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Philip Mansel: The Sun King and the Sultan: Louis XIV and the Ottoman Empire

October 22, 2019
Entrance free

Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD

Using unpublished archives and drawings, Dr. Philip Mansel shows that the traditional alliance between France and the Ottoman Empire became a corner-stone of French foreign policy under Louis XIV. In 1688 Louis XIV sent French armies across the Rhine in order to reduce Imperial pressure on the Ottoman Empire. In 1709-10, the French ambassador in Constantinople arranged grain shipments from throughout the Ottoman empire to save France from starvation. Meanwhile French artists and writers spread the fashion for turqueries in Europe: Antoine Galland translated the 1001 Nights into French, Jean Baptiste Vanmour painted the costumes and professions of the Levant, as well as the reception of the French ambassador by the Sultan. At the same time, pursuing a double policy, Louis XIV was in contact with discontented Christian leaders in Aleppo and other provinces, and sent French engineers to survey Ottoman ports, from Constantinople to Alexandria, to facilitate French conquests in case the Ottoman Empire collapsed. A selection of their drawings will be shown during the talk.

Dr. Philip Mansel’s books include Sultans in Splendour: Monarchs of the Middle East 1869-1945 (1988); Constantinople, City of the World’s Desire (1995); and Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (2010). King of the World: the life of Louis XIV, published by Penguin in July 2019 is his latest book. He is a Trustee of the Levantine Heritage Foundation.

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