Reading Between the Lines: Admiral Ushakov’s Relations with Kapudane Abdülkadir Beg According to Russian and Ottoman Sources
The joint Ottoman-Russian naval expedition (1798-1800) to the Ionian Islands and Italy, which took place in the framework of the War of the Second Coalition against revolutionary France, is a subject that has drawn the intense interest of scholars of Ottoman-Russian relations at the end of the 18th century. The two seamen who led the expedition, Admiral Ushakov and Kapudane Abdülkadir Beg, faced not only military challenges, but also numerous logistic, financial, and diplomatic crises. Both Ushakov and Abdülkadir Beg were bound by strict official and secret instructions, which were often contradictory. Their rivals closely monitored the actions of the two admirals, and they immediately reported on them to their respective imperial authorities. As a result, Ushakov and Abdülkadir Beg experienced tremendous pressure from their political superiors. However, despite all of the difficulties, they managed to find a way to bridge the gaps of mutual distrust. The established modus operandi allowed a successful completion of the primary mission of the expedition. Russian language sources include hundreds of Ushakov’s reports, dispatches, and private letters. The variety of these published documents provides a good foundation for a better understanding of the complex nature of his relations with his Ottoman counterpart. Several examples, which illustrate different aspects of their association, are discussed in the paper.