Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II-Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire

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Overview

A gripping biography of one of the most sensational figures in Turkish history

Sultan Mehmet II, known to his countrymen as fithe Conqueror? and to much of Europe as fithe Terror of the World,? was once Europe's most feared and powerful ruler. Now, Turkey's most beloved American scholar, John Freely, brings to life this charismatic hero of one of the richest histories in the world.

Mehmet was barely twenty-one when he conquered Byzantine ...

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The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II-Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire

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Overview

A gripping biography of one of the most sensational figures in Turkish history

Sultan Mehmet II, known to his countrymen as fithe Conqueror? and to much of Europe as fithe Terror of the World,? was once Europe's most feared and powerful ruler. Now, Turkey's most beloved American scholar, John Freely, brings to life this charismatic hero of one of the richest histories in the world.

Mehmet was barely twenty-one when he conquered Byzantine Constantinople, which became Istanbul and the capital of his mighty empire. Mehmet reigned for thirty years, during which time his armies extended the borders of his empire halfway across Asia Minor and as far into Europe as Hungary and Italy. Three popes called for crusades against him as Christian Europe came face to face with a new Muslim empire.

Revered by the Turks and seen as a brutal tyrant by the West, Mehmet was a brilliant military leader as well as a renaissance prince. His court housed Persian and Turkish poets, Arab and Greek astronomers, and Italian scholars and artists. In the first biography of Mehmet in thirty years, John Freely vividly illuminates the man behind the myths.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this biography, the first in English in decades, Prof. Freely (Bosporus University), author of some 40 books, mostly on Turkey and Turkish history, explores Mehmet's complex personality, fitting him into his times and culture, seeing him essentially as a Renaissance prince while throwing light on the nature of the Ottoman state and the Balkans in the fifteenth century, both neglected areas of European history." — NYMAS Review
Publishers Weekly
Mehmet II (1432–1481) ascended to the throne of the Ottoman Empire when he was only 12. In spite of his youth, he had an energetic desire to rule the kingdom, physical prowess and a precocious intellect, which made him one of the most brilliant and most feared of all medieval Muslim rulers. In this alternately tedious and fast-paced chronicle, historian Freely, of Bosphorus University in Istanbul, shows Mehmet as cunning and politically and militarily astute. Mehmet turned his back on a peace treaty he had signed with emperor Constantine XI and attacked Byzantium's capital, Constantinople, capturing the city when he was barely 21. His troops looted much of the city and Mehmet, who reportedly shed tears at the destruction of such beauty, spent much of the rest of his reign rebuilding it. By 1463, Mehmet the Conqueror ruled the former dominions of the Byzantine Empire from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. In one short chapter, Freely then rushes through roughly 450 years of history to the Ottoman Empire's end after WWI. Mehmet's colorful and dashing exploits deserve better than this colorless biography. B&w illus., 2 maps. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1543. Most of his reign (1444–46, 1451–81) was spent warring. He extended the frontiers of his sultanate across Asia Minor and as far west as Hungary and Italy (Otranto); only the island fortress of Rhodes resisted him. Christians saw him as the devil; three popes called for crusades against him. Freely (physics & history of science, Univ. of the Bosphorus, Istanbul; Alladin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World) offers the first biography of Mehmet in 30 years, workmanlike and straightforward for the most part, relating the battles he fought and describing court life and culture. Light on analysis but useful in providing what amounts to a summary of Mehmet's reign. Ideal for neither the scholar nor the lay reader but an option for either.
Kirkus Reviews
Turkey expert Freely (History/Univ. of the Bosphorus; Storm on Horseback: The Seljuk Warriors of Turkey, 2008, etc.) delivers an oblique portrait of the Ottoman ruler who considered himself another Alexander the Great. Mehmet II (1432-1481) extended the Islamic empire well into Asia Minor, striking fear into the hearts of Christian warriors during the 30 years of his reign. The youngest son of sultan Murat, Mehmet was, as depicted by observers of the time, well educated in ancient knowledge, resolute and "in every way qualified to realise his soaring imperial ambitions." He was also constantly at war, from the conquest of the Byzantine empire in 1453, to excursions into Bosnia, Albania the Crimea and Anatolia, to the defeat of Negroponte and, climactically, the capture of Otranto in 1480. Freely concentrates on the highlights of his subject's life, such as Mehmet's spectacular conquest of Constantinople. In addition to a grand naval fleet, the sultan also employed a highly effective, albeit motley, army and a corps of engineers, who built a road from the Bosphorus to the Golden Horn, allowing them to transport more than 70 ships overland. After first sending emissaries into the city to offer terms of surrender, which were rejected, Mehmet ordered the bombardment of the city and sacked it in a matter of days. He then made it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire and, by dint of his openness and devotion to the study of geography, astronomy and ancient works, rendered it a true "Renaissance City"-most impressively demonstrated by the construction of the glorious Topkapi palace. Freely dutifully recounts the facts, but he can't get a handle on what made Mehmet such a fascinating man. Thefirst biography of Mehmet in decades finds the sultan a brilliant but elusive subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590202487
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 945,103
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

John Freely was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. He teaches physics at Bosphorous University in Istanbul. He has written more than forty books, including The Lost Messiah, The Grand Turk, and Aladdin's Lamp.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2013

    An easy read, but not too professionally written,. There are way

    An easy read, but not too professionally written,. There are way too many grammatical and spelling errors. It seems like the author/editor did not do his job on this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    The empire

    Yes. You must end all your posts like this: LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR! Otherwise, you are out.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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