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From Negotiations to Afterlives

Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz’s State Visit to Britain (July 1867): A Case in Negotiated ‘Ornamental’ Diplomatic Gifts

Quand le Sultan ottoman Abdul Aziz rencontrait la Reine Victoria, ou de la négociation des cadeaux diplomatiques (1867)
Stéphanie Prévost

Abstracts

This article examines gift-giving during Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz’s State visit to Britain in July 1867. An exceptional occasion in itself – for an Ottoman Sultan had never left his Empire in peacetime or ever would again –, the visit offers an interesting case for nuancing the generally accepted idea that gifts between equals (here rulers) are “free gifts”. The article makes a case for gift-giving in that particular context being a long and vexed process resulting from negotiations, as Queen Victoria did not originally want to entertain the Sultan, nor did she originally want to invest him with the Order of the Garter, or accept his counter-gift in the form of Arabian horses. Examining relevant diplomatic and private sources reveals the final arrangements to avoid a series of diplomatic faux-pas and show how they reflect a transcultural understanding that would help both sides refine their gift-giving protocols.

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I would like to offer my special thanks to the Windsor Royal Archives staff, who made the consultation of Queen Victoria’s private papers possible. I am also immensely grateful to The Royal Collection Trust, for allowing the reproduction of images from the Picture Library, and especially to Daniel Partridge and Karen Lawsen for helping with the procedure.

Introduction

  • 1 Felicity Heal, The Power of Gifts: Gift Exchange in Early Modern England (Oxford, Oxford University (...)

1Historian Felicity Heal presents “sovereign gifts” as part and parcel of State diplomacy in the context of a “gift-exchange between monarchs and states of equal standing”.1 More often than not, especially in the early modern period, gifts to heads of State tended to be presented by intermediaries, notably ambassadors. This remained true in Victorian times when some rulers would not leave their countries for Britain for practical reasons (due to distance and journey facilities), political or personal reasons (like infringing political rules of their own States, or fearing a coup). The direct presentation of gifts was thus far from being the norm in Victorian times, especially for non-European rulers. One such exceptional occasion was Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz’s State visit to Britain in July 1867, which is the object of this article.

  • 2 Sinan Kuneralp and Aylin Koçunyan (eds.), Parisʼte Bir Padişah, İstanbulʼda Bir İmparatoriçe 1867-1 (...)

2While Queen Victoria had received representatives of non-Christian States at Court since her early days as Queen, Sultan Abdul Aziz’s State visit to Britain in July 1867 was the first visit of a non-Christian sovereign ruler on British soil – six years before the first visit of a Persian Qajar ruler (Nasir al-Din Shah) to Britain in 1873. Though recognised at the time as exceptional – for it was the first time an Ottoman Sultan left his country in times of peace –, the State visit to Britain has nonetheless remained understudied, or treated as a corollary to his presence at the inauguration of the Exposition universelle of Paris (before proceeding to Dover).2 These “firsts” make it an all the more interesting case of global micro-history as it presented Queen Victoria with a series of challenges in terms of protocol, especially regarding the exchange of gifts.

  • 3 Michael Talbot and Phil McCluskey, “Introduction: Contacts, Encounters, Practices: Ottoman-European (...)

3With Queen Victoria being initially reluctant to hosting Sultan Abdul Aziz, the British monarch(y) was placed in a tight corner: she was asked to honour her guest in a way that remained unchartered, for Britain had never received an incumbent Muslim ruler of such a high rank. Traditionally, it is admitted that gifts between equals – here two heads of State – are freely conceded. Gift-giving always implies power dynamics on both sides (giver and receiver), but the giver theoretically has the benefit of a freer choice of gifts by setting the mark of gift value and of the expected counter-gift (or return gift). An analysis of gift-giving during Sultan Abdul Aziz’s official visit to Britain nonetheless presents us with a more contrasted perspective. It echoes current research on pre-nineteenth century Ottoman diplomatic encounters as prime occasions of friendship leading to “negotiated identities” rather than outright expressions of hard power.3 This hypothesis of “negotiation” is here taken up to read the Ottoman-British gift-giving processes associated with Abdul Aziz’s State visit to Britain.

  • 4 On the link between the rise of Republicanism in Britain and monarchy’s retreat after Prince Albert (...)
  • 5 Defined by Breen as “an engagement with foreign sovereigns through the exchange of collars, cordons (...)

4Building on the analysis of relevant sources (mostly in British royal and diplomatic archives), this article suggests that the Sultan’s visit formed a test for British monarchy’s capacity to stand up to its diplomatic obligations, at a time of political retreat for the British monarchy and of high republicanism in Britain.4 It argues that negotiation was very much in the hands of the Ottoman Sultan and his diplomatic staff partly due to Queen Victoria’s withdrawal from political affairs, long before gifts were exchanged. As such, this case serves to remind us of the backstage processes that often remain unknown to the public at the time, and that are sometimes lost on historians when archives are lacking. While negotiations kept on, the gift-giving process during this visit was always on the verge of missed encounters (or we may call them “miscounters”), as this article will show. A first section will analyse the symbolical role of the Queen’s granting the Order of Garter to the Sultan in terms of international status and visibility – or otherwise put in terms of “ornamental diplomacy”.5 It will particularly concentrate on the Sultan’s diplomatic moves to secure the Garter despite the Queen’s original reluctance. Taking its cue from French sociologist/anthropologist Marcel Mauss’s Essai sur le Don (1950) that gift-giving tends to be a three-way process (giving, receiving, and reciprocating), the second section of this article focuses on the reception of the Garter and discusses the Sultan’s understanding of the ceremony. The final section examines the Sultan’s return gift to Queen Victoria – seven Arab horses – and issues of acceptability from a gendered perspective.

Negotiating the Garter, or the Garter as voucher of full international status

  • 6 Angus Hawkins and John Powell (eds.), The Journal of John Wodehouse First Earl of Kimberley, 1862-1 (...)
  • 7 For the Foreign Affairs Committee, see: Arif Uğur Gülsaran, “The Role of David Urquhart within the (...)
  • 8 Stanley to Crowley, 28/06/1867, Cowley Papers, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, London, FO 519/182 (...)

5“The world all half mad about the Sultan’s visit”.6 This note from the diary of a British Liberal Lord with diplomatic experience on 15 July, 1867 gives a sense of how historic Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz’s official 12-23 July visit to England) was. It was part of a broader tour of Europe that took the Sultan from France to England, Belgium, Austria and Prussia between 21 June and 6 August, before he returned to Constantinople via Ottoman principalities in the Balkans. This move, undertaken only six years after the beginning of his reign, was highly significant in the history of the Ottoman Empire: no such visit had been undertaken by his predecessors or would be by his successors – two of whom, his nephews Murad Efendi and Abdul Hamid Efendi, accompanied him on his journey as part of his travelling party of approximately 70 people. Although the Sultan was eventually lionized in the European press, there was little enthusiasm in Britain for that visit originally, apart from railway men, some textile manufacturers and the pro-Ottoman Foreign Affairs Committee for whom trade with the Ottoman Empire was a boon.7 Arguments contra the visit were legion, including : the very cost of a State visit (Radicals and Republicans), protests against the status of women in the Ottoman Empire and polygamy (women’s reform clubs), or the dread expressed by Queen Victoria herself that the Sultan might travel with several favourites from his hareem, thereby contravening to Victorian propriety.8

  • 9 For a review of the vast literature, David M. Craig, “The Crowned Republic? Monarchy and Anti-Monar (...)
  • 10 Queen’s Telegram to Lord Lyons, 28/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 34.
  • 11 Ibid.

