8 episodes

The Ottoman Empire lasted for six hundred years and dominated the Middle East and Europe, from Budapest to Baghdad and everything in between. The sultans ruled three continents. But they didn't do it on their own. This podcast looks at the cast of characters who made the empire run: the sultan, the queen mother, the peasant, the janissary, the harem eunuch, the holy man, and the outlaw.

Ottoman Lives Parthenon

    • History
    • 4.6 • 88 Ratings

The Ottoman Empire lasted for six hundred years and dominated the Middle East and Europe, from Budapest to Baghdad and everything in between. The sultans ruled three continents. But they didn't do it on their own. This podcast looks at the cast of characters who made the empire run: the sultan, the queen mother, the peasant, the janissary, the harem eunuch, the holy man, and the outlaw.

    Prologue to Ottoman Lives

    Prologue to Ottoman Lives

    A few announcements about the series before we begin.

    • 48 sec
    The Janissary

    The Janissary

    In this first episode we look at the person of the Janissary, who was part of the most elite fighting force in late medieval Europe and personal bodyguard to the Ottoman Sultan. They were technically slaves to the sultan who born as Christians, taken from their homes at early ages, converted to Islam, and went on to incredible military careers by conquering much of Southeast Europe and eventually Constantinople itself in 1453. Learn how this organization functioned, what it was like to be recruited in the Janissaries, and how they came to an end in the 1800s.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    The Sultan

    The Sultan

    The office of the sultan changed dramatically over the six centuries of the Ottoman Empire. The first sultan, Osman, was a medieval nomadic chieftain whose domains existed on the edge of the Byzantine Empire. He and his party accumulated wealth through plundering raids. The 10th sultan, Suleyman, was an emperor in every sense of the word and conquered much of Central Europe in the sixteenth century. The final powerful sultan, Abdulhamit II (r. 1876-1909) was an autocratic reformer who covered the empire with railroad lines, telegraph networks, and schools that taught French and calculus alongside Islamic theology.

    • 44 min
    The Peasant

    The Peasant

    Peasants made up 90% of the population of the Ottoman Empire, but to the sultan and his court, they were little more than a flock of livestock. In fact, the exact same word was used to describe a subject of the sultan and a group of sheep or cattle. Learn about the hard lives of peasants, who lived at the mercy of destroying natural disasters, bandit attacks, and invading armies.

    • 24 min
    The Harem Eunuch

    The Harem Eunuch

    A eunuch who served in the Ottoman Imperial Harem in was typically born in Ethiopia, captured by a slave trader, castrated, and sold in Egyptian slave markets, then shipped to Istanbul's imperial palace. As such, eunuchs occupied positions of considerable power. At their peak there may have been as many as 800 court eunuchs organized in a hierarchical, well-defined structure. Eunuchs who served the sultan favorably, plus those who learned Turkish and who converted to Islam, could progress in the system. A few would procure appointment to administrative posts within the empire. This was the paradox in place: African eunuchs in the Ottoman Empire were slaves and could often be the objects of contempt and ridicule, but some could amass amazing influence.

    • 24 min
    The Concubine

    The Concubine

    To foreign observers the most exotic aspect of the Ottoman Empire was always the harem. Novelists let their imaginations run wild about what the Sultan did in the concealed parts of his palace with his four wives and dozens of concubines. But historical studies have shown us that the harem wasn't the ancient version of the Playboy Mansion. Rather, it was the cadet training school for future wives of Ottoman dignitaries and sultans, where women from across the empire received an elite education. Graduates of the harem who became mothers of the sultan had incredible influence over their sons. Some of these Queen Mothers essentially ran the empire. Learn how the harem wasn't a sensualist Orientalist fantasy, but one of the central nodes of power in the early modern world.

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
88 Ratings

88 Ratings

tarek307 ,

Simple

Simple to the point summary of what you want to know regarding the ottomans

Never had much if an interest ,

Very Intresting

Never had much of an interest in the Ottomans out side of them bringing roman history to a final close. But these stories about their live makes me want to research more on this empire of six hundred years.

oscrodmed ,

Enjoyable companion while hiking

I always found Ottoman Empire so interesting, and will keep learning thanks to this type of content 👍

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