TRADERS AND NEW IDEAS ABOUT THE EAST: THE BRITISH LEVANT COMPANY AND THE DISCOURSE ON THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 1581-1774
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The purpose of this thesis is to identify some of the contributions made by members and associates of the British Levant Company to the discourse about Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Britain between 1581 and 1774. The members of the Levant Company were brought to the lands of the Ottoman Empire solely for the purpose of trade and profit. However, in order to succeed in their business pursuits they had to develop personal relationships with Ottoman Muslims. An unintended consequence of those close personal contacts was that these wealthy British merchants, raised to fear and condescend to the Muslim "Turk," developed a greater respect and understanding for the peoples and culture of the Ottoman Empire. Upon return to England, their experiences served to counter, at least in part, the historical European animus that identified the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire as backwards and dangerous.