Shakespeare and the Turk/Shakespeare ve Turk.
When Mehmed the Conqueror, the seventh sultan of the Ottoman Empire, gained the great metropolis of Constantinople, "the queen of cities" (2), on a spring day in 1453, nobody in Europe -emperors, the papacy, feudal lords, nor the common folk- had anticipated that the Turks would come thus far to ruin the strongest walls of Christendom (Wheatcroft 10) and demolish the Eastern Roman Empire. The news created an utter shock in the Western World: "[n]othing worse than this has happened" wrote a monk in the monastery of Agarathos while his Georgian colleague was even more explicit in his response, summarizing the trauma Europe was about to undergo: "[o]n the day the Turks took Constantinople, the sun was darkened" (23). However, the Turks would go even further; all the way up to Athens of Greeks, Otranto in Italy, and Belgrade of the Holy Austrian-Hungary Kingdom, and would establish an empire to last for six hundred years, which ruled in three continents, creating a never-ending havoc and fear in Christendom against Turks. This fear would then be reflected in literature depicting Turks as all things negative--the barbarous, the vicious, the villain, the lascivious, and ultimately the anti-Christ of all times. Rather than testing, checking or challenging the stereotypical Turk; poets, painters, and playwrights would reinforce and reproduce these very stolid conceptions.
The greatest playwright of all times in the far away British Isles unfortunately has his share of Turkophobia in most of his plays. Therefore, in this paper, I will analyze the conceptualization of the Turk in Shakespeare's plays, and argue that the Elizabethan dramatist not only reflects the perceptions, preconceptions, cliches and stereotypes about the Turk, but also reproduces and creates the archetype of the Turk as a derogatory term, based on quite a personal choice despite major, common and more accurate conceptions and knowledge about Turks in the England of the time. Out of the thirty four Turk-related references in Shakespeare such as 'Turk', 'Turkish', 'Ottoman' and 'Sultan', I will consider all the major instances excluding those which are used as neutral parts of speech such as the "Turkish fleet" (Othello 1.3.9) or "the importance of Cyprus to the Turk" (1.3.22). I will thus analyze the discourse of Muslim Other in Shakespeare and his time, the forces and factors that have shaped it, and eventually try to indicate the sources behind the plays (3). By doing so at this specific time of history, I also aim to mention the roots of the anti-Islamic, Orientalist (4) sentiment, which has dominated the Western discourse in the post-9/11 era (5). As Hutchings argues, "[t]he contemporary importance and value of the scholarly investigations into East-West relations in an earlier epoch is precisely that its findings -complexity, ambiguity and contradiction in place of ideological certainty--may complicate easy assumptions about the present and its relation to the past" (2008, 105). Understanding the existence of a tradition behind the (mis)representations of the Middle Eastern cultures might prove to be vital to be able to step beyond the much touted "clash of civilizations" argument with the realization that civilizations did not clash factually as much as they did fictionally--an important distinction which, if not kept in mind, inhibits our hope towards peace and coexistence.
The Constantinople Effect
"If ever thou beest mine, Kate," (5.2.204) says Henry V, in the play carrying his own name, to Catherine, daughter of the French King, "shall not thou and I, / between Saint Denis and Saint George, compound a / boy, half French, half English, that shall go to / Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard?" (207-10) demonstrating his desire for a great European alliance against the Turk, one similar to the Crusaders, under the leadership of his own kingdom. As we have seen above, the fall of Constantinople to the Turks created a reaction in the West which was a mixture of fear, and mostly hate, which was then followed by the ultimate desire to regain the 'queen of the cities', and push the 'infidel' Turks out of Europe. "The fall of Constantinople", states Aydin, "has in particular become the milestone of Western concern about the Turks in political and military terms, as well as building up western stereotypes of the Turks associated with cruelty, savagery and sadism" (136). However, although at first, the desire to "pull" the Turks out of Europe was adopted quite realistically by most Western kingdoms, the following incompetence and failure to do so, and after what is perceived as a temporal possession turned into a most permanent one in the next decades and eventually centuries, it changed into a most fictional wish. This increased the portion of hatred and envy in the minds of the European in their reaction to the loss of the city, which can also be seen in Henry V's speech, one which does not represent a factual vision as much as it does a fantastical allusion, depicting the king's sense of grandeur.
"The fall of Constantinople" states Schwoebel, hence, "awakened the West to the fact that the Turks were the masters of Southeastern Europe, a fact which historians well know was a fait accompli of more than fifty years standing" (22) (6). Despite the previous success of Turks in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, such as in Nicopoli or Varna where Crusader armies failed in the previous centuries, Europe did not see the threat of Turks as a serious matter, until the greatest stronghold of the Byzantine Empire was lost. In the following years, dozens of crusading schemes were drawn; lots of correspondence took place among kings, popes, churchmen, knights, and lords, although none of them resulted in a serious gathering against the "general enemy Ottoman" (Othello 1. 3.51) due to the schism prevalent among Europeans; between the Latin West and the Greek East, subsequently between the Protestants and Catholics, and rivalry between the Genoese and the Venetians for the Mediterranean sea trade.
As in vain his attempts are, or one should say just due to the futileness of these attempts, to push the statesmen into action persuasively, Pope Nicholas V sends letters in the following months of the loss of Constantinople to the rulers of Italy, one of the strongest powers of the time. In these letters, he denounces Mehmed II, (who gained the title of 'the Conqueror' after his success) as "the cruelest prosecutor of the Church of Christ, the son of Satan, the son perdition, the son of death who thirsted for the blood of Christians, the sultan to be the red dragon with seven heads crowned by seven diadems and with ten horns described by St. John" (Schwoebel 31), therefore calling all the princes of Europe to claim and defend their faith with all their lives. Thus is produced the rhetoric of hatred against the Turks.
To boost interest about the fall of the city, enrage both the society and the kings and lords, and create a common pact of unity; exaggerated and mostly fictional stories about Turks' allegedly bloody conquest emerge in almost every part of Christendom. In these narrations, Muslim Turks kill every Christian man in the city, rape women and children, and suck the city for three days and nights until there are no more people to be killed and no more churches to be destructed. "On the night of the city's capture", says one alleged witness, "Mehmed II slept with the daughter of the emperor, who was the most beautiful damsel in all the empire" (Schwoebel 12) although the emperor did not have any daughter, or he killed the grand duke and his young son because they refused against Mehmed's wish to sleep with the son, as another horrible story claims. As "[t]he detestable murder of men, the abhominable and cruel slaughter of children, the shameful rauishment of women and Virgins, which were done by the unmerciful pagans, and cruel Turkes" (Schwoebel 13) starts another report from the fallen city, drawing our attention to another traditional Orientalist technique, which is to fuse the pagan culture with Islam, creating a major misconception about the 'false' prophet Mohammad and so undermining the biblical common ground between Christianity and Islam, which will be discussed later on.