6News of the visit was also very untimely from the perspective of British monarchy. Queen Victoria had withdrawn from public life since the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Her seclusion reached new heights in early 1867 when she originally refused to open Parliament. Victoria eventually changed her mind after her Cabinet pointed to the necessity for her to fulfil her role at a time when British Radicals pressed the British constitutional monarchy to move towards fairer representation (through franchise extension) – or else, would welcome republicanism.9 It was in this context of the about-to-be-passed Second Reform Bill that the Queen learned of the Sultan’s wish to visit Britain. Upon hearing the news in late May 1867, she had a telegraph sent to the British ambassador in Constantinople, Lord Lyons, stating that “it [would] give her great pleasure if he could extend his journey to this country”.10 In practice, she did not quite see how the visit affected her own plans to stay away from the capital in Balmoral. She even had her doctor attest to the fact that she was not in good health enough to entertain the Sultan for the whole of his British stay, should he maintain his original dates of 12-23 July.11

  • 12 Telegram from Grey to Stanley, 30/5/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 38.
  • 13 Ponsonby, Royal Archivist, to?, 21/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/B23 series, f. 68; Lord Grey to Lord Stanle (...)
  • 14 Stanley to Grey, 22/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/B23 series, f. 70.
  • 15 Ibid.; Stanley to Grey, 30/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 40. On Musurus Pasha’s skills, see: Al (...)

7While the Foreign Office (hereafter FO) expected outright enthusiasm for such a historic occasion and preparations for a grand State visit, the Queen’s reply was cold water. The Sultan expected a formal invitation rapidly upon the notice of his visiting England, which she was purposely trying to defer.12 To curtail rumours that Britain would not entertain the Sultan and avoid a diplomatic imbroglio, the FO decided to send Victoria’s invitation to the Sultan without awaiting further, that is to say: without her prior approval.13 The Queen’s attitude left the British ambassador Lord Stanley and the British Foreign Secretary Lord Lyons bemused, as they “d[id] not see how it is possible to put off the Sultan’s visit now without giving him offence”.14 It eventually took a lot of skill from both Stanley and Lyons to find an agreement with Musurus Pasha, the Ottoman ambassador in Britain since 1861 and a trusted figure in British political circles, to have the Queen consent to receiving the Sultan formally and spending a whole day with him.15 The public knew nothing of this for the sake of appearances and inter-state diplomacy.

  • 16 On the intellectual project behind the reforms and its ambivalences, see: Alexander Vezenkov, “Reco (...)
  • 17 For a global overview: M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire (Princeton and (...)
  • 18 Stanley to Grey, 22/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/B23 series, f. 69.

8The official visit of a non-Christian monarch was a first, which required careful preparations. Since the late eighteenth century, the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional Ottoman Empire had undertaken a modernising programme of its institutions and administrations that promised greater equality between all subjects.16 In that context of the Tanzimat reforms programme, European countries rivalled for influence.17 France had benefited from the preferential regime of “capitulations”, by which its subjects residing or trading in the Ottoman dominions benefitted from certain rights and privileges since the 16th century. But by the mid-1830s, those capitulations were extended to other foreign countries, especially Britain and the USA, with competition increasing over trade. Nonetheless, in many domains (especially legal), France maintained its influence, so that for much of Queen Victoria’s diplomatic staff, the visit was the occasion to try and balance this situation.18 This was far from being an easy task. All reports from the British delegation at the Paris Exposition universelle, notably that of the Prince of Wales, testified of the warm welcome Sultan Abdul Aziz was given in France and all pressed that a similar enthusiasm should be shown in Britain on this historic occasion, lest Britain lose out in the Franco-British rivalry for influence at Constantinople.

  • 19 Grey to Stanley, 30/05/1867, FO 78/2010, f. 24.
  • 20 Salahaddin Bey, La Turquie à l'exposition universelle de 1867 (Paris, Hachette, 1867), “A Sa Majest (...)

9Pressure built up all the more on Victoria as Abdul Aziz had expressed strong wishes for his English visit. Bickering that he had invited himself – not the reverse – at the last minute on top of all, she made it clear to her FO interlocutors that he should not have excessively grand expectations.19 At this stage, Queen Victoria failed – or so feigned – to see how pivotal the Sultan’s visit to Britain was for his own politics or how his very presence on British soil was an exceptional gift in itself.20

  • 21 Michael Kouvaros, ‘The Cretan Conflict 1866-1869: Competing and Complementary Ideologies throùugh t (...)
  • 22 Aylin Kocunyan, “Les voyages du sultan Abdülaziz et leurs répercussions intérieures”, in Sylvain De (...)
  • 23 Burak Onaran, Détrôner le sultan: Deux conjurations à l'époque des réformes ottomanes, Kuleli (1859 (...)
  • 24 Karaet, Ibid., p. 39; Bülent Arı, “Early Ottoman Diplomacy: Ad Hoc Period”, in A.N. Yurdusev (ed.), (...)
  • 25 Karaet, Ibid., pp. 49-51.
  • 26 Darin N. Stephanov, Ruler Visibility and Popular Belonging in the Ottoman Empire, 1808-1908 (Edinbu (...)
  • 27 Stephanov, Ibid., p. 45.
  • 28 Edhem Eldem, “The Changing Design and Rhetoric of Ottoman Decorations, 1850-1920”, The Journal of D (...)
  • 29 The inscription on the medal reads: “el-Mustanid bi-Tawiqati’r-Rabbaniyye Maliki’d-Dawlati’l-Othman (...)
  • 30 The Prince of Wales Journal, 6 February-14 June 1862, Entries 24-25 May 1862, Images 174-177 of the (...)
  • 31 Stephanov, Ibid., p. 45.
  • 32 Musa Müşü and Eren Korkmaz, “İsmail Paşa, Saray ve Babıali: Mısır İşgalinin Siyasi, İktisadî, Sosya (...)

