As a trader by profession, Hasan is the perfect example of the international trade going on the 15th and 16th centuries. He describes his transactions with people from all around the Mediterranean and Middle East, and mentions several times the Italians (particularly the Genoese and Venicians, whom Abu-Lughod singled out as powerful and wealthy merchants). It is through trade that Hasan gains much of his knowledge and diplomatic skills.
Since his childhood, when his hometown was captured by the Portuguese, Hasan witnessed the proliferation of European influence in the world. Although he did not realize it, he may have been witnessing the beginning of European hegemony. His knowledge of Europeans begins minimally, starting with his Castilian step-mother, his Italian merchant acquaintance, and finally his immersion in European culture when he is brought to Rome as a slave. There he is witness to another historic event- the beginning of religious conflict amongst Christians, at the monk Martin Luther threatens the power and wealth of the Roman Catholic church. Here Hasan, now baptized Johann Leo de Medici, is in a very unique position, caught between his Muslim faith and his sympathy towards both sides of the conflict, understanding the viewpoints of both his benefactor Pope Leo and his enthusiastic protestant friend Hans.
What struck me most was the pope's behavior towards Hasan. Although he was imprisoned as a slave, he treated him like a son, and was concerned with his education and his faith. Clearly he hoped that by baptizing Hasan and setting him free, he would return to his people and bring converts to the Catholic faith. But the way he went about this was strange and seemed destined for failure. He must have known that converting him against his will would not be sufficient to ensure that Hasan would spread Christianity upon his return to the Muslim world, no matter how well he treated him.