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Conquerors by the Sea: The Ottoman Naval Advance in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Last Decades of the Mamluk Sultanate (1480-1517)
The current contribution aims to show the underlying structures of the naval advance of the Ottomans towards the Mamluk Sultanate starting from the second half of the fifteenth century. It will show that the naval policy of the Ottomans represented a key element for the Mamluk downfall. Something which has not been dealt with extensively so far. After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 the Ottomans started a new naval program which aimed to take hold of the whole Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. This was helped by the fact that the Ottoman had managed to push out the Italian seafaring nations from the Black Sea and its resources. This did put pressure on the Mamluk Sultanate as well since the Mamluks relied on the importation of new military slaves from the Black Sea region. Additionally, the Mamluks had concluded several treaties with the Venetians to provide the naval defense of the Mamluk shores. However, the Venetians suffered tremendous losses against the Ottomans and had to concede an unfavorable treaty in 1503. The Mamluks did then increasingly loose access to eastern Anatolia because their supply routes were threatened by Ottoman naval incursions. To make matters worse, the Portuguese suddenly threatened Mecca and Medina from the Red Sea. And although the Mamluks knew about the long-term Ottoman goal to attack them they asked them for naval help against the Portuguese which finally contributed to their own downfall in 1516/17. The current contribution will for the first time explore this intertwined naval complex between Ottomans, Venetians, and Mamluks in the Eastern Mediterranean and show the strategies and counter-strategies of the parties involved. The contribution will use Ottoman and Mamluk historiographical sources like Ibn Iyas or Saadadin Effendi. It will also look at the treatises of Şehzade Korkut, the brother and rival of Sultan Selim, who had been active in anti-Mamluk seafaring as governor of Teke but deflected to the Mamluks for a short period in 1509 before returning home and being executed by his brother. These writings shall be complemented by European contemporary sources, especially the Diarii of Marino Sanuto which provide a Venetian view on the Ottoman-Mamluk naval encounters.
Geographic Area
The Levant
Sub Area