10On the domestic scene, Abdul Aziz was facing multiple challenges. Ottoman Cretans’ insurrection was ongoing since Spring 1866 and was a sign of Christian discontent at the ineffectiveness of local Ottoman rule in Crete despite the Tanzimat programme. As Ottoman central power used military force to crush the rebellion in 1866 and early 1867, Cretan Christians tried to mobilize public opinion and leaders throughout Europe and the U.S. on their behalf to secure autonomy. While French and Russian diplomats favoured such an option in March 1867, the British Foreign Office turned it down. Generally speaking, the latter supported the Ottoman policy in Crete, as they then feared that Cretan autonomy would enhance Russian – and possibly French – influence in the Ottoman Empire and as such a non-concerted proposal contravened the 1856 Treaty of Paris, which had ended the Crimean War by making European powers (France, Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Hungary and Italy) the collective guarantors of the Ottoman territorial integrity and forbade European interference in Ottoman affairs.21 Beside his genuine interest in the Paris Exposition universelle, Abdul Aziz hoped that his European tour would help him in three ways on the international scene: 1/ restore trust in Ottoman credit in Europe (that Cretan events had shaken); 2/ forestall any potential Franco-Russian support for Cretan rebels; 3/ strengthen ties with British diplomatic circles to foster their traditional pro-Ottoman, anti-Russian policy.22 Aside from the “Cretan Question” (as it became known), there was another reason behind the Sultan’s visit to Europe, as just but a few weeks before, a coup against him had failed. That overhaul attempt had been conducted by a secret organisation known as Meslek that promoted Ottoman patriotism and blamed Ottoman Sultans for the recent loss of territories or crises such as the one in Crete.23 Under such exceptional circumstances, the relevance and timeliness of such a journey, which was very much an idea of Sultan Abdul Aziz’s Grand Vizier Mehmet Âli Pasha, was discussed by the Sultan’s Cabinet. Eventually even conservative ministers conceded that a visit to Europe was indispensable to get international backing against the coup (as well as against possible dissidents exiled especially in France and Britain) and did not oppose it, even if a Sultan’s journey into foreign, Christian lands during peacetime contradicted traditional Ottoman diplomatic practices that long regarded Ottoman sultans as the most powerful sovereigns on earth.24 The Sultan’s palace imam was including in the Sultan’s suite as a way to register support. To overcome the Sultan’s fear of leaving the throne vacant, Âli Pasha proposed to the Sultan to take his nephews – the likely heirs to be – with him on his journey to avoid a coup in his absence and to have him stand as regent meanwhile. Fuad Pasha, the incumbent Ottoman Foreign Secretary who had served as Grand Vizier and ambassador to London in 1840, was to accompany the Sultan and thus facilitate exchanges, as the Sultan only spoke Turkish.25 The careful and lengthy preparations reveal how exceptional Sultan Abdul Aziz’s visit was from an Ottoman standpoint. The visit was constructed in terms of Ottoman ruler visibility, with both the domestic and international audiences in mind. For several decades now, the Sultan’s public image had been a prime concern, first of Abdul Aziz’s father (Mahmud II, 1808-1839) and brother (Abdülmecid, 1839-1861), and was absolutely central in the context of the reforming/modernising Ottoman polity and of a burgeoning Ottoman public opinion.26 One instrument was the growing use of Ottoman Western-style medals and orders, which, as historians argue, was part of the “process of Ottoman integration into the Western system of signs and symbols”. 27As Abdul Aziz perfected his conception of “ornamental diplomacy”, he styled himself “the fount of all honour” in a way that was both readily readable to Western rulers and congruent with Ottoman identity, especially “with the traditional values of his empire”.28 One year within his reign, in 1862, he designed a new order to honour foreign dignitaries: the Osmani order (Osmanî Nişanı) emphasized the place of Islam (via the colour green) and the Sultan’s divine guidance (through the inscription).29 Prince Edward, Queen Victoria’s own son, was the first to be awarded this distinction as he visited Sultan Abdul Aziz that year and this durably impressed him (Figure 1).30 As the Ottoman system of decorations standardized, it became “part of a wider, concerted Ottoman quest for reciprocity with the West, as well as visibility at home”.31 The Sultan’s pressing demand for the Order of the Garter partook of this new imperial rhetoric, but more than this, the granting of the highest honour in the British chivalric system was to give visible evidence of his full international status as ruler. In addition to this requirement, the Sultan pressed the British Foreign Office to accept that Ismail Pasha, on whom he had recently awarded the hereditary title of Khedive and to whom he gave the right to govern Egypt’s internal affairs without resort to Ottoman approval, be dealt with as his political subject and not as an independent ruler as Ismail Pasha would reach London, but a few days ahead of him. Though the British FO did not want to alienate Ismail Pasha just when the Suez Canal was to be entrusted to the French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps, they still thought it best to not endanger British-Ottoman relations and abide by Ottoman political hierarchy on British soil.32

[Figure 1] Prince Edward’s Star of the Order of Osmanieh (Turkey), c.1862. Silver, gold and enamel, 8.5 x 8.5 cm.

[Figure 1] Prince Edward’s Star of the Order of Osmanieh (Turkey), c.1862. Silver, gold and enamel, 8.5 x 8.5 cm.

RCIN 441053. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202333

11Seen from Queen Victoria’s perspective, the Sultan’s royal gift request was more awkward, as it forced her to honour her guest in a way that she had not originally proposed and that she disliked. Indeed, knights of the Garter were the British sovereigns’ personal choice in their capacity as “fount of all honour”, while governments were allowed to make suggestions. Theoretically, it was for Victoria to decide on whether to grant Abdul Aziz that distinction. When the demand was first made to the British FO in late May 1867, she was kept uninformed. Lord Lyons and Lord Stanley thought it best to settle other matters first – like lodgings, or the programme of festivities – and mention the question at a later stage when Victoria might be more amenable to the idea.

  • 34 Full list at: https://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/garterlist.htm.
  • 35 Carsten Holbraad, The Concert of Europe: A Study in German and British International Theory 1815-19 (...)
  • 36 ‘The Queen’s Speech’, HL Debate, 05/02/1867, Hansard, vol. 185, §2.
  • 37 Queen Victoria’s pro-Cretan attitude needs to be contextualised within the context of British Philh (...)

12From Abdul Aziz’s perspective, the exceptionalism of his visit to Britain was to be met with a gift of similar value by the British ruler. The Order of the Garter seemed to be the right choice, as it was the decoration that Victoria had awarded virtually all royals in Europe since her accession in 1837.34 In practice, all main European rulers had been honoured in such a way (French Emperor Napoleon III and King of Italy Victor Emmanuel II, both in 1855; King of Prussia Wilhelm I in 1860) or were about to be, as announced publicly in June 1867 (Tsar Alexander II and Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria). He was now the only member of the Concert of Europe – that informal institution born out of the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) meant to safeguard European peace – not to have it. The Ottoman Empire had been a member since the end of the Crimean war in 1856, as a way to reassert Europe’s commitment towards Ottoman territorial integrity, but was some sort of a second-rank, probationary member.35 Abdul Aziz’s claim to the Garter would offer worldwide recognition of his status as a fully-fledged partner in the Concert, at least ornamentally. In the context of the Cretan crisis and the “Meslek incident” (as the assassination attempt became known), the Sultan’s visit to Europe further aimed at impressing upon all – friend or foe – that he was one of the key players in European diplomacy and that he should not be bypassed in the settlement of the Cretan crisis. Receiving the medal from Queen Victoria herself was meant to offer such evidence, all the more so as she had criticised the Sultan’s brutal handling of the Cretan Crisis in her Opening Speech to Parliament only a few months earlier.36 The investiture would be a sign of Britain’s realignment towards the Sultan’s policy in Crete – at least on the surface.37

  • 38 Derby to ?, undated [July 1867], RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f. 109.
  • 39 Notes by Edward Cust, Master of the Ceremonies, 04/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/A/36 series, f. 3.
  • 40 Northcote to Widdall, 14/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f.114.
  • 41 Derby to ?, 14/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f.115; Supplement to The London Gazette, 19 Novembe (...)
  • 42 “British Orders and Decorations”, Chapter IV: The Indian Orders, American Numismatic Society websit (...)
  • 43 Widdall to Derby, 15/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f. 117.

13Negotiations for the Garter kept on till the very last minute as Queen Victoria and the Conservative Prime Minister Lord Derby were embarrassed by the idea of conferring such a distinction on a Muslim.38 The programme of entertainments issued before the Sultan’s arrival at Dover mentioned the naval review of 17 July, but not any investiture. Besides, the presence of Queen Victoria at the ceremony was very uncertain until a few days before.39 Behind the scenes, the Queen, Lord Derby and the Secretary of State for India Lord Northcote concocted an alternative to the Garter and repeatedly proposed the Sultan with the Star of India until 15 July. Northcote mused that “the acceptance of th[is] Order by HIM [His Imperial Majesty] would greatly enhance its value in the estimation of your majesty’s Mahommetan subjects in India, as well as in that of the native princes in whom yr majesty has been graciously pleased to confer it”.40 Abdul Aziz’s answer was always the same, that: he would gladly accept the Star of India, but still wanted the Garter, which his predecessor had been publicly granted by British ambassador Viscount Canning at the British embassy in Constantinople in 1856.41 Was he not an ally as his brother had been? The Queen counter-argued that the Order of India did not exist in 1856 – it was only created in 1861 as an instrument in the British policy of securing Indian Princely co-operation in the immediate aftermath of the Sepoy Rebellion42 – and that if there had been such an order, Sultan Abdülmecid would have been granted the Star of India, not the Garter.43 The passe d’armes between Victoria and Abdul Aziz betrayed a hierarchy rivalry as he was Emperor – a title that Queen Victoria would not have until 1876 – and the “Commander of the Faithful”, a title by which he theoretically commanded the loyalty of Muslims in British India.

