East Side Story

The Elizabethan Age in the Ottoman Empire

Despite a ban on trade under threat of excommunication, English merchants maintained good economic relations with the Ottoman Empire. As a result of Her Majesty's exclusion from the Church, Elizabeth I sought relations with Sultan Murad III and the Ottoman Empire to counter Catholic Europe.  In a letter, Murad III wrote that Islam and Protestantism had "much more in common than with Roman Catholicism, since they both reject idolatry".

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England sent metal melted down from the dismantled roofs and bells of Catholic churches to Istanbul and received gold in return, of almost comparable weight.

This alliance was reflected in the English cultural and musical scene. Among others, in the works of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. This close relationship is musically accompanied in the East Side Story programme with the composers such as John Dowland, Anthony Holbonre, Ali Ufki and Ottoman traditional music.