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A Shared World

A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Molly Greene
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    A Shared World
    Book Description:

    Here Molly Greene moves beyond the hostile "Christian" versus "Muslim" divide that has colored many historical interpretations of the early modern Mediterranean, and reveals a society with a far richer set of cultural and social dynamics. She focuses on Crete, which the Ottoman Empire wrested from Venetian control in 1669. Historians of Europe have traditionally viewed the victory as a watershed, the final step in the Muslim conquest of the eastern Mediterranean and the obliteration of Crete's thriving Latin-based culture. But to what extent did the conquest actually change life on Crete? Greene brings a new perspective to bear on this episode, and on the eastern Mediterranean in general. She argues that no sharp divide separated the Venetian and Ottoman eras because the Cretans were already part of a world where Latin Christians, Muslims, and Eastern Orthodox Christians had been intermingling for several centuries, particularly in the area of commerce.

    Greene also notes that the Ottoman conquest of Crete represented not only the extension of Muslim rule to an island that once belonged to a Christian power, but also the strengthening of Eastern Orthodoxy at the expense of Latin Christianity, and ultimately the Orthodox reconquest of the eastern Mediterranean. Greene concludes that despite their religious differences, both the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire represented the ancien régime in the Mediterranean, which accounts for numerous similarities between Venetian and Ottoman Crete. The true push for change in the region would come later from Northern Europe.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4449-4
    Subjects: History, Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Note on Transliteration (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction (pp. 3-12)

    In this century two eminent historians, Henri Pirenne and Fernand Braudel, have produced compelling but very divergent portraits of the Mediterranean world, the former during the transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages, the latter in the reign of Philip II in early modern Europe.

    Pirenne and Braudel differed not only in the periods which they studied, but also on the fundamental issue of Mediterranean unity or disunity. For Henri Pirenne, the Arab conquests of the seventh century and beyond crushed the common world of the Romanmare nostrumand replaced it instead with two hostile civilizations facing each other...

  7. One The Last Conquest (pp. 13-44)

    In a report sent to the Senate of the Venetian Republic in 1639, the provveditore generale¹ of Crete, Isepo Civran, worried that pirate assaults on Ottoman shipping by the Maltese or the Florentines would provide the Ottoman Sultan with the excuse that he had been looking for to attack the island.² He noted that the Venetian Republic was doing its best to prevent such pirate attacks on Muslim shipping—mentioning an incident in which Venice captured a pirate ship outside Leghorn and freed all the Muslim slaves on board in order to show its goodwill toward the Ottomans—but clearly...

  8. Two A Difficult Island (pp. 45-77)

    Köprülü’s army bombarded the city of Candia for over two years before the Venetians finally surrendered. The capital city and the countryside around it were devastated by this brutal war. The few Europeans who took any notice of Crete once the Venetian army had departed fixed their sights on the capital city and thus emphasized the extreme destructiveness of the war. Historians have echoed them in this judgment. Paul Rycaut, who was the English consul in Smyrna at the time with close connections to Ottoman officials, observed that “there never could be a more sad spectacle of desolation, nor a...

  9. Three Ottoman Candia (pp. 78-109)

    The collapse of Venetian rule in the city of Candia was dramatic. It brought to an abrupt halt that cultural blend of Catholicism and Orthodoxy that had produced the Cretan Renaissance in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Virtually all of the city’s many churches and monasteries, both Catholic and Orthodox, were converted to other uses, as mosques, of course, but also as private homes and as housing for the military. The urban institutions associated with Italian cities—scuole, the Monte di Pietà—vanished.¹ All this was ushered out with the last refugees who clambered onto the boats going to Dia,...

  10. Four Between Wine and Olive Oil (pp. 110-140)

    The economic history of Crete in the early modern period, to the extent that it has been conceptualized at all, has been presented in discontinuous and linear terms. The flourishing wine economy of the sixteenth century is followed by the black hole of the seventeenth century. Once the Ottomans arrive, economic decline sets in.

    In this chapter I argue instead that in the course of 150 years, roughly the period between 1570 and 1720, the island moved through a cycle: the economy that emerged in the eighteenth century (after 1720) was not unlike that of the sixteenth century, although it...

  11. Five Merchants of Candia (pp. 141-173)

    The dramatic reversals suffered by Venetian trade, navigation, and shipbuilding in the late sixteenth and especially the seventeenth centuries are well known to historians. French, Dutch, and English newcomers managed to wrest the Levantine trade away from the Venetian merchants who had thrived for centuries in their role as middlemen between East and West. The new arrivals in the eastern Mediterranean showed themselves to be adept not just at trading but at shipbuilding and seafaring as well. Between 1550 and 1590 the cost of constructing a ship at Venice quadrupled and the strength of the merchant marine fell by half.²...

  12. Six The Slow Death of the Ancien Regime (pp. 174-205)

    As Rycaut’s remarks suggest, the Venetians were not at all reconciled to the loss of Crete in 1669. They used the opportunity provided by the War of the Holy League (1684–99) to try and retake Chania in 1692. It was only with the loss of all its remaining territories in the eastern Mediterranean (except for the small island of Cerigo) during the last Ottoman-Venetian war of 1715–18 that Venice’s ambitions in Crete were finally extinguished. Until that time Venetian challenges to Ottoman sovereignty on the island, of which the brief siege of Chania was only the most visible...

  13. Conclusion (pp. 206-210)

    In the spring of 1770 a Cretan notable and shipowner from Sfakia named John Vlachos, known to history as Daskaloyiannēs, led a band of 2,000 well-armed men out of the mountains and down into the plains of western Crete.¹ After a week of preparation with messianic overtones, spent in eating, drinking, and dancing, they fanned out into small bands and began to kill the Muslims in the area, in an unsuccessful effort to convince their fellow Cretans to join them in throwing off Ottoman rule.² This revolt was part of a wider event, known in Greek historiography as the “Orloff...

  14. Bibliography (pp. 211-222)
  15. Index (pp. 223-228)