Moukarzel, Treaties between Mamluk sultans and Venetian doges

The customs adopted in treaties concluded between Mamluk sultans and Venetian doges (13th-15th centuries)

Pierre Moukarzel (Lebanese University)

Egypt and Syria played a leading role in the politico-military, religious and commercial preoccupations of numerous European powers at the end of the Middle Ages, the Venetians in particular. To develop business and to provide the most favorable conditions to the growth of commerce, Venice concluded treaties with the sultans and obtained privileges for its nationals. There was a sophisticated protocol followed in the form and style of written texts exchanged between the European rulers and the sultans. Diplomatic style had its own peculiarities in which phrases, sentences and words were selected to show the grandiosity of the rulers and express their mutual respect. The translated texts preserved in the Venetian archives and the Arab chancellery’s books provide plentiful materials and important information about the writing style, the method of translation that was adopted, vocabulary and orthographic variants, and the chancellery language adopted in diplomacy with Europe and its development from the thirteenth century till the fifteenth century.

In my presentation, I analyze the customs adopted in the treaties concluded between Venice and the sultans: the repartition of the treaty’s parts, the writing of clauses and their classification, the series of titles used in presenting the sultan and the Venetian Doge, the recognition of fellow nobility and religious prestige of the European rulers, and the use of Arabic words and expressions in the Latin and Italian versions of the treaties.