Negotiating Catholic Reform and Ottoman Subjecthood: Communal and Confessional Boundaries in the Missionary Work of Bosnian Franciscans, 1622-1699

Thesis author: 
Emese Muntan
Year of enrollment: 
Duration of thesis project: 
Sep, 2015 - Aug, 2021
Thesis supervisor: 
Tijana Krstić
Thesis abstract: 

The proposed dissertation research is associated with the ERC research project “The Fashioning of a Sunni Orthodoxy and the Entangled Histories of Confession-Building in the Ottoman Empire, 15th-17th Centuries (OTTOCONFESSION) led by prof. Tijana Krstić at Central European University, Budapest. Within this project my research concentrates on examining the missionary and pastoral activity of Bosnian Franciscan friars in Ottoman Hungary and Rumeli in the course of the seventeenth century. I am going to focus on the role of these Franciscans in the shaping of communal and confessional boundaries of coexistence through the lens of their missionary letters and visitation reports sent to Rome. The envisioned dissertation will mainly revolve around the following research questions: How did Bosnian Franciscan missionaries conceptualize and interpret their relationship with the local Ottoman magistracy and with the Roman Curia, and how did this inform their missionary and network building agenda? How did Bosnian Franciscans relate to and understand Tridentine reforms, and how did they “translate” and implement Tridentine injunctions in the religiously, ethnically, and linguistically diverse Ottoman setting? Could these methods in any way articulate, obfuscate or even subvert inter- and intra-confessional boundaries of coexistence? What was the attitude of Bosnian Franciscans towards Franciscans coming from other provinces and towards missionaries belonging to different religious orders, and how could this make them “divert” from the “official path” of orthodoxy and orthopraxy propagated by Tridentine Catholicism?
Placing these issues in the broader theoretical and methodological framework of “confessionalization” I seek to explore social implications that Bosnian Franciscans’ activities had on inter- and intra-communal dynamics and developments of confessional discourses in the Ottoman Empire and beyond. Speaking to the objectives of the OTTOCONFESSION project, the dissertation aims to determine the extent to which the growing dedication of Rome towards the enforcement of confessional boundaries was in dialogue with the similar dynamics within the Ottoman Orthodox and Sunni Muslim communities; the extent to which Bosnian Franciscans mediated this dialogue; and to which Catholic missions in the Ottoman Empire were affected as a result.
The preliminary timeframe of the envisioned dissertation would focus on the period between 1622 (the foundation of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) and 1699 (the signing of the Treaty of Karlowitz). The preliminary territorial scope of my project would cover the southern parts of Ottoman Hungary, the Temeșvar Eyalet, and the northern parts of the Ottoman Balkans. By focusing on these territories I am hoping to highlight previously unexplored aspects of the “idiosyncratic” nature of these local Catholicism(s), and the way they related to the Catholicism(s) propagated by various missionaries, on the one hand, and to Ottoman religious politics on the other.