By Dave B.
Rise of Empires: Ottoman (Netflix) is a historical docudrama that covers one of the most important (but least well-known, at least in the United States) events in the history of both the European and Islamic worlds: the fall of Constantinople and the supplanting of the failing Byzantine Empire with the rising Ottoman Empire, led by the dynamic young leader, Mehmed II.
Yes, Rise of Empires: Ottoman can be a bit overly dramatic at times. And occasionally, it recycles some of the images of its battle scenes. And yes, some of the details are over-sanitized, to a degree. But overall, Rise of Empires: Ottoman is extremely entertaining, very informative, and likely my favorite historical docudrama. While my opinion may be different if I lived in Turkey or if I were an Orthodox Christian, I found the show to be relatively balanced in its portrayal of events and the circumstances surrounding the conquest of Constantinople.
Perhaps the best part of the show is learning more about Mehmed II. He’s a towering figure in the annals of military history, accomplishing something perceived to be impossible. But in the Western world, he is nowhere near as well-known as conquerors with comparable accomplishments, such as Napoleon Bonaparte or Alexander the Great. That said, one of my few major quibbles with Rise of Empires: Ottoman is that, to some extent, it plays up the tactical brilliance of Mehmed II’s victory, but downplays the strategic inevitability of Constantinople’s fall: completely surrounded, with a sclerotic government, and behind the curve both economically and technologically, the Byzantine Empire was likely doomed sooner or later. That’s not to take anything away from Mehmed II. I just believe that shows like this, entertaining though they may be, should give viewers as much clarity in strategic context as possible.
Rise of Empires: Ottoman is thoroughly entertaining, very informative, and offers a well-balanced perspective on one of the most pivotal events in the history of Europe and the Near/Middle East. Any flaws that it has, get trampled by the high stakes involved (despite the well-known outcome) and the sheer will, audacity, and capableness of Mehmed II. If you’re at all interested in world history or learning more about the upbringing (and the most notable success) of one of the world’s great leaders, this show is pretty much a must-watch
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.