Tudor Turks: Ottomans speaking English in early modern Sultansbriefe

Dimmock, Matthew (2020) Tudor Turks: Ottomans speaking English in early modern Sultansbriefe. English Literary Renaissance, 50 (3). pp. 335-358. ISSN 0013-8312

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A distinctive Ottoman voice was near-ubiquitous in late Elizabethan England, appearing in books and on stages with remarkable regularity. This essay questions the dominant assumption that such a voice emerges, fully formed, in the first part of Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great (1587). Turning to largely unknown Henrician sources in print and manuscript—in particular a letter from the Emperor of Babylon to Henry VIII—it argues for the importance of a continental Sultansbriefe (“Letters of the Sultan”) genre in which fictional letters from various Eastern potentates to Christian monarchs and the pope circulated widely. Such letters took on new forms in English contexts and reveal the different registers that voice could occupy: they could be read as satire, as travel accounts, or as news, and might be belligerent, bombastic, heroic, or pathetic. They offer a means to defamiliarize the standard “Turkish” voice of the end of the sixteenth century and show it to be a late and productive reinvention of an earlier Sultansbriefe tradition.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ottomans, Early Modern, Tudor England
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0411 Renaissance and Reformation. 16th century
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0911 Letters
Depositing User: Matthew Dimmock
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018 08:34
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2021 12:49
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/76621

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