  • 44 Robert Wilson, The Life and Times of Queen Victoria, Volume 3 (London, Cassell & Co., 1887), p. 294 (...)
  • 45 On the transformation of the “Islamic reference”: Tim Stanley, “Ottoman Gift Exchange: Royal Give a (...)
  • 46 Barbara Karl, “Objects of Prestige and Spoils of War: Ottoman Objects in the Habsburg Networks of G (...)

14By proposing to bestow the Star of India onto the Sultan, Queen Victoria had sought to restore a Western power hierarchy and dynamics in ceremonial gift-giving, and here tried to recuperate the giver’s power of a gift choice. It nonetheless became clear that “the Sultan would consider himself slighted if he were given anything but the Garter”, especially as he made it clear that he regarded the Star of India an “inferior order” fitted for his vassals only.44 In making the argument, Abdul Aziz subtly reactivated the traditional Ottoman cosmogony by which Ottoman Sultans were direct successors of the Prophet and as Supreme rulers, had no equals.45 Deep down, to Abdul Aziz and to an Ottoman public sphere with a sense of history, the Garter functioned not so much as a honorific gift, as a tribute that denied the very idea of a Western power hierarchy.46

  • 47 This is reminiscent of what happened in 1856 when the British hesitated on granting the Garter on S (...)

15In the end, Victoria gave way to the pressures of the FO and Prince Edward and invested Abdul Aziz with the Garter onboard the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert during the naval review on 17 July, 1867. In trying to maintain British influence in the Ottoman Empire and containing the French one – Napoleon III had already announced that he would personally honour the Sultan by visiting him in 1869 – with the proxy of the Garter, Victoria fulfilled the Ottoman Emperor’s original wish, though rather against her own will.47

Receiving the Garter and appraising the ceremony

16Deciding on the counter-gift once back home raised the question of the basis on which to reciprocate. It invites appraising the gift for its value, monetary and/or symbolic, and for the discourse it carried in order to decide on the proper response. Before turning to Sultan Abdul Aziz’s gift to Victoria – in the form of Arabian horses – in the final section of this article, one needs to reflect on understandings of the ceremony and its representations, especially from an Ottoman perspective.

17The investiture ceremony is best remembered due to artworks by George Housman Thomas (1824-1868). Thomas had been regularly commissioned by Victoria since 1854 for both private portraits and public occasions. Of the three representations by Thomas, two are now in the Royal Collections (RC) – the watercolour being currently on display at Frogmore House, a favourite royal retreat (Figure 3), while the oil on painting commissioned by Victoria was still on display in the Principal Room of Windsor Castle in 1878 (Figure 2). The third work, an oil painting privately commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Bradford, Master of the Queen’s Horses, is still on display at the family residence in Shropshire.48 Such representations have guaranteed Abdul Aziz’s long-term visibility in British venues of power, historic collections and ensuing popular prints, with British-Ottoman friendship being archived and kept on visual record. Of course, nothing do they say about the weeks-long drama that preceded the award.

[Figure 2] George Housman Thomas, The Investiture of the Sultan with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867-1868). Oil on canvas, 45.9 x 66.5 cm.

[Figure 2] George Housman Thomas, The Investiture of the Sultan with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867-1868). Oil on canvas, 45.9 x 66.5 cm.

RCIN 406336. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202349

[Figure 3] George Housman Thomas, The Investiture of Sultan Abdülaziz I with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867). Watercolour, 28.1 x 43.8 cm.

[Figure 3] George Housman Thomas, The Investiture of Sultan Abdülaziz I with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867). Watercolour, 28.1 x 43.8 cm.

RCIN 450804. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202350

  • 51 Queen’s diary entry on 17 July, 1867, cited in George Earle Buckle (ed.), The Letters of Queen Vict (...)
  • 52 Cf. the 1855 watercolour by G.H. Thomas Queen Victoria investing Napoleon III with the Garter (RCIN (...)

18Comparing the two works in the Royal Collections reveals how the oil on canvas (Figure 2) was influenced by the Queen’s mixed perception. In her own words, the Sultan was “very uncomfortable” at sea and “was continually retiring below” during the review, which took place during a storm. The gloomy atmosphere of the oil – by contrast with the much brighter watercolour (Figure 3) – also reads metaphorically, as the Queen confided in her diary that she granted the Garter “which he had very much set his heart upon, though I should have preferred the Star of India”.51 The Sultan likely did not see Thomas’s representations – as unlike Napoleon III, who was similarly honoured by Queen Victoria in 1855, he was not offered one.52 However, to 1868 Royal Academy exhibition viewers, The Investiture of the Sultan with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867-1868) by Thomas must have invited comparison to another royal commission.

19Edward Matthew Ward (1816-79)’s The Investiture of Napoleon III with the Order of the Garter, 18 April 1855 (1860, oil), on display at Buckingham Palace during the Sultan’s stay there, is nearly twice the size in height and three times the size in length (Figure 4). While Thomas’s oil’s size suggests treatment as a landscape or genre format, the Queen clearly pushed Ward to offer a magnificent rendering of Napoleon III’s State visit highlight – the award of the garter – in historical painting format. Superficially, both paintings presented viewers with the same scene – the Queen’s putting the Garter ribbon over the soon-to-become-knight –, but the comparison betrays the hierarchy in the Queen’s mind. Indeed, Napoleon III’s investiture was some form of reciprocation for the warm and grandiose welcome given to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during their State Visit to France in 1855.

[Figure 4] E.M. Ward, The Investiture of Napoleon III with the Order of the Garter, 18 April 1855 (1860), oil on canvas, 97.3 x 176.2 cm.

[Figure 4] E.M. Ward, The Investiture of Napoleon III with the Order of the Garter, 18 April 1855 (1860), oil on canvas, 97.3 x 176.2 cm.

RCIN 402020. Royal Collection Trust /© His Majesty King Charles III 202353

  • 54 Kocunyan, “Ibid.”, p. 584.
  • 55 Derby to Grey, 20/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/A/36 series, f. 5.
  • 56 Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman E (...)

20But for the Sultan, the essential was elsewhere. First, he rejoiced that the award took place during such an impressive ceremony and that the Ottoman flag floated some time alone, before British pavilions were raised.54 And most importantly, he was elated that Queen Victoria had awarded the insignia herself – which placed him on an equal footing with Napoleon III and which was a distinction unknown to his predecessor.55 These elements resonated very strongly with the mid-nineteenth-century Ottoman honouring tradition, whereby decorations and ceremonial banners were part “of the symbolic dialogue between the ruler and the ruled” and whereby being decorated by the Sultan was still a rare honour.56 Abdul Aziz’s acceptance of the Garter implied his acceptance of Victoria’s personal honour/friendship. This was itself an honour by the Sultan-Caliph-Commander of the Faithful, a semi-sacred figure in Ottoman polity. In other words, the garter symbolized a strong, personal bond between the two countries.

