It could be implied that Anglo-Ottoman relations started to be noticed after the 16th century before that there weren’t any regular encounters between the two and so the English image of the Turkish was limited and scholarships and studies regarding them did not yet exist. Aspects that took crucial place in constructing the relations and interactions between the English and the Ottomans were negotiations and treaties which led to commerce, diplomatic missions and cultural accommodations of the ambassadors in the Ottoman lands. The diplomatic practices between them started at about the same time on both sides. The first Turkish ambassador to go to London was Agah Efendi and the first English one sent to Istanbul was William Harborne.
Anglo-Ottoman relations mostly evolved around trade while interactions regarding politics only occurred rarely. Anthony Jenkinson was the first English merchant to start direct relations with the Ottoman Empire and by 1570 there was sufficient interest to pursue a trade agreement. In 1578 a fellow trader, ,was sent to Istanbul to begin negotiations. The efforts of this treaty was aided by correspondence from Queen Elizabeth and Sultan Murad III. In their exchanging of letters Murad assured her that English merchants will have full liberty to trade with the empire. When the Turkish Levant Company was established in …
. it was one of the charter companies under the Elizabethan government like the eastern India company and the Eastland company. This lead to the merchants’s request for a permanent resident ambassador to Istanbul, in other words, an English agent residing there so that he could confirm the agreement with the Ottomans and send gifts. The queen then appointed William Harborne as the first ambassador. The Ottoman court used a variety of practices with there relation with the English like gift giving, great hospitality and ceremonials to show the English their friendship (dostluk in Turkish) with them.
Many ambassadors were acquired to travel long sea journies to arrive to their destination, Turkey, and one of them was Edward Wortley Montagu. His wife, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, accompanied him on the voyage and resided there too with her husband. During her accommodation went through many experiences and recorded them into letters she sent to her ladies and became known as the Turkish embassy letters. The text within them is very interesting as it shows and demonstrates an English women’s view and opinion of what was then a very different world to the western one.
Her accounts consist of descriptions and observations of the Ottomans life in the Ottoman court, their clothing, music, religion and many other subjects but mainly focus on the status of women in the Ottoman Empire. She compares these aspects of Constantinople (now Istanbul) with the English ones. As she was introduced to such diverse society from hers, one expects to hear many critics from her however she saw a completely different picture from what she was expecting and from the one regularly represented of the non-West. This distinguishes her view from other typical depictions, particularly by male writers. She treats the woman-relating subject in length because she was so inspired and amused of Ottoman women’s liberty and independence. She says enter quote.
She also made such controversial comments about the veil that it not only it gave them freedom while they moved about the streets but also blurred the distinguishing of ranks between the lady and her slave enter quote. Another comment regarding the freedom on Ottoman women is her remark on the to Turkish hamam where women gathered and enjoyed themselves freely. She says enter quote.
(But veil also made the cheat) (seraglio) (she emphasized the diff bw English and ottoman women. ) she also states that Turkish woman found her clothing very strange and discomfortable particularly the corset which made her look imprisoned and immediately made assumptions that it was her husband who forced her into it. With all this she in fact criticizes the women in her state and claims that Turkish women are not what everyone assume they are, oppressed and imprisoned.
Moreover, she points out while women had the right to divorce they even are given their money and an addition above it? However there are some accounts where we can perceive a orient representation of the Ottomans but she doesn’t really emphasize them or completely ignores the things that seem unappealing to her and so doesn’t include them in her letters. All in all, when English diplomatics or travel writers travelled to Ottoman societies they all went back to their land with not much positive things to say about it, they sexualized or stereotyped it. However, there was one who viewed it in the completely opposite way and she was a woman called Mary Wortley Montagu.