Felicita Tramontana

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2015/2016
discipline Humanities and Social Sciences
Marie Curie Fellow in the Centre for the study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick

Research project

Migration in the early modern world: the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land as a case study


My project sets out to investigate mobility in the Jerusalem region from c.1600-1800 in order to open avenues for further research on migration in the Ottoman Middle East. By complementing Islamic court records and Ottoman surveys with Franciscan sources and previously unused parish registers, the project will unfold how social networks and religious conversions shaped mobility patterns and facilitated migrants' inclusion and access to the urban resources.


Ottoman Jerusalem, as numerous cities in the early modern Mediterranean, experienced numerous arrivals and attracted different kinds of newcomers. First of all, sources suggest the existence of a slow movement to the city from the villages around it. In addition to this, Jerusalem was the destination of numerous migrants that arrived from other parts of the Ottoman Empire and from the Christian world. Besides Jerusalem, smaller cities as well attracted migrants, mainly from the villages nearby.

Departing from these premises the aim of my project is to shed a new light on migration in Ottoman Palestine, focusing on issues that up to now have been neglected such as: the role played by social networks in facilitating regional mobility, the influence that the spread of Catholicism had on regional mobility patterns and more broadly the relationship between migration and religious conversion. In particular, thanks to the use of Franciscans' parish books, I will unfold how Catholic missionaries encouraged migration in and out Catholic parishes, addressing migration flows toward newly-established Catholic communities. More broadly crosschecking Franciscans documents (parish books) and document from the Islamic court of Jerusalem, I will analyse the role played by social networks and religious conversions in shaping mobility patterns and facilitating newcomers' inclusion in the Holy City and their access to urban resources. 





Felicita Tramontana is Marie Curie Fellow in the Centre for the study of the Renaissance of the University of Warwick. Previous to that, she was Adjunct professor in 'History of Islamic countries', Universià 'Kore', Enna, Italy; and principal investigator for the University of Palermo of the National research project (FIRB 2008) Beyond "Holy War". Managing Conflicts and Crossing Cultural Borders between Christendom and Islam from the Mediterranean to the extra-European World: Mediation, Transfer, Conversion (sec. XV-XIX). She holds a PhD in Human Rights from the University of Teramo.


Her main research interest is the social history of the Ottoman Empire in the Early Modern period (1500-1800), with special attention to the history of Palestinian villages; the administration of justice, religious conversions and change in the distribution of the population and the spread of Catholicism in the area; the birth of Catholic communities in the villages around Jerusalem and in the Franciscans' missionary activity; the contacts between the two shores of Early Modern Mediterranean, travellers and the roots of European Orientalism; the Mediterranean slavery and the circulation of slaves and renegades.

Selected publications


Una Terra di intersezioni. Storia e istituzioni della Palestina di età moderna, Carocci, Rome, 2015.


'The Spread of Catholicism in Seventeenth-Century Palestinian Villages (17th century)', in W. de Boer et al. (eds.), Space and Conversion: A Global Approach, Leiden, Brill, 2015.


Passages of faith: Conversion in Palestinian villages (17th century), Harrassowitz verlag, Wiesbaden, 2014.


'Protestants' conversion to Catholicism in the Syro-Palestinian region (17th century)', Zeitschrift für historische Forschung, vol. 41, no. 3, 2014.


'Getting by the Resort of the Pilgrims': The Franciscan Friars of Jerusalem and their Anglican Guests (1600-1612)”, Giornale di Storia, wol. 13, 2014.


'The payment of the pool tax and the disappearance of the Christians from Palestinian countryside”, The Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 56, 2013.


'Khubz as iqṭā' in four authors from the Ayyubid and early Mamluk period', The Mamluk Studies Review, vol. 16, 2012.


'La corte islamica e gli abitanti cristiani del distretto di Gerusalemme (secolo XVII)' [The Islamic court and the Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem (17th century)], Società e Storia, vol. 138, 2012.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
Social Sciences
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History