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The ‘Imperial Signs’ (nişan-i Hümayun): Framing Muslim-Christian Relations in the Seventeenth Century Mediterranean (2018-2019)

Field of study: History

The Ottoman Empire framed its relations with non-Muslim states through peace agreements known as capitulations. While their renewals also came with additional articles, in the early seventeenth century the Ottoman-Venetian peace agreements took a unique twist: the capitulations’ texts remained unchanged, with new articles being implemented through separate documents labelled as “imperial signs” (nişan-ı hümayun). In this paper, I will argue that two such documents, granted to Venice in 1604 and 1639, differ both in form and function from other nişans and that they played a crucial role in the peace-making process, along with the capitulations.

Keywords: capitulations, ‘ahdname, diplomacy, Ottoman Empire, Venice

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