Why Elizabethan England was obsessed with Islam

Jeremy Seal in The Telegraph:

Constantinople_2-large_trans++qVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwQv4qavVNcwcxNdFYK5RcKcOn a May morning in 1570 a papal bull, nailed to the door of the Bishop of London’s palace, sealed Protestant England’s break with Catholic Europe. But the excommunication of Elizabeth I had another consequence, one that posterity has been slow to acknowledge, and which this timely book is among the first to treat in substantial detail: the isolated English queen’s pursuit of ties with the sultans and shahs of Islamic Turkey, Morocco and Persia.

There is no question that Jerry Brotton’s exploration of “a much longer connection between England and the Islamic world” than is generally appreciated has currency. His canvas takes in places with “tragic resonance” for our age, among them Raqqa, Aleppo and Fallujah. But resisting the temptation to draw parallels between then and now, Brotton crafts a purely 16th-century narrative set on two geographical fronts. We follow pioneer embassies to Constantinople, Marrakesh and Qazvin (the former Persian capital) alongside the growing hold the Islamic world exerted on the English from the time of Henry VIII, a fascination that would find powerful expression in Elizabethan cuisine, fashion and theatre.

More here.