Four centuries before the neo-conservative doctrine of fight against the "axis of evi", one of the travelogues to the Middle East points out that "Constantinople [is] in the forme of a Triangle in circule 15 myles, seated upon seaven hills, and therefore some would have it the seate of the Anti-christe" (in MacLean 2007a, 1). The shock of the fallen city, once the epicenter of the New Roman Empire, the heart of "Western Civilization" was so utterly unacceptable that when the hope to regain it started to diminish in the next couple of centuries, the British discourse, along with the continental Europe, started to dissociate itself from the races who now possess those lands. This tendency is then reinforced and stratified in innumerable tales about the "barbaric" Turkish rulers, which not only worked in the consolation of the loss of the "queen of the cities", but also in moving the armies of Christianity to fight against the Turks, eventually justifying the "holy war" of the Crusaders against the "uncivilized" world.
However, what happened in reality hardly ever matches with these stories. It would be impossible within the limits of this paper to argue for and demonstrate the broad tolerance and cosmopolitan nature of the Ottoman Empire. No empire could keep so vast a region (more than sixty countries and nations in Middle East, Europe, and Africa) as stable, powerful and in peace for six long centuries. Therefore, it should suffice to look at some instances which show the improbability of the above events (7). Mehmed II always dreamed of a world empire which would unite the great heritage of the Greeks (he was a devout reader of the classical Greek philosophy) with that of Islam; the Golden Age of the Prophet, the four caliphs, and the Muslim Spain pinnacled in Cordoba and Toledo. Constantinople, "a diamond city", according to him, located on two continents, Europe and Asia, on both the East and the West would be the perfect capital of his new empire which would above else be based on tolerance and multi-cultural values. That is why he not only let the Christians, the Orthodox practice their religion in utmost freedom, but also empowered their religious practices by repairing numerous Churches which were left into oblivion because of the poverty of the previous Eastern Roman Empire. This act also denotes to the fact that Mehmed II did not destroy them at all. The Christians in Constantinople were so free and prosperous that the Vatican started to think that Mehmed was actually an Orthodox convert and so Pope Pius's letter invited the Conqueror into Catholicism, referring to the "wisdom, tolerance, and benevolence of the 'caliph of the Turks'" (Schwoebel 66). Even today, it would be enough for anybody to see the many churches in Istanbul, dating back to the time of the Roman and Ottoman Empires as a proof of the protection of these temples by the Muslim rulers. The greatest church of all Christendom, Hagia Sophia is today a museum with all Christian images painted on its great walls centuries before the Ottomans. Mehmed was too sensitive a person to destroy this magnificent cultural artefact and his successors were no different. Not only Christians, but also all other religions were welcomed particularly by Mehmed himself as he wanted to turn the city into the greatest metropolis ever. Hence, he invited Jewish people from all around the world for the trade to be developed in his new capital, and many painters from the Renaissance Italy, to boost the city's artistic aura.
Nevertheless, such a depiction was of no use in the West for an alliance to be created against the anti-Christ. And how could it be otherwise, the common folk in Europe thought, bearing in mind the most detestable date of 1206 when, two centuries before the Turks came, the fourth Crusade sucked, raped and looted Constantinople with the very imagery used above to define the Ottomans--but this time they were factual--and the bloody history of Inquisition Courts, and of Ferdinand and Isabella, who expelled all the Muslims and Jews out of Spain preceded by quite imaginative tortures. "As a result" Schwoebel concludes, "the inhumanity of Turks was emphasized above all else, the stereotypical Turk--savage, bloodthirsty, swooping down upon innocent Christians, and massacring them indiscriminately--was firmly established in the traditions of the West" (13), including the works of the great Elizabethan playwright.
Interestingly enough, these associations of the Turk with barbarism and savagery does not sound too far away for the modern reader. The dominant political discourse of the neoconservatives has long been shaped around the same theme of conflict. Hutchings draws our attention to the parallels with the speech of Henry V and the most recent rhetoric of war on terror: "[i]n the aftermath of September 11 attacks and in the years leading up to the invasion of Iraq, speeches by George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair prompted comparisons with the rhetoric of Henry V" (2008, 109), which demonstrates the alliance between the anti-Turkish sentiment and the discourse on the "clash of civilizations". The articulation and definition of one cultural identity is accordingly, reinforced with an antithetical binaric counterpart. However, one should note that this "war" or "clash" of cultures does not have ontological existence as much as it does an epistemological one, as it will be unfolded in the upcoming section (8).
There is yet another important aspect in the quotes from Henry V. Shakespeare not only represents the wish of the West to reclaim Constantinople, but also applies the pejorative remark of "taking the Turk by the beard", which opens up for us one of the main categories of the bard's application of the word 'Turk': a way to insult, debase, and humiliate.
Turk: All Things Negative
While the third witch explains the ingredients of the cauldron in Macbeth, in addition to "Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, / Witches' mummy, maw and gulf / Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark, / Root of hemlock digg'd I' the dark, / Liver of blaspheming Jew" (4.1.22-5), she also wants "nose of Turk" (29). In this instance, as can be seen pretty easily, the image of the Turk (and Jews) is associated with most animalistic ones ranging from wolves to dragons to sharks. The utterance does not reflect an intellectual, social or cultural malpractice of Turks, nor does it criticize and point attention at a wrong doing of this particular race; but it simply feeds on and reinforces a feeling of hate, animosity and antipathy against them.
Such pejorative uses of the word 'Turk' as a curse are most abundant in the dramatist's work. Whereas Pistol scorns Falstaff's hideous behavior by saying, "Base Phrygian Turk!" (Merry Wives of Windsor 1.3.87), Edgar in King Lear goes one step further and hits two birds with one stone by combining all negative qualities of personality with women--another common form of damnation in the bard's works--and Turks: "I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour'd the Turk. / False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox / in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey" (3.4.90-1). According to Shakespeare, thus, Turks are not only liars, bloodthirsty beasts, or sinuous people but also the epitome and apotheosis of the most horrendous creatures.
