O is for Ottoman

The signature of Suleiman the Magnificent, 1512. From wikipedia.

The Renaissance seems to involve a lot of maps.

For some reason, ignorance being the most likely explanation, I always thought the Ottomans were Arabs. They were not; they were Muslims, but mixing up Ottoman and Arab is like mixing up French and German. Just because they share a religion didn’t make them the same. Different language, different customs, different leaders, entirely different culture.

The Ottomans were a major power during the Renaissance, controlling access to trade and threatening the Mediterranean and Western Europe. They held some of the most venerated cities: Constantinople, Athens, Baghdad, and Damascus. They were deadly serious about conquest, and they didn’t particularly have respect for the classics. Unlike the Arabs at their cultural peak, the Ottomans burned libraries. They were the reason Philip the Navigator went looking for trade routes to India going west.

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