By Philip Mansel

Levant is a ebook of towns. It describes 3 former facilities of serious wealth, excitement, and freedom—Smyrna, Alexandria, and Beirut—cities of the Levant quarter alongside the jap coast of the Mediterranean. In those key ports on the crossroads of East and West, opposed to all expectancies, cosmopolitanism and nationalism flourished at the same time. humans freely switched identities and languages, published from the prisons of faith and nationality. Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived and worshipped as neighbors.Distinguished historian Philip Mansel is the 1st to recount the colourful, contradictory histories of Smyrna, Alexandria, and Beirut within the smooth age. He starts within the early days of the French alliance with the Ottoman Empire within the 16th century and maintains in the course of the towns' mid-twentieth-century fates: Smyrna burned; Alexandria Egyptianized; Beirut lacerated through civil war.Mansel appears to be like again to parent what those outstanding Levantine towns have been like, how they differed from different towns, why they shone forth as cultural beacons. He additionally embarks on a quest: to find no matter if, as usually claimed, those towns have been really cosmopolitan, owning the elixir of coexistence among Muslims, Christians, and Jews for which the area yearns. Or, lower than the glittering floor, have been they volcanoes ready to erupt, because the catastrophes of the 20 th century recommend? within the pages of the previous, Mansel unearths very important messages for the fractured international of at the present time.

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If someone hits a gavur [a Turkish word for non-Muslim], everyone immediately surrounds him and takes him and brings him to the consular judge or the keffires [unbelievers]  ïš³ïš�  :      execute him. ’69 Malta – home of the Knights of St John, whose duty and trade was to raid Muslim (and sometimes Christian) shipping throughout the Levant – was a synonym of horror for Muslims, owing to the thousands of Muslim slaves it contained. 70 Consuls were the key power-brokers in the Levant.

Smyrna’s trade linked it more closely to Europe than to the Empire  ïš³ïš�  :      itself. With France Smyrna’s trade was valued at 20 million livres; with Constantinople at 7 million. 122 Some merchants who arrived in Smyrna from France and the Netherlands in the eighteenth century still have descendants trading there today, such as the Guys, Pagy, Giraud and Keun families. The many branches of the Giraud family descend from Jean-Baptiste Giraud. He arrived from Antibes in 1780, married Hélène, daughter of the last Venetian consul, Luigi Cortazzi, in 1787,123 and himself – by inheritance from his father-in-law, since Austria had annexed Venice – became Austrian consul.

Even rabbis believed the Sultan would abdicate in Sabbatai’s favour. Master of the Jewish community of Smyrna, he abolished fasts and declared his two brothers kings of Judah and Israel and emperors of Rome and Turkey respectively. Synagogues began to pray not for the Sultan but for ‘the King of Kings, the Sultan Sabbatai Sevi’. He was sexually as well as politically liberating. 63 Accusations – not entirely unfounded – that his followers practised free love, or ritual wife-swapping, continued down to the twentieth century.

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