John W. Draper states this fact as, "[t]hus the very word Turkish meant 'cruel, savage, barbarous' [...] the Turk is an 'infidel' and a 'circumcised dog', he is 'base' and 'malignant' and was 'never trained to offices of tender courtesy'" (146). The last aspect Draper mentions here, the feature of being 'uncivilized' is another connotation attributed to the Turk whose best example can be seen in The Merchant of Venice when Duke exclaims in utter disdain, "stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train'd / To offices of tender courtesy" (4.1.32-3). We should also note here that linking Turks to Tartars as a common or the same bloody race is another tendency in Shakespeare's work (9).
Therefore the question is why Shakespeare adopts such a pejorative use of the word 'Turk'. Draper states:
During the Crusades and later in the intermittent Balkan wars of the sixteenth century and in the naval fighting and piracy that plagued Mediterranean commerce, Christian Europe had learned to hate the infidel Turk. Spain, Venice, the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire--all Catholic powers--had become the chief opponents of Ottoman expansion. (146)
We have already seen how this anti-Turkish sentiment is rooted way back in the fall of Constantinople, and Draper adds to this the subsequent failures of Christian Europe against the Ottomans. Hence, according to him, Shakespeare's attitude is a pure reflection of what the society at large thought about the Turk at the time. This theory of reflection based on the cliche definition of literature as a mirror help up to society has long been used to explain the attitudes towards and attributions to some races for many writers, poets and playwrights. Although this analysis is true to some extent, as I tried to cover in the previous section, what Draper and most Shakespearean scholars do not take into account is the particular situation of the Protestant England, a fact which poses quite challenging questions about to what extent this theory of reflection is true. In other words, did the English society at the time have a completely negative and pejorative conceptualization about Turks, which was then reflected in Shakespeare's work, or was it Shakespeare and many other dramatists, politicians, and above all, Churchmen--that is to say, some part of the English people--who tried to impose and reinforce an anti-Turkish discourse in society? And if the second case was true, what was the overall aim in doing so?
The answer to these questions can only be given by looking at the Elizabethan society of the time, regarding the country's relationship to the Ottoman Empire and Muslims. The work of Nabil Matar, a scholar on the relations between the Elizabethan England and Islam, sheds light on the issue quite comprehensively. Contrary to the common conception that Muslims only took place in the literary imagination of the English in quite misrepresentative and debasing terms, Matar demonstrates that there were all kinds of intricate relationships with the Muslim Turks in many situations ranging from the very highest levels of society such as the correspondence and alliance between Queen Elizabeth and Murad III of the Ottoman Empire, to the heart of the society such as hundreds of interactions between the English common folk and Muslims both in England and Turkish lands.
"No other non-Christian people interacted more widely with Britons than the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire", states Matar in Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (3). Because of the fact that beginning from the reign of Henry VIII, at the time of Elizabeth, England was on its way to be a Protestant country, and the Catholic Spanish Armada and most of Europe was posing a major threat to the British Kingdom. Thus, the Queen sought help and assistance from any possible power, which included the Islamic Ottoman Empire. Within this respect, the Protestant England was much closer to the friendship of Muslim Turks, than they were to the Catholic Europe: "Queen Elizabeth became the first English monarch to cooperate openly with the Muslims" (Matar 1999, 19). This diplomatic alliance is then followed by financial and commercial common interests. When the Queen requests Sultan Murad III (1574-1595) to admit English traders into his empire and let them act freely, the latter answers that the English "may lawfully come to our imperial Dominions, and freely return home" (Matar 1999, 20). Being so glad by the Sultan's response, Elizabeth answers back: "[w]e will grand as equall and as free a libertie to the subjects of your highnesse with us for the use of traffique, when they wil, and as often as they wil, to come and go and from us and our kingdoms" (sic.) (20). Furthermore, as the Queen noted, it was so 'often' a commercial and diplomatic coordination between the two countries that Europeans suspected of her planning to offer the Sultan a 'safe port in England' by which the Ottomans would set foot more easily in the Western Empire, and the Pope viewed Elizabeth as a 'confederate with the Turk" (Matar 1999, 20).
When we regard the mainstream culture of England, the case is even more clear. Many decades before and during Shakespeare's time, hundreds of Muslim Turks come to England for trade, and thousands more Britons go to visit Ottoman lands, as the latter was the centre of attraction at the time. Some of these Britons come back with rich memories to narrate to their fellow Englishmen, and some choose to stay and live on in the Muslim lands after seeing all cultures live in prosperity in the reign of the Grand Signor. "Scores of ambassadors emissaries [from the Ottoman Empire]" explains Matar, "dazzled the London populace with their charm, cuisine and 'Araby' horses" (Matar 1999, 6). In these interactions, Britons and Turks ate at same tables, played the Turkish tavla, backgammon, together, all kinds of meetings took place between these two completely different cultures. The British always admired what the Turkish merchants offered. Innumerable spices they had never tasted, beautiful and elegant clothes they had never seen, and many other luxuries for the table; dried fruits, saffron, (Matar 1999, 152) and more effective ways of cooking meat to create the most tasty result were only some of the things which Britons could not resist. It did not take long for the emergence of people wearing and acting like Turks in the streets of London. Hutchings further puts this mercantile relationship at the core of the Turkish discourse produced by the British, indicating "the Turkish material metaphorically (and, in the form of reusable stage properties and transferable costumes, literally) operated as part of the playhouse economy, it was both a component and a by-product of England's controversial trading partnership with the Ottoman Empire" (2007, 2). Along the same lines, Halil Inalcik argues that without the trade in Ottoman territories, "[i]t is difficult to comprehend the rise of Western capitalism" (in Burton 126).
Fascinated by what she saw on the many ambassadors from the Ottomans, Queen Elizabeth herself requested from her own ambassador in Istanbul, Turkish clothes, which were made in the sparking charm and embroidery of Oriental design, like her very father who also would get dressed in oriental fashion (Matar 1999, 34), a detail which shows us the interaction between the Turks and Britons are much older than the reign of Elizabeth and the time of Shakespeare (10). Hutchings also indicates that "[t]he Christianity-Islam opposition on which some critical assumptions rest is partial, and partly misleading" (2008, 104), hence, further emphasizing the dramatist's liberty to ignore this positive and interactive relationship -quite an active mediated response rather than a passive reflection of the historical context.
