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The Persian MirrorReflections of the Safavid Empire in Early Modern France$
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Susan Mokhberi

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190884796

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190884796.001.0001

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Missionaries, Travelers, and the Case of Jean Chardin

Missionaries, Travelers, and the Case of Jean Chardin

(p.8) 1 Missionaries, Travelers, and the Case of Jean Chardin
The Persian Mirror

Susan Mokhberi

Oxford University Press

Missionaries and travelers presented the earliest representations of Persia. Missionaries imagined the Safavid Shiite state as open to conversion to Christianity and an ally against the Sunni Ottomans. Through Catholic writings, Frenchmen absorbed literature that portrayed Persia as tolerant and friendly to Europeans. French contacts with Persia increased under the patronage of Louis XIV’s finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Some of these travelers drew connections between the two monarchies. One of the most famous French travelers to Persia, Jean Chardin, depicted the Persian royal court as a model of comparison for the French. He not only described Persia to Frenchmen but also used it as a means to instruct and reflect upon French political and social institutions.

Keywords:   French missionaries in Persia, Safavid Empire, Shah Abbas, French-Persian relations, Jean Chardin, Shah Suleiman, travelers to Persia

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