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Taking Tounge: Espionage and Intelligence in Sixteenth Century Mediterranean

Dr. Emrah Safa GĂĽrkan
Date&Time: 29.11.2017, Wednesday, 12.40
Room: A130

This lecture will deal with historical roots of espionage and intelligence. Sharing the results of research on a number of archives and manuscript libraries in Istanbul, Madrid, Paris, Valladolid, Venice, Florence, Genoa and Malta, it will focus on sixteenth century Mediterranean where two empires, the Ottomans and the Habsburgs, engaged in a long and costly war. The time period under scrutiny is not randomly chosen: it witnessed the emergence of administrative-bureaucratic structures that would soon evolve into the modern state, the establishment of resident embassies that intensified not only diplomatic relations but also exchange of information between capitals, and, finally, key developments in cryptology, steganography, archival tradition and record-keeping that allowed complex intelligence methods.
First, the lecture will analyze efforts of institutionalization and standardization by nascent central bureaucracies, hard pressed by new financial responsibilities imposed by the military revolution. Second, by focusing on specific intelligence gathering missions and clandestine operations, it will demonstrate the methods and strategies by which early modern agents 1) moved across civilizational boundaries and traveled between Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe and 2) gained access to privileged circuits of information and transmitted intelligence to the relevant authorities safely and in a timely manner. Finally, it will concentrate on the insatiable thirst for information and news that characterized the century, a development that not only convinced decision-makers to spend money on espionage, but also paved the way for newsletters, newspapers and epistolary networks.