A Source on Cultural Life of Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Crete


  • Μαρίνος Σαρηγιάννης




AFTER Crete was conquered by the Ottoman Empire during the long Cretan War (1645-1669), the Greek-speaking literati followed their Venetian overlords in abandoning the island, resulting thus in an abrupt stop to the rich literary tradition that had flourished theretofore. A large minority of the population converted to Islam, while the ruling administrative elite was for the most part constituted by Turkish-speaking officials, janissaries and judges sent from other parts of the Empire. The source studied here pertains to this elite, as it sheds light to its cultural pursuits and achievements; namely, I examine Osman Nuri Hanyevi’s “Biographies of Cretan poets” (Τezkere-i şu’arâ-yı cezîre-i Girid), written shortly after 1802 and preserved in two manuscripts, one of which (from Çorum, Turkey) has been recently published while the other is kept in Berlin. Osman Nuri narrates the life of 19 poets, most of whom were born or had lived in Crete (mostly Khania/Hanya, his native town). Among them one can find prominent figures of Ottoman Sufism, such as Salacızade Şeyh Mustafa Efendi; dissident dervishes and janissaries; low- and middle-rank ulema, such as müftis or provincial teachers; governors and their secretaries. Some of them clearly knew also Greek, as Osman Nuri himself did (he was also the author of a rhymed Turkish-Greek dictionnary). The text presents great interest for the cultural history of Ottoman Crete; it provides us with invaluable information on Sufi networks, local town conscience and life, multilinguism in Cretan towns, and of course the cultural life of the island during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Author Biography

Μαρίνος Σαρηγιάννης

Ινστιτούτο Μεσογειακών Σπουδών/Ι.Τ.Ε.



How to Cite

Σαρηγιάννης Μ. (2007). A Source on Cultural Life of Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Crete. Ariadne, 13, 79–99. https://doi.org/10.26248/ariadne.v13i0.945




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