On the Origins of the Book Printing in the Ottoman Empire: The Role of Printed Books in the Transmission of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Knowledge
On the Origins of the Book Printing in the Ottoman Empire: The Role of Printed Books in the Transmission of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Knowledge

Research Project by Taisiya Leber, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz





This research project is dedicated to the role of the printing press in the preservation and transmission of (post-)Byzantine knowledge in the Ottoman Empire, in the Ottoman tributary states of Moldavia and Wallachia, in Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy in the period between the end of the 15th and the first half of the 18th century. Since Greek printing was unable to establish itself in the Ottoman Empire in the Early Modern Period (with the exception of a short-lived press in Constantinople in 1627), Greek hierarchs consciously sought alternatives outside of the empire. While Western European printing centers like Venice are relatively well-researched, “Eastern European” projects of the Greeks, which ran over networks between Orthodox patriarchates, episcopal sees, monasteries, and monks as well as the Greek diaspora, have been rather neglected. The focus of the project is on books printed in Greek in such cities as Lviv, Vilnius, Ostrog (Poland-Lithuania), as well as in Bucharest, Snagov, and Iași (Wallachia and Moldavia), etc. Another key area is the issue of “translated” (post-)Byzantine knowledge in the new context of Eastern Europe. Texts were literally translated from Greek into Old Church Slavonic, but also into vernacular languages like Ruthenian and Polish, as well as Rumanian in order to be printed and disseminated in Eastern Europe. Theological, legal and polemical treatises influenced the Early Modern process of the formation of an Orthodox confession. While the Byzantine legacy is often described outside of the Ottoman context, the Transottoman perspective allows by-contrast the analysis of the appropriation and transmission of Byzantine knowledge in Early Modern Eastern Europe in a larger context.

The goal of this project is to write a monograph on this research subject as well as to prepare a data-base including information on the printing houses and printed production in the Transottoman context.

Further Reading

Leber, Taisiya. “Christian-Jewish and Jewish-Christian Polemics in the Transottoman Context.” In Knowledge on the Move in a Transottoman Perspective: Dynamics of Intellectual Exchange from the Fifteenth to the Early Twentieth Century, edited by Taisiya Leber, Dennis Dierks, Barbara Henning, Ani Sarsgyan, Evelin Diearauff. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020, forthcoming.

Leber, Taisiya. “Early History of Printing in the Ottoman Empire through the Prism of Mobility.” Diyâr. Journal of Ottoman, Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies 2 (2020), forthcoming.

Leber, Taisiya. “Wissen über die Multireligiosität des osmanischen Ägyptens im Moskauer Reich der Frühen Neuzeit.” In East Europe and Middle East, edited by Stefan Rohdewald, Julia Obertreis, Heidi Hein-Kircher, forthcoming.

Leber, Taisiya. “Female Patronage of Book Printing in the Transottoman Context.” Učenye zapiski NovGU 5, no. 30 (2020).

Leber, Taisiya. “Milica Jakšić’s Charter for Hilandar Monastery (1506).” Initial: A Review of Medieval Studies 7 (2019): 115–138.

Leber, Taisiya. “Migracii pečatnikov i tipografij v „transosmanskom“ kontekste rannego Novogo vremeni” [Migration of Printers and Printing Presses in the ‘Transottoman’ Context of the Early Modern Time]. In Istorija knižnoj kul’tury XV – XX veka, 5–20. Moscow: Pashkov dom, 2018.