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


Topics from the Letters of Germigny

From 1579 to 1584, Jacques de Germigny resided in Constantinople as the French ambassador. He was expected to write to the French court regularly to keep it aprised of Ottoman foreign policy, the activities and policies of other countries with the Ottoman Empire, and his own activities and interactions with the grandees and Sultan in Constantinople. This site will analyze those letters, creating a network model of the proper nouns (which I will call topics in this site) in each of the letters up until 1583. Time constraints have prevented me from inputing all of the data from the year 1584. The topics presented in the letter range from Pashas at the Ottoman court to names of countries to foreign ambassadors.

I read through all of the letters Germigny wrote provided in the single most expansive mansucripts of his letters, the fonds Français 16143 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. In each of these letters, I listed each topic referenced. Each topic is only referenced once for each letter. Repetitions are not listed. Such an approach might misrepresent the emphasis of a single letter by treating a name used only once in a letter as equal to the focus of the letter, which repeats ten times. However, I am trying to understand the issues Germigny concerned himself with over time. A highly repetitive letter or two may skew the findings over a year, if all references are listed in the data. Also, repetitive references provide the ambiguous issue of pronouns. Early modern French, like early modern English, used pronouns extensively--sometimes to the point that one must reread the sentence to understand who is talking about whom. If repetitive proper nouns are listed, should one also list the pronouns referring to the proper noun? To avoid this problem, I simply listed the proper noune only once each time it was referenced in a letter.

By listing only the topics referenced in a letter (and not their repetitions), I have a much better data set to represent the concerns of the French ambassador over time. Referencing issues, people, or places in multiple letters is thus privileged over intense interest over short periods of time. Such an approach aids in understand the structural place of the Ottoman Empire relative to other countries constructed by French foreign policy.

I then attached a place name to each topic to represent the region with which Germigny concerned himself when he referenced the topic. For instance, Marigliani is attached to Spain since he was the Spanish ambassador sent to negotiate a truce with the Sultan. The King of Spain is also attached to the place name of Spain for obvious reasons. Others, are less clear. Osman Pasha for instance might at some times be leading an amry in Safavid territory, but be in Constantinople in another year. To avoid this complexity, I simply attached the place name of their country of association since Germigny, when referencing Osman in both periods, was discussing Ottoman foreign policy or politics. Thus he was really concerned with the Ottoman Empire, so Constantinople is attached to his proper name throughout.

Attaching place names to topics allows me to represent Germigny's topics geographically. In order to do so, I use Palladio to map Germigny's topics, using variably sized circles to signify frequency of concern with the region. The map quite literally demonstrates how Germigny (and how he expected to the King to as well) invisioned the Ottoman Empire's relationship to the rest of Europe.

I also use the network visualization program RAW to analyze the and represent the frequency of topics and regions relative to one another. This helps represent who and what Germigny was most concerned with in Constantinople. Which Pashas was he closest too? Which ambassadors did he reference the most frequenly? This analysis helps us understand how he aligned himself and negotiated within the factional politics of the Ottoman Empire.