The French ophthalmologist Charles Deval (1806-1862), born in Pera, Constantinople, was son of the dragoman (interpreter) of France Constantin Deval and Elisabeth Pisani. In 1833 he became Doctor of Medicine in Paris, after completing his thesis on typhus in the East. As an ophthalmologist, he accompanied physician Frédéric Jules Sichel all over Europe. Deval wrote many treatises on medical matters (1844, 1851, 1862), after first publishing this philhellenic travel chronicle, which is illustrated by sixteen colour lithographs.
In the introduction the author stresses: “A lot has been written on the mores and customs of the Turks [...] the outcome of my own observations seeks no literary recognition [...] it is distinguished neither for the depth of its insights nor for its high style. Neither is it like the admirable poetic works of the painters, which reveal the truth. These are observations on Turkey and the Peloponnese that I visited, and present the customs and mores of the people of the East. It is a simple chronicle on the sensational events and the bloody conflict which at this moment attracts the gaze of all Europe[...] At this moment, when the East is playing such an important part on the world scene, and everything related to Greece and Turkey is of the utmost interest to the friends of Art and Liberty[...] my work might be of interest to the reading public.”
The first chapters of Deval’s work are about the European quarter of Constantinople and diplomats in the Ottoman capital, commerce and the arts, as well as the Muslim religion, Sultan Mahmud and the structural changes he brought about in the Empire and the Army, and the slaughter of the Janissaries (the "Auspicious Incident") of 1826. In the second part, the author travels to the Peloponnese by way of Smyrna, Chios and Herakleion. He was in the area of Navarino and Methoni in a crucial period for the Greek Revolution, before Ibrahim Pasha’s withdrawal from the Peloponnese and the Battle of Navarino in 1827, which brought the Greek War of Independence to an end.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou