Welcome to the dragomans research group homepage. This project, spearheaded by Prof. Natalie Rothman at the University of Toronto Scarborough, focuses on the study of dragomans (diplomatic interpreters) in early modern Istanbul and other Mediterranean cities. The project explores the important role of dragomans in early modern diplomacy in general, and in mediating political, linguistic, and more broadly cultural relations between the Ottoman Empire and its neighbours. In addition to providing a range of research materials that can be dynamically edited, annotated, and augmented by site visitors, the project also seeks to facilitate greater collaboration and resource sharing among scholars and students interested in this influential but little-studied cadre, with the aim of developing a detailed aggregate profile of this group and its representational practices. The dragomans research group will ultimately offer a set of tools and data sets for collaborative research, including:
- A bio-bibliographical database of 116 dragomans who worked with Venetian diplomats in Istanbul and with Ottoman merchants and dignitaries in Venice in the period 1550-1700. This evolving database will allow researchers to trace dragomans' life trajectories and kinship, financial, and professional ties, as well as their translations and other textual and visual output (in both manuscript and print) in a variety of genres, including dragomans’ wills, portraits, and commissioned works.
- Detailed records (with English summaries and partial transcriptions in modern Turkish, Italian, or Serbo-Croatian) of relevant textual materials by and about dragomans from the following archival series:
- Venetian State Archives, Bailo a Costantinopoli, Carte Turche (approx. 1300 records in Ottoman Turkish for the period 1589-1670 with facing contemporary Italian translations)
- Ottoman Prime Minister’s Archive, Ecnebi Defteri, registers 13-18 (approx. 500 records in Ottoman Turkish concerning Venetian activities in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1605-c. 1680)
- Zadar State Archives, Dragomans Fondo (approx. 150 records in Serbo-Croatian of documents in Italian and Ottoman Turkish collated and translated by Venetian dragomans, c. 1621-1680)
- School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Paget Papers, boxes 52-53 (60 letters sent by Venetian dragomans Giacomo and Tommaso Tarsia to English Ambassador Extraordinary to the Porte Lord Paget, 1694-1699)
- Koper Municipal Archives, Slovenia, Tarsia Family Archives, KP 312
- Dozens of records from various series in the Venetian State Archives concerning dragomans' professional, familial, and economic activities.
- A database of Venetian ambassadors' and consuls' writings from Istanbul from the early sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries (most of which has not been published and remains in manuscript form in the Venetian archives) based on an index prepared by Prof. Maria Pia Pedani
- A set of annotated glossaries for Ottoman and Venetian official genres, magistracies, place names, and more.
- Bidirectional access to an annotated, evolving bibliography of scholarship on dragomans and other early modern Mediterranean cultural intermediaries (such as converts, slaves, merchants, embassy artists, and itinerant scholars). The bibliography will also provide access to PDFs or other full text options for group members' publications and for other Open Access texts.
For more details, and to get involved, please contact us.