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In an interesting vignette, it turns out that the Druze emir of Lebanon, Fakhr-al-Din, had traveled in the early 17th century to Florence and tried to conclude a military alliance with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Why, of all places, Tuscany? This raises some questions and conjectures:

  1. Presumably this was based on previous contact between Fakhr-al-Din and Tuscan traders. Are there records of Tuscan traders in Lebanon in the 17th century?
  2. This (abortive) alliance seems to me to be a pale mirror image of the earlier, much more significant Franco-Ottoman alliance. Was the Franco-Ottoman alliance still in operation in Fakhr's time? If yes, then was perhaps Fakhr trying to use Tuscany as a conduit to get in touch with the King of Spain or the Emperor, the Sultan's enemies? (wikipedia says he got so far as the Duke of Osuna - good for Fakhr, but hardly enough).
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I cannot answer this, but thanks for asking it, it's lead me to learn some very cool things. +1 –  Russell Feb 2 '13 at 14:09

2 Answers 2

Why Tuscaky of all places? In 1608 in Aleppo Fakhr-al-Din had signed a treaty with the Medici's Tuscany envoyees in Aleppo, so it was the Medici who seeked him first. In 1613 he had already started to struggle for independance from the Ottoman empire and he was at great risk. So he fled to Tuscany where he was welcome in Florence by Cosimo II who hosted him with greaty honours fro two years. There are number of publications on the subject, but of course most of them are in Italian , if anyone searchs for them bear in mind that his name was italianized in Faccardino. One important one (1787) is on books.google.it with free ebook download:Istoria di Faccardino Grand Emir dei Drusin. A bedly infomed storigraphy mantains that Cosimo and Fakhr-al-Din wanted to steal the Holy Sepukchre fron Jerusalem to take it to Florence ex:The Cornhill Magazine. Vol. XIX. January to June, 1869 Marina

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Tuscany had a military alliance and family ties with the Habsburg empire - at the time, Fakhr-al-Din was plotting to break free of Ottoman rule, and the Ottoman Empire was a longstanding enemy of the Austrians. He had hoped to enlist the aid of European powers like Austria and Spain, and was ready to hand over concessions in the holy land to get it - he was trying to light off a new crusade, in essence, and planned to play the two sides against each other to secure his rule.

Unfortunately for his plans, the political, cultural and financial situation in Europe at the time was not favorable for a new crusade.

Another part of his plan of independence was seeking to modernize Lebanon with science and technology from Europe, thereby strengthening trade relations - and Tuscany under Cosimo II was the place to be if you were into renaissance science and technology. The Ottoman Empire came down on him pretty hard for his troubles, tho.

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That was my reasoning as well but I am trying to get hold of more sources here - can you suggest some? Also, I am intrigued by your suggestion about Fakhr trying to import "Western technology" - is it just a hypothesis or do you have a source for it? +1 –  Felix Goldberg Feb 6 '13 at 12:44
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@Felix Goldberg - Here is an article by the author of an upcoming English-language biography of Fakhr: tjgorton.wordpress.com/… –  RI Swamp Yankee Feb 6 '13 at 12:48
    
Thanks, that looks interesting! –  Felix Goldberg Feb 6 '13 at 12:49

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