Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713

Gerald MacLean, Nabil Matar

Research output: Book/ReportBook

57 Scopus citations


What did early-modern Britons know about Muslim peoples and societies, Islam as a theology, and Islamic lands? This book explores interactions between Britain and the Islamic world from 1558 to 1713, showing how scholars, diplomats, traders, captives, travellers, clerics, and chroniclers developed and described those interactions. Queen Elizabeth I initiated diplomatic and commercial relations with the Islamic world. The early trading Companies received her royal charter, taking Britons to Islamic states in North Africa and the Islamic empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals. We end with the Peace of Utrecht of 1713, by which time the British had become masters of the sea routes that made future empire possible. During this period Britons met Muslims for the first time since the Crusades and re-examined their understanding of Islam. These encounters brought about changes in British national identity and Britain's international role. This book illustrates the wide range of interactions and exposures, sources and texts, people and objects, that were instrumental in that process. It examines Islam and Muslims in English thought, and how British monarchs dealt with supremely powerful Muslim rulers. It documents the importance of diplomatic and mercantile encounters, and shows how captives spread unreliable information about Islam and Muslims. It investigates observations by travellers and clergymen who reported meetings with Jews, eastern Christians, Armenians and Shi'ites. And it traces how trade and the exchange of material goods with the Islamic world shaped how people in Britain lived their lives and thought about themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages352
ISBN (Electronic)9780191728433
ISBN (Print)9780199203185
StatePublished - Sep 22 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Gerald MacLean and Nabil Matar 2011. All rights reserved.


  • Barbary
  • Britain
  • Diplomacy
  • Empire
  • Islam
  • Mughal
  • Muslims
  • Ottoman
  • Safavid
  • Trade


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