Friday, February 17, 2017

The Bosnian Leonardo da Vinci of the Ottoman Empire

For anyone watching the Turkish series The Magnificent Century, here is an article about one of the characters. To quote:
Matrakçi Nasuh was educated and trained in the Palace school during the reign of Bayezid II (1481-1512) and studied with one of Sultan Bayezid’s teachers. During the reign of Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), he started to distinguish himself as a knight. He went to Egypt in 1520, for advanced studies and attended military games, at which he became unrivalled.He received the nickname “Matrakçi” after he created the game called Matrak. Matrak means ‘amazing’ in Turkish and ‘çi’ is a suffix. Therefore his nickname means “who plays (invents) the amazing game. The game was a contest with either a stick, a cudgel or rapier. The purpose was training for war. He also wrote a drill-book for it and taught it to the soldiers. A decree of 1529 of Sultan Süleyman praises al-Matrakî as the master knight –”ustad” or “raîs”– of his time, incomparable in the whole Ottoman Empire in the art of war and methods of using the lance. He copied this decree into his book “Umdat al-Hussab”. According to the decree, he used to play war games while he was in Egypt during governorship of Hayr Bey. (Read more.)

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