Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Gate of Happiness

The last time I heard of the Ottoman Empire was in my high school world history class taught by Mr. Randolph who also happened to be one of the football coaches. The only things I remember about the Ottoman Empire were that it began sometime a long time ago, it ended sometime a long time ago, it took place far away, and the football team was supposed to memorize four new plays for the weekend's game. Mr. Randolph was good at sprinkling a few football plays on the daily history time lines because I'm guessing there wasn't a chalk board in the boy's locker room. Anyway, between a little general female, teenage attitude and general apathy towards football and the coach, I did not learn a lot of history.

So, today when I was reintroduced to the Ottoman Empire by visiting the Topaki Palace, the home of 36 sultans and 435 prime ministers who occupied the palace during a period of 400 years, I've formulated my two reasons as to why the empire ended. 1)I think it got too difficult to keep all those four wives, seven favored ones, and numerous "other women" happy and 2) It was difficult to find good help (When a prime minister was not doing his job, he was beheaded.) Of course, our guide told us that Ottoman Empire was on the wrong side of the war in WWI (sided with the Germans) and that a famous General named Ataturk came and rescued the day and formed a secular democracy with elections every four years thus ending the Ottoman Empire. And, at least I would be able to fill in a few blanks on a world history test.

And, in case you're interested, The Gate of Happiness really is the name for the archway into the 3rd inner court yard of this palace...probably so named by the sultans themselves. This palace certainly is beautiful and full of national treasures (the 86karat Spoon Maker's Diamond, 3rd largest in the world, plus a gold throne and a jewel studded dagger made famous in a 1950's era movie) I'm sure not everyone was necessarily "happy" inside that gate.

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