Extract

Eastern Overtures

War and Peace: Ottoman Relations in the 15th to 19th centuries’, an exhibition at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul, 1999. For 500 years the Polish elite was obsessed with all things Ottoman. Yet a brilliant exhibition celebrating this passion went sadly unnoticed. Philip Mansel reports.

  • Entry of the Embassy of Piotr Potocki into Pera, by Luigi Mayer c.1790
  • Turkish musicians at the British embassy in istanbul, 1779. This miniature, a copy now in warsaw University Library, belonged to King Stanislaw August Poniatowski of Poland. The original was commissioned by an aide-de-camp to the King

No one interested in relations between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and Christianity and Islam, should ignore the catalogue for this magnificent exhibition. It is not only a splendidly illustrated 462-page record of Ottoman-Polish relations from 1400 to 1900, but also an antidote to received ideas. It shows that, from the points of view of Warsaw and Istanbul, far from being irreconcilable opposites, East and West could hardly keep out of each others arms.

Except for relatively short periods of warfare in the seventeenth century (1620–1, 1672–6, 1683–99), often provoked by marauding Cossacks and Tartars rather than the powers themselves, Poland and the Ottoman Empire were generally peaceful neighbours. They shared the bonds of commerce and hostility to Russia. The embassies sent by the Polish kings to Ottoman sultans were, as many pictures and prints in the catalogue make clear, particularly grandiose. At his entry into Istanbul in 1622, the Polish ambassador was accompanied by 1,000 horsemen.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 19

Issue 19, 1999 Forgotten Riches
£12.00 / $15.88 / 62.32 TL
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Issue 19, 1999 Forgotten Riches
£12.00 / $15.88 / 62.32 TL
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