In 1543, the Ottoman fleet appeared off the coast of France to bombard and lay siege to the city of Nice. The operation, under the command of Admiral Barbarossa, came in response to a request from Francois I of France for assistance from Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in France's struggle against Charles V, the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. This military alliance between mutual 'infidels', the Christian French King and the Muslim Sultan, aroused intense condemnation on religious grounds from the Habsburgs and their supporters as an aberration from accepted diplomacy. Memories of the Crusades were still very much alive in Europe and an alliance with 'the Turk' seemed unthinkable to many. Allies with the Infidel places the events of 1543 and the subsequent wintering of the Ottoman fleet in Toulon in the context of the power politics of the sixteenth century. Christine Isom-Verhaaren returns to original eyewitness accounts from contemporary Ottoman and French sources to present the reality of diplomacy with 'infidels' in the early modern period. Challenging the accepted negative portrayal of the Western-Islamic alliance, she argues that the facts have been obscured for centuries due to historical over-reliance on Habsburg propaganda. She finds that the reported horrors and scandals of the Ottoman fleet's wintering in Toulon were fictions, uncovering the truth of a flourishing relationship between the two powers. This book brings back to the foreground forgotten friendships between Muslims and Christians, and sheds light on the continued efforts of the French to cultivate the Ottoman alliance throughout the sixteenth century. The author argues that, ultimately, western European identity developed in interaction with - not in opposition to - that of the Ottoman Empire. The result is essential reading for students and scholars of European history, Ottoman Studies, and of relations between the Christian and Islamic worlds into the twenty-first century.
Allies with the Infidel
The Ottoman and French Alliance in the Sixteenth Century