Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mapping the Ottoman-Hungarian Frontier: Topographical Views

“…and the city became a venue for the rituals of Islam” :
Mapping the Ottoman-Hungarian Frontier in Sixteenth-Century Topographical Views

This blog post derives from my research for two separate seminars: one with a Professor Tarek Kahlaoui of the Art History department at Rutgers titled The Islamic City (Fall 2009) and one with Professor David Hughes of the Anthropology department at Rutgers titled Frontiers: The Ethnography of Landscape (Spring 2011).

            "Then the castle of Budun[1] was transferred to the Mighty Padishah; 
the ezan reverberated from the minarets to the heavens, 
the banners of victory were hoisted onto the bastions, 
and the city became a venue for the rituals of Islam."[2]

figure 1 (chart Szk 2)
Manuscript illumination depicting the taking of Székesfehérvár, 1587-1588, Istanbul, Szeyyid Lokman, from the Hunername, preserved in the Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul (Catalog #:  Hazine 1524), folio 268r

In his poignant description of the taking of the city of Buda in 1541, the Ottoman chronicler Ferdi narrates an important shift of in the imperial boundary between the Empire and the “Other” as one encompassed in the call to prayer from newly christened minarets, the hoisting of flags onto military structures, and the general practice of Islamic rituals. These visual tropes are echoed in depictions of newly conquered cities from sources on all sides of the conflict. One example can be found in a manuscript illumination of Székésfehérvár from 1587-1588 in Szeyyid Lokman’s Hunername, (figure 1).  In the foreground, a man scurries along with a sack slung over his shoulder, while others go about their business by the siege tents set up outside the city fortifications. Within the walls, Ottoman soldiers weave through the urban landscape of stylized buildings. Three figures raise flags atop the highest bastions.  The finials of the churches still retain their crosses, yet the local Catholic population is completely absent from the scene.  One turbaned man in a long caftan stands with his legs hidden behind the roofed nave of the largest church, holding his hands up to his mouth in a gesture of amplified vocalization, the universally recognized symbol of the call for prayer.  The cluttered array of buildings, barely contained within the city walls, betray the artist’s disregard for topographical and geographical factualness in his narration of the shifting border. Instead, the manuscript illumination inscribes auditory, visual, and spiritual reconfigurations onto the urban landscape to give it new meaning; remapping conceptual and physical space through highly symbolic actions.
 It is this mapping and remapping this post seeks to examine, by looking at a sixteenth-century phenomenon of visual culture to observe patterns of spatial reconfiguration following the political “conquering” or “taking” of a designated site along the most illustrated and most volatile border in sixteenth-century Europe: the Ottoman-Hungarian frontier zone.  The localized views of specific cities, towns, and fortresses offer more detailed and intimate understandings of this shifting border than the handful of regional maps from the period, which have been addressed elsewhere.[3] I seek here to establish a typology of conceptualization: narrative, cityscape, and plan. 

