Using the web sites below, find information about the Moors (Othello’s people), the Turks (or Ottoman Empire, the invading party), and other “outsiders” to the Elizabethans. This information will be used to give a cultural overview, so be specific!
Aside from general background information, focus on the historical information for each group between 1400 and 1600. The play takes place sometime between these years since Venice occupied Cyprus in 1489 and the island fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1571.
Who were the Moors? Where did they come from? What were they doing in Europe in the sixteenth century? Are their religious or cultural practices associated with them?
#33 – Othello: Race, Place and Identity (see section on Moors)
#34 – Shakespeare's Moors
#35 – Moors - Infoplease.com
Turks and the Ottoman Empire
Who were the Turks? What was the Ottoman Empire? How does this relate to the era of the play?
#37 – Encarta - Ottoman Empire
#38 – Infoplease - Turks
What was the Elizabethan attitude toward foreigners in general and non-Christians—such as Turks—in particular?
#39 – Othello | Comments on the Plot (see background section)
#40 – Outsiders: Black
#41 – Inter-racial Marriages