The lady librarian was curious as to the identity of the subject
of a biography I had requested
- " Who was he ?" she asked.
The computer turned up just one book in the whole of
Liverpool { UK } on the life of Suleiman the Magnificent and
that encapsulates just one reason why this site is being built.
The other reason is that on my travels in the Mediterranean,
many times Suleiman had been there before me and his
influence was pervasive and also with the passage of time
elusive. It has taken a long time to piece the story together.

Despite the charisma and Romance of all things Oriental
there is a great gulf in our knowledge of even the most
fundamental aspects of Islamic history and life. There is no
doubting the beauty of Arabic text but the lack of people {
including me } able to read it in the Western world certainly
contributes to misunderstandings and divergences between
our cultures. Much of what we know has been distorted by a
Hollywood scenario of harems and concubines and eunuchs --
not that they did not exist, they undoubtedly did, but they
were only the sideshow to a main feature which has been
sadly neglected.The common perception of the Turbaned
Turk as a cruel war-monger also has some basis in fact but
he was no less fierce than his European counterpart at every
level {witness Henry V111, who was hardly a benevolent
ruler }. Life in Medieval times was far harsher than we can
ever imagine { no popping out for an aspirin then }.
While daily life in Turkey was harsh in those times it was certainly no worse than the life the
average peasant endured in any European country. The life of Suleiman is inextricably bound up
with his life long struggle against Christianity and in particular the Knights of St. John who
represented to him the complete antithesis of Islam. The story of Suleiman is as exciting as any
novel and any moral judgements can be left to the discerning reader. But be quite clear that there
is nothing judgemental on either the Christian or Muslim side --- the following is simply an
account of a time when an irrestible force met an immovable object. Neither is there any attempt
to relate those far off events with what may be happening today -- as far as I can see those times
were unique to those times. Contemporaries of Suleiman were Henry V111, Martin Luther,
Caravaggio, Shakespeare and Cervantes. I would guess that the average citizen of modern
Istanbul knows more about those luminaries than the average Westerner knows about Suleiman.