Sixteenth-century Visual Material
The visual materials, loosely labeled as maps, are the products of a turbulent political and social climate, produced and consumed by various populations of locals, Habsburgs, and Ottoman Turks.  As they collided on the battlefield and in the city streets, illustrators, engravers, map makers, and amateurs sought to visualize the exchange in unique ways. These works do not predate the gradual development of scientific cartography, though they were created separately from the handful of regional cartographic representations of the same period.  Are they maps? The definition of a “map” is complicated and making a distinction between map and not-map is nearly impossible. Their utility for navigational purposes may be lacking, but they locate human actions in space like other utilitarian maps. Yet at the same time they differ greatly from our traditional understanding, because their primary purpose is often to tell a story rather than to present facts. This question brings up issues between etic and emic understandings of maps and the semiotic problem of map–territory relationships. After all, a map can be a guide to mental territories as well as physical ones.
                What follows is an unavoidably incomplete summary of those sources created between 1526 and 1605, when the Ottoman Empire’s expansion efforts in Central Europe were at their height.  It should be noted that equally interesting studies could be made of images from the Venetian-Ottoman frontier and the Ottoman Empire’s Eastern frontiers.[4] Late seventeenth century images of the decline of the Ottoman period in the region are also rich in number and content, however they are outside the scope of this paper because they are born out of a different political climate.
The group of images I describe as “narrative” maps are comprised of prints, drawings, and manuscript illuminations illustrating historical events within an identifiable geographic context, often with accompanying text.  In these works, representation of the surrounding environment comes secondary to the narrative component.  The spatial representation can then be exaggerated upon, stylized, or modified to further reinforce this narrative.  The content of the narrative components of these works overwhelmingly refers to military victories, defeats, and diplomatic negotiations. Many images were made in remote locations, with artists working from memory, sketches, literary descriptions, or pure imagination.
figure 2 (chart - B1)
The Siege of Buda or Ein ware Contrafactur oder verschohnus der Koniglichen Stat Ofen in Ungarn fr belegrung sampt dem begriffligen …, 1541, woodcut printed in Nuremberg, by Erhard Schön with text by Hans Sachs, commissioned by general Wilhelm von Roggendorf for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand,  individual print, Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Történelmi Képcsarnok, Budapest

Individual prints narrating sieges were produced as early as 1541 when the Ottomans laid siege to Buda with the intent of settling within the city. Commissioned by general Wilhelm von Roggendorf for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, Erhard-Schön’s massive woodcut represents just one example of this type (figure 2). Measuring 58 x 14.5 inches (1476×366 mm) the print includes a lengthy inscription written by Hans Sachs detailing an entirely fictional series of events surrounding the siege.[5] The original print exists in only one faded copy, though the woodblocks are preserved and a  limited number of reprints were created from them in the early twentieth century. Compositionally complex, the entire right half depicts a cluttered battlefield filled with pole arms and soldiers engaged in combat and marching towards the action. The city of Buda dominates the upper half of the left side of the print, with the city of Pest just across the Danube. Hundreds of minute details fill the landscape, including grazing camels, corpses sprawled out in the middle of meadows, groups of individuals huddled together engaging in social activities, men returning from a hunt, etc. Other examples of single sheet narrative prints from this early period include the works of Enea Vico and Giovanni Battista Maggi.
figure 3 (chart - E5)
The Siege of Esztergom or STRIGORIVM A CAESARIANIS OBSESSVM, ANNO CHR MCXC, 1595, printing location unknown, made for wide German and Latin speaking audience, made by Dominicus Custos, Matthiae Thalmano, a copy can be found in the Esztergom History Museum

The Fifteen Years War (1593-1606) ushered in a new genre of narrative city views printed on single large leaves of paper alongside more factual texts narrating the battle, known as broadsheets.  These could also be printed without accompanying text and serve “as a kind of topographical variation of the battle-scene genre that evolved in painting."[6]  Examples depicting the Ottoman wars in the Kingdom of Hungary include those made by Wening and Hallart, Caspar Minsich, Georg Keller, John Ruda, Dominicus Custos, and a number of unidentified engravers. Dominicus Custos’s rendering of the Siege of Esztergom includes a legend in German and Latin with thirty-three details identified through roman numerals (figure 3). Here too, the city of Esztergom itself is confined to a small fraction of the surface, with a majority of the landscape devoted to military camps and battlefields.
This category of narrative views also includes many Ottoman manuscript illuminations, like the taking of Székésfehérvár from Szeyyid Lokman’s Hunername (figure 1). Manuscripts such as these were highly prized unique objects produced for the highest officers of the imperial court, and more often than not, for the Sultan himself. Their contents ranged from individual chronicles of campaigns and grand historical narratives to books of advice for the sultans. Produced in the royal workshops of Constantinople,[7]  their commemorative nature lends the illuminator a certain amount of artistic license in exaggerating upon the landscape in order to serve the larger narrative.  For example, the city of Szigetvar is represented in a narrative context on at least twelve separate folios from Ottoman manuscripts. Its prominence is due to the importance of the Siege of Szigetvár, during which the long ruling Sultan Suleiman died of natural causes. In the sixteenth-century, the easily identifiable city was composed of three manmade island-fortresses with the largest island containing a moated inner castle. Each of the twelve images contains different conceptions of the urban space and its surrounding landscape. Even in one volume, such as the Nuzhat al-asrar al-akhbar dar safar-i Sigitvar, an unfinished manuscript begun in 1569 by Osman under the patronage of Ahmed Feridun Pasha, the three renderings of the landscape differ greatly. The landscape moves from stylized, orderly, and contained to destroyed and threateningly testing the boundaries of the page. Similar ranges of spatial representation are also present in the six renderings in the Süleymannâme  in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, and the Futuhat-I camila in the Topkapi Palace Library of Istanbul.
figure 4 (chart Szb1)
Siege of Sabacs, Manuscript illumination from the Tabakat ul-memalik Ve Derecat ul-mesalik, preserved in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Inventory number OsmHist 41), folio 38r, 1557, maker unknown, Ottoman Turkish speaking, location of production unknown (local copy?), original text written by Mustafa Celalzade

