Özden Mercan

Özden Mercan

Melville J Kahn Fellow
Accommodating Foreigners in Early Modern Mediterranean: Merchants, Migration, and Transfer of Technologies between Tuscany and the Ottoman Empire
Özden Mercan


Özden Mercan received her PhD from the European University Institute in 2017. She held positions as Instructor in History at Bilkent University (2016-2018) and TÜBİTAK Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the European University Institute (2018-2019). Most recently, she was a fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University (2019-2020). Her most recent publications include “A Struggle for Survival: Genoese Diplomacy with the Sublime Porte in the Face of Spanish and French Opposition” in the Journal of Early Modern History (2019) and “A diplomacy woven with textiles: Medici-Ottoman relations during the late Renaissance” in the Mediterranean Historical Review (2020).


Project Summary

This project focuses on the Ottoman communities in Tuscany in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With a growing desire to expand into the Ottoman textile market, the Medici rulers went to a great effort during this period to attract merchants and artisans from the Ottoman Empire to the grand ducal free port of Livorno and to Pisa, which was then a center of textile production. Drawing on a variety of archival sources, this project will examine the Ottoman presence in these Tuscan port cities, looking specifically at the profile of the Ottoman settlers (coming from such different backgrounds as Jewish, Greek, Armenian, and Muslim) to Tuscany, their motives/reasons for migrating, their adaptation to this new environment, and their living conditions in Tuscany. In addition, it will investigate the role of these migrants in the flow of trade, in the diffusion of information and technical know-how with regards to new technologies in textile production and other industries between east and west.