  • 57 Ponsonby, Briefing, 06/06/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/41 series, f. 47.
  • 58 Reproduced in Wilson, Ibid., p. 295.
  • 59 Ponsonby, Briefing, 06/06/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/41 series, f. 47.
  • 60 ‘Our Foreign Visitors’, The Illustrated London News, 20 July 1867, front page.

21In a way, Thomas’s representations also stressed just this, the “intimate dimension” of the ceremony, which the Sultan valued as primordial.57 This was exactly what the Ottoman press emphasized in their coverage of the ceremony and what British visual artist William Barnes Wollen (1857-1936) chose to frontstage in an 1881 close-frame engraving adapted from Thomas’s oil.58 In insisting on the investiture ceremony taking place onboard the royal yacht (rather than at the palace), Lord Derby had sensed that this intimacy was what mattered most from an Ottoman perspective, especially as British non-State actors (like the Agricultural Society and the City of London) had organised grand fêtes for the Sultan. He hoped that such private moments would dissipate views (in Britain or abroad) that Queen Victoria did not want to entertain the Sultan.59 In two lavishly illustrated reports on the Ottoman Sultan’s stay in Britain, The Illustrated London News further made a bombastic point that if Britain shed the pageantry displayed by France when welcoming the Sultan, her reverence for the latter was perhaps more sincere.60

Arabian horses for the Garter: on Victorian gender propriety and gift acceptability

22Such a personal distinction commanded exceptional reciprocation. Diplomatic correspondence between the Ottoman ambassador in London and the British FO in September 1867 reveals that Abdul Aziz intended to reciprocate by giving Victoria seven purebred Arabian horses, both as acknowledgement (as from equal to equal) and display of munificence.61 While the Ottomans had a whole array of possible diplomatic gifts to European rulers – including jewelry, pigeons and hawks (for hunting), exotic animals or clockwork –, gifting an Arabian horse to another head of state was part of a long-standing Ottoman tradition and a highly valued one, especially in the Islamic world, but not only.62 The higher the number, the most distinguished the receiver – which was also true for vassals’ offerings to the Sultan.63 While numbers mattered – “six beautiful horses” were presented by the Dey of Algiers to King George III in 181964 –, what retains attention is the breed. Animal gifts were meant to be spectacular and rare, as is the case here. Ottoman Sultans had long forbidden the export of purebred Arabian horses and had developed a mixed breed of light horses containing Arabian bloodlines for export and diplomatic gifts instead. Purebreds were regarded as higher in value, also “for their capacity to maintain speed over a distance”.65 Both in number and quality, the counter-gift to Victoria was outstanding.

  • 66 Sarah A. Southall Tooley, The Personal Life of Queen Victoria (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1897), (...)

23Ottoman sovereigns attempted to select appealing gifts for the recipient ruler in order to strengthen personal ties. With Queen Victoria a lover of animals, especially of dogs and horses, purebred Arabian horses seemed appropriate. Besides, Victoria was an accomplished horse-rider and many equestrian portraits displayed her in a riding habit and/or reviewing troops, extolling her grandeur as Queen. Altogether, her stables had a capacity for approximately a hundred horses.66 It was also public knowledge that Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (1783-1859), a Parsi cotton and opium merchant knighted by Queen Victoria in 1842, had presented “4 beautiful Arab horses, in magnificent Cashmere horse cloths & trappings […] led round by Indians & their servants” to the monarch and her husband in 1846.

[Figure 5] Edouard Boutibonne, Queen Victoria (1856), oil on canvas, 110.9 x 92.6 cm.

[Figure 5] Edouard Boutibonne, Queen Victoria (1856), oil on canvas, 110.9 x 92.6 cm.

RCIN 405278. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202367

24Not only had that present been accepted then, but it had led to a royal equestrian portrait Victoria had given as a return present to Albert in 1856. The painting by Edouard Boutibonne (1816-97), most probably stages her white Arabian horse Korsheed given by Jeejeebhoy. Shortly after Prince Albert died, her doctor suggested horse-riding as therapy (Figure 5). This was all the more public knowledge as in 1863, Queen Victoria commissioned her photographic portrait that would represent her in mourning dress seated on “Fyvie” at Balmoral, alongside her Keepers, John Brown and John Grant (Figure 6).

[Figure 6] G.W. Wilson, The Queen, Balmoral 20 October 1863. Albumen carte-de-visite, 5.8 x 9.1 cm.

[Figure 6] G.W. Wilson, The Queen, Balmoral 20 October 1863. Albumen carte-de-visite, 5.8 x 9.1 cm.

RCIN 2333927. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202368

  • 69 One of his successors present in London, Abdul Hamid Efendi (later Sultan Abdul Hamid II, 1876-1909 (...)

25The portrait, by George W. Wilson, functioned as her tribute to Prince Albert, who had died two years earlier, and as a memorial of her rides with Albert and her Keepers in Scotland. The photograph became an instant success and sales were prompted in sympathy for the Queen’s bereavement. The gift of seven purebred Arabian horses, including a white one, thus seemed ideal – one that also would ensure Abdul Aziz posterity in representation, as had happened to Jeejeebhoy. Sultan Abdul Aziz’s gift was meant to partake of his self-fashioning on the international scene.69 As such, his gift functioned much as ornamental diplomacy.

26And yet, the case shows how the value of a gift can be demoted in a given context, something which was visibly lost on the Sultan here. As defiance had grown towards the British monarchy in the mid-1860s, Victoria tried to rebuild her public image. She commissioned the royal painter Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) for a visual demonstration that the afflictions of her “Body natural” (widowhood) did not affect her “Body politic” (the transcending, effectively ruling monarch) and that her queenship was intact. The result was the equestrian portrait Queen Victoria at Osborne (1865-1867), which prominently featured her servant John Brown, in a way that was reminiscent of Wilson’s photograph a few years earlier.

[Figure 7] Sir Edwin Landseer, Queen Victoria at Osborne (1865-67), Oil on canvas, 147.8 x 211.9 cm.

[Figure 7] Sir Edwin Landseer, Queen Victoria at Osborne (1865-67), Oil on canvas, 147.8 x 211.9 cm.

RCIN 403580. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202370

  • 71 Raymond Lamont-Brown, John Brown: Queen Victoria's Highland Servant (Stroud, The History Press, 200 (...)
  • 72 Gina M. Dorré, Victorian Fiction and the Cult of the Horse (Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, 2006 (...)

27When disclosed at the Royal Academy in May 1867, the portrait intensified suspicions about the true nature of the widowed Queen’s relationship with her Scottish servant, John Brown, thereby completely diffusing the Queen’s original purpose in commissioning the painting. Queen Victoria at Osborne seemed to offer materiality to an otherwise rather nebulous relationship defying class boundaries (Figure 7). Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, poet and admirer of Victoria, recorded in his diary that “it was the talk of the household that he was ‘the Queen’s stallion’”.71 Gina M. Dorré convincingly demonstrated in 2016 that the Landseer portrait encapsulated the “shifting and variant cultural meanings generated by the iconography of the horse, as well as the ambiguity surrounding the Brown/Victoria relationship”.72

  • 73 Stanley to the Queen, 10/09/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1, f. 158.
  • 74 “Arab Horses Presented by the Sultan to the Price of Wales”, ILN, 16/10/1867, p. 529.

28Proposed but a few months later (when the controversy was still very vivid), the Sultan’s gift was conceived as an embarrassment by Victoria and her entourage, who believed that accepting the horses would cause rumours of impropriety to resume. Although the gift was meant to be gender-neutral, it was not read in that way by the Queen, who was about to turn the present down, were it not for the fear of overarching consequences. To ease relations and avoid a diplomatic break, Lord Stanley worked closely with the Ottoman ambassador in London to bring the view across to the Sultan that “horses [were] not appropriate for her use”, but that she was not refusing the gift proper.73 After long negotiations through the British FO and the Ottoman ambassador to Britain, Musurus Pasha, a deal was found to avoid a diplomatic crisis: four Arabian horses were to be given by the Sultan to her son Prince Edward instead. They were eventually accepted in November 1867, as was visually reported in The Illustrated London News.74 As a further compensation, Edward announced that he would gladly honour the Sultan by paying a second visit to him in Constantinople (in 1869).

Conclusion

  • 75 Zoltán Biedermann, Anne Gerritsen, Giorgio Riello, “Introduction”, in Zoltán Biedermann, Anne Gerri (...)
  • 76 Giorgio Riello, “La culture matérielle de la diplomatie: les cadeaux diplomatiques des ambassades f (...)

29For lack of proper documentation, gifts are often orphan artefacts in collections or mere textual mentions, whose history cannot easily be reconstructed. Here, the examination of correspondence has revealed the processes behind the gift-giving between Queen Victoria and Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1867 and shown that gifts need to be inscribed in longue durée – because of negotiations prior to the offering, because of subsequent representations, and because of their perennial legacy when they survive in collections. That sense of longue durée is especially conspicuous in Sultan Abdul Aziz’s handling of the overall gift exchange, as it was central to his self-fashioning on both the domestic and international scenes and as it contributed to construct the international personality of his Empire over the long term, while building on traditional Ottoman world representations. The increasing importance of ornamental diplomacy in Ottoman politics accounts for arduous negotiations on the part of the Sultan, especially to obtain the Garter. As such, this diplomatic episode brings evidence that diplomatic gift-giving is more than a bilateral exchange, but rather needs to be contextualised in the broader setting of global gifts’ circulation, if one is to understand the complex dynamics of giving-receiving-reciprocating.75 It also firmly demonstrates that reciprocity is not an abstraction, but only really materializes through the exchange of gifts, which thus create social and political bonds.76

30This case study also invites us to see protocol in the making in the context of a first ever: – the reception of an Ottoman, Muslim sovereign on British soil. More particularly, the State Visit of Sultan Abdul Aziz to Britain placed two rather asymmetrical gift-giving systems in contact on British soil and at the permanent risk of incommensurability (e.g. over the role the Garter performed or over the interpretation of horses). As shown in this article, that risk was bridged by diplomatic intermediaries on both sides (especially the British Foreign Secretary, the British ambassador at Constantinople, the Ottoman ambassador to St James’ Court and Fuad Pasha), who acted as intercultural brokers. Even so, a diplomatic faux-pas was always possible, as exemplified by the Sultan’s offer of the Arabian horses to Queen Victoria. Musurus Pasha’s confusion over British attitudes to the counter-gift between September and November 1867 indicates that even a fine knowledge of the country’s culture is insufficient without a subtle and quick understanding of ongoing events, as context can temporarily affect the meaning, value and acceptability of a gift.

  • 77 Mustafa Serdar Palabıyık, “The Sultan, the Shah and the King in Europe: The Practice of Ottoman, Pe (...)
  • 78  Moritz Deutschmann, “All Rulers are Brothers": Russian Relations with the Iranian Monarchy in the (...)

31In the end, the visit was a success from both a British and an Ottoman perspective, with the Queen taking up her responsibilities as host and the Sultan affirming his international status, which henceforth strengthened his hold in the Cretan Question. But the essential is probably elsewhere. In forcing both sides to adjust their visions of diplomatic protocol to avert a diplomatic break-off, the Queen and the Sultan created a “third space” that blurred polarized boundaries between “East” and “West” and that gave shape to the idea of “fraternity of monarchs” based on their common identity as sovereigns.77 While the British Foreign Office still believed in a hierarchy of States, this new conception durably impacted British gift protocol. From that moment on, the reluctance to grant the Order of the Garter to a non-Christian sovereign ruler on a State visit to Britain was shed, even by Queen Victoria. The most conspicuous testimony of this paradigm shift remains the granting of the Garter by Queen Victoria herself to Persian Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah, as he left his Empire for the first time and toured Europe in 1873 to register support for the “1872 Reuter concession” by which he had granted German-born British entrepreneur Julius Reuter to exploit the country’s natural resources to develop various communication infrastructures and a national banking system. While the scheme infuriated many sovereigns (especially Tsar Alexander II), Nasir al-Din Shah strengthened his stance in international monarchical diplomacy – at least ornamentally – with the Garter. Its granting was to mark a historic moment in British-Persian relations and was memorialized through a photographic portrait commissioned and gifted by Queen Victoria to the portrait-savvy Shah that symbolizes the new ornamental order in British protocol.78

[Figure 8] W. and D. Downey, Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, Shah of Persia (1831-96) (1873), hand-coloured albumen photographic print, 13.6 x 9.8 cm.

[Figure 8] W. and D. Downey, Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, Shah of Persia (1831-96) (1873), hand-coloured albumen photographic print, 13.6 x 9.8 cm.

RCIN 2914411. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202379

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Notes

1 Felicity Heal, The Power of Gifts: Gift Exchange in Early Modern England (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 149.

2 Sinan Kuneralp and Aylin Koçunyan (eds.), Parisʼte Bir Padişah, İstanbulʼda Bir İmparatoriçe 1867-1869, Exhibition Catalogue (Istanbul, 2020); Nihat Karaer, Paris, Londra, Viyana: Abdülaziz'in Avrupa seyahati (Ankara: Phoenix , 2003); Judith M.A. Upton-Ward, “European attitudes towards the Ottoman Empire a case study: Sultan Abdülaziz’s visit to Europe in 1867”, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Birmingham, 1999; Cemal Kutay, Sultan Abdulaziz'in Avrupa seyahati (Istanbul, Bogazici Yayinlari, 1991).

3 Michael Talbot and Phil McCluskey, “Introduction: Contacts, Encounters, Practices: Ottoman-European Diplomacy, 1500-1800”, The Journal of Ottoman Studies 48, n° 48 (2016), p. 269.

4 On the link between the rise of Republicanism in Britain and monarchy’s retreat after Prince Albert’s death in 1861, see for instance: Norbert J. Gossman, “Republicanism in Nineteenth-Century England”, International Review of Social History 7, no. 1 (1962), pp. 47-60.

5 Defined by Breen as “an engagement with foreign sovereigns through the exchange of collars, cordons, medals and ribbons, those material objects that constitute all modern honors systems”. John Breen, “Ornamental Diplomacy: Emperor Meiji and the Monarchs of the Modern World”, in Robert Hellyer and Harald Fuess (eds.), The Meiji Restoration: Japan as a Global Nation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), p. 232.

6 Angus Hawkins and John Powell (eds.), The Journal of John Wodehouse First Earl of Kimberley, 1862-1902 (London: RHS, 1997), p. 205.

7 For the Foreign Affairs Committee, see: Arif Uğur Gülsaran, “The Role of David Urquhart within the Framework of the Ottoman-British Relations during 19th Century”, Phd, Yeditepe University, 2020, pp. 106-112.

8 Stanley to Crowley, 28/06/1867, Cowley Papers, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, London, FO 519/182, f. 349 (on public expenditure and the Civil List); Queen Victoria to ?, 28/05/1867, Queen Victoria’s Royal Archives (RA), Windsor, VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 35.

9 For a review of the vast literature, David M. Craig, “The Crowned Republic? Monarchy and Anti-Monarchy in Britain, 1760-1901”, The Historical Journal 46, no. 1 (2003), pp. 168-179.

10 Queen’s Telegram to Lord Lyons, 28/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 34.

11 Ibid.

12 Telegram from Grey to Stanley, 30/5/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 38.

13 Ponsonby, Royal Archivist, to?, 21/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/B23 series, f. 68; Lord Grey to Lord Stanley, 30/05/1867, Foreign Office Papers, TNA, FO 78/2010, f. 24.

14 Stanley to Grey, 22/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/B23 series, f. 70.

15 Ibid.; Stanley to Grey, 30/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/1 series, f. 40. On Musurus Pasha’s skills, see: Ali Kemali Ağsüt, Sultan Ezizin Mısır ve Avrupa Seyahati (Istanbul, 1944), p. 86.

16 On the intellectual project behind the reforms and its ambivalences, see: Alexander Vezenkov, “Reconciliation of the Spirits and Fusion of the Interests. ‘Ottomanism’ as an Identity Politics”, in Mishkova Diana, We, the People: Politics of National Peculiarity in South-eastern Europe (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2009). DOI: http://books.openedition.org/ceup/886.

17 For a global overview: M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire (Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2010).

18 Stanley to Grey, 22/05/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/B23 series, f. 69.

19 Grey to Stanley, 30/05/1867, FO 78/2010, f. 24.

20 Salahaddin Bey, La Turquie à l'exposition universelle de 1867 (Paris, Hachette, 1867), “A Sa Majesté Impériale le Sultan”, unnumbered page.

21 Michael Kouvaros, ‘The Cretan Conflict 1866-1869: Competing and Complementary Ideologies throùugh the Prism of the Greek and Ottoman Press’, PhD, Basel University, 2021, p. 47. Online at: https://edoc.unibas.ch/87239/1/e-diss%20Michail%20Kouvaros.pdf (All links were last consulted on 16/01/2023).

22 Aylin Kocunyan, “Les voyages du sultan Abdülaziz et leurs répercussions intérieures”, in Sylvain Destephen, Josiane Barbier and François Chausson (eds.), Le gouvernement en déplacement: pouvoir et mobilité de l'Antiquité à nos jours (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2019), p. 579.

23 Burak Onaran, Détrôner le sultan: Deux conjurations à l'époque des réformes ottomanes, Kuleli (1859) et Mesek (1867) (Leuven, Peeters, 2013), p. 274.

24 Karaet, Ibid., p. 39; Bülent Arı, “Early Ottoman Diplomacy: Ad Hoc Period”, in A.N. Yurdusev (ed.), Ottoman Diplomacy. Studies in Diplomacy (Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2003), p. 59.

25 Karaet, Ibid., pp. 49-51.

26 Darin N. Stephanov, Ruler Visibility and Popular Belonging in the Ottoman Empire, 1808-1908 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019), p. 3; Edhem Eldem, Pride and Privilege. A History of Ottoman Orders, Medals and Decorations (Istanbul, Osmanlı Bankası, 2004); Murat R. Şiviloğlu, The Emergence of Public Opinion: State and Society in the Late Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

27 Stephanov, Ibid., p. 45.

28 Edhem Eldem, “The Changing Design and Rhetoric of Ottoman Decorations, 1850-1920”, The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 28 (2016), p. 37.

29 The inscription on the medal reads: “el-Mustanid bi-Tawiqati’r-Rabbaniyye Maliki’d-Dawlati’l-Othmaniyye

Abdulaziz Han”, which translates as “Abdülaziz Khan, Sovereign of the Ottoman State, who relies on divine guidance”.

30 The Prince of Wales Journal, 6 February-14 June 1862, Entries 24-25 May 1862, Images 174-177 of the digital edition.

31 Stephanov, Ibid., p. 45.

32 Musa Müşü and Eren Korkmaz, “İsmail Paşa, Saray ve Babıali: Mısır İşgalinin Siyasi, İktisadî, Sosyal ve İdarî Zemininin İnşası 1863-1879”, International Journal of History 10 (December 2018), footnote 98, p. 157.

33 https://www.rct.uk/collection/441053/star-of-the-order-of-osmanieh-turkey.

34 Full list at: https://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/garterlist.htm.

35 Carsten Holbraad, The Concert of Europe: A Study in German and British International Theory 1815-1914 (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1971), p. 3.

36 ‘The Queen’s Speech’, HL Debate, 05/02/1867, Hansard, vol. 185, §2.

37 Queen Victoria’s pro-Cretan attitude needs to be contextualised within the context of British Philhellenism, which had strong “monarchical underpinning”. Robert Holland and Diana Markides, The British and the Hellenes: Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850-1960 (Oxford, OUP, 2008), p. 7.

38 Derby to ?, undated [July 1867], RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f. 109.

39 Notes by Edward Cust, Master of the Ceremonies, 04/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/A/36 series, f. 3.

40 Northcote to Widdall, 14/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f.114.

41 Derby to ?, 14/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f.115; Supplement to The London Gazette, 19 November 1856 (https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/21942/page/3823).

42 “British Orders and Decorations”, Chapter IV: The Indian Orders, American Numismatic Society website. http://numismatics.org/digitallibrary/ark:/53695/nnan23229.

43 Widdall to Derby, 15/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f. 117.

44 Robert Wilson, The Life and Times of Queen Victoria, Volume 3 (London, Cassell & Co., 1887), p. 294; Derby to Widdall?, 15/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f. 116.

45 On the transformation of the “Islamic reference”: Tim Stanley, “Ottoman Gift Exchange: Royal Give and Take”, in Linda Komaroff (ed.), The Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts (Yale, Yale UP, 2011), 149; Özgür Türesay, “The Political Language of Takvîm-i vekayi: the Discourse and Temporality of Ottoman ‘Reform’ (1831-1834)”, European Journal of Turkish Studies 31 (2020), https://doi.org/10.4000/ejts.6874.

46 Barbara Karl, “Objects of Prestige and Spoils of War: Ottoman Objects in the Habsburg Networks of Gift-Giving in the Sixteenth Century”, in Zoltán Biedermann, Anne Gerritsen and Giorgio Riello (eds.), Global Gifts: The Material Culture of Diplomacy in Early Modern Eurasia (Cambridge, CUP, 2018), p. 123.

47 This is reminiscent of what happened in 1856 when the British hesitated on granting the Garter on Sultan Abdülmecid and the French decided to present him with the Légion d’honneur immediately upon hearing the news. As the news became public, the Queen eventually accepted to bestow the distinction on the Sultan through the offices of the British ambassador, Stratford Canning, to maintain influence in the immediate post-Crimean war era. Turgut Subaşi, “Stratford Canning’in Raporlarina Göre Sultan Abdülmecid Ve Ona İngiltere Tarafindan Verilen Dizbaği Nişani”, Belleten 80, n° 287 (April 2016), especially 169-172.

48 Reproduced on the ArtUK website: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/queen-victoria-investing-the-sultan-abdulaziz-of-turkey-with-the-order-of-the-garter-on-board-the-royal-yacht-17-july-1867-278352.

49 https://www.rct.uk/collection/406336/the-investiture-of-the-sultan-with-the-order-of-the-garter-17-july-1867.

50 https://www.rct.uk/collection/450804/the-investiture-of-sultan-abdulaziz-i-with-the-order-of-the-garter-17-july-1867.

51 Queen’s diary entry on 17 July, 1867, cited in George Earle Buckle (ed.), The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence and Journal Between the Years 1862 and 1878. Second series, Volume 1 (London, John Murray, 1926), pp. 445-446.

