Commercial and political relations between the Ottomans and the English began in the second half of the 16th century.
In 1570, Elizabeth I was in a bind. She had been excommunicated by the Pope, and her country was shunned by the rest of Europe. To avoid ruin, England needed allies. The queen sought help from a surprising source: the Islamic world.
Throughout the medieval period, ‘Islamdom’ had stood at the doorstep of Europe. After the Reconquista of Spain, the Ottoman Turks presented the greatest external threat to Christian hegemony. For this reason, the view is often assumed that sixteenth century Christians ,The Papacy, the Emperor, and Protestant theologians had nothing positive to say about Islamdom or Muslims.
In light of this, the attempted alliance between Queen Elizabeth and Sultan Murad III, though mutually beneficial, would have been unusual to say the least. The first step in such a direction would necessitate a rhetorical rapprochement if there were to be any political deals between Christian Europeans and Ottoman Muslims. By the 1580s, when it became clear that England was leaving the Catholic Church once and for all, it became incumbent on Queen Elizabeth to find ways of reaching out to Sultan Murad III. This paper explains that, despite the anti–Islamic rhetoric of the early Protestant reformers, the English and Ottoman sovereigns were able to become commercial and political partners specifically because of England’s Protestant political identity, trade practices, and beliefs.