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The Sultan’s RenegadesChristian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575-1610$
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Tobias P. Graf

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198791430.001.0001

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‘Turning Turk’, Becoming anOttoman Muslim

‘Turning Turk’, Becoming anOttoman Muslim

(p.59) 2 ‘Turning Turk’, Becoming anOttoman Muslim
The Sultan’s Renegades

Tobias P. Graf

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how Christian Europeans found themselves in situations in which conversion to Islam became an option and how such conversions were performed. In the early modern context, change of faith was generally not merely a spiritual matter, but encompassed a wide-ranging social and cultural transformation. Although in many ways misleading to modern minds, expressions such as to turn Turk used by Christian-European commentators aptly capture the extent of this transformation which should be seen as a process of Ottomanization. Its most visible manifestation was the change in the converts’ outward appearance stemming from a change in the style of clothes and headgear. Like circumcision in the case of most male converts, this change served as a marker of the convert’s new religious, political, and legal status as a Muslim subject of the Ottoman sultan and, in the cases investigated in this book, members of the Ottoman military-administrative elite.

Keywords:   conversion to Islam, religious and cultural transformation, materiality of religious conversion, circumcision, ritual, naming patterns, captivity in the Ottoman Empire, migration to the Ottoman Empire, conversion in Ottoman and Islamic law and jurisprudence, clothing

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