The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe

By Daniel Goffman | Go to book overview
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Kubad in Venice

The Venetians have no king, but their form of rule is a commune. This means that they agree on a man whom they appoint to rule over them by their unanimous consent. The Venetians (Banādiqa) are called Finisin. Their emblem is a human figure with a face which they believed to be that of Mark, one of the Apostles. The man who rules over them comes from one of the noted families among them.1

No one outside of the imperial council knew of Kubad Çavuş's secret instructions, and so he officially traveled to Venice as the representative not so much of his monarch or even his grand vizier, but of Joseph di Segura, an affluent and influential Jewish merchant of Istanbul.2Kubad much resented having to travel in the companyof di Segura's son to the capital of the mysterious Venetian Empire, particularly since the long-standing treatybetween the two powers had not yet been renewed after Süleyman's death while on military campaign in Hungary. The envoy now knew that the Ottoman government might not extend the agreement but instead was considering an invasion of the Venetian colonyof Cyprus. Should that occur the bailo certainlywould spend the war in an Ottoman prison; was there anydoubt that the Venetians would take advantage of Kubad's presence to retaliate?

After an uneventful three-week sea passage including a brief layover on the island of Chios which onlythe previous year had embr aced the Abode of Islam and where the envoydelivered an imperial firman directing the new commander of Chios town's stronghold to stop beleaguering the island's inhabitants with demands for moneyand services Kubad disembarked at Venice in late October 1567.3There he spurned both the palatial quarters provided

Shihāb al-Dīn al-'Umarī, al-Ta'rīf bil-mus talaht al-sharīf (Cairo, 1312 A. H.), p. 80; as quoted in Bernard Lewis, The Muslim discoveryof Europe (New York, 1982), p. 211.
On the envoy's journeys to Venice, see Arbel, Trading nations, pp. 135–40.
On the question of “distance” in the early modern Mediterranean world, and the advantages and disadvantages of sea over land travel, see Kurt W. Treptow, “Distance and communications in southeastern Europe, 1593–1612, East European Quarterly 24.4 (1991): 475–82. The author concludes that most couriers preferred the more reliable and secure if longer (perhaps forty or so days) overland route from Istanbul to Edirne, up the Maritsa River (by boat), Philippopolis, Pristina, Hercegovina, Cattaro, and (by boat) Venice, to the sea voyage through the pirate-infested Aegean and Adriatic seas. A çavuş, perhaps even Kubad, did deliver such a firman to the commander of the castle on Chios (it is preserved as Başbakanlιk Osmanlι Arşivi, Mühimme Defteri 7, p. 489). The Ottomans of course followed the lunar Islamic calendar, the dates from which I have chosen to convert for the sake of simplicity.


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