Suleyman the Magnificent, nicknamed Suleyman the Lawgiver by his subjects, was one of the most powerful sovereigns in 16th-century Europe.

Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic; artist unknown

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    On November 6, 1494, Suleyman I, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was born in Trabzon in what is today Turkey. Suleyman I led the Ottoman Empire for more than 45 years, and became one of the most powerful monarchs in 16th-century Europe, Asia, or Africa. Today, the sultan is known as “Suleyman the Magnificent.”
     
    Suleyman the Magnificent led the Ottoman Empire to its greatest political and cultural influence. Under Suleyman, the empire (based in what is today Turkey and Greece) controlled the entire eastern Mediterranean Basin, with territory stretching from what is today Tunisia, to the Fertile Crescent, and as far north as Hungary and Romania. The Ottoman navy controlled trade routes and ports on the Mediterranean, Black, and Red Seas.
     
    Suleyman, nicknamed the “Lawgiver” by his subjects, helped establish a system of government that the Ottoman Empire would follow for more than 100 years. He also was a patron of the arts, overseeing the development of calligraphy and Islamic architecture throughout the empire. Public buildings created or renovated under Suleyman’s reign include mosques, schools, and even the tile façade of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    architecture Noun

    style and design of buildings or open spaces.

    calligraphy Noun

    decorative handwriting or script.

    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    empire Noun

    group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    façade Noun

    decorative front of a building.

    Fertile Crescent Noun

    region extending from the eastern Mediterranean coast through Southwest Asia to the Persian Gulf.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    influence Noun

    force that effects the actions, behavior, or policies of others.

    Islam Noun

    religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.

    king Noun

    male monarch.

    magnificent Adjective

    very impressive.

    Mediterranean basin Noun

    land that surrounds the Mediterranean Sea.

    monarch Noun

    king or queen.

    mosque Noun

    place of worship in the Muslim or Islamic religion.

    navy Noun

    military ships and crew.

    Ottoman Empire Noun

    (1299-1923) empire based in Turkey and stretching throughout southern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

    patron Noun

    person who supports an artist, artistic endeavor, or institution.

    political Adjective

    having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

    port Noun

    place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.

    Encyclopedic Entry: port
    reign Verb

    to rule as a monarch.

    renovate Verb

    to restore or make better.

    sea Noun

    large part of the ocean enclosed or partly enclosed by land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: sea
    subject Noun

    person under the authority of a monarch or other powerful ruler.

    sultan Noun

    soverign of an Islamic country, often referring to the Ottoman Empire.

    territory Noun

    land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

    trade route Noun

    path followed by merchants or explorers to exchange goods and services.