> Skip to content

A richly detailed account of the little-known cultural and political relationship between Elizabethan England and the Islamic world.

In 1570, after plots and assassination attempts against her, Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the Pope. It was the beginning of cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not again experienced until the modern age. England signed treaties with the Ottoman Porte, received ambassadors from Morocco and shipped munitions to Marrakech in the hope of establishing an accord which would keep the common enemy of Catholic Spain at bay. This awareness of the Islamic world found its way into many of the great English cultural productions of the day - especially, of course, Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice. This Orient Isle shows that England's relations with the Muslim world were far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have ever appreciated, and that their influence was felt across the political, commercial and domestic landscape of Elizabethan England.%%%AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4

'Fabulous, timely, a marvellous achievement' Spectator

'A richly resonant work which recasts our understanding of the Elizabethan era' Daily Telegraph

In 1570, after plots and assassination attempts against her, Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the Pope. It was the beginning of cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not again experienced until the modern age. England signed treaties with the Ottoman Porte, received ambassadors from Morocco and shipped munitions to Marrakech in the hope of establishing an accord which would keep the common enemy of Catholic Spain at bay. This awareness of the Islamic world found its way into many of the great English cultural productions of the day - especially, of course, Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice. This Orient Isle shows that England's relations with the Muslim world were far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have ever appreciated, and that their influence was felt across the political, commercial and domestic landscape of Elizabethan England.

Reviews

This Orient Isle is an exceptionally rich and brilliant book. In bringing to life Elizabethan England’s ambivalent engagement with Islam, Jerry Brotton shows how profoundly that encounter shaped English trade, diplomacy, and the Islam-obsessed drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The story he tells could not be more timely

James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear

In a fascinating account, Jerry Brotton uncovers the lively exchange – of traders, diplomats, gifts, and letters – between Elizabeth’s England, the Ottoman Empire and Morocco. Christianity and Islam were still at odds, but Elizabeth gladly sought alliance with Muslim lands against the shared threat of Catholic Europe. This Orient Isle shows how the Muslim presence shaped Elizabethan politics and culture and gives us a new way to think of that presence in our own time

Natalie Zemon Davis, author of The Return of Martin Guerre and Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

This Orient Isle is an exceptionally rich and brilliant book. In bringing to life Elizabethan England's ambivalent engagement with Islam, Jerry Brotton shows how profoundly that encounter shaped English trade, diplomacy, and the Islam-obsessed drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The story he tells could not be more timely.

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780141978673

    April 18, 2017

    Penguin Press (UK Adult)

    384 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780241004029

    May 16, 2016

    Allen Lane (UK)

    352 pages

    RRP $55.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Jerry Brotton

Great Maps
A History Of The World In Twelve Maps

Recommendations

The Book of Joy
Tudor Church Militant: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation
Houses of Power
London's Triumph
The Great Fire of London
A Fiery & Furious People
A Stain in the Blood
Elizabeth
The Penguin Book Of English Song
Queen Elizabeth II
Shakespeare And The Countess
James II
William III & Mary II
Charles I
Parliament: The Biography (Volume I - Ancestral Voices)
Godâ??s Traitors
Scotland's Empire
Winter King
A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England
The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England