Online Encyclopedia

SULEIMAN

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 53 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SULEIMAN I? the " Magnificent " (1494-1566), sultan of Turkey, succeeded his father Selim I. in 1520. Ilis birth coincided with the opening year of the loth century of Mussulman chronology (A.11. 900), the most glorious period in the history of Islam. Eventful as the age was both in Europe, where the Renaissance was in full growth, and in India, where the splendour of the emperor Akbar's reign exceeded alike that of his predecessors and his successors, Suleiman's conquests overshadowed all these. It is noteworthy that though in Turkey he is distinguished only as the law-giver (kanuni), in European history he is known by such titles as the Magnificent. He was the most fortunate of the sultans. He had no rival worthy of the name. From his father he inherited a well-organized country, a disciplined army and a full treasury. He united in his person the best qualities of his predecessors, and possessed the gift of taking full advantage of the talents of the able generals, admirals and ' Suleiman, eldest son of Bayazid I., who maintained himself as sultan at Adrianople from 1402 to 1410, is not reckoned as legitimate by the Ottoman historiographers, who reckon Suleiman the Magnificent as the first of the name. By others, however, the latter is sometimes styled Suleiman II.viziers who illustrated his reign. If his campaigns were not always so wisely and prudently planned as those of some of his predecessors, they were in the main eminently fortunate, and resulted in adding to his dominions Belgrade, Budapest, Temesvar, Rhodes, Tabriz, Bagdad, Nakshivan and Rivan, Aden and Algiers, and in his days Turkey attained the culminating point of her glory. The alliance concluded by him with France reveals him at once as rising superior to the narrow prejudices of his race and faith, which rejected with scorn any union with the unbeliever, and as gifted with sufficient political insight to appreciate the advantage of combining with Francis I. against Charles V. His Persian campaign was doubtless an error, but was due in part to a desire to find occupation, distant if possible, for his janissaries, who were always prone to turbulence while inactive at the capital. He was perhaps wanting in firmness of character, and the undue influence exercised over him by unscrupulous ministers, or by the seductions of fairer but no less ambitious votaries of statecraft, led him to make concessions which tarnished the glory of his reign, and were followed by baneful results for the welfare of his empire. It is from Suleiman's time that historians date the rise of that occult influence of the harem which has so often thwarted the best efforts of Turkey's most enlightened statesmen. Suleiman's claims to renown as a legislator rest mainly on his organization of the Ulema, or clerical class, in its hierarchical order from the Sheikh-ul-Islam downwards. He reformed and improved the administration of the country both civil and military, inaugurated a new and improved system for the feudal tenures of limitary fiefs, and his amelioration of the lot of his Christian subjects is net his least title to fame. He was also not unknown to fame as a poet, under the pseudonym of " Muhibbr " (see Hammer-Purgstall, Gesch. d. Osman. Reichs, ii. 331; and further TURKEY: History). Suleiman died on the 5th of September 1566, at the age of 72, while conducting the siege of Szigetvar.
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