Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Poem to Roxelana

Under my pen name, Muhibbi, I wrote this poem for my love, Roxelana.

“Throne of my lonely niche, my wealth, my love, my moonlight.
My most sincere friend, my confidant, my very existence, my Sultan,
The most beautiful among the beautiful…
My springtime, my merry faced love, my daytime, my sweetheart, laughing leaf…
My plants, my sweet, my rose, the one only who does not distress me in this world…
My Istanbul, my Caraman, the earth of my Anatolia,
My Badakhshan, my Baghdad and Khorasan.
My woman of the beautiful hair, my love of the slanted brow, my love of eyes full of mischief…
I’ll sing your praises always,
I, lover of the tormented heart, Muhibbi of the eyes full of tears, I am happy.”

The Expansion of the Ottoman Empire from 1450-1551

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBbSxnwQMiM

Famous Quotes

  • “I, the sultan of sultans, and the strongest ruler, the loftiest king who defeats the kingdoms around the world, and the shadow of Allah in the Earth, am the son of Sultan Selim who is the son of Sultan Beyazid, Sultan Suleiman, Caesar of Rome, the sultan of Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, and Thrace, and Anatolia, and Karaman and the City of Dulkadir and Diyarbakir and Kurdistan, and Iran and Damascus and Aleppo and Egypt and Mecca and Medinah and Jerusalem and the whole Arab land and Yemen and many more lands that our lofty ancestors conquered with their crushing powers and I conquered with my fire-scattering sword --- You, the king of province France, Francis...”

State Organization

The Imperial Harem
The state organization of the Ottoman Empire consisted of the military administration and the civil administration. It was a very simple system. The highest position belonged to me, the Sultan. Furthermore, the state had complete control over the clergy.  The state’s main task was to protect and expand the Muslim land and also to ensure safety and agreement within the borders. The central government was the House of Osman, which consisted of the servants of the Sultan, the Imperial Harem, and the Palace School.  The mother of the sultan held supreme power over the Harem. Therefore, she had a very powerful position in the court. Also, the palace school was made to create support for a successor by surrounding him by the ruling elite. The viziers of the Divan were the influential advisors and ministers of the Sultan. Most of them were nobles, but their jobs were essentially to be servants for the sultan. The Minister controlled the Ministry, which were a government department that were a vital part of the Ottoman system of government.  In the civil administration, there were millets and elders. The millets were self-governing communities that the major religious groups were allowed to establish.  Each millet was allowed to keep its own religious customs, and they were led by religious chiefs. The councils of the Elder had the duty of representing the people of their region. In some places, they became a type of nobility. There were also many vassal states. They paid taxes and gave troops to the sultan. The state organization of the Ottoman Empire was highly advanced and effective.

Cultural Achievements

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
The Ottoman Empire entered its golden age of cultural development during my reign and patronage. There were hundreds of grand artistic societies, called the Ehl-I Hiref, who were administered at the Imperial seat, which was the Topkapı Palace. Artists and craftsmen could advance in ranks after an apprenticeship. They were also paid proportionate wages four times a year. The Ehl-I Hiref attracted the most talented artisans to my court. These artisans included painters, book binders, jewelers and goldsmiths. What made the culture extraordinary was that my patronage of the arts was not influenced by other cultures, but was its own artistic legacy.  Pottery, weaving, and calligraphy were developed greatly during my reign.  Calligraphy especially reached its acme as it was a highly decorative writing with complex strokes. I was also a good poet, and I wrote in both Persian and Turkish. I wrote many poems for important events, such as the commemoration of my son Mehmed. Other people, like Fuzuli and Baki, were also great writers of the time. Lastly, I sponsored many architectural developments in the Ottoman Empire. I wanted to turn Constantinople into the center of Islamic civilization. To do this, I planned a series of projects, including mosques, palaces, and bridges. My chief architect, Mimar Sinan, helped the Ottoman architecture reach its pinnacle. He created over three hundred monuments throughout the empire. Some of his great accomplishments were the Sületmaniye and Selimiye mosques, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and the Kaaba in Mecca. These amazing architectural feats display the magnificence of the Ottoman Empire.

Organizational Reforms

 During my reign, I made many new organizational reforms that helped to improve the Ottoman Empire. I wanted to change the legislation so that it could adapt to the continuously changing empire. The eternal law of the empire was the Sacred Law, or Shari’ah, and these were the laws that could not be touched. However, the Kanuns, or the canonical law, depended on my decisions and it covered many areas, including criminal law, land tenure, and taxation. I collected all of the judgments that were issued by the nine Ottoman Sultans before me. Then, I organized and issued a single legal code. This single legal code did not violate the basic laws of Islam. My code of laws soon became to be known as the kanun-I Osmani, or Ottoman laws.  Another one of my codes was my Kanune Raya, or Code of the Rayas. This focused on the predicament of the rayas, who were Christian subjects who worked the land of the Sipahis, who were the Ottoman cavalry corps. My code helped to raise the rayas’ status above serfdom by governing levies and taxes that gave money to the rayas.  Some Christian serfs even migrated to my territories to benefit from the Kanune Raya. Furthermore, I also protected Jews in my Ottoman empire.  I issued a decree that formally condemned blood libels, which were false accusations, against Jews. I also made new criminal and police legislation which fined for particular offenses and had less death penalties. Lastly, education was an important aspect for me. I increased the amount of primary schools in the capital so that children could be taught reading and writing. Children were also able to learn the principles of Islam. Furthermore, universities provided higher education for those who wished to learn even more.

Military Conquests

The Siege of Vienna
During my reign, I further expanded the Ottoman Empire. My father, Selim had many conquests and I did the same. In 1521, I captured Belgrade; after, I went on to conquer central and southern of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the Battle of the Mohács in 1526, I was able to institute Ottoman rule in Hungary and other Central European territories. After this, I laid siege to Vienna in 1529. However, I failed to obtain the city when the winter forced us to retreat. In 1532, I attacked Vienna again with a strong army of well over 250,000 soldiers, but we were forced back 60 miles south of Vienna at the fortress of Güns. Ferdinand officially recognized Ottoman dominance in Hungary in 1547 after many further advances by the Ottomans in 1543. Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia became tributary territories of the Ottoman Empire. I also took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535, which helped me obtain control of Mesopotamia and also naval access to the Persian Gulf. The Ottoman Empire also became a dominant naval force under my rule. We controlled most of the Mediterranean Sea. The Ottoman admiral Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha commanded the Ottoman Navy and led it to many military victories over Christian navies. During this period, the Ottoman Empire and France became powerful allies. The alliance was for military and economic reasons and was united by common opposition to the Habsburgs. The conquests of the Ottoman Empire gained territories that doubled the size of the empire, and it was truly a powerful nation.