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Tobias Graf, Dr.


Tobias Graf, Dr.


  • Research Associate at the Faculty of History, University of Oxford
  • Alumnus of the Cluster 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context'


Über Tobias Graf

I am a historian of the early modern period specializing on the Austrian-Habsburgs as well as connections and entanglements between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire. I am currently part of the ERC-funded project 'Stories of Survival: Recovering the Connected Histories of Eastern Christianity in the Early Modern World' directed by Dr John-Paul Ghobrial at the University of Oxford. This project investigates the history of Eastern Christians and their ties to Europe and the wider world in the early modern period. Previously, I have worked on foreign intelligence and its role in political decision making during the reign of Emperor Maximilian II (reigned 1564–76) with a particular focus on the two vacancies of the Polish-Lithuanian throne in the 1570s. My doctoral thesis studied the conversion of Christian Europeans to Islam and their subsequent integration into the Ottoman military administrative elite during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The resulting monograph entitled The Sultan's Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 15751610 has been published by Oxford University Press.

Please also see my profile on



Education / Academic Career

since 10/2017: Research Associate, Faculty of History, University of Oxford as part of the research project 'Stories of Survival: Recovering the Connected Histories of Eastern Christianity in the Early Modern World' (PI: Dr John-Paul Ghobrial)

10/201609/2017: Assistant Professor in Early Modern History, History Department, University of Tübingen

07/201409/2016: Research Associate in Early Modern History, Department of History, Heidelberg University, Germany; project: 'Knowledge and Political Decision-Making in the Early Modern Period: The Example of Austrian-Habsburg Foreign Intelligence' (funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation from March 2015 until September 2016)

10/200801/2014: PhD candidate in history, Heidelberg University, Germany, thesis:  '"I Am Still Yours": Christian-European "Renegades" in the Ottoman Elite during the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries', supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen (Paris/Heidelberg), defended on 30 January 2014

20122017: Associate Member of the Cluster of Excellence 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context'

10/2012–03/2012: Visiting student at the Faculty of History and Wolfson College, University of Cambridge

03/2009–10/2012: Member of the research group 'Dynamic Asymmetries in Transcultural Flows at the Intersection of Asia and Europe: The Case of the Early Modern Ottoman Empire' (A7) at the Cluster of Excellence 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context'

2007–2008: Master of Philosophy in Early Modern History (distinguished performance), University of Cambridge, Christ's College, Cambridge, UK, title of thesis: 'Renegades to the Ottoman Empire and Their Impact in the Early Modern Period', supervised by Dr. Kate Fleet (Susan Skilliter Centre of Ottoman Studies, Newnham College, Cambridge) and Scott Mandelbrote (Peterhouse, Cambridge)

2003–2007: BA Honours History, University of Cambridge, Wolfson College, Cambridge, UK

2002: Abitur, Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium, Gifhorn, Germany


Scholarships and Awards

03/2015–09/2016: Research award and post-doc scholarship, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Cologne, Germany

07/2014–12/2014: Post-doc scholarship, Research Council in Field of Focus 3 'Cultural Dynamics in Globalised Worlds', Heidelberg University, Germany

06/2009–03/2013: PhD scholarship, German Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), Bonn, Germany

03/2009–05/2009: PhD scholarship, Cluster of Excellence 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context', Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University

20072008: Robert Owen Bishop Scholarship, Christ's College, Cambridge, UK

2007: Jennings Prize, Wolfson College, Cambridge, UK

Ausgewählte Publikationen

"Keeping Secrets in Sixteenth-Century Istanbul", oupBlog (22 August 2017),

The Sultan's Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575–1610 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). For further details, see the publisher's catalogue and the chapter abstracts. A preview is available on Google Books.

"Trans-Imperial Nobility: The Case of Carlo Cigala (1556-1631)", in Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other, ed. Claire Norton (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017), ch. 1. A preview of the ebook edition is available on Google Books.

ed., Der Preis der Diplomatie: Die Abrechnungen der kaiserlichen Gesandten an der Hohen Pforte, 1580–1583 (Heidelberg: heiBOOKS, 2016), doi: 10.11588/heibooks.70.60.

Review of Robert Born and Andreas Puth, eds., Osmanischer Orient und Ostmitteleuropa: Perzeptionen und Interaktionen in den Grenzzonen zwischen dem 16. und 18. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014), sehepunkte 15, no. 6 (15 June 2015),

with Pascal W. Firges, Christian Roth, and Gülay Tulasoğlu, eds., Well-Connected Domains: Towards and Entangled Ottoman History, The Ottoman Empire and Its Heritage 57 (Leiden: Brill, 2007). For further details, see the pages of project A7 and the publisher's catalogue. A preview of the book is available through Google Books.

with Pascal W. Firges, Introduction to Well-Connected Domains, pp. 1-10.

"Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives: 'Renegades' in the Ottoman Empire and Their Pre-Conversion Ties in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries", in Firges et al., Well-Connected Domains, pp. 131-149.

"Ladislaus Mörth: Ein ungewöhnlicher Renegat im Osmanischen Reich des späten 16. Jahrhunderts?," in Das osmanische Europa: Methoden und Perspektiven der Frühneuzeitforschung zu Südosteuropa, ed. Andreas Helmedach, Markus Koller, Konrad Petrovszky, and Stefan Rohdewald (Leipzig: Eudora, 2014), pp. 309-40. For further details, see

Review of Ehud R. Toledano, As if Silent and Absent: Bonds of Enslavement in the Islamic Middle East, New Middle Eastern Studies 2 (2012),