Do you know what the geographical boundaries of the Ottoman Empire were? I didn’t; I admit I had to look it up. Here’s a map to help us along. For my next several blogs I’m going to be writing about Turkey. It’s what’s left today of the Ottoman Empire, which picked the wrong side in WW I and was then dismembered by the West.
The Ottoman Empire in about 1900; in North Africa it extended west to present-day Algeria.
“The West tends to think of the Ottomans as barbarian conquerors. But the reality is quite the opposite. The creation of the Ottoman Empire is not that of a smooth war machine rolling over new territory, although from a distance that is how it appears. One of the keys to the success of the Ottoman Empire was its inclusion of other cultures in a variety of ways. For example, Sultan Bayezid II welcomed the Jews, expelled from Spain during Queen Isabella’s bloody and belligerently intolerant Inquisition, offering them refuge in Istanbul. Almost always, the Ottomans supported religious and cultural diversity—note the almost. The Janissaries were one of their exceptions. This corps of brutal, well-trained military troops was made up of young Christian youths who were captured as slaves and—there’s no other word for it—brainwashed to became the Ottoman’s not-so-secret key to their military success. The Janissaries cut a swathe sword by sword through the expanding Ottoman territory.”
“Süleyman I ruled from 1520 to 1566 CE. He was known throughout Europe as the Magnificent, and to his people as Kanunî Sultan Süleyman, the Law-giver. His story should be an opera. It has all the ingredients of a great, raging tragic legend. He came to power quite legitimately and controlled the empire at its largest territorially. He was considerably more than the frightening conqueror as Europe viewed him, although his conquest of Hungary certainly supported that view. He initiated many cultural, architectural, and infrastructure projects. Istanbul was the most civilized and resplendent city in the world during his reign. And he was the Law-giver, codifying a just and thorough legal system.” [Excerpts from Voice of a Voyage]
I will post a lighter side to Turkey on my public Facebook page: www.facebook.com/VoiceofaVoyage/