Senior Honors Theses
History Department Honors Program

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Thesis or dissertation

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A Senior Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Honors in History. Faculty Advisor: Ann Moyer


As the Ottoman presence Europe expanded following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it became apparent that their most penetrating incursion was not merely a territorial one, but rather a deep one into the collective mindset of a terrified continent. However, while the sheer volume of literary works with new calls for crusade, and unheeded pleadings for Christendom to put aside petty internal disputes and unite against the barbarous Turks, a body, though certainly in the minority, preferred pragmatism to panic and concentrated not on how to vanquish the Infidel, but coexist with him. Though the works of Theodore Spandounes, Ambassador Ogier Ghislan de Busbecq and Bartolomeo Giorgievits dominate the bibliographies of modern historians examining this demographic, the historical eye should be drawn to Giovanni Antonio Menavino's I Cinque Libri delle legge, religione, e vita de' Turchi as not only confirms much of what has already been extrapolated from works by his contemporaries, but also supplementing the existing literature. Corsairs captured Menavino at the age of twelve and sold him into slavery under the Grand Turk where he would serve in most intimate proximity to the sultan for ten years. His composition not only offers a fascinating perspective into the mysterious world of the sultan’s seraglio, it is also representative of thousands of Christian boys who, through the whims of chance and circumstance, were forced to serve the sultan. These boys, purloined at sea or on land, in turn represent the most intimate line of contact between Christianity and Islam, and whose perceptions of Islam vary widely from the dominant paradigm of the time.


slave, ottoman, venice, devshirme, piracy

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Date Posted: 19 April 2007