The Mediterranean Sea may be a beautiful tourist destination today, but in the 16th Century it was the central arena for a mighty power struggle between Christian Europe and the formidable Muslim Ottoman Empire. It was a conflict not just for power and wealth but for cultural and religious supremacy that lasted nearly three centuries, and its outcome resonates to this day. In Ottomans Versus Christians: Battle for the Mediterranean, host Julian Davis leads us on a swashbuckling adventure to some of the most extraordinary destinations in the Mediterranean. Tune in to KLRU-Q at 8pm Thursdays throughout the month of January.
1/17 – Empire Builders
In part one, Julian Davison begins his journey in Istanbul, the gateway between East and West and former epicenter of the Eastern Christian Empire of Byzantium. He charts the rise of the Ottomans and their momentous conquest of Constantinople, which they transform into the capitol of their empire, Istanbul. Exploring the city, Julian reveals the inner workings of the Ottoman system, the secrets of its invincible army, and the intrigues and power games of its Sultans’ private world – inside the harem of the imperial Topkopi palace. Here we examine the ascendancy of perhaps the most celebrated Ottoman Sultan of them all, Sulieman the Magnificent. Tracing Sulieman’s campaign of expansion, Julian sets sail for the legendary island of Rhodes, a former stronghold of the infamous Christian Crusader Knights of St. John – the scourge of the Ottoman Empire. While on Rhodes, Julian explores the beautifully preserved old city and learns what it meant to be a Knight’s Hospitaller. He delves into the military tactics of the day and discovers how they shaped the outcome of a gruesome siege that pitted the Knights against the full might of the Ottoman military machine. To conclude the episode Davison returns to Istanbul to follow the rise of the Ottoman Navy and explore the formidable relationship forged between Sulieman and one of the most notorious Pirates that ever roamed the seas, Barbarossa. Together they would terrorize the coastlines of Southern Europe and strike fear in the hearts of Christians.
1/24 – Masters of the Mediterranean
In part two, Julian Davison travels to the site of one of the most extraordinary sieges in European history, the island of Malta. The pride of the Christian Crusader Order of the Knights of St. John, Malta stands today like a baroque jewel, but in the 16th century it was the object of desire for Ottoman Sultan Sulieman the Magnificent and he was prepared to risk all to possess it. Here, Julian enlists in a local re-enactment group and tries his hand at the weapons of the day before dissecting a siege that would become one of the Ottomans’ most shocking defeats. Davison then brings us northward to the commercial superpower of the time, the resplendent kingdom on water, Venice. Here he participates in the time honored pageant, La Sensa, a symbolic marriage between Venice and the Sea before revealing how this tiny island Republic grew into one of the richest and most formidable sea powers in the world. Discover how Venice managed a complex love/hate relationship with the Ottoman Empire that exploded into an all-out war for control of the Mediterranean involving the Pope and much of Christian Europe. Davison then heads to the former Venetian stronghold, Cyprus. Part Turkish, part Greek, Cyprus continues to be one of the most contested islands in the whole Mediterranean and the roots of its struggle can be traced to the bloody battles waged here in the 16th century. Julian begins his exploration in the Turkish occupied North where he follows the trail of the Ottoman Army’s relentless campaign for control of the island in 1571. The bloodiest and most decisive battle for Cyprus was yet to come.
1/31 – Clash of Civilizations
Part three begins in the legendary city of Famagusta on the island of Cyprus. Once the wealthiest city on earth, Famagusta was the jewel in the Venetian crown when Ottoman armies surrounded it in 1571. Julian Davison takes us on a tour of the city’s magnificent gothic cathedrals and intimidating fortress, detailing the gory battles and fabled acts of heroism that took place here during the Ottoman conquest of the city. The battle for Famagusta became famous for an act of such extraordinary cruelty, the torture and death of Venetian Commander Marc Antonio Bragadin, that it propelled Christian Europe into unified action against the Ottomans. Julian returns to Venice and its ancient ship building complex, the Arsenal, to reveal the city’s secret plan for revenge; a plan that would be put to the test in one of the bloodiest maritime conflicts in history, the legendary Battle of Lepanto. Travelling across the Adriatic Sea to the town of Lepanto, today Nafpaktos in Greece, Julian and historian Roger Crowley visit the very waters where this pivotal battle is believed to have taken place and marvel at the apocalyptic scale of a clash that would become one of the most iconic Christian victories of the era. On the final leg of his journey, Julian makes his way back to Istanbul via Crete to chronicle the slow and decadent decline of the Ottoman Empire and contemplate the legacy of a struggle so deeply embedded in our culture and history that it continues to inform the world we live in today.