A small number of the surviving examples of narrative urban views from manuscripts are likely provincial productions, illuminated for the wealthiest officials by rural workshops in a simplified style. They are difficult to identify, rarely published, and usually copies of earlier works.  Such is the case with the  Tabakat ul-memalik Ve Derecat ul-mesalik; a historical work originally written by Mustafa Celalzade. It contains a series of simplified images with rivers, buildings, city walls, marching soldiers, and flags with a complete disregard for relaying any spatial facts (figure 4).
The Central European counterparts to these Ottoman chronicles are the historical works illustrated by Johann Sibmacher and Wilhelm Peter Zimmermann.[8] Sibmacher’s engravings appeared in the four-volume military history of the Austro-Hungarian region, the Chronologia, written by his brother-in-law, Hieronymus Ortelius (1543-1614).[9] Ortelius, a notary at the imperial court, provided detailed accounts of battles and sieges between the years 1395 -1602, with later editions extending to cover the history of the region through 1612.[10] The double-page plates show the fortifications of cities as they are besieged by the Turks Habsbirgs, or off mixtures of these groups. Some of these plates have since been removed from their contexts and are catalogued in collections as individual prints.[11] Wilhelm Peter Zimmermann‘s Eikonographia aller derer ungarischen Stätt, Vestungen, Castellen und Häusern[12] is similar in scale and topic, claiming to cover all of the Hungarian cities, fortresses, castles, and palaces.

                The second category of images are the cityscapes of the Ottoman-Hungarian frontier, created for printed books and illuminated manuscripts. A continuation of a fifteenth-century humanistic interest in collecting urban, social, and geographic entities of the world into one hand-held volume as a proto-ethnographic study,[13]  both European and Ottoman sources can be traced to similar precedents, though the exact routes of dissemination and influence are difficult, if not impossible, to follow. Two images of the city of Buda appear in the Civitates Orbis Terrarum, published in Cologne in 1572 under the direction of Georgeus Braun and principally engraved by Franz Hogenberg.  The publication, released in six volumes, eventually included 546 views of cities from around the world accompanied by short textual accounts of their history, state of affairs, and economy.[14]  These armchair traveler’s compendiums were not the only humanistic exercises to utilize city views from the Ottoman-Hungarian frontier.  A number of historical works appeared in the late sixteenth century that used city views as illustrative tools to accompany a narrative providing detailed background on the history of rulers, events, and populations. It is interesting to note that with these works, even though they accompanied a narrative, the images offer no narrative of their own, and are simply representations of the city. Those historical texts which are illustrated with city views appearing in the appendix are Joannes Leunclavius’ Neuwe Chronica Türkischer nation from 1590,[15] Wilhelm Dilich’s Ungarische Chronica from 1600,[16] and Hieronymus Ortelius’s Chronologia Ortelius from 1604,[17] Sebastian Münster’s 1544 Cosmographia Universale  has similarities to the projects listed above, except its scope and range of topics and regions covered is far more expansive.
                Rather than an exercise in humanism, the city views from the Leiden sketchbook offer a unique and personal glimpse into the frontier zone through a visual narrative of the Ottomanization process along the well traveled trade and diplomatic route between Vienna and Constantinople in 1577. The sketchbook’s 26 town views visually chronicle a traveler’s real life journey along the road through a series of panoramic landscapes. The fascinating volume has attracted little scholarly attention in the past,[18] yet it is remarkable for its detail. Of the four Hungarian towns depicted, Buda is the only published image (figure 11). Heavy dark lines delineating the curves of the mountains on the left side of the drawing are echoed by the heavy handed corrections to the outline of the city walls and bastions of Pest, suggesting the artist may have had an ulterior motive for understanding the defensive structures of the low lying strategic city, or at least an interest in the development of fortifications. The city of Buda, on the other hand, is a hazy jumble of buildings, minarets, and towers strewn across the hillside. The correction of the lines suggests that the artist did not just draw the image from the safety of his boat as in the rest of the images, but also walked around the city too, perhaps correcting what he saw from memory. A series of numbers appears throughout the page for which an explanation may be found with access to the complete manuscript.
figure 5 (chart E1)
Esztergom, manuscript illumination, c. 1544, Istanbul, Matrakçı Nasuh, from the Tārih-I feth-I Şaklāvün (Şiklös) ve Ustürgun ve Ustünibelgrad, Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul (Catalog #: Hazine 1608), folio 90r

                A small number of pure cityscapes and landscapes, devoid of narrative content, appear in Ottoman sources as well. Matrakci’s Nashu’s unfinished Tārih-I feth-I Şaklāvün (Şiklös) ve Ustürgun ve Ustünibelgrad, for example, is a chronicle of Suleiman’s military campaign of 1543-44 against Siklós, Esztergom and Sékesfehérvár. [19] Throughout the richly illuminated text, schematic route maps showing encampments, churches, and fortresses appear with plaque-like labels placed in the spaces between the simplified generic castle motifs, providing the date of arrival and distance between the plotted locations in mils. A handful of selected larger urban centers are rendered in birds-eye view. One example can be seen in the winding streets of Esztergom (figure 5).Their stylization to the point of abstraction means that the views have practically no claim to accuracy at all. Another example of cityscapes produced in the Ottoman royal workshops can be seen in Seyyid Lokman’s Süleymannâme. Here there is a greater attention to detail, possibly coming from personal experience of the city or with graphic drawings of it.
                The provincially produced  Tabakat ul-memalik Ve Derecat ul-mesalik also contains a number of images without any narrative content. These extremely stylized images depict haphazardly placed buildings within awkwardly placed city walls and broad sweeping lines for rivers. A number of the images contain rows of disembodied flags, as if the men carrying them were just beyond the picture place. The overall effect created by the pages is tense, with erratic calligraphic lines reminiscent of a child’s drawing. The city of Esztergom is drawn from what looks like a crazy number of angels but once the eye adjusts to the overwhelming pictorial illusion, then a pattern emerges and the walls can be interpreted as if the viewer stood on the ground looking up at the wall from the exterior.  when Essentially, what has happened in these images is the city view takes the Ottomans perspective. Cities they have yet to lay siege to and conquer are depicted with walls turned inwards, as if seen from all four sides from the exterior. Esztergom is depicted from the outside of the city walls looking in, as if the viewer traveled along the road.

