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Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley

(696 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ( née Pierrepont, 1689–1762), the daughter of an English aristocrat, was the author of a series of letters which, although they do not deal exclusively with the Ottoman Empire, are known as the “Turkish [Embassy] Letters.” They instantly became famous, particularly because of their first-hand descriptions of female Ottoman high society. Lady Mary wrote the letters during and after her stay in Istanbul, where she had accompanied her husband, Edward Wortley-Montagu, the British ambassador to the sultan’s court from 1716 to 1718. During her lif…

Picciotto, Joseph Elie Bey

(395 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert | Adam Guerin
Joseph Elie (bey) de Picciotto (1872–1938) was a civic activist, Jewish community leader, and philanthropist in Alexandria. A much-honored public figure, he received the title of bey from King Fuʾād I in 1920, and a year later was awarded the academic title of Officier de l’Instruction Publique by the French government      Born into an Alexandrian immigrant family originally from Aleppo, Picciotto worked in a trading firm for much of his youth. In 1896, he married Judith Curiel, daughter of the well-known banker Henri Curiel, and established his own trading business with help …


(2,362 words)

Author(s): Mohammed Kenbib | Maurits H. van den Boogert
1. Ottoman Empire“Protégé” is the imprecise term often found in Western diplomatic sources from the seventeenth century onwards to designate non-Muslim individuals who had an official connection to a European embassy or consulate in the Ottoman Empire that entitled them to some of the privileges codified in the Capitulations. In the nineteenth century, the term was also applied to groups, such as the Jews, after Great Britain proclaimed itself their protector throughout the Middle East.Original CategoriesStrictly speaking, the category of “protégé” was limited to dragomans (int…

Abulafia (Abū ʾl-ʿĀfiya), Ḥayyim Nissim ben Isaac

(218 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert
Born around the beginning of the nineteenth century, probably in Tiberias, Ḥayyim Nissim ben Isaac Abulafia (Abū ʾl-ʿĀfiya) died in Jerusalem on February 21, 1861. He was a descendant of Ḥayyim ben David Abulafia, who moved to Tiberias from Izmir at the invitation of al-Ḍāhir al-ʿUmar at the end of the 1730s. Ḥayyim Nissim followed in his ancestor’s footsteps by becoming the chief rabbi of Tiberias. On January 1, 1837, during his incumbency, the city was devastated by an earthquake. Ḥayyim Nissim, his wife, and his daughter, Sarah, aged three, survived the…

Interfaith Relations

(4,320 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman | Maurits H. van den Boogert
1.   Medieval PeriodIt would be anachronistic to think in contemporary post-Enlightenment terms of interfaith relations in the medieval Islamic world. The modern virtues of social, religious, and political equality would have been totally incomprehensible to anyone living in the Dār al-Islām (Domain of Islam)—or in Byzantium and Latin Christendom, for that matter. Muslims, Christians, and Jews all believed that they had been granted the most perfect of divine dispensations and, whether they had been given te…

Trading Network

(1,062 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert | Reeva Spector Simon
1. AleppanThe Jewish community in Aleppo consisted of Jews native to Syria (Mustaʿrabim), Sephardi Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, and Italian Jews, often referred to as “Francos,” who predominantly came from Livorno and Venice, and even when permanently settled in Syria generally retained their status as foreigners. The Francos engaged in trade with their cities of origin and also developed trading networks within Bilād al-Shām (Greater Syria). Members of prominent Aleppan mercantile families (such as the Picciotto family) also settled in Damascus, Jerusalem, and alon…

Farḥī Family

(541 words)

Author(s): Maurits H. van den Boogert
Of Sephardic origins, the Farḥī family produced a number of financiers, scholars, and intellectuals during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Originally from either Aleppo or Tyre, the family moved to Damascus over the course of the eighteenth century, and some of its members  in time dominated the provincial financial administration. In the nineteenth century, they extended their reach to the province of Sidon. Ḥayyim ben Saul Farḥī (d. 1820) was quite powerful; due to his connections in Istanbul and his ties to Sulaymān Pasha, the governor of Damascus from 1805 to 182…