Moreover, all this impact the Turkish culture caused on the English society would have more serious results than dressing and food. After seeing the Turkish merchants and ambassadors in their own lands (whereas these same Englishmen ran after and stoned Catholic ambassadors from Spain and other countries) and after witnessing the kind of prosperous and luxurious life both Muslims and non-Muslims lived in the Turkish lands, or reading the accounts of those who visited these places, the volunteer conversion into Islam started to become an everyday phenomena (11). Turks were so much associated with Islam, and acceptance of the religion after seeing it applied by Turks started to take place in such vast numbers that finding a term to define this phenomenon did not take long: to turn Turk, which meant conversion to Islam.
To Turn Turk: The Fiction of the Bard vs. the Facts of the Britons
While seeking the confidence of Horatio, Hamlet asks to his dear friend: "Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers- if the rest of my / fortunes turn Turk with me-with two Provincial roses on my raz'd / shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?" (Hamlet 3. 2.273-76) using the term 'to turn Turk' meaning 'bad luck' and 'misfortune'. In another example, disappointed by seeing two of his best men, Cassio and Montano fighting with each other, Othello shouts at them angrily: "Are we turn'd Turks?" (Othello 2.3.164) in which instance Shakespeare this time equates uncivilized manners such as quarrel and fight with the phrase. Finally, in Much Ado About Nothing Margaret advises to Beatrice, "Well, and you be not turned Turk, there's no more / sailing by the star" (3.4.52-3), in which instance the dramatist once again means misfortune, mishap, misery, and calamity with the term 'to turn Turk'.
Why was it bad, according to Shakespeare, to turn Turk, that is to become a Muslim, and if it was so bad after all, and if misfortune was the only thing turning Turk could bring about, then why would people do so in such a common fashion that eventually created this very term? In this section, I will try to provide an answer to this basic question, which will provide us with another strong proof that Shakespeare did not reflect an anti-Turkish sentiment in the English society as much as he did produce that very rhetoric of hatred.
In Islam in Britain Matar demonstrates ample examples of English travel writing in the sixteenth and seventh centuries which described the Christian converts in the Turkish lands with the most positive terms, and which thus informed the public about the fact that the highest offices were exclusively available to these non-Turkish folks. The legendary and luxurious lives of English renegade sea men Samson and Edwards; John Ward, whose fame numerous songs celebrated; and the prosperous Alcayd Ally Martine (50-1) are but only some of the most famous examples well known in the British public, therefore, showing us not so misfortunate facts of turning Turk contrary to the fiction of the bard.
Although at first, travelers and travelogue writers reacted with disbelief to their fellow countrymen renouncing their Christian faith, they soon came to understand that "Christians, both native-born to the Ottoman Empire and migrates from England, Scotland, and Ireland and from other parts of European Christendom were converting to Islam was widely evident" (Matar 1998, 22). Matar further indicates that "[a]t a time when every major European town and city had thousands of poor, many viewed conversion to Islam and emigration to the Muslim dominions as the only way to start new lives" (in Vitkus 2001, 2). The conversion to Islam was in such big numbers that the word 'renegade' was used at sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for English Muslims (whereas 'renegado' was for the Spanish Muslims) (12). What was even more frustrating for the Church and the minds alike was that 'infidels' challenged Europe not only by the power of their sword in times of war, but by their religious allure in times of peace. "Through the writings of dramatists, travelers, and chroniclers, along with the accounts of returning captives and reconverted 'renegades', knowledge of Islam reached a cross-section of English society" (Matar 1998, 73). The knowledge about and friendship with Muslim Turks were so common that the only marriages which occurred in all of English Renaissance history between the English and the non-Christians took place with Muslims (Matar 1998, 40). "Muslims were clearly viewed as a different non-Christian group from the rest--and a group with whom miscegenation was passable" (Matar 1998, 40). This was an Islamocentric world (as it is a Western-oriented one today) creating an ultimate sympathy with and desire to be one of 'them', which led to the special treatment of the Turks by the English society. Muslims never aroused English xenophobia, but admiration and respect. Confronted with the Turks' highest levels of civilization, the Britons even felt inferior. H. Timberlake, a traveller, writes in 1603 that Britons are nothing when compared to the Turk's power and dignity and then advises his fellow countrymen to introduce themselves as Frenchmen as they are at least well known by the Turks (in Matar 1998, 4).
Think of a society in which the Church preaches from day to night how vital it is to be a Christian and how those who do not believe in it meet divine retribution, and all their lives go astray in the most literal sense, and how evil and bloodthirsty the anti-Christ Muslims are whereas there are many of those who have gone to and come back from Islamic lands and who describe in detail not only the peace, prosperity and tolerance they have witnessed, but also they themselves have embraced that very religion. The credibility of the Church was most shattered as more and more civilized Muslims appeared on the seas, ports, streets and eventually in the houses of England. What the preachers could do was to ridicule the convert, and to create an anti-renegade discourse which is all the more distortive and all the more fictional so as to discourage society to follow this 'evil' practice. However, preachers alone could not achieve this divine mission; they would need some sort of media to get the message across, and the media of the Elizabethan England was nothing more than the stage.
In England "the theatre took up the cudgel against the Muslims and appealed to a populace that felt threatened by, and confused at, the appearance of the Muslim Other in their Metropolis, in their harbors, across their Mediterranean and Atlantic trading routes" (Matar 1998, 14). Far from depicting Turks as sympathetically and accurately, dramatists chose to support crusader rhetoric. Partly because of their religious impasse, but mostly because of being aggravated by the dignity and superiority of the Islamic culture "English writers turned to superimposition as an act of psychological compensation and vicarious assurance" (Matar 1998, 16) which led to an epistemological control of the society as they were not able to have any ontological evidence. In Tamburlaine the Great, Christopher Marlowe (13) chooses to humiliate the 'Great Turke' by exaggerating the story of Bayezid, the Sultan of the Turks, who was defeated by a half-Mogul (yet still half-Turkish) ruler. Thomas Kyd explains the reason of conversion of renegades as sexual desire so much so that claiming the most ridiculous of all arguments saying circumcision is done for better sexual intercourse, whereas Thomas Heywood, on the contrary, is ironically focused on the images of castrated renegades and impotent eunuchs. As for Shakespeare, he champions them all by fusing all of these examples, last of which will be analized in the next section.
