From War to Compromise: The Turks in Italian Literature Before and After The Battle of Lepanto (1570-1573)Güner Doğan
The commercial and military relations of the Ottomans with the Venetians, Genoese, and then Florentines after the conquest of Istanbul triggered the desire for receiving information from each other in regarding all respects of their cultures since the foundation of Ottomans. In this context; reports, letters, travel books and books about the Ottomans written by Italians constitute a comprehensive corpus of relevant information. In addition, there are many works about the Ottoman Empire in Italy that the general public knows of, and these works are precious in terms of the information they contain. This article focuses on these works and aims to provide information from different perspectives about the works written concerning the Ottomans before and after the Battle of Lepanto.
Savaştan Uzlaşmaya: İnebahtı Deniz Savaşı Öncesi ve Sonrası İtalyan Yazınında Türkler (1570-1573)Güner Doğan
Kurulduğu günden itibaren Osmanlıların Venedikliler, Cenevizliler ve İstanbul’un fethi sonrası Floransalılarla olan temelde ticari ve askeri ilişkileri daha sonra karşılıklı olarak birbirlerinden her bakımdan haber alma eylemini de tetiklemiştir. İşte bu istek çerçevesinde İtalyanların Osmanlılar hakkında yazdıkları raporlar, mektuplar, seyahatnameler ve kitaplar kapsamlı bir külliyatı oluşturmaktadır. Bunun yanı sıra İtalya’da Osmanlı Devleti hakkında toplumun genelinin bilgi sahibi olduğu eserler çok sayıdadır ve bunlar içerdiği bilgiler bakımından oldukça değerlidir. Bu makale söz konusu eserlere odaklanarak İnebahtı Deniz Savaşı’ndan önce ve sonra Osmanlılar hakkında kaleme alınmış eserler hakkında farklı çerçevelerden bilgi vermeyi hedeflemektedir.
While many works were published in Europe on the Turks (Muslims/Ottomans), Italy is where these works are most concentrated. Emerging as citizens of city-states in the Italian region, Venetians and Genovese and later the Florentines worked with the Turks in every aspect of society, especially trade, since the early era of their contacts. This mutually beneficial relationship between the parties would create a desire to receive information from each other over time. Italians were more ambitious in contact Ottomans and, therefore, ensured the placement of an ambassador who represented them in Istanbul diplomatically. Diplomatic documents were written by the ambassadors, or in other words, by Bailo, by obtaining information about the Turks from almost every aspect, and would become important sources of information coming from the East to Italy. Over time, this information undoubtedly interested other states besides the Italian city-states, and Italy was to play a significant role as a bridge in transferring the news and information from East to the West.
News about the Turks, especially diplomatic documents written by the ambassadors in Italy, did not concern the general public. These diplomatic documents, of course, appealed to the rulers. However, even if there were no similar content, the printed texts that were partially similar in terms of the information offered and appealed to the general public started to be published in Italy. This publication began with the first communication with the East and became more common, especially when ongoing communication with the Turks was established. This article focuses on these texts, especially those written around the time of the Battle of Lepanto, a turning point for Turkish and European history. The main aim in our study, which covers four years, is to understand how works published in Italy at the time of the Battle of Lepanto are in a change both in content and number.
The works examined in the article reached readers in different cities of Italy at different times. Still, they were written to illustrate and understanding of the Turks in all respects since early times. However, at first, the attempt to understand Turks focused predominantly on the military field. The first thing the authors of these texts wanted to learn was about Turkish military power. Especially after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks, who were then in a period of continuous expansion, soon encountered Italians both at sea and on land. Therefore, any information obtained from the Turks relating to the military sense was valuable for Italians. While this information was particularly valuable for the rulers and soldiers, it is evident that the general public also desired this information as a matter of intellectual curiosity. The questions of how the Turks, who constantly threatened their own lands, were fighting and their military structure were repeatedly addressed in the texts.
Apart from other wars, the Battle of Lepanto, in both a military sense and in terms of the defeat of the Ottoman army, had a great impact in different cities of the Italian peninsula as well as in the rest of Europe. The Battle of Lepanto inspired Italian visual arts and literature. Many works were written in Italy about the Battle of Lepanto, but most of these works were not prose but poems written under different specific names. The most important issue underlying such a preference is undoubtedly related to the readership. Besides the Sonettos, the considerable number of Canzone, Barzelletta and Poetica, each evaluated in the same manner in terms of content and writing, ensured that the publications written under these titles were preferred and read by the public, As they were both concise and constructed with exciting sentences in terms of content, these works were consistently popular. Poetry-style works were practical in providing information for the readership in a short space, while popular as entertainment. Here, it is necessary to consider the literacy rate of the Italian readership, and studies showed that the situation of literacy rates were superior in Italy compared to other European states.
Another point emphasized by this article is that 1571, the year of the Battle of Lepanto, saw the highest number of publications in terms of publication density. Indeed, regardless of their nature, a significant number of works reached readers that year compared to other years. These publications were issued to celebrate victory and aimed to satisfy the general curiosity of the people. Conversely, it seems right to attribute the multitude of works to two different factors: the first being gratitude to God and the other to prevent the disintegration of the Holy Unity of Western Christianity. In the end, the first of the two issues was realized, while the other was not. The Sacred Unity, was extensively considered, had disintegrated in a short time after Lepanto. The disappointment of the text authors with the separation of Spain from the union increased even more with the peace treaty signed by the other pioneers of the union and their own nation, the Venetians, with the Ottomans. In short, the messages given by the works published in the year of the Battle of Lepanto disappeared rapidly.
Finally, it should be noted that there was a serious change in the number of works in the short term, both in number and content, in the Italian literature published after the Battle of Lepanto. While a certain number of works about Turks continued to be written, an attempt to understand the Turks took place more intensely than the message given in the contents of these works. Entering a period of peace with the Turks was an effective tool in this attempt at understanding.