The Elusive Intermediaries: Moriscos in Ottoman and Western European Diplomatic Sources from Constantinople, 1560s-1630s

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Author: Tijana Krstić1
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  • 1 Central European University

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Although the role of Moriscos in the diplomacy of North African Muslim polities has long been recognized, next to nothing is known of their contribution to Ottoman diplomacy. Yet, during the sixteenth century, and especially after their expulsion from Spain in 1609, Constantinople became an important node in the Moriscos’ Mediterranean-wide network. Unlike other intermediaries active on the diplomatic scene of Constantinople, Moriscos had a special role in sultanic image-making during the age of increased confessional polarization in both Europe and parts of the Middle East, between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. The essay examines how European and Ottoman sources represented Moriscos as both subjects and objects of Ottoman diplomacy, explores the significance of their religious affiliation in the diplomatic process, and argues that the Moriscos’ mediation provided the Ottomans with valuable opportunities to exploit confessional tensions and articulate their claims to sovereignty to their European interlocutors.

  • 11

    See Gerard Wiegers, “Managing Disaster: Networks of Moriscos during the Process of the Expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula around 1609,” Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 36, no. 2 (2010): 141-68; Luis Bernabé Pons, “Notas sobre la cohesion de la comunidad Morisca más allá su expulsión de España,” Al-Qantara 29, no 2 (2008): 307-332.

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  • 16

    See A.C. Hess, “The Moriscos: An Ottoman Fifth Column in Sixteenth-Century Spain?,” American Historical Review 74 (1968): 1-25; Raphaël Carrasco, “Péril ottoman et solidarité morisque,” Revue d’Histoire maghrébine, 25-26 (1982): 33-50; Francisco Márquez Villanueva, “El mito de la gran conspiración morisca,” in Actes du ii Symposium International du ciem sur religion, identité et sources documentaire sur les morisques andalous, vol. ii, ed. A. Temimi (Tunis, 1984), 267-284; Luis F. Bernabé Pons, “On Morisco Networks and Collectives,” in The Conversos and Moriscos in Late Medieval Spain and Beyond, vol. ii, ed. K. Ingram (Leiden/Boston, 2012), 121-134.

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  • 19

    See Hess, “The Moriscos,” 14-15.

  • 24

    Abdeljelil Temimi, “Manoeuvres de soulèvement en Andalousie en 1582 et rôle de la communauté morisques d’Istanbul dans l’attitude des Pays-Bas face à l’expulsion des morisques en 1610,” Mélanges Maria Soledad Carrasco Urgoiti, Vol. ii (Zaghouan, 1999), 651. See also Carrasco, “Péril ottoman et solidarité morisque”; and Pons, “On Morisco Networks.”

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  • 25

    Özdemir, “Endülüs Müslümanlarına Osmanlı Yardımı,” 401.

  • 45

    See Temimi, “Manoeuvres de soulèvement,” 663.

  • 48

    Ibid., 17 September 1622.

  • 51

    Ibid., 348.

  • 52

    See Abdeljelil Temimi, “Le passage des morisques à Marseilles, Livourne, et Istanbul d’après de nouveaux documents italiens,” Revue d’histoire meghrébine 55-56 (1989): 33-52, especially 41-52. On Moriscos in Livorno see also Cesare Santus, “Moreschi in Toscana. Progetti i tentativi di insediamento tra Livorno e la Maremma (1610-1614),” Quaderni Storici 144, no. 3 (2013): 745-778.

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  • 56

    See Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam, 112-13.

  • 68

    Ibid., 622 r-623 v; 660 r-v.

  • 70

    See Marc D. Baer, “The Great Fire of 1660 and the Islamization of Christian and Jewish Space in Istanbul,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 36, no. 2 (2004): 159-181.

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  • 72

    Wiegers, “Managing Disaster,” 149.

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