The author and diplomat Sir Paul Rycaut (1629-1700) was the leading authority of his day on the Ottoman Empire. This biographical study draws on a wide range of source material to reconstruct for the first time his varied literary and official career. It also provides a lively account of the English community at Smyrna during the eleven years of his consulship there. Rycaut's seventeen years in Turkey were followed by a brief spell as chief
secretary in Ireland under James II, and eleven years as British resident at the Hanse Towns for William and Mary. The main focus of the book, however, is on his consulship at Smyrna, the most important
centre of English trade in the eastern Mediterranean. Sonia Anderson explores the social backgrounds and varying fortunes of the resident merchants, factory officials, and visiting sea-captains, and examines the economic reasons for the success of this outpost of Restoration enterprise.
`... presents a wealth of new and useful information ... thoroughly researched and subtly argued work bursting with facts that support not only her principal arguments and conclusions, but supply grist for the mill of researchers with different interpretive bents. ...she has created something of lasting value.'
Turkish Studies Association Bulletin
`... richly-documented and scrupulously written study illuminates not only Rycaut's eleven years as consul at Smyrna, but brilliantly recreates in closely-observed detail the kaleidoscopic Levantine society of English - and French and Dutch - merchants, ingratiating dragomans, complacent or occasionally venal Ottoman officials, and visiting learned gentlemen from England, in which Rycaut spent his most productive years. ... her mastery of the unpublished
British archival sources ...'
Colin Heywood, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland
`Archivist Sonia Anderson and Paul Rycaut, the subject of her biography, have much in common as writers. Both have treated their readers to a rich multi-dimensional picture of the seventeenth-century Levant world. Anderson, like the envoy she describes, writes about the diplomatic, social, and commercial community of Smyrna in meticulous detail ... she has connected Rycaut and the Levant merchants to their social, economic, and political environment. In
doing so, she has also shed new light on the way in which trading companies linked seventeenth-century England to the Ottoman Empire and the wider world.
'an extremely well researched and well written book which gives us a wealth of information on the commercial and social history of Smyrna ... an important book.'
Journal of the Society of Archivists
'richly-documented and scrupulously written study'
Colin Heywood, University of London, Proceedings, Vol. XXV No.2 (1990)
'admirable book ... The author gives us much more than a biography. Exploiting a remarkably wide range of archival material, public and private, local and national, she has followed up every line radiating from Rycaut's consulship. He well deserved a sympathetic, rounded and definitive study; and the author has done him proud.'
V.L. Ménage, SOAS Bulleting, Vol. LIV, Part 1
`certainly a book which does justice to its remarkable subject ... Anderson's monograph, based on much patient and careful research, provides an engaging and well-written introduction to the worlds of commerce, politics, and scholarship in later seventeenth-century England and the Ottoman Empire ... It carries its scholarship very lightly and contains numerous memorable "vignettes".'
International History Review
`admirable book ... The author gives us much more than a biography. Exploiting a remarkably wide range of archival material, public and private, local and national, she has followed up every line radiating from Rycaut's consulship, pithily describing the foreign colonies at Smyrna and their fortunes and social life during his time there ... He well deserved a sympathetic, rounded and definitive study: and the author has done him proud.'
`the evidence of this deeply researched book is that Rycaut truly deserved his excellent reputation as an official and author.'
American Historical Review
'Miss Anderson's book is extremely well-researched ... it is also well-written, informative without being too dry, and full of good sense and even good humour'
I. Metin Kunt, University of Cambridge, EHR, Jan '91
'Anderson's book is a most welcome addition to our knowledge of mid-seventeenth-century events. Economic and political historians will find much value in it ... it provides a wealth of food for thought for intellectual historians as well. The book has a very useful list of editions of Rycaut's writings.'
Richard H. Popkin, University of California, Los Angeles, Mediterranean Historical Review, Vol. 7, No. 1, June '92