Welcome back to the second part of the Life & Games of Frederick Barbarossa! In the first part, we’ve seen how this fascinating medieval emperor gave everything to establish imperial rule over the Italian cities and the pope in the first 25 years of his reign. In his later years, which are the subject of this post, his style of governance changed – Barbarossa turned from a universalist aiming for the highest goals into a pragmatic politician (who still conducted ambitious projects). These relate to Italy, the stomping ground of his early years as a ruler, to Burgundy and Germany, the western and northern parts of his empire, and finally, even to the Middle East whence he crusaded in the last years of his life.
500 years ago, a certain Süleyman succeeded his father Selim to become sultan of the Ottomans. He transformed his inherited state from a regional power into an empire with a universal claim, whose dominion ranged from Hungary to Iraq, from Crimea to Algiers, and whose fleets sailed the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Indian Ocean. Later, he was called Süleyman the Magnificent, and his reign the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. This post will explore three questions (as always, with board games): How did Süleyman win his domains? How did he forge them into an empire? And how has the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire influenced later views and depictions of the Middle East?