A Peace for a Prince: The Reception of a Safavid Child Hostage at the Ottoman Court

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Sinem Casale University of Minnesota

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The twelve-year long Ottoman-Safavid War ended in 1590, when the newly enthroned Safavid king, Shah ʿAbbas sent his six year old nephew to the Ottoman court as a condition of peace. The arrival of this child prince, Haydar Mirza, his large retinue, and the gifts he brought for the sultan incited much enthusiasm and curiosity among contemporary observers. These were recorded in official histories, archival documents, manuscript paintings, and poems of Ottoman, Safavid, Venetian, and Habsburg origin. Through a cross-reading of authors with diverse political motivations, this essay demonstrates the multiplicity of ways in which the prince’s role as a social agent and mediator was interpreted during and after his transfer. A close comparative reading of these textual accounts and images suggests that the diplomatic encounter and its subtleties may never be described fully by the overarching goals of panegyric texts or selected episodes captured in narrative illustration.

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