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BESSE, Jean-Charles de. Voyage en Crimée, au Caucase, en Géorgie, en Arménie, en Asie Mineure et Constantinople en 1829 et 1830; pour servir à l’histοire de Hongrie…, Paris, Librairie Delaunay, 1838.

Jean-Charles de Besse, Hungarian but francophone, is known for this chronicle of his voyage to Crimea, Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia and Asia Minor, although he was also author of a grammar of the Turkish language, published in French. A contributor to the Parisian newspaper "Mercure Etranger", his articles were signed by Hungarian poet János Batsányi. It was Besse’ intention that this rare work would be published also in Hungarian, simultaneously to the French edition, in 1831. However, the lack of sponsors and the author’s obligatory moves to Algeria, Italy and France delayed its publication.

Besse aimed to trace the ancestry of the Hungarian people to the Caucasus region. His study of the local population is articulated as follows: In the first part he describes the Tatars, the cities of Kerch (Panticapaeum) and Simferopol, the inhabitants of Crimea, the Cossacks of the military colonies of the Black Sea, the Elbruz mountain and various ethnic groups (Circassians, Avars, Hungarians, etc.)

The second part of Besse’s chronicle describes Southern Crimea, a Tatar horserace and details from the life of the inhabitants of Feodosyia (Kaffa). Last, the third part includes descriptions of Trebizond (Trabzon), of his trip with a caravan from that city to Erzurum, of Georgia, Tiflis, Greater Armenia, the Bosporus and Constantinople. In this part, Besse also refers to the changes in the Ottoman Army after the Sultan’s reforms in 1824. The work ends with an overland journey from Isfahan to the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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