1st Edition

Silent Teachers Turkish Books and Oriental Learning in Early Modern Europe, 1544–1669

By Nil Ö. Palabıyık Copyright 2023
    274 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Silent Teachers considers for the first time the influence of Ottoman scholarly practices and reference tools on oriental learning in early modern Europe. Telling the story of oriental studies through the annotations, study notes, and correspondence of European scholars, it demonstrates the central but often overlooked role that Turkish-language manuscripts played in the achievements of early orientalists. Dispersing the myths and misunderstandings found in previous scholarship, this book offers a fresh history of Turkish studies in Europe and new insights into how Renaissance intellectuals studied Arabic and Persian through contemporaneous Turkish sources.

    This story hardly has any dull moments: the reader will encounter many larger-than-life figures, including an armchair expert who turned his alleged captivity under the Ottomans into bestselling books; a drunken dragoman who preferred enjoying the fruits of the vine to his duties at the Sublime Porte; and a curmudgeonly German physician whose pugnacious pamphlets led to the erasure of his name from history.

    Taking its title from the celebrated humanist Joseph Scaliger’s comment that books from the Muslim world are ‘silent teachers’ and need to be explained orally to be understood, this study gives voice to the many and varied Turkish-language books that circulated in early modern Europe and proposes a paradigm-shift in our understanding of early modern erudite culture.


    Chapter One   

    Earliest printed books on Turkey: Georgievits and Postel on the Turkish language

    Chapter Two   

    The advent of scholarly books on Turkey: Leunclavius’ Ottoman Annals and History, Crusius' Greece under Turkish Rule with Scaliger's Annotations

    Chapter Three   

    First printed grammars of Turkish: Megiser and Du Ryer

    Chapter Four   

    Oriental studies in Leiden: The manuscript Turkish dictionaries of Deusing and Golius

    Chapter Five   

    A fine library: Golius and his Turkish books


    Appendix I: Scaliger’s Turkish marginalia   

    Appendix II: Three Turkish translations of Psalm 6   

    Appendix III: Paratextual material in Deusing’s and Golius’ Turkish dictionaries   

    Appendix IV: Golius’ Turkish correspondence



    Nil Ö. Palabıyık, Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, conducts research at the crossroads of intellectual history, manuscript culture, and history of the book. As a postdoctoral fellow funded by the British Academy and the Humboldt Foundation, she worked at the Rylands Library and Institute, Manchester, and the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität, Munich. Her love of archives took her to the finest libraries in Europe, and led to visiting fellowships at the Scaliger Institute, Leiden, and Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel. She published on humanist scholarship, early modern orientalism, and Greek printing in Europe and the Ottoman Empire.