Diplomacy, Politics, Frontier, and Religion in the Relations between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran, 1639-1722


Project Leader: Dr. Giorgio Rota

Principal Investigator: Dr. Selim Güngörürler

Duration: 01/2020 – 12/2023

Abstract

The primary aim of this project is to unearth the diplomatic, political, international, linguistic, artistic, cultural, and religious aspects of the most durable peace that the Middle East experienced throughout the Early Modernity thanks to a practical conciliation between the two great powers that controlled almost the entire region, i.e., the non-hostile coexistence of the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran from the Peace of Zuhab (1639) until the collapse of the Savafid rule (1722). To begin with, we will reconstruct the course of events of these eighty-three years, of which at the moment we know almost nothing, by exhausting the chronicles, histories, travelogues, but most importantly, the immense amount of original archival documents and manuscripts. This stage will involve a study of diplomatic initiatives and frontier contacts based on hitherto unknown sources. By giving the due weight not only to the state centers but also to the long, shared border, and by integrating the frontier scene into the official interstate platform, the processes of foreign policy-making and the holistic conduct of diplomacy will be explored. In doing so, our project will also go beyond what we have assumed so far to be predominantly ceremonial, and bring to light the rich, tangible content lying beneath the formal aspect of international instances. Furthermore, in order to establish the essentials of the Middle Eastern diplomacy as it evolved from the later Middle Ages into its Early Modern form, it will inevitably engage with a geography larger than the Ottoman Empire and Iran, and a time frame wider than the 1639-1722 one. This attempt will involve a reconstruction of the distinct and the consolidated hierarchies of states, monarchs, princes, dignitaries, diplomats, and protocols. To this end, the project will offer a comprehensive analysis of the titulature current at that time not only with an eye to the conventional correspondence between terminology and political office, but also by contextualizing each title according to the genre of the document, section (such as inscriptio or narratio) within the document, the semantic nuances of single terms, and the grammatical nuances in order to determine in which one of its various capacities a given title was used. The project will also treat the phenomenon of sectarian relations between the Ottomans and the Safavids. We will first offer our interpretation of the place held by religion within the Ottoman-Safavid confrontation from 1501 to 1639 by emphasizing the distinction between Kızılbashism and Shiism, and then investigate how Islam, once a dividing factor in bilateral relations, came to be accommodated as a unifying theme within the framework of harmonious relations. Dr. Giorgio Rota will be the investigator of the project and Dr. Selim Güngörürler will be employed as researcher.

PROJECT LEADER

Dr. Giorgio Rota

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Dr. Selim Güngörürler

FUNDING

FWF – der Wissenschaftsfonds

Project P32696-G, duration: 01/2020 – 12/2023