Süleyman the Magnificent Ottoman who changed history

ERHAN AFYONCU
Istanbul
Published
Young Süleyman by Flemish painter Hans Eworth.
Young Süleyman by Flemish painter Hans Eworth.

The reign of Süleyman I, also known as Süleyman the Magnificent, marked the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire and lefta legacy that still influences many centuries

The Ottoman Empire became a real threat to European kingdoms starting with the reign of Süleyman I. When the Ottomans conquered Rhodes in 1522, Western and Central European kingdoms began to paid attention to empire to the east.

European kings and queens started to pay greater attention to the Ottoman Empire as it moved further into Europe because of the conflict between Francis I of France and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and conquered Hungary with the Battle of Mohacs. European interest in the Ottoman Empire increased much more, with the danger brought by Süleyman's Siege of Vienna in 1529.

Fear of Ottoman expansion

In the 16th century, the image of the Ottomans in Italy and the Holy Roman Empire was formed by the continuous power struggle and wars initiated by the westward expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Europeans started to think the Ottomans were invincible as their expansion continued. Religious European men were saying the Ottomans were punishment or curse of God for their sins.

Some believed the Ottomans were the whip of God, and therefore fighting against them means fighting against God. Europeans were so daunted that they were saying this world belonged to the Ottomans while the afterlife waited for them. The fear turned into a nightmare, and some believed the Ottoman expansion was the messenger of Doomsday. European writers wrote books to quell fear for the Ottomans. Scholars wrote about how to destroy the Ottoman Empire. Erasmus of Rotterdam said: "The magnitude of the Ottoman Empire shouldn't frighten people. The Roman Empire and empire of Alexander the Great were also big and thought to be invincible. However, they don't exist today. They are gone and fell to pieces." Erasmus said that their fellow Christians in captivity should be saved from the Ottomans, whom he describes as dark rooted savages. He advocated that the Ottomans should be wiped out for the continuation of Christendom, not recognizing the religious war.

The Ottomans meant hope for Christians along with the fear they spread. Some Christians who were forced to pay high taxes or could not live according to their own religion preferred to live under the Ottomans instead of a Christian kingdom.

The Ottomans were mentioned in ballets, operas, plays, songs, poems and stories in Europe. One of the reason was to keep people awake against the Ottoman danger and create a shield to destroy this threat to Christianity while the other was that the Ottomans were a contemporary sensation.

2,643 publications

In 1522 and 1523, 80 brochures and books were published after the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes, which was one of the symbolic places and leading stations for the Christianity world. Some 259 books and brochures were published after the Battle of Mohacs abd Siege of Vienna between 1536 and 1532 and Süleyman I's Germany campaign in 1532. Süleyman I's Siege of Buda in 1541 led to 134 publications. Some 148 books and brochures about the Siege of Szigetvar, Süleyman's last siege, and the Great Siege of Malta, which came to nothing in 1565, were published in Europe.

Romanian historian Carl Göllner concluded that 2,463 books, brochures and leaflets about the Ottomans were published in the 16th century. This interest did not pertain to only specific regions, as they were in almost all European cities.

These books were published in cities such as Frankfurt, London, Lyon, Rome, Prague, Venice and Vienna.

The highest number of the publications about the Ottomans was in Augsburg. Some 134 books and brochures published in 29 presses there was 134. The works about the Ottomans in European languages, especially German, Latin, English, Italian and Spanish, were nearly everywhere. Some 1,000 of 2,463 publications were in German and 455 of them were in Latin.

What is left from Süleyman I?

Süleyman's main target was westward expansion because of the lesser threat in the east and the conditions in Europe. The Ottomans getting involved in internal struggle provided the reconstruction of the power balance. France found new life after the Ottomans fought against the Habsburgs. Protestantism started to spread in Germany as the Ottomans wore out the German Habsburgs.

The Habsburgs' conquest of Africa was prevented with the collaboration of the Barbary pirates in these regions and the Ottomans. The Ottomans removed the Spanish Habsburgs from North Africa after Hayreddin Barbarossa was appointed as the admiral in chief.

The re-introduction of Christianity in North Africa was prevented by its conquest by the Ottomans.

The Habsburgs, who could not gain dominance in North Africa and Mediterranean, shifted their attention and power to new colonies beyond the Atlantic.

During Süleyman's reign, no ship could go to Persia without being forced to sail through Ottoman-controlled waters.

The first Persia campaign was in 1533. However, the Iraq campaign, which was made with two armies, was unsuccessful because mistakes by Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha, known as Frenk İbrahim Pasha. The two Persia campaign in 1548 and 1553, were made to help Uzbeks and other Sunni Muslims in the region and to give an answer to the Safavids who attacked the Ottoman lands.

The Peace of Amasya, which was signed in 1555, was the first official treaty between the two empires.

The most important result of the Ottoman campaigns is that Iraq and eastern Anatolia were conquered by the Ottomans. Even if Persia could not be totally conquered, the Ottomans obtained significant control of Indian trade ways with the conquest of Iraq.

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