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Ashkenazi, Solomon

(440 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Arbel
Solomon Ashkenazi, the son of Nathan Ashkenazi, was born around 1520 in the Italian town of Udine and studied medicine at the University of Padua. In the 1550s he was in Kraków, and around the mid-1560s he settled in Istanbul, where he soon became the personal physician of the Venetian bailo (diplomatic representative), then the official physician of the Venetian “nation” in Istanbul, and ultimately physician of Mehmet Sokollu, the grand vizier. Recognizing Ashkenazi’s great ability, Sokollu used him as an adviser on international affairs. Ashkenazi was particularly hel…

Passi, David

(330 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Arbel
David Passi was a Jewish businessman, presumably of Portuguese origin, who was active as a secret agent and political councilor in the eastern Mediterranean between the late 1560s and the mid-1590s. In 1569 he was in Ragusa, wherefrom he sent intelligence to Venice concerning Ottoman political and military intentions. During the war between Venice and the Ottomans (1571–1573) he acted as a Venetian agent in Ragusa, providing intelligence on Ottoman affairs. After the conclusion of the war, Passi must have spent several years in Venice before moving on to Istanbul. …

Nicolay, Nicolas de

(298 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Arbel
Nicolas de Nicolay was born in Dauphiné in 1517 and was educated in Lyons. He traveled extensively, served as a soldier and a spy, and excelled as a cartographer. In 1551, he joined the second expedition sent by King Henry II of France to the Ottoman Empire, headed by Gabriel d’Aramon. On his return from the Levant he was appointed “Géographe et valet de chambre du roi.” In 1565 he was charged by Catherine de’ Medici, Henry’s widow, to prepare a description of the provinces of the French kingdom. He died in Paris in 1585. Nicolay’s Quatres premiers livres des navigations (only the first volume…