Eunuchs, Mutes, Blacks, Infidels, Women and Pagans: The Turk as the Ultimate Other
Shocked and frustrated by the omnipresence of Muslim Turks or knowledge about them in the English society, the Churchmen and dramatists set out to create a constructed image of Islam. To discourage further participation into the 'false' religion of the anti-Christ, they make a fusion based on already-rooted biases and stereotypes against all kinds of 'other', including blacks (racism), women (misogynism), and pagans (intolerance). In addition to these, based on a misconception of circumcision (which is actually practiced in cultures of Islam, a religion which orders cleanliness in the first place, for matters of hygiene), two new forms of 'other' are made up to define the Turk: the eunuch, and the mute, which successfully reinforces the image of the Turk as the most disgusting and horrible of beasts. The eunuch (the castrated man) has its roots in the major misunderstanding of the Medieval times that circumcision was castration whereas the second is just an arbitrary invention (14). Moreover, Casellas argues that the social and gender relations in the Ottoman Empire were so liberal when compared to their British counterparts that the Britons at first did not quite know how to read these egalitarian practices such as the woman's inheritance rights after the husband's death or the permission of divorce according to the Islamic law:
In general, sexual customs in the Muslim world enjoyed a significant degree of attention in travellers' accounts and creative writing and experienced a conflicting and blatantly contradictory treatment: the promiscuity of men and women was accommodated with brutal jealousy; sexual prowess and excess was described side by side with represiion; open vice, with hidden sin. (43)
The perception of gender roles in the Ottoman world as more emancipatory is closely interconnected with the larger context of the Elizabethans' conception of Turks. "The English perceived Muslims as a more advanced and powerful culture that they simultaneously feared and admired" (Casellas 36-7). In the rest of her article, Casellas demonstrates how "England was manifestly backward in relation to the Ottoman Empire" (33), which thus led both to envy, which surfaced itself to the stage, and a national identity which tried to define itself "on the dynamics of exclusion based on religious and racial prejudice" (51). This can also explain Vitkus's point in his analysis of Othello: "[i]n Western European texts, from the medieval to the early modern period, Islam was usually defined as a licentious religion of sensuality and sexuality" (1997 156).
This ambivalent and mostly contradictory attitude can also be found in Shakespeare's treatment of the Turks with respect to sexual orientation. We have already seen how Shakespeare equates the alleged negative qualities of women with Turks in King Lear. To see other instances of the otherization of the Turk, we can look at All's Well That Ends Well in which Lafeu exclaims, "Do all they [young noblemen as potential mates] deny her? An they were sons of mine, / I'd have them whipped; or I would send them to the / Turk to make eunuchs of (3.2.86-7) or at Henry V, in which the title character compares a "tongueless mouth" to the "Turkish mute" (1.2.232). Whereas Bishop of Carlisle rises the Christian cross "Against black pagans, Turks, and Saracens" (Richard II, 4.1.96-7), Duke of Gloucester, in the subsequent play, express his anger saying, "What, think You we are Turks or infidels?" (Richard III, 3.5.40).
The attitude towards erasing any possible common ground between Islam and Christianity is an old and quite powerful technique. Rather than acknowledging myriad instances and references to Christianity in Koran, which recognizes Jesus as an apostle of God, and thus establishing bridges and dialogues between the two cultures, the scholastic mind, reminiscent from the times of the Catholic church strives to create the most possible anti-thesis of Christianity by creating a pagan Islam, allegedly based on idolatry, and one according to which people are castrated, made mutes, and physically tormented. Moreover, a monolithic conceptualization of all sorts of differences other than one's own, helps create and reinforce a common identity, one which is used to make unity in an otherwise chaotic society. Reinforcement of fear and hatred against a most fictional enemy is not something hard for today's audience to conceive.
However, accusing Shakespeare of producing these very stereotypes on his own would not be fair. There are some sources which he used and fed on and some others which he might have used as they were widely available in his time. Nevertheless, it is more than fair to claim that he chose not to use many other sources which were incomparably more in number to the ones he chose to use. Looking at these instances (15) helps us see his quite arbitrary selection of the images of the Turk, the reason why he might be held responsible for the demonization of the Turk in his work.
Travelogues, Chronicles, and Historiographies: What He Used, What He Used Not
Knolles' Generall Historie of the Turkes (1603) is known as the book
Shakespeare used while writing Othello. In this 1200-page source, Knolles mentions all sorts of Turkish atrocities, of their barbarous qualities, their frightful executions, the plunder and rapine following the fall of the besieged cities, and the strangling of sons and brothers of the reigning Sultan. Knolles' depiction is so accurate and credible that he attributes the reason of the "long and still declining state of the Christian Commonwealth" first to Satan, then to ancient heretics, whose doctrines helped to shape Islam, and finally to the 'false' prophet Mahomet, "born in an unhappy hour" and upon his "gross and blasphemous Doctrines". Yet, even he acknowledges the "gloriousness" of the empire of the Turks (Chew 114-5). As Aydin indicates, "[d]espite the fact that it was praised by many literary figures such as Johnson, Southey, and Lord Byron in the ensuing centuries, the work has subsequently been criticized for being a collection of bits and pieces with unreliable prejudices (54).
Sir Thomas Sherley's Discourse of the Turkes (1606) is another famous work Shakespeare made use of. Sherley defines the Turkish race as "the most inhuman of all other barbarians" in the introduction of his work, as well as mentioning Mehmed II as the "most opposite to a Christian of all others" (2-3). As can already be figured by these sweeping generalizations, non-scientific and quite xenophobic attitude of Sherley breaks loose after a couple of pages, contradicting itself endlessly. Whereas he describes Turks as "drunkards" on page two, he explains in the corresponding page standing next to the previous one the fact that Turks forbid wine. On page five, he indicates that "Turks are all cowards", yet a couple of pages later, he sets out to describe how bravely and without fear the Turkish armies fight. He also cannot help but acknowledge the "greatness" of the city of Constantinople where "many Christians and Jews" live in the presence of many churches (15).
