On a Pachyderm’s Voyage from Tabriz to Aleppo: A Light Moment in Persianate “Elephant Diplomacy”

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Modern scholars tend to view Ottoman-Safavid relations from a sectarian angle as well as through a military lens. Such a narrow focus often comes at the expense of broader strategic and political considerations. The subject of this paper, the capture of an Indian elephant by Ottoman troops, its handover to the French embassy, and the ensuing diplomatic developments, may not be central to the campaign that the Ottomans launched against Iran in 1548-49, yet it offers unique insight into the relations between these powers. What is more, it sheds light on Safavid-Mughal and Ottoman-Mughal relations as well as on wider rivalries between European powers that were tangentially involved in this struggle, the Habsburgs, France, and Venice.

On a Pachyderm’s Voyage from Tabriz to Aleppo: A Light Moment in Persianate “Elephant Diplomacy”

in Journal of Persianate Studies

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3

Neither Mirza Bala nor Gülbeden 1902p. 91 gives the signature of this letter which “is in Topkapı and was printed in Yedi Gün” (!) Farooqi p. 43 gives the full quotation as İsmail Hakki Uzuncarşılı “Hind Hükümdarı Hümayun Şah’ın Kanuni’ye gönderdiği bir mektub” Yedi Gün 8/no. 202 İstanbul 1937.

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