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Journal: Golden Horde Review (Vol.5, No. 3)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 612-628

Keywords : Crimea; Francesco Algarotti; Crimean khanate; Russian Empire; Russo-Turkish War of 1735–1739; imagined geographies; Enlightenment;

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Research objectives: This paper analysis the account of Crimea's situation in the second quarter of the eighteenth century, collected by a famous Italian scholar and traveller, Francesco Algarotti. Research materials: Algarotti's book of “Russian Travels” (or “An Essay of Russia in Letters”) supplies this account in relation to the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–1739. Algarotti's work is a valuable, albeit poorly studied, source on the history of the Crimean Khanate and imaginary geographies of the Crimean Peninsula. Research novelty and results: The Italian scholar collected information from writings of European travellers and armchair researchers, and also used the results of his communication to Russian military and civil officers during his visit to Saint Petersburg in 1739. Apart from the description of military operations, the sources supply various data regarding the political and economic geography of the Crimean Khanate, and details regarding Crimean Tatar ethnography and military tradition. Algarotti's book was popular among his contemporaries, and thus is interesting both as a source of factual information and as a reflection of notions rooted in public consciousness. The author appears to hold an ideology typical of the Europeans in the Age of the Enlightenment, filled with stereotypes and the typical apprehension of Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Crimean Tatars. The Italians understood Crimea as a borderland between the “civilization” and “barbarism,” a key point in the struggle between Christian Europe and the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Potentially the most important power in Europe, which saw its mission to push forward reforms inspired by Enlightenment ideas, Russia directed its interests precisely at Crimea. Algarotti viewed the victory over Crimea, and the successive expulsion of the Ottomans from Europe, in a positive light as Russia's historical mission. Generally, the Italian author's book presents us with a sample of notions of Crimea which existed in Western Europe in the Age of the Enlightenment.

Last modified: 2018-01-30 17:56:54