"In this brief and lively biography, Gorton demystifies Fakhr ad-Din ibn Ma'n, an enigmatic 17th-century leader of his equally enigmatic sect, the Druze. An emir in the Shouf region of what is now Lebanon, Fakhr ad-Din presented himself to his Ottoman overlords as a devout Muslim but harbored a lifelong dream of capturing Jerusalem at the head of a Crusader army, even having the temerity to write to the Pope requesting that he require all Christians 'on penalty of excommunication' to assist him in his quest. Whenever Fakhr found himself out of the Sultan's favor, he would drop hints with his European allies that he was prepared to be baptized (though Gorton remains unconvinced by his assertions). Seeking political asylum in Tuscany, the emir and his retinue became 'among the very first non-Christian Levantines to voluntarily visit the Land of the Christians for an extended period, and unique in having left us an extensive and entirely credible written record of their experiences.' Fakhr ad-Din is shown to have been an admirable, if indecisive, leader, who was remarkably tolerant towards other ethnic and religious groups. Gorton also reveals that some Lebanese consider this somewhat obscure dynastic prince to be a founding father of the nation."-Publishers Weekly
For a few decades in the early seventeenth century, the Druze warlord Fakhr ad-Din (1572-1635) ruled a sizable portion of today's Lebanon and Syria, forging his own trade agreements with the West under the nose of the Ottoman Empire. In 1613, threatened by the sultan, he used his agreements with the Grand Duke of Tuscany as a pretext to set sail for Livorno, where he began an exile that eventually lasted five years, split between the courts of the Medici in Florence and of the Spanish viceroy in Naples. In 1618 he returned home, with unprecedented knowledge of Western ways, as one of the more remarkable figures to bridge the gap between Islamic East and Christian West. Praising Italy as a model of efficiency, he then challenged the sultan's self-image as a beneficent ruler. A remarkable story, well told, but the moral is disheartening. For his independence of mind, Fakhr ad-Din was assassinated in 1635.
"Renaissance Emir reads like a gripping, enjoyable and vivid novel. A must for anyone who looks at the history of Lebanon in order to understand the present."
– Hanan al-Shaykh, author of The Story of Zahra and The Locust and the Bird
Fakhr ad-Din Ma'n, one of the most flamboyant figures of the seventeenth century, bestrode two worlds. Ted Gorton's vivid and well-researched account of Fakhr ad-Din's ultimately tragic career guides us into the labyrinths of politics in both the Ottoman Empire and Medici Tuscany.
– Robert Irwin, author of The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature
A fascinating story, bolder than any historical fiction, rescued from the hidden pages of Levantine history. Gorton takes us to the secret world of the mysterious Druze and the epic, ultimately tragic tale of their extraordinary prince who dared to defy the mighty Ottoman Empire.
– Barnaby Rogerson, author of The Last Crusaders
"Fakhr ad-Din's story is unique" an interesting character condemned to live in interesting times, a period Renaissance Emir does an excellent job of evoking" Now, thanks to original research by T. G. Gorton, and his extensive use of contemporary Arabic and European sources, Fakhr ad-Din's story can be more fully appreciated... Renaissance Emir is an original and informative book which will go a long way to redressing its subject's undeserved obscurity."
T.J. Gorton's main aim is to tell an extraordinary story, and he does so with great enthusiasm and sympathy... lively and readable book"