Gentile Bellini and
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE -
Ruled from 1451 -
xxxxxAs we have seen, the Ottoman leader Mehmed II captured Constantinople in 1453 (H6) and then set out to make a world empire. Having quickly taken Anatolia and the Balkans, he waged war against Venice, and invaded the Turkish principality of Karaman in 1468, overrunning it within three years. Having no success against the Mamluk empire of Syria and Egypt, he then built a fleet and attacked the island of Rhodes. By his death he ruled from the Danube to the Euphrates, and from the Crimea to the Aegean Sea. He encouraged learning at his court, but his confiscation of private land made him unpopular. As we shall see (1517 H8), the Sultan Selim I and his son Suleyman I were to double the size of the empire.
xxxxxAs we have seen, the Ottoman leader Mehmed II captured Constantinople in 1453 (H6) and in less than ten years the remnants of the Byzantine Empire had been conquered and captured. It would appear that this outstanding achievement -
xxxxxAt first, he directed his military might towards south-
xxxxxLooking for easier prey, he cast his eyes across the Mediterranean and used his newly-
xxxxxAt his death in 1481 Mehmed II's empire stretched from the Danube to the Euphrates, and from the Crimea to the Aegean Sea (see map above). As we shall see (1517 H8), it was to prove a sound base for further expansion by the Sultan Selim I and his son Suleyman I. Under them the Ottoman Empire was to more than double in size.
xxxxxThe portrait above of Sultan Mehmed II was painted by the Venetian artist Gentile Bellini (1429-
xxxxxA good example of this type of work is the one entitled The Miracle of the Cross on San Lorenzo Bridge, illustrated here. This is full of detail and interest, and is infused by a soft, warm light. His paintings, which are straightforward representations of his subject and have little emotional content, often contained portraits of contemporary notables of the city, and this heightened their appeal. Shown below are his Procession in St. Mark’s Square, and St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria.
Map (Eastern Mediterranean): by courtesy of author, Esemono – www.wikipedia.org. Gentile Bellini: Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II – National Gallery, London; The Miracle of the Cross on San Lorenzo Bridge -
xxxxxGentile was taught by his father, Jacopo Bellini (1400-