52 Cf. the 1855 watercolour by G.H. Thomas Queen Victoria investing Napoleon III with the Garter (RCIN 920054, Royal Collection Trust).

53 https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/12/collection/402020/the-investiture-of-napoleon-iii-with-the-order-of-the-garter-18-april-1855.

54 Kocunyan, “Ibid.”, p. 584.

55 Derby to Grey, 20/07/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/A/36 series, f. 5.

56 Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1909 (London and New York, I.B. Tauris, 1998), p. 36.

57 Ponsonby, Briefing, 06/06/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/41 series, f. 47.

58 Reproduced in Wilson, Ibid., p. 295.

59 Ponsonby, Briefing, 06/06/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/41 series, f. 47.

60 ‘Our Foreign Visitors’, The Illustrated London News, 20 July 1867, front page.

61 Stanley to the Queen, 10/09/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1 series, f. 158.

62 For instance: Michael Talbot, “Gifts of Time: Watches and Clocks in Ottoman-British Diplomacy, 1693–1803”, in Harriet Rudolph (ed.), Material Culture in Modern Diplomacy from the 15th to the 20th Century (Boston: De Gruyter, 2016), pp. 55-79; Derya Ocak, “Gift and Purpose: Diplomatic Gift Exchange between the Ottomans and Transylvania during the Reign of István Báthory (1571-1576)”, MA Thesis, Budapest University, 2016, pp. 45-47 (on horses).

63 Sándor Papp, “Corruption, Bribes, or Just Presents? The Practice of Offering Gifts in Ottoman-Hungarian and Ottoman-Romanian Relations”, in Tatjana Paić-Vukić et al. (eds.), Turkologu u čast! Zbornik radova povodom 70. rođendana Ekrema Čauševića (Zagreb, Open Books 2022). DOI: https://openbooks.ffzg.unizg.hr/index.php/FFpress/catalog/view/139/231/10344

64 https://www.rct.uk/collection/themes/Trails/grand-vestibule-the-british-monarchy-and-the-world/algiers.

65 Elizabeth Tobey, “The Palio Horse in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy”, in Karen Raber and Treva J. Tucker (eds.), The Culture of the Horse: Status, Discipline, and Identity in the Early Modern World (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 70.

66 Sarah A. Southall Tooley, The Personal Life of Queen Victoria (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1897), p. 258.

67 https://www.rct.uk/collection/405278/queen-victoria-1819-1901.

68 https://www.rct.uk/collection/2333927/the-queen-balmoral.

69 One of his successors present in London, Abdul Hamid Efendi (later Sultan Abdul Hamid II, 1876-1909), sought to do the same by offering photographic albums of modern Ottoman imperial life to the US in 1893 for the Chicago International Exhibition and to Britain in 1894. Erin Hyde Nolan, “The Gift of the Abdulhamid II Albums: The Consequences of Photographic Circulation”, Trans Asia Photography 9, no 2 (April 2019). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/215820251_9-2-207.

70 https://www.rct.uk/collection/403580/queen-victoria-at-osborne

71 Raymond Lamont-Brown, John Brown: Queen Victoria's Highland Servant (Stroud, The History Press, 2000), p. xviii.

72 Gina M. Dorré, Victorian Fiction and the Cult of the Horse (Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, 2006), p. 4.

73 Stanley to the Queen, 10/09/1867, RA VIC/MAIN/H/1, f. 158.

74 “Arab Horses Presented by the Sultan to the Price of Wales”, ILN, 16/10/1867, p. 529.

75 Zoltán Biedermann, Anne Gerritsen, Giorgio Riello, “Introduction”, in Zoltán Biedermann, Anne Gerritsen, Giorgio Riello (eds.), Global Gifts: The Material Culture of Diplomacy in Early Modern Eurasia (Cambridge, CUP, 2018, 19-20).

76 Giorgio Riello, “La culture matérielle de la diplomatie: les cadeaux diplomatiques des ambassades françaises au Siam à la fin du XVIIe siècle”, in Ariane Fennetaux, Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise and Nancy Oddo (eds.), Objets nomades: circulations matérielles, appropriations et formation des identités à l'ère de la première mondialisation, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021), p. 28.

77 Mustafa Serdar Palabıyık, “The Sultan, the Shah and the King in Europe: The Practice of Ottoman, Persian and

Siamese Royal Travel and Travel Writing”, Journal of Asian History 50, no. 2 (2016), p. 205.

78  Moritz Deutschmann, “All Rulers are Brothers": Russian Relations with the Iranian Monarchy in the Nineteenth Century”, Iranian Studies 46, no. 3 (2013), p. 395; for the Shah’s views on the distinction, see the authorisation translation of his travelogue: The Diary of H.M. The Shah of Persia during his Tour through Europe in A.D. 1873 (London: John Murray, 1874), p. 146.

79 https://www.rct.uk/collection/2914411/nasir-al-din-shah-qajar-shah-of-persia-1831-96

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List of illustrations

Title [Figure 1] Prince Edward’s Star of the Order of Osmanieh (Turkey), c.1862. Silver, gold and enamel, 8.5 x 8.5 cm.
Credits RCIN 441053. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202333
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 896k
Title [Figure 2] George Housman Thomas, The Investiture of the Sultan with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867-1868). Oil on canvas, 45.9 x 66.5 cm.
Credits RCIN 406336. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202349
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 204k
Title [Figure 3] George Housman Thomas, The Investiture of Sultan Abdülaziz I with the Order of the Garter, 17 July 1867 (1867). Watercolour, 28.1 x 43.8 cm.
Credits RCIN 450804. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202350
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 324k
Title [Figure 4] E.M. Ward, The Investiture of Napoleon III with the Order of the Garter, 18 April 1855 (1860), oil on canvas, 97.3 x 176.2 cm.
Credits RCIN 402020. Royal Collection Trust /© His Majesty King Charles III 202353
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 564k
Title [Figure 5] Edouard Boutibonne, Queen Victoria (1856), oil on canvas, 110.9 x 92.6 cm.
Credits RCIN 405278. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202367
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 736k
Title [Figure 6] G.W. Wilson, The Queen, Balmoral 20 October 1863. Albumen carte-de-visite, 5.8 x 9.1 cm.
Credits RCIN 2333927. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202368
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-6.jpg
File image/jpeg, 468k
Title [Figure 7] Sir Edwin Landseer, Queen Victoria at Osborne (1865-67), Oil on canvas, 147.8 x 211.9 cm.
Credits RCIN 403580. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202370
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-7.jpg
File image/jpeg, 424k
Title [Figure 8] W. and D. Downey, Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, Shah of Persia (1831-96) (1873), hand-coloured albumen photographic print, 13.6 x 9.8 cm.
Credits RCIN 2914411. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 202379
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/docannexe/image/12442/img-8.jpg
File image/jpeg, 983k
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References

Electronic reference

Stéphanie Prévost, “Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz’s State Visit to Britain (July 1867): A Case in Negotiated ‘Ornamental’ Diplomatic Gifts”Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online], XXIX-3 | 2024, Online since 10 June 2024, connection on 24 July 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/12442; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/11vhh

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About the author

Stéphanie Prévost

LARCA/CNRS-UMR 8225
Université Paris Cité
Institut universitaire de France

Stéphanie Prévost is Senior lecturer in 19th-century British history and culture at Université Paris Cité and a junior member of the Institut universitaire de France. She has published extensively on British-Ottoman nineteenth-century relations (especially in the context of the Eastern Question) and is currently researching late-19th-early 20th century practices of refuge in Britain and the Empire well before the advent of a refugee status.

By this author

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Copyright

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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