The Republic of Letters and the Levant


The eleven articles in this book seek to document the interest in the Levant that prevailed in the Republic of Letters from the Renaissance to the late eighteenth century. The emphasis is on those collectors of manuscripts and antiquaries who either travelled in the Middle East (the Vecchietti brothers, John Greaves and Patrick Russell) or who, remaining in Europe, acted through agents and correspondents – scholars such as Peiresc, John Selden and Robert Boyle. But themes such as the discussion prompted by European translations of the Quran and by scholarly enterprises in the East (such as the Mutaferrika printing press in Istanbul) also come to the fore in a volume which contributes to the history of oriental studies in early modern Europe. Contributors include: Maurits H. van den Boogert, Alastair Hamilton, Charles G.D. Littleton, Peter N. Miller, Hannah Neudecker, Francis Richard, Jan Schmidt, Zur Shalev, and G.J. Toomer.


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Biographical Note

Alastair Hamilton is Professor Emeritus of the History of the Radical Reformation at the University of Amsterdam, the C. Louise Thijssen-Schoute Professor of the History of Ideas at Leiden University, and the Arcadian Visiting Research Professor at the School of Advanced Study, London University, attached to the Warburg Institute. Maurits van den Boogert is researcher at Leiden University, and is currently working on Ottoman miscellaneous manuscripts. Bart Westerweel is Professor Emeritus of Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations List of Contributors Introduction, Alastair Hamilton 1. Les frères Vecchietti, diplomates, érudits et aventuriers, Francis Richard 2. Between Author and Library Shelf: The Intriguing History of Some Middle Eastern Manuscripts Acquired by Public Collections in the Netherlands prior to 1800, Jan Schmidt 3. John Selden, the Levant and the Netherlands in the History of Scholarship, G.J. Toomer 4. The Travel Notebooks of John Greaves, Zur Shalev 5. Peiresc, the Levant and the Mediterranean, Peter N. Miller 6. ‘To Divest the East of all its Manuscripts and all its Rarities’. The Unfortunate Embassy of Henri Gournay de Marcheville, Alastair Hamilton 7. Ancient Languages and New Science. The Levant in the Intellectual Life of Robert Boyle, Charles G.D. Littleton 8. From Istanbul to London? Albertus Bobovius’ Appeal to Isaac Basire, Hannah Neudecker 9. A Lutheran Translator for the Quran. A Late Seventeenth-Century Quest, Alastair Hamilton 10. Patrick Russell and the Republic of Letters in Aleppo, Maurits H. van den Boogert 11. The Sultan’s Answer to the Medici Press? Ibrahim Müteferrika’s Printing House in Istanbul, Maurits H. van den Boogert Index Nominum


All those interested in the history of ideas, scholarly and cultural exchanges between the West and the Middle East, and travel literature in the Early Modern period.