Yesterday, news broke that archaeologists may have found the long-lost tomb of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Is your Ottoman history a little rusty? That’s okay. It’s been a long week. Suleiman I, dubbed “the Magnificent” on account of his magnificence, ruled over and substantially expanded the vast Ottoman empire from 1520 to 1566. By the time of his death, Ottoman territory stretched from modern-day Algeria to Iraq, and from the Balkans in the north down to Upper Egypt in the south.
In addition to his longevity and military prowess, Suleiman was especially known for his love of the arts—his reign is often referred to as the Golden Age of Ottoman culture.
Fitting with his image as a sophisticated sort of guy, Suleiman sat for several western-style portraits by Renaissance masters, usually in profile and wearing his trademark turban.
This one’s by famous Renaissance painter Titian.
And this is by Cristofano Dell’Altissimo.
This woodcut is by Matteo Pagani.
And this engraving is by Melchior Lorck.
Suleiman didn’t only commission western-style portraits of himself, though. During his reign, he had an illuminated manuscript made containing fabulously intricate illustrations of his exploits as emperor. Known as the Süleymanname, the manuscript shows Suleiman doing sultan things.
He met with foreign leaders…
…and watched prisoners be trampled by elephants…
…and led his troops into battle.
And he did it all with style.