Paolo Giovio, Giovanni Botero, and Islamic Otherness at the End of the Italian Renaissance
Marco Demichelis has been Marie Curie Research Fellow (IF 2016) and Senior Research Fellow in Islamic Studies and History of the Middle East in the Institute of Culture and Research at the University of Navarra (2019-2021). He conducted doctoral and post-doctoral research in Islamic Kalam (speculative Theology), and Muslim Eschatology while his MSCA project investigated the process of canonization of violence in Early Islam. His focus, predominantly centered on the Christian-Islamic dimension, allowed him to work on pre-modern era as more contemporary subjects. During his post-doctoral fellowship at the Catholic University of Milan (2013-2016), he was Visiting Fellow at the McMillan enter of the University of Yale (2014).
The image and the understanding of the Other in a Christian-Islamic dimension during the Renaissance changed between the 14th and 16th centuries. The peculiar religious zeal about Islam of authors as Juan of Segovia (d. 1458) and Nicholas of Cusa (d. 1464) seems to partially disappear in the later more secular humanists’ approach. In 1531, Paolo Giovio (Florence, d. 1552), an Italian bishop and historian, published the Commentario delle cose dei Turchi, a diplomatic, military, and historical report. Sixty years later, in 1598, Giovanni Botero (Turin, d. 1617) published a chapter of his Relazioni Universali in which he worked on the Relazione del Mare. Both, stressed the importance of the Mediterranean, the dynamic of commercial exchanges and convivencia. Botero, in particular, argues for the first time that Constantinople/Istanbul was a European city which, thanks to trade with Alexandria, Trebizond, Tunis, but also Venice, Genoa, Naples, Barcelona etc. allowed Europeans and Ottomans to dominate in this mare nostrum. Through a specific analysis of parts of these texts it is relevant to consider in which way Giovio and Botero anticipated by decades the European visio of the “Islamic-Turkish Tolerance” in sharp antithesis with the European religious fundamentalism which reigned in the continent since the end of the 16th century.