Donado da Lezze's Historia Turhesca (1524) may be another source the Elizabethan dramatist might have been familiar with. Although it is not certain whether there was an English translation of this piece, it is quite clear that most of the stories in this book were carried over all throughout Europe by word of mouth as they were quite creative and enjoyable to hear. Most of the 'history' in the book deals with Mehmed the Conqueror, who is always depicted as the anti-Christ mentioned in the Bible. One of the two most famous stories tells that after a painter fails to depict accurately the beheading of man on oil canvas, Mehmed calls one of his slaves and chops his head in front of the painter so that the latter can be more accurate in his drawings. It is not hard to understand how the story emerged once we decode and trace the particles of fact behind it. As already mentioned, for Mehmed was a man of refined manners interested in arts, he sends an invitation to da Vinci in Renaissance Italy to come to Constantinople and when he is unable to attend, another famous artist of the time, Gentile Bellini is sent by the Italian state. Bellini not only makes tens of paintings depicting the glory, valor, and cosmopolite atmosphere of Constantinople, but also a portrait of the Conqueror, which can be seen at the National Gallery of London. However, such a depiction of a tolerant and art lover Sultan is of no use to discourage the European nation against the 'infidel', which thus leads to fusion of the stereotypical violent and barbarous Turk with the original story. Yet, even the most distorted version of the story does not fail to include the presence of an artist in the court of the Conqueror.
Although at first such writings can be conceived as 'first-hand' reports which represent the reality their writers witnessed in the Turkish lands, the brief analysis of examples above show such texts are no less biased, prejudiced and preconceived than pure imaginations are. For one thing, as most of these writings were submitted to a lord, king or some sort of ruler for patronage, it is pointless to expect these writers to write objective and thus glorious and/or justified depictions of Turks. They had to ridicule and humiliate them in order to flatter their English audience. Yet, more importantly, as Chew maintains:
[s]uch a traveler was generally uncritically receptive of impressions. [...] In the back of his mind, the traveler carried a quantity of superstitions, fabulous lore, and old wives' tales; it was part of the baggage he took with him into the East; and when once there he was he was generally [...] more desirous to have it all confirmed than to put it to the test of his own actual observations. (542)
Moreover, the most fantastic tales would always make him easily famous and a well-known writer rather than objective observations. However, there were still many people who adopted a scientific and scholarly approach and so represented the reality as much as they could within the limits of the above concerns.
Andrew Borde was one of such travelogue writers. In Introduction of Knowledge (1542) he not only mentions about the healthful dietary regulations of and religious purity of Muslim Turks, but also writes that "[t]he Great Turke doth conquere and subdue, as wel by polyce and gentylnes, as by hys fette of ware" (Chew 105), referring to the ubiquitous tolerance of the Ottomans, pinnacled at the time of the Suleiman the Magnificent when Borde wrote.
Richard Grafton in The Order of the Great Turckes Courte (1544), the earliest extended account of the Ottoman government in English, explains in detail the organization of the Turkish court, the status of various officials, but above all, the discipline of the Ottoman Army, particularly the Janissaries, the elite troops of the Sultan, which was commonly admired by the Britons in a time when neither England nor the rest of Christian Europe possessed standing armies but "depended in emergencies upon recruits, ill-trained and often resentful or upon volunteer adventurers" (Chew 106). Hence, the professional and strictly organized Ottoman armies always caused awe and admiration in Europe, although Shakespeare adopts a most opposite approach while Othello asks whether they are turned Turks at the sign of lack of discipline among his men or when Henry IV states: "[t]his is the English, not the Turkish court; Not Amurath an Amurath succeeds" (Henry IV, Part II, 5. 2.), contrasting the allegedly 'chaotic' order of the Turkish court with the order of the English court whereas the real situation at the time represented just an opposite case as even the least learned scholar on premodern English era may tell.
Another chief source of information regarding the Ottoman Empire which was highly available to Elizabethans (Chew 106) was Peter Ashton's Short Treatise upon the Turkes Chronicles (1546) in which the writer quite simply states that by perusing the well-functioning society of the Turks, they can amend their own lives while Sebastian Munster points out to the same social welfare stating, "There is no sedition amongst them, no tumult" (Chew 107). Shakespeare appears to have been highly aware of these characteristics of Turks such as unity, discipline, and organization as he actually does refer to these very qualities. Yet, he does it in such an unconscious and quite ironical way that the reader is directed to the most opposite conceptions: "The Turk with a most mighty preparation makes for / Cyprus" (Othello 1.3.24) utters Duke of Venice, thus referring to the organization skills of the Turk to the extent that this preparation is to be doomed and ridiculed before the end of the play, without Shakespeare's giving the chance to the real Turk to show oneself on stage, at all. All the same, Joan la Pucelle acknowledges the glory of the Turks when he says, "The Turk that two and fifty kingdoms hath" (Henry VI, Part I, 4. 7.73) which is, yet, quickly followed by the line "Writes not so tedious a style as this" which ultimately means, "Even a Turk does not write such a 'silly' thing!"
There is yet another much more famous and popular work called The Travellers Breviat or An historical description of the most famous kingdomes in the World (1601) the English abridged version of Giovanni Botero's Relationi Universali in which the writer states under the chapter called "The Great Turke", "[w]hat region more flowing with all good things from Hungarie, Greece and Thrace. In there prouinces hath the Turke fower cities of inestimable wealth, Constantinople, Cair, Aleppo, and Tauris. Constantinople exceedeth all the cities in Europe in populousness [...] it is twice as much as my be said of Paris" (39). Furthermore, he also mentions in detail the "admire celeritie" of the Turkish army, how they manage war with one nation, how they become "better warriors" by not "spending their time and treasure in voyages and of bale account" and the fact that the Ottoman Sultans always "march in person in most of their actions" in front of their armies. The cosmopolite and tolerant nature of the society is also covered in this popular work: "[t]he whole trade of merchandise for the most part is in hands of Jewes, or Christians of Europe, Epidaurians, Venetians, Frenchmen and Englishmen" (42) among many other "admirable" qualities narrated in the book.
There is no point in multiplying these works, which can easily be done; I tried to include only those works which were most accessible and famous. Although almost of these works were within the reach of the great Elizabethan dramatist, our analysis shows that Shakespeare seems to have a blind eye on them, keeping the stereotypical image of the Turk in his works intact and systematic, never ever once disturbing these prejudices.
Conclusion: to Challenge or not to Challenge
D'Amico states that "[t]he Elizabethan stage draws on certain racial, religious, and cultural preconceptions that form the part of the Western tradition", yet, adding quickly, that "[t]hough the alien is measured against Western norms, drama has at least the potential to force a reassessment of those norms and of cultural judgment the play itself exemplifies" (1). As revealed in this analysis in myriad instances; rather than testing, checking or challenging the common stereotypes about the 'Turk', Shakespeare not only reinforces them, but also does so in a time when the common knowledge about Turks are most positive. This fact shatters the possible excuse that literature is a mirror held up to society; rather than reflecting, he created an anti-Turkish sentiment in the mind of his British fellowmen, in alliance with religious and political powers. Gerard MacLean also defines the main reason behind these mispresentations as "imperial envy", which he explains as "a structure of feeling that combined admiration with contempt, fear with fascination, desire with revulsion.". Thus, he suggests, "this imperial envy most usefully describes the ambivalent structure of admiration and hostility towards the Ottomans that distinguishes a great deal of writing of the time" (2007a, 245).
