The Mediterranean Sea may be a beautiful tourist destination today but in the 16th century it was the central arena for an almighty power struggle between Christian Europe and the formidable Muslim Ottoman Empire that lasted for over 4 centuries.
In Ottomans vs. Christians presenter Julian Davison takes us on a journey across the Mediterranean and back in time to a world of magnificent galleys laden with riches and merciless pirates who prowled the waters, of spectacular battles and bloodied acts of treachery and revenge. Our journey takes us to some of the most extraordinary destinations in the Mediterranean to relive some the most dramatic and critical moments of this legendary clash of civilisations and experience its rich and varied legacy.
In Episode One Julian visits Istanbul, the gateway between East and West and former epicenter of the Ottoman Empire where he explores the inner workings of the Ottoman system, the secrets of its invincible army and navy, and the intrigues and power games of the Sultan's private world inside the imperial Topkopi Palace. He samples the beer of Ottoman warriors before setting sail for the legendary island of Rhodes, a former stronghold of the Christian Crusaders known as the Knights of St. John who dared to take on the full might of the Ottoman military machine and survived.
In Part Two Julian travels to Malta, the baroque jewel of the Mediterranean, and site of one of the most extraordinary sieges in history, where he tries his hand at the weapons of 16th century warfare. Julian also learns how the small Republic of Venice grew to become one of the richest and most formidable sea powers in the world and how it managed a complex love/hate relationship with the Ottoman Empire that exploded into an all out war for control of the Mediterranean involving half of Europe including the Pope. Julian gets a taste of life as a galley slave before traveling to the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the whole conflict on the still divided island of Cyprus.
In Part Three, Julian heads to mainland Greece to explore the scene of the famous Battle of Lepanto before traveling, via Crete, back to Istanbul to trace the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire and contemplate the legacy of a struggle that continues to haunt us to this day.