Siege Plans and Street Maps
figure 6 (chart B4)
Raab (Győr), ink and wash drawing, 1594-1595, maker unknown (German speaking), part of a set in Stockholm, Handritade kartverk Nr. 23/21a

The third and final group of works are the street plans and siege maps of urban space drawn up by those surveying cities, often for defensive and offensive military purposes. These images attempt to accurately depict the configuration of the city, town, or fortress for the expressed function of strategy or navigation. They offer the most detailed information on the placement of walls, streets, and occasionally buildings. A group of these siege plans can be found among a set of 122 hand-drawn and colored plans preserved in the Royal War Archives in Stockholm (Kungliga Krigsarkivet, Stockholm Banérgatan 64).[20] The collection contains three bird’s eye views of Győr (Raab), and one of Tata that can be dated to the sixteenth century. The three images of Győr focus on different aspects of the landscape: the first looks broadly at the surrounding marshland and placement of military divisions, the second looks closely at the placement and angles of fortress walls, and the third looks at the specifics of the street plan and prominent stone built structures (figure 6). The latter image is the most detailed and accurate plan of any city from the period, with city streets clearly defined in a believable grid pattern. Important large and permanent stone structures are the only ones drawn into the map. In addition to these Stockholm examples, I am aware of only two more images depicting Székesfehérvár. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of these originals are now lost, however, archival research might reveal further examples.
figure 7 (chart N1)
Siege plan of Nadorfehervar, c. 1521, maker unknown (Ottoman Turkish speaking), Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul (Catalog #: E. 9440)

Two my knowledge, only two Ottoman siege plans of Hungarian cities are published: a large color map of Nádorfehérvár, now Belgrade, Serbia (figure 7), and a smaller map of Szigetvár.[21] Both are filled with ornamental features and inessential details alongside their rendering and labeling of major architectural features important for the siege. The Nádorfehérvár map includes inscriptions more directly related to plans of attack and alternative strategies. The view of Nádorfehérvár is brightly colored and artfully presented. Much less concerned with scale, perspective, and exactitude, the birds-eye view mixes with frontal perspective and the seas of houses and smaller clusters of buildings break down into abstracted forms. In the landscape beyond the city, lollypop like trees run across the rolling hills delimitated by a smooth undulating line. Despite its artfulness, notes are dispersed throughout the image referring to siege strategies.

