Suleiman the Magnificent, most glorious of the Ottoman sultans, kept Europe atremble for nearly half a century. In a few years he led his army as far as the gates of Vienna, made himself master of the Mediterranean and established his court in Baghdad. Faced with this redoubtable champion, who regarded it as his duty to extend the boundaries of ...
Suleiman the Magnificent, most glorious of the Ottoman sultans, kept Europe atremble for nearly half a century. In a few years he led his army as far as the gates of Vienna, made himself master of the Mediterranean and established his court in Baghdad. Faced with this redoubtable champion, who regarded it as his duty to extend the boundaries of Islam father and farther, the Christian world could not agree to unite against him. 'The Shadow of God on Earth', but also an expert politician and all-powerful despot, Suleiman ruled the state firmly with the help of his viziers. His empire held dominion over three continents populated by more than thirty million inhabitans, prospering under a well-directed, authoritarian economy, Suleiman's reign marked the apogee of Ottoman power. He extended the borders of the empire beyond what any of the Ottoman sultans had achieved, yet it primarily is as a lawgiver that he is remembered in Turkish. In this book Andre Clot successfully produces both a life of the man and portrays a history of the Ottoman Empire at its peak.
Of the many books written about Suleiman I (1494-1566), this biography, translated from the original in French, provides one with a balanced and informative analysis of the Ottoman sultan's life, his reign (1520-1566) and his manifold achievements. He was a firm but enlightened ruler, and his military, economic and judicial successes extended the glory of the Ottoman empire. Indeed it was actually Europeans who gave him the title by which he has been known ever since - Suleiman 'the Magnificent'. Shakespeare calls him 'a military prodigy' in 'The Merchant of Venice'. This book also looks at his role as a law giver in some detail. Under Suleiman, Constantinople (Istanbul now) became a world famous culltural and intellectual centre. He himself was also a poet of note and an excellent goldsmith - a monarch of many talents. Reading about his many accomplishments, one is reminded of Hammurabi, the great Babylonian king.
Many years ago, on my first visit to Istanbul, I spent one morning at the imposing Süleymaniye Mosque, which Suleiman ordered to be built and the renowned architect Sinan designed. The imperial mosque was completed in 1558. My visit to the mosque made me want to know more about this Ottoman ruler, which is what made me look at this well-researched work by the French historian André Clot (1909-2002) who spent many years in Turkey. It is written as a history book rather than a racy account of the sultan's reign, but should appeal to anyone interested in the history of the Ottoman empire in general and its greatest sultan in particular. This monarch was different.
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