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Emperor Suleiman

Emperor Suleiman, by Titian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Suleiman the Magnificent

Süleiman I (Ottoman Turkish: سليمان اوّل) was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Süleiman the Magnificent (6 November 1494 – 7 September 1566) and in the East, as the Lawgiver (Turkish: Kanuni; Arabic: القانونى‎, al‐Qānūnī), for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system. Süleiman became a prominent monarch of 16th century Europe, presiding over the apex of the Ottoman Empire’s military, political and economic power. Süleiman personally led Ottoman armies to conquer the Christian strongholds of Belgrade, Rhodes, and most of Hungary before his conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He annexed most of the Middle East in his conflict with the Safavids and large swathes of North Africa as far west as Algeria. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. At the helm of an expanding empire, Süleiman personally instituted legislative changes relating to society, education, taxation, and criminal law. His canonical law (or the Kanuns) fixed the form of the empire for centuries after his death. Not only was Süleiman a distinguished poet and goldsmith in his own right; he also became a great patron of culture, overseeing the golden age of the Ottoman Empire’s artistic, literary and architectural development. He spoke six languages: Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Serbian, Chagatai (a dialect of Turkish language and related to Uighur), Persian and Urdu. In a break with Ottoman tradition, Süleiman married a harem girl, Roxelana, who became Hürrem Sultan; her intrigues as queen and power over the Sultan made her quite renowned. Their son, Selim II, succeeded Süleiman following his death in 1566 “after 46 years of rule.” (See Süleiman the Magnificent, Wikipedia.)


Roxelana, Hürrem Sultan, by Titian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned in the caption above, Süleiman married Roxelana (c. 1502 – 15 April 1558), a Christian girl from his harem who converted to Islam and became Hürrem Sultan. The couple had several sons. Süleiman ordered the strangling of the heir apparent, his son Mustaffa, and also ordered the murder of a second son, Şehzade Bayezid (1525 – 25 September 1561), and Bayezid’s sons. He was succeeded by his son Selim II.

The Crusades

You may recall that US President Barack Obama mentioned the Crusades at a Breakfast. This reference has been looked upon as both appropriate and inappropriate. I will leave you to judge. By clicking on the link below, one may access a short video and listen to President Obama’s brief address.


All the Crusades opposed Christendom and Islam, but President Obama was probably referring to the early Crusades. Christians entered what we now consider the Middle East. “Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem.” (See Crusades, Wikipedia.) Moreover, Christians wanted to contain Muslim conquests (Wikipedia).

The Very Last Crusades: the Ottoman Empire

Fall of the Byzantine Empire, 1453

The fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Empire is the Muslim conquest that ushered in the Renaissance. However, we seldom associate the Crusades with the Ottoman dynasty. Crusaders lost Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire on 29 May 1453. (See The Fall of Constantinople, Wikipedia.) It had been Byzantium and inhabited by Greek colonists from 657 BCE until 330 CE. It acquired its current name, Istanbul, in 1930. (See Byzantium, Wikipedia.)

Fall of the Ottoman Empire, 1922

The Sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922. The last Sultan was Mehmed VI, of the House of Osman. (See Abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate, Wikipedia.) Osman, the last of the line born under the Ottoman Empire, died in 2009.

Fall of the Ottoman Caliphate, 1924

The Ottoman Caliphate was constitutionally abolished on 3 March 1924. (See Defeat and Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, 1908 – 1922, Wikipedia). The Ottoman Empire was defeated during World War I, but it also fell to Turkey during the Turkish War of Independence. After the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate, Caliph Abdülmecid II was exiled to Paris, France, where he died at his house, Boulevard Suchet, Paris XVI, on 23 August 1944. He was buried in Medina, Saudi ArabiaMehmed VI was buried in Damascus, Syria, “at the courtyard of the Tekke of Süleiman the Magnificent” (see the caption below the photograph showing his departure from Constantinople).


Sultan Vahideddin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Sultan Vahideddin (Mehmed VI) departing from the backdoor of the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. A few days after this picture was taken, the Sultan was deposed and exiled (along with his son) on a British warship to Malta (17 November 1922), then to San Remo, Italy, where he eventually died in 1926. His body was buried in Damascus, Syria, at the courtyard of the Tekke of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent. Turkey was declared a Republic on 29 October 1923, and the new Head of State became President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.”

The above is also a quotation. The links are mine. (See Abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate, Wikipedia.)


Abdülmecid II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abdülmecid II was the last caliph of Islam and a member of the Ottoman dynasty.


Photo of Abdülmecid II in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Ottoman Empire (1453 -1924) lasted five-hundred years and the territory it occupied was located west of the Middle-East. In the late 14th century Sigismund of Luxemburg (14 February 1368 – 9 December 1437), Holy Roman Empire, King of Hungary and King of Croatia, went on a Crusade. He was defeated at the Battle of Nicopolis on 25 September 1396. In 1443-1444, the Ottoman Empire crushed the Kingdom of Hungary, the Serbian Despotate and the Principality of Wallachia during the Crusade of Varna. In fact, in the late Middle Ages, the Ottoman Empire defeated every Crusade. Last to fall would be Constantinople. Therefore, for nearly 500 years, part of the Muslim world was located in what we know as Europe and the Crusades lasted until the end of the Medieval era.

The genocidal wars that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union reflect ethnic discrimination in Eastern Europe. It is probably rooted in the very last Crusades.

This post is a very brief and derivative follow-up to my recent posts. Muslims visited the court of France. Molière wrote “turqueries (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme) and all things oriental, the Middle East, became fashionable.


Sources and Resources


Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66), ca. 1555–60, Turkey, Istanbul, Islamic (Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

Ottoman Sufi Music 

EmperorSuleiman© Micheline Walker
12 February 2015