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New Book on Renegades in Ottoman Elite Society

Mar 03, 2017

Tobias P. Graf, Associate Member of the Cluster "Asia and Europe", published a new book on Christian-Europeans who converted to Islam in between 1575 and 1610. The volume places renegades in the context of Ottoman elite society and studies contacts between them and Christian Europeans. The volume is a result of Graf’s dissertation project, which was supervised by Cluster member Prof. Thomas Maissen.  

The monograph "The Sultan's Renegades - Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575-1610" offers a comprehensive study on renegades in the context of Ottoman elite society. The figure of the renegade - a European Christian or Jew who had converted to Islam and served the Ottoman sultan - is omnipresent in all genres produced by those early modern Christian Europeans who wrote about the Ottoman Empire. These 'foreign' converts are inserted into the context of Ottoman elite life to reorient the discussion of these individuals away from the present focus on their exceptionality and towards a qualified appreciation of their place in the Ottoman imperial enterprise. The Empire's relations with its neighbours in Christian Europe also plays an important role in that context.

This study highlights the deep political, religious, and cultural entanglements between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe beyond the Mediterranean Basin as the 'shared world' par excellence. The existence of such trans-imperial subjects illustrates the extent to which the Ottomans participated in processes of religious polarization usually considered typical of Christian Europe in this period. Nevertheless, Christian Europeans remained ambivalent about those they dismissed as apostates and traitors, frequently relying on them for support in the pursuit of familial and political interests.

Oxford University Press published the book at the beginning of March 2017. It is the result of Graf's dissertation project "'I Am Still Yours': Christian-European 'Renegades' in the Ottoman Elite during the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries", which was supervised by project A7 coordinator and Cluster member Prof. Thomas Maissen.

Tobias P. Graf is a former project member of project A7 "Ottoman Empire - Dynamic Asymmetries in Transcultural Flows at the Intersection of Asia and Europe: The Case of the Early Modern Ottoman Empire" at the Cluster "Asia and Europe". He is currently Assistant Professor in Early Modern History at the History Department of the University of Tübingen.

Find further information on the book here.


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