Turquerie: An Eighteenth-Century European Fantasy by Haydn Williams - review by Philip Mansel

Philip Mansel

Sultans of Bling

Turquerie: An Eighteenth-Century European Fantasy

By

Thames & Hudson 240pp £39.95 order from our bookshop
 

The alliance between France and the Ottoman Empire lasted for nearly four hundred years, from 1535 to 1914. Despite occasional squalls, it was one of the few fixed points in European politics. It was so enduring that it generated cultural, economic and social benefits, as well as political and military ones. Marseille (where coffee was first drunk in France in 1644) and Provence lived off the Levant trade. By 1900, the Ottoman elite, including Mustafa Kemal and Enver Pasha, knew French and were influenced by the books and ideas of the Third Republic. 

Europeans frequently went to travel or trade in the Ottoman Empire: Byron wrote that it was the safest country in Europe. They returned with pictures and descriptions – in the 16th century Frenchmen wrote more books on the Ottoman Empire than on the entire recently discovered continent of America. Interest

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