Iran and a French empire of trade, 1700-1808

BookIran and a French empire of trade, 1700-1808

Iran and a French empire of trade, 1700-1808

The other Persian letters

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2020:12


December 17th, 2020

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Iran and a French Empire of Trade examines the understudied topic of Franco-Persian relations in the long eighteenth century to highlight how rising tensions among Eurasian empires and revolutions in the Atlantic world were profoundly intertwined. Conflicts between Persia, Turkey, India and Russia, and European weapons-dealing with these empires occurred against a backdrop of climate change and food insecurities that destabilized markets. Takeda shows how the French state relied on “entrepreneurial imperialism” to extend commercial activities eastwards beyond the Mediterranean during this time, from Louis XIV’s reign to Napoleon Bonaparte’s First Empire. Organized as a collection of microhistories, her study showcases a colourful set of characters—rogue merchants from Marseille, a gambling house madam, a naturalized Greek-French drogman, and a bi-cultural Genevan-Persian consul, among others—to demonstrate how individuals on the fringes of French society spearheaded projects to foster ties between France and Persia.

Considering the Enlightenment as a product of a connected world, Takeda investigates how trans-imperial adventurers, merchants, consuls, and informants negotiated treaties, traded commodities and arms, transferred knowledge, and introduced industrial practices from Asia to Europe. And she shows the surprising ways in which Enlightenment debates about regime changes from the Safavid to Qajar dynasties and Persia’s borderland wars shaped French ideas about revolution and policies related to empire-building.

'[Iran and a French empire of trade's] innovative approach, accessible style, and unique cast of characters make it a valuable resource for students and scholars working on French and Iranian history in a global context.'
Julia Caterina Hartley, French Studies

Author Information

Junko Takeda is Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on early modern globalization, statecraft and migration. She is the author of 'Between Crown and Commerce: Marseille and the Early Modern Mediterranean'. She is currently writing a global microhistory about Avedik, an Armenian patriarch of Constantinople imprisoned in France during the reign of Louis XIV.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of figures9
Maps and timelines11
Between microhistory and the global: trade, revolution, and empire in the age of Enlightenment34
1. Merchants into Frenchmen? Marseille and entrepreneurial imperialism53
Entrepreneurs and their enterprises under Louis XIV60
The brothers Fabre: royalist entrepreneurship in Marseille65
Billon de Canserilles: the drug peddler who hoped to be ambassador75
2. Letting Marie Petit speak: “heroine of Persia” or renegade prostitute?81
Marie Petit and the French embassy of 170487
French misogyny and the politics of disinformation on the Persian frontier91
Ferriol’s crusade: Christian conflicts in the Ottoman Empire97
Marie Petit, Vakhtang VI, and Catholic expansion in the Caucasus101
A woman abroad: gender and diplomacy in the Mediterranean world108
3. The pirates of Oman and the Franco-Persian arms deal that wasn’t117
Omani maritime expansion and European weapons-dealing in the Persian Gulf127
Mohammad Reza Beg’s embassy to Versailles138
A gambler, a drogman, and the secret plans to bombard Muscat145
Covert missions in the age of revolutions152
4. Persian wars, the French Republic of Letters, and the global age of revolutions157
“Revolution” and the fall of the Safavid dynasty169
The revolutionary imperialism of Nader Shah Afshar179
Raynal, Voltaire, and the rejection of Persian revolutionary imperialism188
Persian revolutions in the age of Enlightenment192
5. Jean-François, the other Rousseau: the consul of Baghdad and the Franco-Persian revolution in India195
Old Regime interventionism in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf200
Rousseau, Napoleon, and a French revolution in India214
Between republic and empire: the Rousseaus and political philosophy228