May 1, 2024
5 maps, 16 figures, 3 tables
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$32.95 USD, £26.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Spies for the Sultan

Ottoman Intelligence in the Great Rivalry with Spain

Translated into English for the first time, this is a fascinating history of intelligence practices and their impact on great power rivalries in the early modern era

n the sixteenth century, an intense rivalry between the Ottoman Empire and the Spanish Habsburg Empire and its allies spurred the creation of early modern intelligence. Translated into English for the first time, Emrah Safa Gürkan's Spies for the Sultan reconstructs this history of Ottoman espionage, sabotage, and bribery practices in the Mediterranean world.

Then as now, collecting political, naval, military, and economic information was essential to staying one step ahead of your rivals. Porous and shifting borders, the ability to assume multiple identities, and variable allegiances made conditions in this era ripe for espionage around the Mediterranean. The Ottomans used networks of merchants, corsairs, soldiers, and other travelers to move among their enemies and report intelligence from points far and wide. The Ottoman sultans invested in the novel technologies of cryptography and stenography. Ottoman intelligence operatives not only collected information but also used disinformation, bribery, and sabotage to subvert their enemies.

This history of early modern intelligence is based on extraordinary archival research in Turkey, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Croatia, and it provides important insights into the origins of modern intelligence.

About the Authors

Emrah Safa Gürkan, a best-selling author in Turkey, a best-selling author in Turkey, is professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Istanbul 29 Mayis University and holds a doctorate in history from Georgetown University. Jonathan M. Ross is an assistant professor in the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. İdil Karacadağis is a freelance translator based in Istanbul whose work primarily focuses on contemporary Turkish literature.


"This much-anticipated book offers a treasure trove of historical evidence on the Ottoman Empire's espionage pursuits in the early modern period. Expertly written and beautifully translated, this is a must-read book for anyone interested in this relatively unknown yet fascinating facet of the history of early modern espionage in general and the Ottoman Empire in particular."—Ioanna Iordanou, Oxford Brookes University, UK

"Gürkan's meticulous reconstruction of Ottoman intelligence in the imperial contest with the Spanish Habsburgs is finally available to an international audience! Spies for the Sultan is essential reading for anyone interested in Ottoman-European relations and the history of intelligence—and a shining example of how to tackle these subjects."—Tobias P. Graf, Department of History, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

May 1, 2024
$32.95 USD

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