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Top 10 Facts about Suleiman the Magnificent


Suleiman I became an emperor of the Ottoman Empire at the age of 26. He was the only son to Selim I and therefore there was no struggle for power. His reign lasted for 46 years, the longest any emperor has ever ruled.

As an emperor to one of the largest kingdoms that lasted for more than 600 years, Suleiman proved he deserved to be on the throne.

He was known by different titles depending on where he went. In the Ottoman Empire, he was referred to as Suleiman I. Suleiman the Magnificent was his title in Europe. The easterners and Turks called him Suleiman the Lawgiver.

During his reign, there was a lot of development in the Empire. He is credited with the civilization of the Ottoman Empire. His great achievements were in the field of law, literature, art, and architecture.

Here are some 10 great facts about Suleiman the Magnificent.

1. Suleiman’s reign is known as the Golden Age

Suleiman the Magnificent supremacy is known as the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. He expanded his territory from Vienna to eastern Iran.

The empire was at the centre of trade between Asia, Africa, and Europe. As the controlling power of trade in the region, art thrived grew while the culture diversified.

While all these happened under the watch of Suleiman the Magnificent, he did not do it alone. He got help from his wife and daughter who supervised most of his projects.

Great minds such as artists, writers, intellectuals, philosophers, and craftsmen were drawn to the empire.  

His empire brought peace and stability, one that was experienced for the longest time.

2. Suleiman instituted Sharia Law

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After he ascended into power, Suleiman the Magnificent had two most important decisions. These two were to free prisoners and compensate merchants.

Suleiman I freed 1,500 Egyptian and Iranian prisoners. He also compensated merchants for goods that were confiscated by his father.

These earned him the title Suleiman the Lawgiver. Under his leadership, he introduced Sharia law. This was highly observed in his empire than in any other Muslim state.

Soon after, other Muslim nations practised the law. There were Sharia courts with lawyers and paralegals.

His subjects were happy and content under Sharia law. These laws ended discrimination against Christians. Lawbreakers were severely punished. 

3. Shakespeare wrote about Suleiman the Magnificent

Suleiman I became so popular not only in his Empire but far and beyond. His legacy lived on for decades even after his death.

One of the greatest English playwrights, William Shakespeare, eulogized him in the play The Merchant of Venice.

He acknowledged Suleiman I’s military expertise. America also acknowledged Suleiman I as one of the greatest lawmakers in history.

4. Suleiman the Magnificent built strong fortresses to protect his territory

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One attribute of Suleiman the Magnificent was that he loved great minds. He always was in the company of great minds.

His administrators, chief ministers, poets, architects and lawyers were experts in their respective fields.

Suleiman commissioned strong fortresses around the land he took from Christians. His cities had mosques, bridges, aqueducts, and other public works. He made the empire a commendable centre for a great Turkish and Islamic empire.

5. Suleiman the Magnificent supervised construction he commissioned

One of the greatest architects to live in the Ottoman empire was Mimar Sinan. He was one of the greatest minds to work under Suleiman the Magnificent. He also worked as a civil engineer for the emperor.

Sinan worked on more than 300 major construction works. Two of his major projects are the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. The other one is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne.

Through his work, he was able to showcase the Ottoman Empire culture. Other projects that he worked on include schools, hospices, soup kitchens, markets, and baths.

The two Holy Cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, were part of the great projects that Sinan worked on.

6. He broke an Ottoman tradition to marry

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It was customary for the emperor not to marry. Suleiman was the first emperor to do so. He got married to, Roxelane, his beloved wife.

Suleiman the Magnificent broke the tradition. Roxelane has married a slave. She had several children with Suleiman I. Their sons were sent to rural provinces.

His wife had Russian origin and his marriage to her was monogamous for more than 25 years. Roxelane was powerful and influential in the Ottoman Empire.

As one of the most powerful women in the empire, she influenced the politics in the region.  She is considered the pioneer of the Sultanate of Women.

Roxelane was left in charge of the empire when Suleiman the Magnificent was on a military campaign. 

7. Suleiman the Great was the first Emperor to travel to Europe

Suleiman the Magnificent had a great appreciation of art. He, therefore, travelled to Europe, a land he had had great art culture.

While there, he got inspired by their architecture, road networks and postage stamps. He also modernized his military.  

8. Suleiman the Magnificent was able to double the size of his empire

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Suleiman I was a highly skilled military strategist. Through the relentless efforts of his military, he was able to double the size of his Ottoman Empire.

He led the army himself and through his commandership, Suleiman conquered Christian strongholds. The empire comprised of Belgrade, Hungary, Vienna and Rhodes.

Suleiman I’s right-hand men included Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha, a prime minister, as well as Hayreddin Barbarossa, an admiral.

Some great leaders that inspired Suleiman included Alexander the Great. He borrowed Alexander the Great military strategy in expanding his military.

Suleiman I led 13 major military expeditions. He spent 10 years of his reign in military campaigns. 

9. Education was free in his empire

Suleiman I was greatly loved by his subjects because he was a committed leader.

Part of his great projects in the empire included free, schools, colleges and universities. The students studied subjects such as languages, philosophy and astronomy.

Trade-in his empire expanded significantly, the literacy level of his subjects increased. Artistic societies were formed where the artists practised and advanced their skills.

The artists were paid attractive stipends. It was during this Golden Era that great paintings were painted, great books written and magnificent buildings constructed.

10. Only two of his military campaigns failed

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Out of about 13 military campaigns that he led, Suleiman the Magnificent lost two of them.

He won wars in Damascus, Hungary and Belgrade. When he won the bloody battle in Hungary, he became one of the most feared military leaders in Europe.