tinguely, L’écriture du Levant à la Renaissance. Enquête sur les voyageurs français dans l’empire de Soliman le Magnifique (Geneva: Droz, 2000), p. 19.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Tinguely, L’écriture, p. 210; Guillaume Postel, Des histoires orientales, ed. Jacques Rollet (Istanbul, 1999), pp. xx, xxv.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Pierre Belon, Voyage au Levant 1553, ed. Alexandra Merle (Paris, 2001), pp. 35–7, 121, 130, 322, 386, 506.Google Scholar
  7. 53.
    See, for instance, the extensive but by no means exhaustive ‘Bibliography of Pamphlets relating to the Turks, 1481–1660’, which appears as an appendix to Clarence Dana Rouillard, The Turk in French History, Thought, and Literature (1520–1660) (Paris: Boivin, 1940), pp. 646–65.Google Scholar

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© Philip Mansel 2005

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  • Philip Mansel

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