I’ve been watching (and loving) Showtime’s The Tudors,* having already read several biographies of King Henry VIII and his wives and daughters, and all this time I have been in almost complete ignorance of the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, which was going on at exactly the same time and on the same continent.
Suleiman ruled the Ottoman empire from 1520 to 1566. (He was born in 1494)
Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. (He was born in 1491) I know that Henry considered Francis his rival, not just as a monarch but as a person, and I’m a little surprised not to have read or heard anything about his feelings about Suleiman, who he must have been aware of.
I want to know so much more. So I borrowed a book or two, starting with Suleiman the Magnificent, by Andre Clot, and The Sultan’s Harem, by Colin Falconer; but it may be a while before I get to them, because I’ve accumulated a formidable pile of books I want to read already.
What I know about Suleiman so far is that he wore a turban approximately five times the size of his head, for some reason. It really looks very comical, and he’s not a very imposing guy to look at if his portraits are accurate likenesses. Looks a bit like Bashar al-Asad. Pale and spindly. Then when he’s older his portraits get more stylized and he looks like generic older man with beard and turban.
But he was a reigning monarch at a very interesting time and place, and he had intrigues going on in his court and at least one untraditional romance, too. I’m hoping Showtime or someone else comes out with a lush costume drama about it all.
Suleiman is a bit out of the range of this blog, being an Ottoman and not an Arab, but since the Ottoman empire encompassed the Arab world at this time, I say it counts.
*I just finished watching season I of The Tudors because I am perpetually behind the curve on all such things, except my notable early appreciation of Matt Groening. An example of my being behind the curve is that I’m currently watching season 5 of Angel and season 3 of My Name is Earl on DVD. Please don’t spoil them for me.