Although Müteferrika played an important role in Turkish cultural history, his life and personality lapse into obscurity. The earliest Transylvanian stage of his career is still hardly known. His contemporaries offer no authentic information on his Christian background, and Müteferrika, the Muslim believer remembers his youth only in a few words as the era of ignorance which deservedly falls into oblivion.
The research of Müteferrika’s life shows a rather fragmented picture, because
a synthesis of the results of the Hungarian researchers
– who consider him their compatriot – with those of the Turkish scholars regarding him a great figure of Ottoman cultural history has not yet been realized. This is mainly due to the reason that the researchers involved in this discourse were rarely in a position of full competence concerning this great figure who embraced two different civilizations in his own personality. Among the several obscure moments of his life the most critical question is the background of his religious conversion.
The purpose of this site is not to cover these gaps, but to make accessible the factual knowledge on Müteferrika. By way of this small database, the collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, complemented with the prints preserved in the National Széchényi Library, we intend to put on display the relics of Müteferrika’s publishing activity.
The Ottoman Empire in the early 18th century, from the 1701 edition of Mercator’s Atlas (click to enlarge)