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Early Islamic World: Biography

Suleiman the Magnificent

History >> Biographies for Kids >> Early Islamic World

Author: Unknown

When was Suleiman born?

Suleiman was born in Trabzon (today part of Turkey) in 1494. His father, Selim I, was the Sultan (like an emperor) of the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman grew up in the beautiful Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire. He attended school and was taught by some of the top Islamic scholars of the time. He studied a variety of subjects including history, science, military strategy, and literature.

Becoming Sultan

Suleiman's early career helped to prepare him for the day he would become Sultan. While still a teenager, he was appointed governor of Kaffa. As governor, he learned how politics and the law worked. He also learned about different cultures and places in the empire. In 1520, Suleiman's father died and Suleiman became the new Sultan of the Ottoman Empire at the age of 26.

Growing the Ottoman Empire

Upon assuming the throne, Suleiman didn't waste any time. He immediately began military campaigns to expand his empire. He dreamt of a united empire that stretched from Europe to India.

Suleiman carried out several military campaigns during his 46 year rule. He moved into central Europe taking over parts of Hungary and Romania. He also built up a powerful navy and took control of the Mediterranean Sea. In the Middle East, he defeated the Safavids, uniting a large part of the Islamic world. He also conquered many lands and cities in northern Africa.

Suleiman with His Army
Author: Fethullah Celebi Arifi
Siege of Vienna

As Suleiman surged into Hungary, he struck fear in the hearts of many in Europe. One of the main powers of Europe was the Habsburg Empire of Austria. They also were leaders of the Holy Roman Empire. Their capital city was Vienna. In 1529, Suleiman and his army arrived at Vienna.

Suleiman's army laid siege to Vienna for over two weeks. However, the march to Vienna had taken its toll on his army. Many of his soldiers were sick and he had to abandon his siege equipment along the way due to bad weather. When winter snows arrived early, Suleiman had to turn back, suffering his first major defeat at the hands of the Europeans.


Suleiman's accomplishments while ruling as the Ottoman Sultan were by no means limited to his military expansion. He was an excellent leader and helped to transform the Ottoman Empire into an economic powerhouse. He reformed the law and created a single legal code. He also reworked the tax system, built schools, and supported the arts. The time period of Sulieman's rule is known as a golden age in the culture of the Ottoman Empire.


Suleiman became sick and died while on campaign in Hungary on September 7, 1566.

Interesting Facts about Suleiman the Magnificent


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