Two books for the price of one.


A book review on Agents of Empire by Noel Malcolm.


An historical biography, but also revisionist history. Sympathetic to The Ottoman Empire, but critical of Christendom. For example, the author writes:

“That the Ottoman regime was generally tolerant not only of the presence of Catholics among its subjects, but also of visits to them by Catholic clerics from foreign territories, is in a certain sense surprising… .”

Yes, it is surprising, because a few paragraphs beforehand is the testimony of Bishop Antonio Ciurleia who informed The Council of Trent that he had to travel through ‘Ottoman territory in disguise because of the power of the Turks’. The author, however, dismisses this and claims the Bishop was exaggerating. But let us move on and continue with the aforementioned passage quoted from page 59:

…since it must have been aware of the Papacy’s deep hostility – political as well as religious – to the Ottoman Empire. Some of the popes of the sixteenth century devoted huge energies to planning the destruction of that Empire… .”

Why was this? Why were Popes concerned about The Ottoman Empire? Could it be because of the following reasons?

1453: Fall of Constantinople to Sultan Mehmet II. Thousands slaughtered. The city sacked. Thousands of women and children taken as slaves. Many prisoners impaled.

1463: Bosnia conquered

1475: Crimea becomes an Ottoman vassal state

1478: Albania conquered

1480: Otranto, Italy captured. 800 prisoners beheaded. Otranto used as a base by The Ottomans to attack Southern Italy and Rome.

1482: Herzegovina conquered by the Ottomans

1498: Montenegro conquered

1499-1503: Ottoman Venetian war.

1521: Ottomans conquer Belgrade

1522: Ottomans capture Rhodes after six month siege.

1526: Ottoman Empire defeats Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia

1529: Vienna besieged

1538: Holy League navy defeated in Battle of Preveza

1541: Ottoman rule established over Hungary

1551: Siege of Tripoli. Tripoli falls to Ottomans.

1570-73: Ottoman-Venetian War

1570-71: Conquest of Cyprus. Beseiged Famagusta garrison surrenders after a siege lasting almost a year. Most inhabitants dead or starving to death by the time surrender terms are finally agreed. Ottoman general reneges on deal and slaughters prisoners. Charismatic leader, Marcantonio Bragadin, flayed alive.

1571: Battle of Lepanto. Holy League defeats the Ottomans.


Source for dates (and some information) noted above from Wikipedia.

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