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

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  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108412773
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About the Authors
  • 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 travelers' accounts, as well as recent scientific research, Nükhet 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. The book 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.

    • 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
    Read more


    • Winner, 2016 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "… a book that tackles and raises major questions about Ottoman history and the hitherto under-studied subject of disease. Much as the subject of plague has been ascribed great importance within the historiography of medieval and early modern Europe, Varlik demonstrates that plague in the Eastern Mediterranean merits consideration as the focal point in the study of the Ottoman Empire and its capital in Istanbul … Whether continuing the study of diseases and their relationship with a transformation polity or exploring how cats became cuddly co-agents in an Ottoman reaction to repeated epidemics, Ottomanist scholars will return to Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World as an important source of new questions in the years to come."
    Chris Gratien, The Journal of Ottoman Studies

    'The significant contribution of Nükhet Varlık’s monograph is that it places the Ottoman empire in the context of world plague history rather than treating it as an isolated, Islamic site of plague phenomena. … I expect this excellent, ambitious and original scholarly work to have a significant impact on the fields of Ottoman history and plague studies. It fits into a new wave of innovative Ottomanist scholarship that takes questions of disease and environment and makes them central to the study of empire.' Palmira Brummett, The English Historical Review

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    Customer reviews

    10th Mar 2015 by User09150202120255

    Very good book in the study of the Ottoman Empire , and I hope that illustrates the impact of the plague on the political relations between Europe and the Ottoman Empire khaled Wahsh from Egypt

    Review was not posted due to profanity


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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108412773
    • length: 354 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 154 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 5 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    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

  • Author

    Nükhet Varlik, Rutgers University, New Jersey
    Nükhet Varlik is Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the recipient of an NEH Fellowship by the American Research Institute in Turkey, a Senior Fellowship from Koç University's Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, and a Turkish Cultural Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.


    • Winner, 2016 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association
    • Winner, 2016 M. Fuat Köprülü Book Prize, The Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
    • Winner, 2017 Dionisius A. Agius Prize, Society for the Medieval Mediterranean

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