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 rule of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) that any concrete relation between the Ottoman Empire and England improved. With the innovation of the printing machine and the uptrend of literacy, the English folk had put faith in the authority of the printed word, in the information they received from books. Printed texts became prominent tools for distribution of knowledge, accurate and inaccurate.
Histories were invested with an aura of veracity, and it is on the mixture of fact and stereotype supplied by these works that the fictional presence of the Turk in English literature was largely based. Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare and Dryden used limited knowledge of material to produce their excessively negative images of the Turks. But 16th century images of the Turks were not all negative. Although they were always mentioned in texts as the ‘other’ or the enemy, their military strategies and nature of administration were much admired. As early as 1513 Machiavelli in The Prince praised the wisdom of Turkish rule, colonizing a conquered country to maintain direct rule: Shakespeare, writing at the same time, often employed the collective image of Turks as libidinous, tricky lechers. But, in common with Machiavelli, he too admits a sense of adoration for Turkish military prowess to spread. 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.’
To conclude, until 18th century British people though of Ottoman Empire and Turks as “the other” and an adversary, but the image of Turk in British people’s mind is began to mutate with the use of literature, trade relations between two countries and the perfect administration by Ottoman Sultans.