The motives, pattern and form of Anglo-Ottoman diplomatic relations, c. 1580-1661
My study covers the period from the initial establishment of English representation at the Ottoman Porte with the capitulations of 1580 which established trading and diplomatic rights for English merchants, and the formal establishment of an embassy in 1583. I explore the development of the English embassy at Constantinople from its vulnerable first years through its growth in prestige during the 1620s and 1630s, to the zenith of its influence in the 1660s before the French began to dominate diplomatic business at the Porte. I examine English policy at the Porte from its first tentative attempts to secure a strategic alliance against the Spanish with the Ottomans in the Mediterranean, through the Thirty Years War in which both Ottoman and English authorities found themselves reluctantly embroiled and the domestic troubles which both suffered in the 1640s, culminating with the execution of Ibrahim I in 1648 and Charles I in 1649. I conclude with the period of stabilization in the 1650s when the English authorities reasserted coherent policies at home and abroad during the Protectorate and the Restoration. This was mirrored by a stabilisation of the Ottoman Empire after the first of the Köprülü Grand Viziers took the reins of power in 1656 and reasserted central control over the provinces and over Ottoman vassals on the peripheries of Ottoman territory. The thesis builds on work done on the English commercial expansion in the Levant and the commercial role of the embassy in the Constantinople. I seek to complement existing studies of particular embassies and personalities and to give a broader over-view of the development of Anglo-Ottoman diplomatic relations. I intend to open debate on the development of Ottoman foreign policy and the implementation of Ottoman diplomacy during the seventeenth century well before the Ottoman bureaucracy underwent the westernization which led to it being absorbed into the European diplomatic system during the late eighteenth century. In the introductory chapters I explore the development of diplomacy during this period to establish the different attitudes of the English governments who conducted a largely adhoc diplomacy until the late sixteenth century when they began to open a few key residences abroad, and the Ottoman authorities who maintained a strictly non-reciprocal form of policy with western nations which lay outside the Dar al-Islam or Muslim lands. I discuss the question of the duality of the embassy at Constantinople as both a commercial agency and a state department and examine the potential for conflict between the controlling interests of the Crown and the Levant Company. In two chapters on the domestic situations in England and the Ottoman Empire I assess the priorities of policy and the domestic and financial constraints on an active foreign policy. Both the Ottoman Empire and the English sought to secure their own state through internal stability and external alliances. Both states faced the same problems of hostility from their neighbours, internal rebellion and the need to provide for growing government expenditure. However, England and the Ottoman Empire differed in the way they approached their problems and had different resources to help them carry their policies through. The most notable contrast was that the Ottomans possessed a growing standing army while England relied on ad hoc levies until Cromwell's new model army. These chapters are intended to open the subject to two audiences: the Ottomanist and the Early Modern European/English Historian, and to place the Anglo-Ottoman relationship within a broader diplomatic context. I have divided the thesis into three parts, each exploring a different aspect of diplomatic relations between Whitehall and the Porte, centring on the role of the embassy at Constantinople. The opening of direct diplomatic relations with the Porte was the first sustained diplomatic contact the English had established with a non-Christian nation and formed the model for later diplomatic contacts with non-European nations. As a whole, my study contributes to an understanding of how England adapted to the non-reciprocal diplomacy of the Ottoman Porte and to the operation of diplomacy by a Christian nation in a non-Christian state. I also explore the development of English policy in the Mediterranean and place the Anglo-Ottoman diplomatic relationship in its European context. In part one I examine the function of the etiquette system at the Ottoman Porte and assess the importance of protocol conventions and the extent to which they affected the status of the ambassador and the progress of negotiations. I explore the status of western ambassadors within the Ottoman system and illustrate the adaptability and sophistication of the Forte's ceremonial system. I address the problem of the Forte's attitude to western states, recognising that there was ambiguity over whether such states were treated as representatives of tributary states or as honoured guests. I also explore the role which gift-giving, both official and unofficial, played in assessments of status and the complicated issue of diplomatic precedent, where western ambassadors attempted to assert their own concepts of status on the Ottoman system. In a further chapter I demonstrate how the English ambassador fitted into the English Court system and contrast English diplomatic ceremonial with that of the Porte. I provide an outline of the development of the conflict between the Crown, which endorsed the ambassador, and the Levant Company, which paid for him, to resolve the question of whether the embassy in Constantinople was indeed an embassy in the true sense. In this chapter I also explore the position of the few quasi-official Ottoman representatives who attended the English Court despite the official non-reciprocal diplomatic stance of the Porte. I examine the ceremonial which was provided for them and illustrate how the English system adapted to deal with this new phenomenon. This first part does not stand in isolation from the sections dealing with actual negotiations at the Porte but I intend it to place the diplomatic representatives in the framework in which they operated and establish the principles of status through which they proceeded to negotiations. In part two I consider the development of the administrative structure of the embassy in Constantinople. I include an assessment of both English and local staff, and attempt to resolve questions of the experience and efficiency of administrative personnel and of the ambassadors whom they served. I also explore the function of the embassy and establish the chains of command and channels of communication which the embassy involves. I explore the development of chancery practice during this period and give an outline of the Ottoman petition system through which all negotiations were initiated. I confront the problem of prompt authorization of documents and examine the use of a possible 'deputed Great Seal' by the embassy. The roles of Ottoman officials, especially the role of the Grand Vizier and the developing role of the Reisūlkūttab (Chief Scribe to the Divan) in foreign affairs are also discussed. Finally, in this section I consider the problems of security and communications within the region and examines the importance of the English consular network. The purpose of this section is to build up a picture of the operation of the embassy on a day to day basis to from a background to the various negotiations discussed in the final section. The final section forms the bulk of the thesis where I assess policy development in Anglo-Ottoman diplomatic relations. In the chapters of this section I explore the various types of negotiations conducted at the Porte by English ambassadors.