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Brokering EmpireTrans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul$
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E. Natalie Rothman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449079

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449079.001.0001

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Making Venetian Dragomans

Making Venetian Dragomans

(p.165) 5 Making Venetian Dragomans
Brokering Empire

E. Natalie Rothman

Cornell University Press

The chapter examines the emergence of the office of the dragomans, first in the Venetian bailo’s house in Istanbul and then in Venice. Public Dragomans were official interpreters employed by the Venetian Board of Trade to assist Ottoman subjects while sojourning in Venice. The chapter follows the trans-imperial trajectories of all holders of this office over the first 150 years of its existence. It considers how they merged the practices of self-representation and engaging officialdom that typified metropolitan Venetian elites with ones developed by dragomans in Istanbul at around the same time. A close reading of dragomans’ petitions and the official responses to them reveals the recruitment, training, and employment of this cadre and shows how this underscores the inherent tension between loyalty and transcultural competence in Venetian dragomans’ careers.

Keywords:   Public Dragomans, Istanbul, Venice, Venetian Board of Trade, Ottoman Empire, transcultural competence

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