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D'OHSSON, Mouradgea. Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman, divisé en deux parties, dont l'une comprend la Législation Mahométane; l'autre l"Histoire de l'Empire Othomane, vol. II, Paris, De l'imprimerie de Monsieur, M.DCC.XC [=1790].

The Swedish diplomat and author Ignace Mouradjea d'Ohsson (1740-1807), of Armenian descent, was born in Istanbul. During his career, he successively became secretary, interpreter and chargé d'affaires of the Swedish embassy in Istanbul, and eventually ambassador and ambassador plenipotentiary of Sweden. He was also named knight of the Wasa order.

Aided by his contacts and acquaintances, by 1784 D'Ohsson was able to penetrate into the everyday life of the Ottoman court, normally inaccessible to Europeans. The first part of his monumental work «Tableau général de l’empire Othoman» was published in Paris in 1788. It deals with Ottoman institutions, mosques, tombs, and religious practices such as prayers and ceremonies. The second part of the work (1789) is dedicated to the history of the Ottoman state. D’Ohsson’s son published the third part of the work posthumously. It deals with the civil, political, penal and military codes of the Ottoman Empire. D'Ohsson originally intended for his work to extend to seven or eight volumes, but was unable to complete his project.

The present edition is a characterized by excellent typography, and includes a large number of engravings. Above all, the political and sociological description of the empire (in accordance with an editorial practice prevalent in Europe at the time), and the inclusion of several details on palace life make this work an invaluable and highly original testimony on institutions and customs of the Ottoman capital.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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