Lectures are held at the Methodist Church in Kingsbridge and on Zoom at 2:30pm normally on the last Wednesday of each month. They last for 1 - 1½ hours including a question and answer session at the end.
Splendours of Ottoman Turkey
Sue Rollin      Wed 23rd January 2013
  The cathedral of Constantinople was a centre of Christian worship and capital of Byzantium for some nine hundred years. In 1453 the city fell. So began nearly 500 years of the Splendour of Ottoman Turkey which our speaker, Sue Rollin, brought to life in our January lecture.
The Turks were originally from central Asia but preferred to avoid Genghis Khan’s company and moved westwards, soon occupying a sizeable chunk of the Balkans as well as the area of land which today we think of as modern Turkey. Their art retained something of a Chinese influence, although the Ottomans had no clearly defined style during the early years of empire.
Mosques and domes were a very visible demonstration of the new culture. The cathedral was immediately converted into a mosque by the first sultan. His successors built new mosques, traditionally financed by the spoils of military conquest. Minarets, shaped like sharpened pencils, became a familiar feature and were copied by many other countries.
Tulips, doubly special as reflecting the spelling of Allah, featured widely in tiles, painting and carpets. Calligraphy was a much respected art because it was likely to be used to portray the words of Allah. At a more worldly level, collections of gifts and tributes to the sultan ranged from turban decorations to a jade tankard and a gold water flask.
On a grander scale, the high point of the Ottoman Empire saw the construction of multi-domed buildings housing mosques, the throne room, government offices, caravanserai, hospitals, kitchens, the harem, coffee shops and bazaars. Rules were strictly enforced - best not to disagree with the Sultan. This said, wives such as Roxelana had some influence on policy, while the head eunuchs often earned respect and status.
By the mid nineteenth century European styles were in vogue. Excessive expenditure on very ornate residences, water facades, even a four ton chandelier, put the Ottoman Empire on the path to bankruptcy. By 1922 the sultanate had been abolished and Ankara became the capital of a new Turkey.