Partly fueled by this envy, the bard applies a most systematic pattern based on the demonization and alterization of the Turk which is repeated on and on in almost all of his works. He chooses to represent the Turk as 'the eunuch', 'the mute', 'the circumcised dog', and as a race who is devoid of organization, discipline and civilization, and as the most detestable of human beings whom his characters desire to pull 'by the beard' in a time when most of writing and knowledge about Turks is more similar to the one an English traveler depicts: "[e]verything about them shineth with gold, silver, pearle, jewels, and whatsoever else may please the eie, or satisfie the curiosite of beholders" (in D'Amico 41).
Perhaps just because of the very reason that Turks were civilized, organized, undefeated, and prosperous, he, along with most of his European colleagues chose to defeat them on the stage. "Precisely because Muslims were beyond Colonial reach, Britons began to demonize, polarize and alterize them" states Matar, "[t]he Muslim was all that an Englishman and a Christian was not [...] It was plays, masques, pageants, and other similar sources that developed in British culture the discourse about Muslim Otherness" (1999, 13). Peele's The Battle of Alcazar, Dekker's Lust's Dominion, Beaumont and Fletcher's The Knight of Malta, Rowley's All's Lost by Lust are but only the most famous examples creating a most fictional lustful and barbarous (Muslim) Turk. Tasso, Camoes, Arioso, Cervantes, and Marlowe "the supreme icons of European imagination" were some others, who created the very polarizations between Christianity and Islam, the latter epitomized by the Turk.
At the very pinnacle of Shakespeare's career when he was writing the very plays in which he depicted Muslim Turks as bloodthirsty savages; hundreds and thousand of Muslims were being tortured and expelled between 1609 and 1614 by Western Europe under the leadership of Christian Spain (Matar 2003, xxvii).
On the other hand, Gerald MacLean argues that behind these misrepresentations lied not religious fanaticism, but something simpler: "[i]t was commercial not religious zeal that inspired [the British Empire's] global pursuits" (2007a, 246). As our current moment in history helps us understand maybe more than those in any other era, "empires work best when military power is directed at expanding and preserving trade rather than enforcing religious belief for its own sake" (245-46). What is most fascinating is how parallel our own episteme, to borrow a Foucaultian term, is with that of the Early Modern Era. The so-called civilization mission is always based on a binary between the civilized and uncivilized, the democratic and the despotic, the rational vs. the exotic, a binary which has hardly ever become an accurate reflection of different societies and cultures that live and coexist. This is also what Robinson emphasizes: "the question of political modernity in Europe has from its beginnings been caught up with the figure of the Muslim, and how the representation of Islam was connected to the most intense and political conflicts" (147). One can only agree with the striking analogy that "the so-called war on terror--a war by and of terror--enters into a strange constellation with the early modern moment" (181).
It would be impossible not to note here the much-criticized "Crusaders" utterance by George W. Bush while waging war against Iraq. The rhetoric of neoconservatives bears surprising similarities with the anti-Turkish sentiment of the Early Modern Era. However, the important thing to stress here is how that textual repertoire does not necessarily represent the whole story, but only attempts at conditioning people to think about the Other in a negative way so as to be able to define one's own identity in more positive terms, and to gain sympathy for a cause of which interests are not allied with mutual understanding among different cultures. As MacLean points out, for some, the conflict is a desirable outcome, for those who have given up on the future: "[t]hey are sufficiently desperate and uncompromising enough to believe in the old slogan 'one side right, one side wrong,' and for them an eschatological clash of civilizations has an evident and dangerous appeal" (emphasis mine) (2007b, 110). Focusing on differences rather than the common ground, emphasizing disagreements rather than consensus, and defining oneself in opposition to the Other rather than a relativistic approach to cultural differences lie at the core of the racial and religious prejudices. However, as Said pointed out three decades ago, keeping track of the repertoire of this discourse helps one to understand the Other in invaluable light. And there lies the hope.
Any writer, poet, playwright, or intellectual has ultimately two choices to make. One of them is to question, check, test, and challenge the traditional concepts in a society, thus, leading to a better world stripped of stolid, blind, blocked and dogmatic stigmas--which is also the path of science, or to submit to Power and entertain the masses. There is, yet, one other option: to distort the common sense, manipulate and reshape it in a form which is even better for a dogmatic world, devoid of understanding and tolerance. In the particular case of the Turks, if not at anything else, I hope it is quite clear up to this point which path the greatest of all dramatists chose. And after all, if Shakespeare did it, it should be true, or else he is a Turk.
Aydin, Kamil. Images of Turkey in Western Literature. Cambridgeshire: The Eothen P, 1999.
Botero, Giovanni. The Travellers Breviat. London, 1601.
Burton, Jonathan. "Anglo-Ottoman Relations and the Image of the Turk in Tamburlaine". Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30: 1, (Winter 2000): 125-156
Casellas, Jesus Lopez-Pelaez. "Race and the Construction of English National Identity: Spaniards and North Africans in English Seventeenth-Century Drama". Studies in Philology. Vol. 106, No 1, (Winter 2009): 32-51.
Chew, Samuel. The Crescent and the Rose: Islam and England during the Renaissance. New York: Oxford UP, 1937.
D'Amico, Jack. The Moor in English Renaissance Drama. Tampa: U of South Florida P, 1991.
Draper, John W. Orientalia and Shakespeareana. New York: Vantage, 1978.
Fuchs, Barbara. "Faithless Empires: Pirates, Renegadoes, and The English Nation." English Literary History, 67 (2000). Johns Hopkins UP: 45-69
Hutchings, Mark. "Shakespeare and Islam: Introduction". Shakespeare: Journal of the British Shakespeare Association. Vol.4, No. 2 (2008): 102-111.
--"The 'Turk Phenomenon' and the Repertory of the Late Elizabethan Playhouse". Early Modern Literary Studies. Special Issue 16 (October, 2007) 10: 1-39
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--"When West Looks East: Some Recent Studies in Early Modern Muslim Cultures". The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies. Vol 7, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2007b): 96-112
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--Islam in Britain: 1558-1685. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.
--Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery. New York: Columbia UP, 1999.
Robinson, Benedict S. Islam and Early Modern English Literature: The Politics of Romance from Spenser to Milton. Hampshire: Palgrave, 2007.
Schwoebel, Robert. The Shadow of the Crescent: The Renaissance Image of the Turk (1437-1517). New York: St. Martin's P, 1967.
Sherley, Sir Thomas. Discours of the Turkes (1606). Camden Miscellany Vol. XVI. London, 1936
Vitkus, Daniel J. "Turning Turk in Othello: The Conversation and Damnation of the Moor". Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Summer, 1997): 145-176
--ed. Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity from Early Modern England. New York: Columbia UP, 2001.
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(1) All references to Shakespeare's plays are taken from David, Bevington. ed. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Updated Fourth Edition. London: Longman, 1997.
(2) Istanbul, the then Constantinople, is referred to as "the queen of cities" by many medieval and early modern travel writers.
(3) Important studies have been done on the interactions between the Ottomans and the British in the Early Modern Era and on the Turkish-Islamic discourse in plays produced during this time. These works include Nazan Aksoy, Ronesans Ingiltere'sinde Turkler (The Turks in the Renaissance England) Istanbul: Bilgi Universitesi Yayinlari, 2004 (with an emphasis on Marlowe's Tamburlaine), Yildiz Aksoy, The Turks in Eighteenth Century English Theatre, Unpub. Diss., Erzurum, Ataturk University, 1970; and Suheyla Artemel, The Idea of Turkey in the Elizabethan Period and in the Early 17th Century with Special Reference to Drama, Unpub. Diss., Durham: Durham University, 1966. The works of Nabil Matar, Daniel Vitkus and Gerald MacLean have foregrounded the studies on the British-Turkish discourse especially in the last decade. However, a comprehensive analysis of Shakespeare's Turkish references which exclusively covers this issue cannot be pointed out, let alone mentioning the discussion of the issue in the aftermath of 9/11, which is the motivation behind this paper.
(4) Although this work will rely heavily on Edward Said's seminal work, it will not be limited to it. The works mentioned above, especially Matar's, will be used to complicate the binaric textual readings, although I also believe that binaries are not the product of Saidian analysis but of the Orientalist discourse itself.
(5) For a much earlier, pre-9/11 analysis of the East-West relations with respect to religion, see Norman Daniel, Islam and the West: The Making of an Image, Boston: Oneworld, 1993.
(6) Mark Hutchings further argues that the "capture of Constantinople" is a pattern, which is also visible, albeit in different degrees, in even unlikely plays like The Spanish Tragedy and Soliman and Perseda: "[t]he trick itself, successful as it is for Hieronimo (and indeed Bel-Imperia) in achieving its goal in the play-world, is a 'counter-factual' representation that synthesizes the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453 and displacement of the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem from Rhodes in 1522 with a fictional Christian revenge narrative--the devoutly to be wished for overthrow of the 'Great Turk' that would of course not take place" (2007: 1).
(7) For an in-depth study of the multicultural and cosmopolitan life of the Ottoman Empire see Caroline Finkel's Osman's Dream, New York: Basic Books, 2006. Finkel strictly argues against the "old" historiographies about the Ottomans which center around the "[i]t rose, declined and fell" framework. Her work is particularly focused on the rich and complex state of the Ottoman Empire covering the classical age as much as the last centuries of the empire, thus balancing the discourse previously dominated by either the stories of the exotic harems and eunuchs or the defeats during the World War I.
(8) For more on the rhetoric of war on terror and Henry V, see David Coleman, "Ireland and Islam: Henry V and the 'War on Terror,'" Shakespeare: Journal of the British Shakespeare Association, Vol.4, No. 2 (2008): 169-80.
(9) A similar pattern interestingly exists in Marlowe's work, too. Burton demonstrates how the dramatist depicts Persia to be threatened by Turks and Tartars in Tamburlaine, Part One (139).
(10) These multicultural interactions were actually the main reasons which paved the way for the discourse about the Turk on the stage, in the first place. "The new Anglo-Ottoman economic relations that were officially started with the establishment of the Levant Company by a group of merchants from London under the auspices of Queen Elizabeth in 1581", states Aydin, "led to a surge of interest in Turks, their religion, history, and culture" (54). This interest was then reflected in plays and many other fictional and non-fictional texts, however, as I am arguing, in quite a mediated way as opposed to vis-a-vis, mirror-like reflections.
(11) Hutchings argues, however, that despite these close encounters with the Islamic world, the legacy of the Turks spreading across Europe was not forgotten too easily: "[t]he legacy of 1453 in the western imagination--as historical event and as dramatized narrative--was such that the Ottoman Empire remained a potent threat, real or imagined, its new "role" as a potential ally in England's anti-Catholic foreign policy by no means erasing or superseding established cultural memory" (2007, 1).
(12) For more on "renegadoes," and the issue of conversion and how these characters are (mis)represented on stage see Barbara Fuchs, "Faithless Empires: Pirates, Renegadoes, and The English Nation". English Literary History, 67 (2000). Johns Hopkins UP: 45-69. Robert Daborne's famous play, A Christian Turned Turk is particularly important to be able to understand how conversion to Islam is punished (mostly by a pitiful tragedy of the character) on stage.
(13) For more on the Turk in Marlowe's work, see Jonathan Burton, "Anglo-Ottoman Relations and the Image of the Turk in Tamburlaine". Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. 30: 1, (Winter, 2000), Duke UP: 125-56, and Nazan Aksoy's historically contextualized Ronesans Ingiltere'sinde Turkler, Istanbul: Bilgi Universitesi Yayinlari, 2004.
(14) "The circumcised Turk" also shows up in Marlowe's text, among other Early Modern plays.
(15) Within the limits of this paper, I will only handle some of the most probable texts which Shakespeare might have been familiar with. For an extensive catalogue of English publications about the Turks, see Berna Moran's inclusive bibliography, which lists sources from the fifteenth century to the eighteenth: The Bibliography of the English Publications about the Turks From the 15th Century to the 18the Century. Istanbul, Istanbul UP, 1964, and Nazan Aksoy, Ronesans Ingiltere'sinde Turkler, Istanbul: Bilgi Universitesi Yayinlari, 2004 particularly for travelogues and historiographies written in the time of Elizabethan period.
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|Title Annotation:||William Shakespeare|
|Author:||Akman, Beyazit H.|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2009|
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