The History between Ottoman Empire and Britain
Relations between Ottoman Empire and Britain have a long history. After its foundation in 1326, Ottoman Empire have advanced towards west and conquered Constantinople and renamed it to Istanbul in 1453 and acquired supervision of the Black sea and the main paths to the Balkans and advanced to the eastern Adriatic. In 1520 Ottoman’s were the indisputable pioneer of the Muslim world and they had impeccable power over western Europe. Then the encounters between Ottoman Empire and Britain have begun.
Official diplomatic relations were based with the appointment of an English ambassador to the Sublime Porte as the Ottoman Empire was acknowledged in 1583. in 1793 London received one of the first permanent Turkish embassies established abroad. Anglo-Turkish commercial and cultural relations precede the establishment of the first English consulates at Istanbul and Izmir in the 16th and 17th centuries. Starting in the Middle Ages with the import of spices and luxury goods, such as “Turkey carpets”, trade between Britain and Ottoman Empire expanded over time, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. Anatolia became a significant source of raw materials like cotton, foodstuffs like raisins and dried figs and tobacco. In the 19th century it became a significant market for British manufactures.
But it was only with the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) that any concrete relationship between the Ottoman Empire and England developed. With the invention of the printing press and the rise in literacy, the English public had come to believe in the authority of the printed word, in the knowledge they received from books. Printed texts became important tools for spreading knowledge, true and false.
Histories were invested with a particular aura of veracity, and it is on the mixture of fact and stereotype purveyed by these works that the fictional presence of the Turk in English literature was largely based. Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare and Dryden all draw upon a limited corpus of material to generate their overwhelmingly negative images of the Ottomans. But 16th century images of the Turks were not all negative. Although they were always mentioned in texts as the ‘other’ or the adversary, their military tactics and nature of government were much admired. As early as 1513 Machiavelli in The Prince extolled the wisdom of Turkish rule, colonizing a conquered country to maintain direct rule: Shakespeare, writing at the same time, often exploited the common image of Turks as licentious, deceitful womanizers. But, in common with Machiavelli, he too allowed a sense of admiration for Turkish military prowess to creep in. In Othello one of the senators of the Venetian state recognizes the strategic expertise of the Turks, saying that the Turks are most probably bent on conquest of Cyprus not Rhodes: ‘We must not think the Turk is so unskillful/ To leave that latest that which concerns him first.’