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Classical period of the Ottoman Empire c. 1300-1600
Circumscribing the life and times of Suleiman the Magnificent 1481-1598
Life Span of Suleiman the Magnificent 1494-1566
Reign of Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566

  This animation is designed to give a rough idea, only, of spatial pattern over time.
Run your mouse over the map; click when the pointer becomes a hand to hear associated sounds.
  Background music is a sample from the Ottoman Army Band Mehter,

  • Suleiman and his entourage leave Istanbul on May 10, 1529 and head west northwest through the Gate of Adrianope to Edirne.  (Linked article by M. Tayyib Gökbilgin.) They proceed up the low-lying river valley toward Sofia.  This campaign begins later, May 10, than previous ones and runs afoul of the weather right from the outset.  Flooding and bridge washouts slow the troops between Edirne and Sofia. Their progress is slowed by heavy rainfall and bridge washouts in the valley leading up to Sofia.  The first part of this century saw unusually difficult weather on a regular basis:  more than average rainfall, early snows , and cold weather.  Generally, reinforcements in troops, camels, ammunition, and supplies of various sorts are provided throughout the journey by local supporters, especially over long distances and in difficult terrain.  The purple spider lines at locales along the way represent the infusion of resources, be they soldiers, camels, horses, barley, or other.  Different sources estimate vastly different numbers for the Ottoman Army and for provisioning point locations:  the locations above are therefore deliberately abstract but do show spatial pattern and temporal spacing---possibly suggestive of added research directions.  The purple spiders fade as the army moves away from the added resource point:  floods along the way might cause camels to break legs; delays might use up food supplies more quickly than anticipated.  Independent, however, of such incidents, mere distance from a supply point means a reduction in that initial infusion.  Hence the need for another provisioning point.  The pattern of the Ottoman Army in keeping a source of fresh supplies is quite clear:  conquer near, then a bit farther.  Use previously conquered locales as provisioning points to extend Ottoman control into farther reaches.
  • It takes two months to reach Belgrade.  From Belgrade to Mohacs, more flooding is encountered and time is lost in getting to Mohacs (August 31).  The journey from Mohacs to Buda is less eventful; Buda is taken on September 8.  From Buda, the troops move toward Vienna and camp at the outskirts.  Bad weather takes a toll throughtout the campaign.  They begin to lay siege to the outer parts of the City on September 26 and continue until October 16.  On October 14, snow enters the picture and reduces effectiveness of the campaign.  On October 16, the Ottomans withdraw from Vienna. 
  • In years to come, similar patterns will repeat themselves.  One agricultural, economic, and cultural consequence of persistent fighting at the perimeter, on soil used for vineyards, was to change the character of the soil from soil suited to raising grapes to soil suited to raising hops.  Hence, beer replaced  wine as part of the local culture.
  • As Suleiman laid siege to Vienna,  Barbarossa (soon to be his Admiral) took Algiers reflecting the coming Ottoman strength in the MediterraneanBarbarossa and Andrea Doria, Admiral of Charles V  (link to portrait by Titian--look on this site for portraits of others in this period, such as Francis I) would see many confrontations in the Mediterranean over the next 40 years of Ottoman domination in the Mediterranean, ending with the Naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
  • The animated map above was made from reading material in Andre Clot, Suleiman the Magnificent, Saqi Books, London, 2005.  To learn more about this Conquest and the events that took place around it, follow the many links below.  The link provided here offers a starting point to this complex topic.  In modern times, a game has been devised that replays the Battle of Mohacs.
  • The topography from Istanbul to just southeast of Sofia is relatively flat.  Take a closer look at the topography surrounding Sofia:
    • Sofia, a Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN)
    • Sofia, a plausible journey path, in red dots, following topography through the TIN.
    • Sofia, a screen capture of a 3D image
    • Sofia, virtual reality (install Cosmo Player or Cortona in your downloads from the web).  The sun was set in the southwest at a height of 50 degrees above the horizon.  The vertical exaggeration was calculated by the software (ArcView 3.2, ESRI) and seems a bit on the steep side, but that is satisfactory for purposes of understanding navigational difficulties in rugged terrain.  The contour interval is 1000 feet.  Take the journey yourself!  (If the model does not fully load, the memory or the connection speed on the machine you are using is not sufficient to the task; try on a different machine.)
      • It is easy to see where to go when in a floodplain.  Navigate yourself using the Cosmo controls. 
      • Try navigating through the mountains, right along the surface.  The logic of following the streams will be evident as a good course of action.  Nonetheless, it is very easy to get lost when navigating through rugged terrain, at the level of the terrain (much easier with an overhead view...which Suleiman did not have).
      • Try using the "viewpoints" to navigate through rough areas...they are the substitute here for an experience guide.  See how important that experience can be!
      • Where next?  Maps can offer guidance that the research should take.  The Virtual Reality model makes it easy to speculate on rational routes, in terms of topography.  But, were these the routes actually used?  Research in primary sources becomes critical and the maps suggest where to look in them.
    • This link shows the topography in two dimensions from Sofia to Mohacs, including Belgrade.
  • Links to sites describing the action, references, and bibliographic material: