In Ottoman Empire’s long history, Sultan Suleiman I, also known as Suleiman the Magnificent, is one emperor who stands out from the rest (Adele, 2012). Among the Muslims, Suleiman the Magnificent is most remembered for the legal code which he issued. However, in the Christian world, this monarch is often remembered for his conquests as well as being an influential collaborator to some and a mortal threat to others. The prominent monarch was born on November 6, 1494 in Trabzon (Russell & Cohn). His father was Sultan Selim I. From the tender age of seven, Suleiman the Magnificent was groomed to be the ruler of the empire. He was educated in literature, history, Islamic theology as well as warfare. From the time Suleiman the Magnificent was 17 years old, he was given several key political positions, including three gubernatorial positions.
Suleiman the Magnificent is often described as tall, slender, diligent and wise. When he became monarch of the Ottoman Empire, there were great expectations from him which he lived up to. In his studies, Suleiman’s role models were prominent figures of ancient history including Alexander the Great (Bridge, 1983). However, Suleiman was determined to outshine these great figures. This is one of the attributes that I admire in Suleiman; his competitive spirit. It is said that his aggressiveness led him to make a 4-tiered crown for himself with the purpose of surpassing the Pope’s 3-tiered crown (Adele, 2012). In this same spirit, Suleiman the Magnificent set out on a campaign of invasion in southern Europe, in which he took Belgrade from the Hungarians, only one year after he was crowned the monarch.
Suleiman the Magnificent stirred up fear among Christians with his numerous victories. He invaded and conquered Hungary as well as the island of Rhodes. By 1526, the Ottoman Empire was the prevailing power in south-eastern Europe after Suleiman defeated the Hungarians again (Adele, 2012). When Charles V, the Roman Emperor, liberated Hungary, Suleiman the Magnificent retaliated and recaptured Budapest and laid siege to Vienna. Christian Europe’s survival hung in the balance but Suleiman suffered his first trounce at Vienna and had to retreat. Nonetheless, he won many other battles later and forced Charles V to take legal action for peace on his terms (Russell & Cohn).
Suleiman also fought the Persians and the Portuguese. Furthermore, he assisted insurgents in Indonesia against Portugal. Even when he lost, Suleiman did not mull over his defeat. This is another trait I admire in Suleiman. As a result of this resilience, he even widened his influence across North Africa at Charles V’s expense. Suleiman was a role model to many (Russell & Cohn). He notably made a pact with the King of France, Francis I, who was keen to have such an influential ally on his side while he was in a conflict with the Roman Emperor.
At home, Suleiman took on to reforming and simplifying the law, ultimately issuing the famous Ottoman Law which was adopted in the empire for the next 3 centuries (Adele, 2012). Suleiman improved living conditions for Christians as well as the Jews in his empire. He also lessened the cruelty of criminal punishments and reduced the number of capital felonies. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire experienced a blossoming of literature, art and architecture. In fact, the monarch was an accomplished poet.
Without a doubt, Suleiman the Magnificent was a great man who was widely admired by his allies as well as his enemies. His friends and admirers described him as a wise and just leader whereas his adversaries were in awe of his talent, power and wealth. Under the rule of this prominent ruler, the Ottoman Empire made significant accomplishments in political power as well as cultural achievement. Ultimately, the Ottoman Empire became the most powerful state in the West as emperors who came after Suleiman built on his foundations.
Adele, C. (2012). A Guide to the Greatest and Most Benevolent Monarchs in History: Suleiman the Magnificent. Webster’s Digital Services. Bridge, A. (1983). Suleiman the Magnificent: Scourge of Heaven (illustrated ed.). Granada Publishing Limited. Russell, J., & Cohn, R. Suleiman the Magnificent. 2012: Book on Demand.