The Mediterranean may be a beautiful tourist destination today but in the 16th century it was the central arena for an almighty power struggle between Christian Europe and the formidable Muslim Ottoman Empire that lasted for over four centuries.
In Part One, Julian Davison begins his journey in Istanbul, the gateway between East and West and former epicentre of the Eastern Christian Empire of Byzantium. Julian charts the rise of the Ottomans and their momentous conquest of Constantinople, which they transform into the capitol of their empire, Istanbul.
Exploring the city, Julian reveals the inner workings of the Ottoman system, the secrets of its invincible army, and the intrigues and power games of its Sultans’ private world inside the harem of the imperial Topkopi palace. Here we examine the ascendancy of perhaps the most celebrated Ottoman Sultan of them all, Sulieman the Magnificent.
Following Sulieman‘s campaign of expansion, Julian sets sail for the legendary island of Rhodes, a former stronghold of the infamous Christian Crusader Knights of St. John – the scourge of the Ottoman Empire.
Arriving on Rhodes Julian explores the beautifully preserved old city and learns what it meant to be a Knight’s Hospitaller. He delves into the military tactics of the day and discovers how they shaped the outcome of a gruesome siege that pitted the Knights against the full might of the Ottoman military machine.
To conclude the episode Julian returns to Istanbul to follow the rise of the Ottoman Navy and explore the formidable relationship forged between Sulieman and one of the most notorious Pirates that ever roamed the seas, Barbarossa. Together they would traumatise the coastlines of Southern Europe and strike terror in the hearts of Christians.