The Ottoman Empire was, pace some modern historians, part of the European international system from an early period. And Western diplomats in early modern Istanbul were indeed engaged in the standard tasks of diplomacy: representing their countries’ interests, negotiating matters of war, peace and trade, and gathering information. In that sense they were doing the same job as their equivalents in West European capitals and city-states. At the same time there were significant differences, in such matters as their conditions of work and the attitudes of their hosts. They were much more likely to be out of their depth culturally; yet in some ways the differences between Ottoman social and political culture and their own could work to their advantage. This paper explores some aspects of the peculiar nature of Western diplomacy in Istanbul in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Speaker: Sir Noel Malcolm