"A Whole and continuat historie": general histories in early seventeenth-century England, with specific reference to Richard Knolles's the general history of the Turks and his Patron Peter Manwood
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This thesis presents an assessment of the famous work of Richard Knolles, The General History of the Turks (1603) [hereafter GH] as a production of the intellectual atmosphere of the age in which it was produced. Despite its importance as the first major history of the Ottomans written in English, present literature on Knolles’s work does not evaluate it as a history book in its own right; it is analyzed either only partially or in connection with some other works gathered for very particular uses. It has often been seen, though without explanation, as somewhat ambiguous in its treatment of the Turks. Trying to attain a better understanding of Knolles’s GH, the present study initially discusses the changes in the historiography of the sixteenth century and contextualizes the emergence of a genre of “general history” in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century within the wider spectrum of history writing in early modern England and Europe. Some common features, detailed here for the first time, which would help to group general histories as a distinct and new genre, are identified through an evaluation of those that were printed in England in the course of the seventeenth century. This thesis argues that GH has to be evaluated in connection with those “general histories”, and analyses the features of Knolles’s work alongside those other general histories. This contextualization also indicates the importance of the role of the patron of this monumental work, his influence on the actual process of composition and his instrumental role in causing the work to be a general history. Assessing GH as a project that was realized through the shared efforts of the patron and the writer, and considering the intellectual background of the patron of the work, as well as the motives for his support, it suggests reasons for the ambiguity that Knolles’s text has presented for modern historians, reasons that are grounded in the work’s transformation into a general history. Besides, the detailed study here of the political orientation of the patron, Sir Peter Manwood, reveals some points, both political and intellectual, that aid a better understanding of his motivations in patronizing Knolles.
Sir Peter Manwood
Seventeenth-century English historiography
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