ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Ömer Gezer

Hacettepe Unıversıty, Faculty of Letters, Department of History, Ankara/TÜRKİYE

Keywords: Yirmisekiz Çelebi Mehmed Efendi, Ottoman Diplomacy, Tulip Period, Ottoman-French relations, Nevşehirli İbrahim Pasha, Marquis de Bonnac, Joseph Von Dirling


This article focuses on the embassy of Yirmisekiz Çelebi Mehmed Efendi to France. Until now, this embassy has been analyzed by detaching it from its historical context under the influence of the paradigm of modernization in Ottoman historiography, and Yirmisekiz Çelebi has been given a unique place in the history of Ottoman/ Turkish modernization. Accordingly, Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha, the reformist Grand Vizier of the “Tulip Period”, sent Yirmisekiz Çelebi to France to study Western civilization and bring him reform proposals. Despite academic publications showing that this claim has no basis, historians have not abandoned this fallacy. However, contemporary sources, both Ottoman and European, provide a wealth of information on the embassy of Yirmisekiz Çelebi Mehmed Efendi. Considered extraordinary by his contemporaries given Ottoman diplomatic practices, it attracted the attention not only of Marquis de Bonnac but also of Joseph von Dirling, the Habsburg resident in Istanbul, and Abraham Stanyan, the British ambassador. In particular, Dirling and later the Habsburg ambassador in Paris, Pentenriedter, reported to Vienna the aims of this embassy and the activities of Yirmisekiz Çelebi in Paris and in Istanbul after his return from France. Although initially there were fears of an anti-Habsburg alliance between the Sublime Porte and Versailles, in the end, the negotiations for the rescue of the Ottoman prisoners in Malta through the intermediation of France proved to be the sole political mission of this embassy. The correspondence between the Sultan and his Grand Vizier and the records of Imperial Historian Raşid Efendi confirm the Habsburg and British intelligence on this matter: Yirmisekiz Çelebi’s embassy to France was only intended to follow diplomatic developments in Europe on the ground. However, the institutional incompetence of Ottoman diplomacy rendered this mission politically and diplomatically fruitless.