Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Ingrid Mattson


Between 1674 and 1681, John Finch (1626-1682) and Thomas Baines (1622-1681) produced a substantial body of writing on statecraft, religion, and the Ottoman Empire, while Finch was serving as the English ambassador to the Ottomans. This thesis, which represents the first substantial scholarly engagement with Finch’s political thought, reconstructs both his understanding of the Ottoman Empire, and his theory of sovereignty. By synthesizing a skeptical epistemology, a robust defense of the royal supremacy over the Church of England, and his understanding of Ottoman history and politics, Finch developed a theory of sovereignty in which liberty and coercion were equally useful and legitimate tools of governance. By placing his manuscripts in relation to current historiography on early modern Orientalism and the emergence of imperial ideology, this thesis offers a new interpretation of the relationship between scholarship and empire in early modern England.