Jacques de Germigny in the Ottoman Empire (1579-1584)

Historiography and Background of the Franco-Ottoman Alliance

This Project

This site provides an anlysis of the French Embassy of Jacques de Germigny to the Ottoman Empire from 1579 to 1584. It demonstrates the historical precedence for the alliance as well as the historiography of Euro-Ottoman relations in early modern period in the Introduction. The Background section provides the historical background in which Germigny was acting. It explains the forces at play in France driving them toward a closer relationship with the Ottomans, the forces in the Ottoman Empire driving them away from conflict with Spain, the factional politics in which Germigny had to navigate, and finally a description of Germigny himself. The site also focuses on a network analysis of the letters of Germigny to try an learn how he conceived of his mission, who the most important actors in Constantinople were (both Ottoman and otherwise) for his purposes, and how he conceived of the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Europe

Europe and the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was one of Europe's most powerful countries in the sixteenth and seveenteenth centuries. Too often historians forget this reality of the early modern period. The history of Europe traditionally represents the history of Latin Christendom--essentially Central and Western Europe. When historians introduce Ottomans into this story, they play the role of outsiders, the foreign invaders against whom Christian European states coalesced to dispatch. The battle of Lepanto in 1571 and the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 appear as the great moments in this narrative of East vs West, Islam vs Christianity.1See Andrew Wheatcroft, The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe (New York: Basic Books, 2009); James Reston, Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536 (New York: Penguin, 2009); Niccolo Capponi, Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto (Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press, 2007); Palmira Brummett, “The Lepanto Paradigm Revisited: Knowing the Ottomans in the Sixteenth Century,” in Anna Contadini and Claire Norton, eds., The Renaissance and the Ottoman World (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013), 63-93. Such a dichotemy makes some sense. Culturally the Ottomans differed from the rest of Christian Europe, and both sides imagined and reinforced these cultural differences. 2Lucette Valensi, The Birth of the Despot, trans. Arthur Denner (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993); Nancy Biasaha, The Creation of East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); Margaret Meserve, Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); Suraiya Faroqhi, The Ottoman Empire and the World around It (1955; New York: I.B. Taurus, 2004). Franklin Baumer, “England, the Turk, and the Common Corps of Christendom,” American Historical Review 50, no. 1 (1944): 26-48.

The cultural difference, however, has led most historians to project the cultural barriers into the political realm. Certainly, the Habsburg-Ottoman conflict played no small role in constructing such political barrier, but some have assumed that political division applied to Europe in general. Franklin Baumer argued in the 1950s that even though diplomatic relations increased between Europeans and the infidel power, the Ottomans remained excluded from equal standing amongst the “common corps of Christendom.”3Franklin Baumer, “England, the Turk, and the Common Corps of Christendom,” 26-48. Many following his lead have emphasized the exclusion of the Ottomans as a player from European politics.4M.S. Anderson, The Origins of the Modern European State System, 1494-1618 (London: Longman, 1998); Peter Sloterdijk, “The Turk as Europe’s Other” in Cultural Politics and Political Culture in Postmodern Europe, ed., Peter Burgess (Atlanta: Radopi, 1997), 300. These historians have de-emphasized the “diplomatic revolution” of the sixteenth century in which various European countries established diplomatic relations with the Ottomans.5On the diplomatic revolution, see E. Charrière, Negociations de la France dans le Levant (1894; New York: Burk Franklin, [1966?]), i, xvi-xvii; Garrett Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy (New York: Cosimo, 2008) Within the last two decades, scholarship has challenged this division, but it has primarily focused on the Mediterranean.6See for instance, E. Natalie Rothman, Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Ithaca: Cornell Unviersity Press, 2012); Eric Dursteler, Venetians in Constantinople: Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2006); Molly Greene, A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000) When historians introduce Northern European states into this less divisive framework, commercial relations appear prominently between Ottoman and Christian states while the political division continues.7Molly Greene, “Beyond the Northern Invasion: The Mediterranean in the Seventeenth Century,” Past and Present 174 (Feb. 2002): 42-71; Junko Thérèse Takeda, Between Crown and Commerce: Marseille and the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011); a notable exception is Géaud Poumarède, Pour en finir avec la Croisade: Mythes et rélités de la lutte contre les Turcs aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles (Paris: Quadrige, 2009), which argues that by the Christian-Ottoman conflict became essentially secular by the end of the seventeenth century.

The Franco-Ottoman Alliance

France does not fit this model. From the beginning of the Franco-Ottoman alliance in 1535, the relationship was inherently political. Faced with Habsburg encirclement (Charles V was the Prince of the Netherlands, King of Spain, and Holy Roman Empire), Francis I reached out to Sultan Suleiman, establishing a permanent ambassador in 1535 to coordinate an anti-Habsburg military policy.8See Christin Isom-Verhaaren, Allies with the Infidel: The Ottoman and French Alliance in the Sixteenth Century (New York: I.B. Taurus, 2011), ch.1; Edith Garnier, L'Alliance impie: François Ier et Soliman le Magnifique contre Charles Quint (Paris: le félin, 2008), chs. 6, 7, 8; Jon Ursu, La Politique Orientale de François Ier (1515-1547) (Paris: H. Champion, 1908), 83-167. Francis I reached out to Sultan Suleiman, establishing a permanent ambassador in 1535 to coordinate an anti-Habsburg military policy. The high point of the alliance came in 1543-1544 with the siege of Nice, a joint Franco-Ottoman naval campaign that resulted in the Ottoman fleet wintering in Toulon after the failed siege. Nice was then a part of Savoy, an ally of Charles V at the time.9Isom-Verhaaren,Allies with the Infidel, ch. 4; Isom-Verhaaren, "'Barbarossa and His Army Who Came to Succor All of Us": Ottoman and French Views of Their Joint Campaign of 1543-1544," French Historical Studes 30, no. 3 (2007):394-425; Garnier, chs. 8-9; Kenneth Setton, The Papacy and the Levant (1204-1571), vol. 3 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1984), 470-73. The joint campaign of 1543 and 1544 was the last of its kind, but the two countries did not stop coordinating with one another against the Habsburgs. Francis I's son and heir, Henri II, continued his father's policy. He coordinated Ottoman campaigns in the Mediterranean with his military endeavors on land in the 1550s.10Setton, Papacy and the Levant, vol. 4, 691-708; Isome-Verhaaren, Allies with the Infidel, 43-46. This same pattern continued into the later sixteenth century, but it was less successful. By the 1570s and 1580s, France continued its Levantine policy, but with less to schow for it. Indeed, the attempts of Francis I's grand son, Henry III (r. 1574 to 1589), to renew Franco-Ottoman coordination and the difficulties France faced is the focus of this website.