Parallel Lives

Both were ambitious men with a penchant for poetry who suffered extremes of fortune. David Barchard charts the ties between two dominant figures in nineteenth-century Turkey, the British Ambassador Stratford Canning, and the Ottoman sultan Mahmut II

  • Sultan Mahmut II, 1789–1839. Stratford Canning, 1786–1880.

On Monday June 28, 1808, when Britain was an isolated power on the edge of a Europe dominated by Napoleon, Stratford Canning, only twenty-one and technically a Cambridge undergraduate, set sail from Spithead on his first trip to Turkey. As the deputy to Robert Adair, the newly appointed English ambassador. he was embarking on a diplomatic career which would last for half a century.

At the other end of the continent, another young man sat in a pavilion in the Third Courtyard of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. The Ottoman Prince Mahmut, only one year older then Canning, had lived his entire life in Ottoman princely captivity and apparently had received only a Koranic education. On that particular day, he was probably sitting with his uncle, the ill-fated Sultan Selim III, who had been deposed by the Janissaries thirteen months earlier because of his attempts to modernise the Ottoman army. In these final months of his life, Selim – a brilliant, charming and visionary man, perhaps too soft-hearted to be a successful monarch – was tutoring the prince about the modern world in a desperate downloading of ideas about how to enable the Ottoman Empire to survive…

This six-page feature is from David Barchard’s series on 19th-century Ottoman Lives.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 27

Issue 27, 2002 Sublime Simplicity
£12.00 / $16.88 / 66.60 TL
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 27
  • The Platonic Bowl

    The pots of Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye have an ideal serenity and timeless beauty, as visitors to her retrospective in Istanbul have discovered. But their cool simplicity belies the passion that goes into creating them. Alistair McAlpine met the artist in Paris.

  • Drama in the Round

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  • Travels with Turhan

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  • Grape Expectations

    Wine is now the most popukar alcoholic drink on the planet, says Esat Ayhan, ‘and we in Turkey are benefitting from this positive wind.’ Owner for the past twenty-two years of a fashionable Cihangir şarküteri, stocking everything from De Cecco pasta to bacon and paté, Esat Bey took the opportunity to expand its renowned La Cave wine section into an entire floor devoted to the grape.

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    Francis Beaufort’s epic 1812 survey of Turkey’s southern coast and its classical sites sparked a European treasure hunt. It also very nearly cost him his life. By Nicholas Courtney with photgraphs by Kate Clow and James Mortimer

  • Wish you were here

    Max Fruchtermann (1852 –1918) was the publisher who took the postcard to Turkey and thereby took Turkey to the world. His cards sold by the million. Mert Sandalcı – historian, archivist and librettist – has assembled thousands of these cards into three mammoth volumes. Elizabeth Meath Baker leafs through their pages.

  • The Birth of the Big Apple

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Buy the issue
Issue 27, 2002 Sublime Simplicity
£12.00 / $16.88 / 66.60 TL