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.
I adored this book, it resonated deeply with me. -- Elif Shafak Radio 3 (Free Thinking) A little-known story that Brotton chronicles with scholarship, assurance, and not a little charm. -- Boyd Tonkin Independent Jerry Brotton's sparkling new book sets out just how extensive and complex England's relationship with the Arab and Muslim world once was, and tentatively connects the threads of that engagement to our own times. -- David Shariatmadari Guardian A vivid, significant work of scholarship. -- Kate Maltby The Times There is much in these pages to delight and provoke... This Orient Isle is a richly resonant work which not only recasts our understanding of the Elizabethan era but also reveals Islam, crucially, as "part of the national story of England". -- Jeremy Seal Telegraph Jerry Brotton's fabulous new book [reveals] just how deep and entangled the roots of the Islamic and Christian faiths were in the early modern period. ... a timely intervention and a marvellous achievement. -- Marcus Nevitt Spectator
Jerry Brotton is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London. He is a regular broadcaster and critic as well the author of Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo, The Sale of the Late King's Goods: Charles I and his Art Collection (shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and the Hessell-Tiltman History Prize) and the bestselling A History of the World in Twelve Maps, which has been translated into twelve languages.