From the Archives: How did Ottoman empire help France survive 500 years ago?
The two countries have shared mutual friendly ties in the past for many centuries.
Though icy winds have been blowing between Turkey and France, the two countries have shared mutual friendly ties in the past for many centuries.
The French President Emmanual Macron’s insensitive comments about Turkey have significantly strained Paris and Ankara’s bilateral relations. Despite Macron’s implacable outbursts against Turkey and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara’s general view is that “it’s just the French President who has problems with Turkey,” not the public.
The famous Franco-Ottoman alliance between the Ottoman Empire and the French monarchy started during the 16th century. It was when Suleiman the Magnificent entered into the Mohacs war in 1526, conquering the Hungarian empire, who were the strongest allies of Austria’s Habsburg monarchy.
How it all started
According to historians, a year before the war, Louise of Savoy, mother to the French monarch, Francis I, sent a letter to Suleiman, asking for his help in getting her son out of the Habsburg jail.
As the leading ally of the Habsburgs, the Hungarian Empire suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the Ottomans, marking the end of the Jagiellonian dynasty. The king of the Habsburgs, Charles V, sensed the pressure and released the french monarch.
The incident initiated a strong foundation for the France-Ottoman alliance, which continued for several centuries. Forming an association with a Muslim emperor was a controversial move for a Christian king, but it benefited Francis I in expanding his empire’s longevity.
The general historical consent on the survival of the 16th-century French monarchy, however, is that without the Ottoman assistance, it would have collapsed under the power of the Habsburgs, which remained until 1918.
During the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire not only supported France monetarily but also kept sending its armed forces to help them resist the attacks of the Habsburg Empire.
A Turkish historian and dean of the National Defence University, Professor Erhan Afyoncu, said,” In 1533, the Turkish Sultan, Suleiman, sent 100,000 gold coins to Francis I. With that money, the French king formed diplomatic alliances with German and English rulers.
The alliance was extraordinary, the first non-ideological one between a Muslim and Christian state. It lasted for nearly three centuries until the Napoleonic conflict surfaced in Ottoman Egypt from 1798 to 1801.
Ottoman’s mercy on France
Afyoncu added, “The Franco-Ottoman alliance was a symbol of the Ottoman mercy upon a deeply disconcerted French king — a historical reality that The French President seems to be ignorant of in light of his inconsiderate statements against Turkey, the successor of the Ottoman Empire.
Historians believe France’s move to drag itself in the bilateral naval dispute between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean by supporting Athens would be harmful. The military warning posed by Macron’s offensive statements against Turkey, its NATO ally, may prove destructive for the centuries-long alliance.
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