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Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience, 1347-1600

  • The first systematic scholarly study of the Ottoman experience of plague from the late medieval to early modern era
  • Explores the relationship between plague and the process of state-formation in the early modern Ottoman Empire
  • Challenges some basic tenets of the field of scholarship, such as that plagues always spread from Ottoman areas to Europe

By: Nükhet Varlik (Author)

330 pages, 10 b/w illustrations, 5 maps

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jul 2015 | #221292 | ISBN-13: 9781107013384
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $84/€77 approx

About this book

This is the first systematic scholarly study of the Ottoman experience of plague during the Black Death pandemic and the centuries that followed. Using a wealth of archival and narrative sources, including medical treatises, hagiographies and travellers' accounts, as well as recent scientific research, Nukhet Varlik demonstrates how plague interacted with the environmental, social, and political structures of the Ottoman Empire from the late medieval through the early modern era.

Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World argues that the empire's growth transformed the epidemiological patterns of plague by bringing diverse ecological zones into interaction and by intensifying the mobilities of exchange among both human and non-human agents. Varlik maintains that persistent plagues elicited new forms of cultural imagination and expression, as well as a new body of knowledge about the disease. In turn, this new consciousness sharpened the Ottoman administrative response to the plague, while contributing to the makings of an early modern state.


Part I. Plague: History and Historiography
1. A natural history of plague
2. Plague in Ottomanist and non-Ottomanist historiography
3. The Black Death and its aftermath (1347-1453)

Part II. Plague of Empire
4. The first phase (1453-1517): plague comes from the West
5. The second phase (1517-70): multiple plague trajectories
6. The third phase (1570-1600): Istanbul as plague hub

Part III. Empire of Plague
7. Plague transformed: changing perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes
8. The state of the plague: politics of bodies in the making of the Ottoman state


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Nükhet Varlik is Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of several articles and is currently editing a collection of essays entitled Plague and Contagion in the Islamic Mediterranean (forthcoming). She is the recipient of an NEH Fellowship by the American Research Institute in Turkey, a Senior Fellowship from Koc University's Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, and a Turkish Cultural Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.

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