Post-classical history

Süleyman I the Magnificent (d. 1566)

Ottoman sultan (1520-1566), the son of Sultan Selim I. Under Süleyman, known to Europeans as “the Magnificent” and in Turkish as Kanuni (the lawgiver), the Ottoman Empire expanded to its effective territorial limits in both east and west, although to the south the Ottomans were unable to contain the Portuguese in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Ottoman law was codified, and the empire came to play a major role in international politics. For later Ottomans, the reign of Süleyman was a golden age.

Much of Süleyman’s reign was spent campaigning against Hungary. In 1521 he took Belgrade, and on his second campaign, he routed the Hungarians at Mohacs (August 1526) and entered Buda (mod. Budapest). King Louis II was killed in battle, and the Hungarian throne left vacant. At this point Süleyman withdrew, due to a serious revolt in Anatolia. A succession dispute erupted, with the Hungarian Estates electing John Szapolyai, while the Habsburg archduke Ferdinand of Austria (brother-in-law of Louis) had himself crowned. Süleyman backed Szapolyai, and Ferdinand occupied Buda. In 1529 Süleyman marched on Hungary, retook Buda, and laid siege to Vienna. In 1530 Ferdinand besieged Buda and took western Hungary. In 1533 an agreement was made whereby Hungary was divided between Ferdinand and Szapolyai and their lands remained Ottoman tributaries. After a renewed period of fighting in Hungary, a five-year truce was eventually concluded in 1547.

In the eastern Mediterranean region, Süleyman expelled the Hospitallers from the island of Rhodes (mod. Rodos, Greece), which fell to the Ottomans in 1522. In the west, he faced the Spanish fleet. In 1535 the Spanish king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V led a successful campaign against Tunis. When war broke out with Venice in 1536, Süleyman entered into an alliance with Charles’s enemy, King Francis I of France. There were several further French- Ottoman alliances, the Ottoman fleet even wintering at Toulon in 1543. Venice lost most of her Aegean islands and, as part of the Holy League with Pope Paul III, Charles V, and Ferdinand of Austria, suffered a major defeat at Prevesa in 1538. According to the peace concluded in 1540, Venice lost various islands including Naxos, Santorini, Paros, and Andros, as well as Monemvasia and Nauplion. Further successful Ottoman campaigns in the Mediterranean in the 1550s under Piyale Pasa were followed by the siege of Malta (1565) and the capture of Chios from the Genoese (1566).

In the east Süleyman campaigned against the Safavids of Persia. Ottoman forces took Bitlis (1533), Tabriz (1534), and Baghdad (1534), and Iraq became an Ottoman possession. Despite further warfare against the Safavids, no major conquests were made, and what was to become the permanent frontier between the two states was set by the Treaty of Amasya (1555). In 1553 Süleyman executed his son Mustafa for apparently plotting to take the throne. Bayezid, another son of Süleyman,revolted in 1558 but was defeated near Konya (1559) and fled to Persia. After negotiations with the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasb, Bayezid was killed in 1562. In 1566 Süleyman set off against Hungary for what was to be his last campaign. He died at the siege of Szigetvar.

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