[1] Ottoman Turkish name for the city of Buda, capitol of the Kingdom of Hungary prior to the Ottoman period. The separate cities of Buda and Pest were united in 1873.
[2] Translation from Géza Fehér, Turkish miniatures from the period of Hungary's Turkish occupation (Budapest: Corvina Press, 1978), Pl. 18). His text comes from J. Thury, Török törtenetirök (Budapest: Independent publication, 1896), 108-109. All titles in Hungarian and Turkish are translated in the appendix by the author.
[3] For example, see the essay by Zsolt G. Török, “Renaissance Cartography in East Central Europe, ca. 1450-1650,” in The History of Cartography volume 3.2, ed. John Brian Harley and David Woodward, 1806-1851, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), and Palmira Brummett, “Imagining the early modern Ottoman space,” in The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, ed. Virginia H. Aksan and Daniel Goffman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 15-58.
[4] A larger collaborative project which takes on a comparative study  of other border regions would make for an excellent conference.
[5] I have not been able to locate the text itself. Jenő Gyalókay, “Végvár és csatatér,” in Magyar művelődéstörténet: a Magyar Történelmi Társulat megbízásából, ed. Sándor Domanovszky, et. al. (Szekszárd: Babits-Magyar Amerikai Kiadói, 1991).
[6]  Basics 2003, 47.
[7] The collection of known representations of Hungary from Ottoman Turkish manuscripts was published by Géza Fehér, Turkish miniatures from the period of Hungary's Turkish occupation (Budapest: Corvina Press, 1978). A few images are discussed in the context of the development of mapmaking in the Ottoman Empire in J. Michael Rogers, “Itineraries and Town Views in Ottoman Histories,” in The History of Cartography Volume 2 Book 1. ed. John Brian Harley and David Woodward (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987).
[8] Some of the images from unidentified sources may come from additional historical publications. Further research is needed.
[9] full title: CHRONOLOGIA Oder Historische beschreibung aller Kriegsemporungen vnd belagerungen in Oder Vnder Ungern auch Siebenburgen Zusamen verfast vnd mit fleiss beschrieben durch Hieronumum Ortilum Augustanum.
[10] This volume has not been translated or reproduced and it is not owned by any libraries in the United States. I have acquired a digital version of the work and plan to do further research on it. The first edition appeared in 1602, printed by Valentin Fuhrmann. The introduction contains histories of the Hungarian kings, the Turkish sultans and emperors, and the original name of Hungary, ending with a list of cities and fortifications.
[11] For example, two prints from Sibmacher are catalogued in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC as individual works.
[12] Full title: Eikonographia aller derer ungarischen Stätt, Vestungen, Castellen und Häusern von anfang der Regierung Rudolphi des andern Römischen Kaysers biß auf das 1603 : Jahr mit Krieg, beydes von des Römischen und Türckischen Kaysers Kriegsvolck ersucht, belägert, beschossen, gestürmet mit gewalt oder auffgebung erobert und verloren worden, neben den Schlachten und fürnehmbsten treffen, so sich umb und bey denselbigen verlauffen und zugetragen etgentliche Abriß und soviel muglich warhaffte Contrafacturen 2 Theile / durch Wilhelm Peter Zimmermann, Burgern zu Augspurg in Kupffer gradirt ... ; dazu auch die Historia der fürnehmbsten Händel desselbigen Kriegswesens durch Samuelem Dilbaum.
[13] For the most expansive fifteenth century example, see Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, known as Schedelsche Weltchronik. Facsimile editions are now readily available, the most recent being, Hartmann Schedel, Weltchronik, ed. John Malalas, Johannes Thurn, Mischa Meier, Claudia Drosihn, and Stefan Priwitzer (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2009).
[14] Michael Swift, Cities of the renaissance world: maps from the Civitates orbis terrarum (Edison, N.J.: Chartwell Books, 2008).
[15] Nearly impossible to find and rarely mentioned in the literature, this volume has not been published in facsimile form.
[16] This has not been published in facsimile, but a copy can be found in the Columbia Library Rare Books Collection under the call number B943.9 D577.  Wilhelm Dilich, Ungarische Chronica: Darinnen ordentliche, eigentliche und kurzte beschreibung des Ober- unnd Nider-Ungarn ... beschrieben (Cassel: Wessel, 1600).
[17] A difficult to find facsimile edition is available: Hieronymus Oertel, Chronologia oder Historische Beschreibung aller Kriegsempörungen und Belagerungen (Budapest: Pytheas Kiadó, 2002).
[18] For an English language discussion of the images see Ludá Klusáková, “Between reality and stereotype: town views of the Balkans,” Urban History 28, 3 (2001): 358-377. For the only in depth analysis of the contents and authorship see Ludá Klusáková, “Leidenský skicář: mĕsta podél cesty z Vídnĕ do Cařihradu (1577-1585),” Ars Bratislava, 1-3 (1999), 30-63.
[19] The illuminations, made strictly for the ruling classes, served to glorify battles and represent frontier regions of the empire.  K. Ebel argues for the collective use of these city views in works like Matrakci Nasuh’s chronicle of the military campaigns from 1543, the Süleymannâme, as representative of the empire as a whole, where constantly shifting borders made larger maps quickly obsolete. K.A. Ebel, "Representations of the frontier in Ottoman town views of the sixteenth century," Imago Mundi 60, 1 (2008): 1-22.
[20] György Kisari Balla, Törökkori várrajzok Stockholmban (Budapest: Kisari Balla Gy, 1996).
[21] More are likely in the Topkapi archives.

1 comment:

  1. You write well Robyn, very nice. This academic language is impressive, I guess this is another reason to go to grad school to learn to express yourself well. bacio