An Essay on the Use of Travelogues as a Source of Historical Knowledge: Reading the Memoirs of a Venetian Merchant about Van City

Katırancı Ü.

Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, vol.0, no.0, pp.403-416, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


This research involves the analysis of the notes of a Venetian merchant about the city of Van, which he visited during his journey from Aleppo to Tabriz at the beginning of the 16th century. The traveller, starting from the shore of Lake Van, reached Akdamar Island, Gevaş and finally Van and described the geographical shapes and physical and demographic structures of these regions. His narratives about Van ended with the details of the battle that took place between Zahid Bey, who ruled Van, and Behram Bey, who came to take over the castle, one of the commanders of Shah Ismail. The object of the study is to examine the accounts of the traveller about the places they visited and the events they heard, in comparison with other sources (especially Evliya Celebi’s travel book). Based on the results of the research, it is possible to find the historical equivalents of the information contained in the traveler's notes when analyzed comparatively. The notes on the occupation of Van Castle by the Safavids make the travel book the only source of the period, as there is information nowhere else. From this point of view, it can be said that the resource value of the travel book of the Venetian merchant increased. In this research, it is emphasized that the notes of a Venetian merchant can be used as a source of historical information with a comparative historical method.