Family Zénahat, 1457

I, Al-Mutakabbir Zénahat, am a tailor in the city of Constantinople in the year of 1457. By Allah’s grace I have been bestowed a wonderful wife and two children. I am one of the most esteemed and respected tailors within all of Constantinople. Constantinople is a growing city. This is because in the past few years things have changed greatly for this city. This city, which for many years had been ruled by the Genoese, has recently become the capital of the Ottoman Empire.[1] The city fell into Ottoman’s hands in the year 1453. After the fall, I moved here with my family when the orders to resettle the area came from Mehmed II. Moving to this city has brought me many new opportunities and an increase in sales for my trade. It is the help of the empire through the reestablishment of many trade routes and use of some of the old Byzantine buildings that has led to the current resurgence in trade.[2] It is with the revival of commerce that has led people to own more clothing and with the call for more clothing there is now more demand for my tailoring skills. Within our neighborhood of Galata, we live amongst numerous Greeks who decided to stay in the city even after the siege. My family gets along very well with our Greek neighbors since we are Sufis.[3] Our religion actually tends to rely more on Greek and eastern philosophies. However, that is not the only component that allows us to get along. Our religion also allows us to be less judgmental and more open to others. The Ottoman Empire’s main wish for Constantinople was for it to become the powerful city it once was. Furthermore, this wish is gradually being achieved as more people and their families are locating to Constantinople. I, along with my empire, hope that trade will continue to develop and perhaps Constantinople can become the center of the world and of trade that it once was.

[1] Phillip Mansel, Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire, 1453-1924 (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998).

[2] David Abulafia, ed., The Mediterranean in History (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2003).

[3] Louis Mitler, “The Genoese in Galata: 1453-1682,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 10, no.1(Feb., 1979): 71-91, (accessed January 31, 2013)


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