Suleiman the Magnificent Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

Suleiman the Magnificent: The Man who Built Suleymaniye

Suleiman the Magnificent – the tenth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire – gave his state unprecedented power. The great conqueror also became famous as a wise author of laws, the founder of new schools and the initiator of the construction of architectural masterpieces.

In 1494, the Turkish Sultan Selim I and the daughter of the Crimean Khan Aisha Hafsa had a son who was destined to conquer the major part of the world and transform his native country.

The future Sultan Suleiman I received a brilliant education at the time in the palace school in Istanbul, spent his childhood and youth reading books and spiritual practices. From an early age, the young boy trained in administrative affairs and appointed the governor of three provinces, including the vassal Crimean Khanate. Even before ascending to the throne, the young Suleiman won the love and respect of the inhabitants of the Ottoman state.

By the end of the ambitious ruler’s reign, the Ottoman Empire had become one of the greatest and strongest state in the history of the Muslim world. However, military measures depleted the treasury – according to estimates, the maintenance of an army of 200 thousand military personnel, which also included Janissaries, ate up two-thirds of the state budget of peaceful times.

Portrait of Suleiman by Titian
Portrait of Suleiman by Titian Vecelli

Beginning of the Reign

Suleiman took the throne when he was 26 years old. Suleiman initially met the expectations of the people. He started with humane actions – returned freedom to hundreds of chained prisoners from the noble families of the states captured by his father. This helped to resume trade relations with the countries. Europeans were especially happy with the innovations, hoping for a long-term peace, but, as it turned out, it was too early. Balanced and fair at first glance, the ruler of Turkey still harbored a dream of military glory.

Internal Policy

Suleiman did not get the nickname the Magnificent for nothing: the life of the ruler is filled not only with military successes; he also succeeded in the internal affairs of the state. On his behalf, Judge Ibrahim of Aleppo updated the code of laws, which was in force until the twentieth century. Maiming and the death penalty were reduced to a minimum, although criminals caught forging money and documents, embezzlement and perjury were still deprived of the right hand.

The wise ruler of the state, where representatives of different religions lived side by side made an attempt to create secular laws. But some of the reforms did not take root because of the constant wars.

The education system also changed for the better: one after another, primary schools began to appear, and graduates, if desired, continued to receive knowledge in colleges.

Foreign Policy

By the end of the reign, the military biography of Suleiman I numbered 13 major military campaigns, including 10 campaigns of conquest – on the territory of Europe. And that’s not counting the small raids. The Ottoman Empire had never been so powerful. Its lands stretched from Algeria to Iran, Egypt, and almost to the threshold of Vienna. At that time, the phrase “Turks at the gate” became a terrible horror story for Europeans.

Sultan Suleiman: A Talented Jeweller

However, the Turkish Padshah was not only a talented politician and commander, but also had many hobbies in peaceful life. Suleiman the Magnificent was very fond of jewellery, he wrote poems himself, and also patronized young and talented poets.

In general, all the rulers of the Ottoman Empire from the dynasty had a passion for any craft. Sultan Suleiman was no exception. One of his favorite hobbies was making jewellery. With great pleasure, the Padshah could sit for several hours at this painstaking work and diligently, without hurrying, make every detail of a jewellery masterpiece. Then these jewels decorated and complemented the outfit of his beloved – the wife of the Slavs.

But not only the work with precious stones made Padshah famous. He could also easily engage in blacksmithing. Suleiman could take part in the ebb of the cannons, which earned respect and love among the common people.

Sultan Suleiman’s Love of Poetry

In addition to his talent as a jeweller, the Turkish Padshah was famous for his love of poetry. Moreover, he not only liked to read the poems of talented poets, but also knew how to write them himself. Most of his works, Suleiman the Magnificent dedicated to his beloved wife Hurrem. The language of poetry allowed the Padshah to pour out the full depth of his feelings on a piece of paper.

During the reign of Suleiman, the position of rhythmic chronicler appeared in the Ottoman Empire, whose duty it was to describe in verse the events taking place in the country.

Moreover, Padshah himself wrote beautiful poems, he also supported young and talented poets in every possible way. So, for example the poet Baka, who was one of the most beloved of the Padshah. The Sultan expressed his patronage to him, and also brought him so close to the court that among other subjects Baka received the nickname “Sultan of Poets”.

Sultan Suleiman’s Сontribution to Architecture

Suleiman also left his legacy in the architecture of the Ottoman Empire. During his reign, 3 of the greatest Masjids were built, the creations of the famous architect Sinan. The largest of them, the Sulaymaniye Masjid, is the second largest in modern Turkey. The Suleymaniye Masjid can accommodate up to 10 thousand people at a time. The architectural design, with the installation of inflated pitchers that amplify the sound in the walls of the Masjid, allows the preacher to read prayers and be sure that he will be heard in every corner of the Masjid. The Padshah tried to make the state more secular and passed the necessary laws for this.

The Identity of Suleiman the Magnificent

Despite all his good intentions and deeds, Sultan Suleiman has been viewed by many as an ambiguous person, prone to dominating. According to the available information and records, it is impossible to determine exactly who was Sultan Suleiman.

The meeting with the Padshah impressed the Ambassador Bragadin, who represented the interests of Venice in the Ottoman Empire. He wrote that despite the unimpressive appearance of the Padshah, there is an inner force in him that can destroy all obstacles on its way. He also noted the love of Suleiman and his ability to show tenderness towards women.

Sultan Suleiman has rightfully earned its nickname the Magnificent. During his reign, the Ottoman Empire extended its power to the major part of the world, keeping European states at bay.

Hurrem Sultan

The list of women of Suleiman the Magnificent is headed by Hurrem. A favorite woman of Slavic roots, Roxolana, a captive from Galicia, charmed the ruler. The Sultan granted her freedom, and then took her as a legitimate wife – a religious marriage was concluded in 1534.

Roxolana received a nickname Hurrem (“laughing”) for her cheerful disposition. The creator of the harem in the Topkapi Palace, the founder of charitable organizations inspired artists and writers, although she was not distinguished by an ideal appearance – her subjects appreciated intelligence and everyday cunning. Hurrem gave birth to a daughter, Mihrimah, and five sons. Suleiman’s love for Hurrem did not fade over the years. After the death of his wife, the Turkish ruler never went down the aisle again.


The Sultan, who brought powerful states to their knees, died, as he wished, in the war. It happened during the siege of the Hungarian fortress of Szigetavr. 71-year-old Suleiman had long been tormented by gout, the disease was progressing, and even riding a horse was already difficult.


Videos? We’re on YouTube!

You may also like...