A Dutch Traveller in Turkey: Cornelis de Bruyn and his Observations
Keywords: Dutch Traveller, Turkey, Cornelis de Bruyn
Cornelis de Bruyn, a Dutch artist and traveller, set out on a long journey in the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from July 1678 to October 1680 and covered Turkey, the Aegean islands, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Cyprus. At the outset, it would seem that this journey was prompted by no other motive than by a historical and cultural curiosity and interest. Yet, when one takes a careful look at the detailed account of the observations and descriptions, which make up the contents of De Bruyn's Reizen van Cornelis de Bruyn, door de vermaardste Deelen van Klein Azie published in 1698, and also when one takes into account the fact that, in the political conflicts of his time within the Dutch Republic, De Bruyn fanatically supported the Prince of Orange William III, the Stadholder of Holland, it may be suggested that one implicit other motive for the journey would be the gathering and reporting of intelligence by closely watching and understanding the Ottoman Empire in all respects. Indeed, European orientalism, which, whether inspired by a humanistic purpose or motivated by a political and strategical one, and which, with the main focus on Turkey, began to arise in the sixteenth century and continued increasingly throughout the seventeenth century, had this motive as one of its aspects. The travels made by the Europeans during these centuries in Turkey and other parts of the Ottoman Empire were essentially concerned with a close watch and full understanding of the Ottoman and/or Turkish social life, religion, culture, institutions, history, politics, courtly life, trade, economy, geography, flora, fauna, and so forth. Similarly, De Bruyn's account of his travels also contains his observations and comments concerning every aspect of the Ottoman Empire. Hence, this article mainly focuses on some of the observations and points of view, that are reflected through his descriptions of İzmir and İstanbul.