Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Thirteen years ago, Julia Phillips Cohen gave me an exciting birthday present, Moses Almosnino’s Crónica de los reyes otomanos. I decided that one day I would write about it and perhaps translate it into English. The present book does both. During my work on it, Julia was always...

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Note on Translations, Transcriptions, Titles, and Proper Names

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pp. xi-xiv

In this book, the term “Ladino” refers to the Ibero-Romance language used by Sephardim in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean from the sixteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. In rare cases, I call it “Judeo-Spanish.” Other names of this language appear only in quotations...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Moses Almosnino (1518–1580) was arguably the most famous Ottoman Sephardi writer and the only one known in Europe both to Jews and Christians. The author of a few important Hebrew works appreciated by his colleagues, he became renowned for his vernacular books that...

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Prologue: Jewish Vernacular Culture in Fifteenth-Century Iberia

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pp. 17-34

The question whether Iberian Jews had a language or a dialect of their own has been discussed for so long that any agreement is unlikely.1 Examinations of extant texts created by Sephardim before and soon after the expulsion have convinced many scholars that Iberian Jews spoke the...

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1. Ladino in the Sixteenth Century: The Emergence of a New Vernacular Literature

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pp. 35-65

During the sixteenth century, as a consequence of the 1490s expulsions and continuous mass immigration of Iberian Jews to the Ottoman lands, a new speech community emerged there. It consisted of tens of thousands of speakers whose linguistic interaction led to the...

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2. Almosnino’s Epistles: A New Genre for a New Audience

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pp. 66-101

As John Zemke rightly observes, historians do not agree on several essential facts of Almosnino’s life, including the years of his birth and death. Yet all scholars coincide “in the portrayal of an extraordinary figure in Salonican communal life,” a man who advanced the Jewish...

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3. Almosnino’s Chronicles: The Ottoman Empire through the Eyes of Court Jews

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pp. 102-157

Having discussed Almosnino’s epistles, I will now turn to his Crónica de los reyes otomanos, the most interesting of his creations and one of the least studied works of Ladino literature. The few scholars who have written about Crónica consider it a regular travelogue and describe Almosnino...

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4. The First Ladino Travelogue: Almosnino’s Treatise on the Extremes of Constantinople

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pp. 158-197

Book III of Crónica (henceforth, Extremes) is one of the most misunderstood works of Ladino literature. This misinterpretation was largely a consequence of its first appearance (albeit in adapted form) as the opening part of Cansino’s volume entitled Extremos y grandezas de Constantinopla...

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5. Rabbis and Merchants: New Readers, New Educational Projects

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pp. 198-255

In the final section of chapter 1, I discussed the decline of Ladino literature at the turn of the seventeenth century caused by the disappearance of its audience, resulting from the end of the converso immigration and the economic crisis. In this chapter that covers the period between the...

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Epilogue: Moses Almosnino, a Renaissance Man?

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pp. 256-268

Joseph Nehama, a well-known Salonican historian, called Almosnino “a true Renaissance man.”1 Another scholar born in Salonica, Isaac Molho, referred to him as “a humanist.”2 A third twentieth-century author from the same city, Michael Molho, characterized him as “a profound humanist...

Appendix: [The Extremes of Constantinople]

Moses Almosnino

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pp. 269-290

Bibliography

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pp. 291-308

Index

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pp. 309-319