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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 February 6, 1521 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.  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.  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.
  • 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: