Catalogue


Empires of Islam in Renaissance historical thought /
Margaret Meserve.
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2008.
description
359 p. : ill., facsims., map; 25 cm.
ISBN
067402656X (alk. paper), 9780674026568 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2008.
isbn
067402656X (alk. paper)
9780674026568 (alk. paper)
contents note
The rise and fall of the Trojan Turks -- Barbarians at the gates -- In search of the classical Turks -- Translations of empire -- Wise men in the east.
catalogue key
6340451
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-01-01:
Meserve (Notre Dame) has thoughtfully shifted the framework of inquiry surrounding European humanist writing on Muslim states. Choosing to read this writing as evidence of a complicated historiographical, rather than historical, moment, Meserve brings a fresh perspective to humanist texts that discuss the Islamic empire. She starts with an analysis of 15th-century narratives of ethnic origin. In particular, Meserve describes scholarly efforts to trace the threatening Ottoman Turks to "barbaric" Scythian origins, while other less threatening Muslim states were linked to more "civilized" classical peoples. From there, the book elaborates on its two most effective themes. The first is that humanist scholars, despite their apparent dismissal of postclassical learning, relied heavily on medieval as well as classical texts. Indeed, there was a concerted effort to transform earlier tales of the fantastic into objective, rational source material--provided this material supported preexisting humanist historical theses. Second, Meserve makes a convincing case for the coexistence of religious and ethnographic themes in Renaissance literature. It was precisely the vocabulary of civilization and barbarism, she argues--a vocabulary divorced from medieval Christian themes and taking Muslim states as its subject--that nonetheless articulated humanist theories of Christian identity and sin. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. A. Miller University of Massachusetts Boston
Reviews
Review Quotes
A superb and original study, impressively researched and cogently argued, on a significant aspect of humanist scholarship. It will be of interest to scholars in Renaissance, late medieval, early modern, Ottoman, Turkish, and Islamic studies, as well as a broader audience of readers who follow the growing literature on European views of other societies.
Empires of Islam is the product of the most painstaking research. There is not a byway which Margaret Meserve has not followed to trace the intricate debates of the time. But the contribution made by her book goes further than the polemics centered on the origin of the Turks. It helps us to reassess humanist historiography in its broadest sense.
Meserve's achievement is brilliant and important on several levels. She has given us what will become a much cited study on early Western 'orientalism.' She has enormously enriched our understanding not only of Renaissance humanism, but also of the relationship between the humanists and their medieval predecessors, pointing to a reconsideration of what is traditionally viewed as medieval and what is viewed as Renaissance. For decades to come, this will serve as a standard work on the humanist understanding of the Turk.
This erudite and elegant book explores the efforts of Renaissance humanists to understand the Ottoman Turks and the world they came from. Using rich evidence, much of it not studied before, Meserve teaches us a great deal about the transmission, use, and misuse of historical and political information in modern Europe's first public sphere.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 2009
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Meserve investigates the methods and illuminates the motives of scholars negotiating shifting boundaries between scholarly research and political propoganda, between a commitment to critical historical inquiry inquiry and the pressure of centuries of classical and Christian prejudice.
Main Description
Renaissance humanists believed that the origins of peoples could reveal crucial facts about their modern political character. Margaret Meserve explores what happened when European historians turned to study the political history of a faith other than their own. Meserve investigates the methods and illuminates the motives of scholars negotiating shifting boundaries-between scholarly research and political propaganda, between a commitment to critical historical inquiry and the pressure of centuries of classical and Christian prejudice, between the academic ideals of humanism and the everyday demands of political patronage. Drawing on political oratory, diplomatic correspondence, crusade propaganda, and historical treatises, Meserve shows how research into the origins of Islamic empires sprang from-and contributed to-contemporary debates over the threat of Islamic expansion in the Mediterranean. Humanist histories of the Turks were sharply polemical, portraying the Ottomans as a rogue power. But writings on other Muslim polities include some of the first positive appraisals of Muslim statecraft in the European tradition. This groundbreaking book offers new insights into Renaissance humanist scholarship and the longstanding European debates over the relationship between Christianity and Islam.
Main Description
Renaissance humanists believed that the origins of peoples could reveal crucial facts about their modern political character. Margaret Meserve explores what happened when European historians turned to study the political history of a faith other than their own. Meserve investigates the methods and illuminates the motives of scholars negotiating shifting boundaries--between scholarly research and political propaganda, between a commitment to critical historical inquiry and the pressure of centuries of classical and Christian prejudice, between the academic ideals of humanism and the everyday demands of political patronage. Drawing on political oratory, diplomatic correspondence, crusade propaganda, and historical treatises, Meserve shows how research into the origins of Islamic empires sprang from--and contributed to--contemporary debates over the threat of Islamic expansion in the Mediterranean. Humanist histories of the Turks were sharply polemical, portraying the Ottomans as a rogue power. But writings on other Muslim polities include some of the first positive appraisals of Muslim statecraft in the European tradition. This groundbreaking book offers new insights into Renaissance humanist scholarship and the long-standing European debates over the relationship between Christianity and Islam.
Table of Contents
Note on Nomenclaturep. vii
List of Figuresp. viii
Introductionp. 1
The Rise and Fall of the Trojan Turksp. 22
Barbarians at the Gatesp. 65
In Search of the Classical Turksp. 117
Translations of Empirep. 155
Wise Men in the Eastp. 203
Epiloguep. 238
The Caspian Gatesp. 249
Abbreviationsp. 257
Notesp. 259
Acknowledgmentsp. 343
Indexp. 347
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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