Are you watching Rise of Empires: Ottoman?

Because you should be. This six-episode miniseries combines documentary-style expert commentary and generic English-guy voice overs with Tudors-level acting to bring to life the [SPOILER].

Let me back this up. Rise of Empires: Ottoman follows the rise to power of Sultan Mehmet II, one of the greatest leaders you likely didn’t learn about in high school history class. With clever storytelling, this show brings you into the early life of a boy who, like Loki, is burdened with glorious purpose. It takes you briefly through his first ascent to power as – what probably counted at the time, anyway –  a young man, before revving up to the event that established him as a military force to be reckoned with – his siege of Constantinople.

How young a man are we talking?

Well, Sultan Murad II didn’t initially intend to leave his throne to Mehmed, his third and maybe least favourite son. It’s just that both elder sons met with decidedly unnatural, early deaths, leaving only the tempestuous youth. Hoping to teach the boy some discipline and leadership skills, Murad II sent his son to govern a region called Amasya when the boy was 11. Satisfied that this had been accomplished, and likely wanting to retire before what tended to happen to powerful rulers happened to him, Murad made Mehmed the new Sultan at the ripe old age of… 12.

This was fantastic, because Murad got to go off and live a life of relative peace and seclusion whilst the young Sultan faced rebellion. By fantastic, I mean it wasn’t fantastic and Mehmed alternately asked, then demanded that his father return to lead the troops, either as Sultan or subject. Given exactly zero options which didn’t include listening to his pubescent offspring, Murad returned, took up his old mantle and recommenced with the ruling and fighting of his own subjects until his death five years later.

When Mehmed II retook the throne, he was older, wiser and more prepared to fulfill the aforementioned glorious purpose. He built up his naval and military forces, commissioned and had built a cannon the likes of which had never been seen before, and began the march to Constantinople.

Why that city in particular?

Attacking Constantinople was something of an Ottoman tradition by the time of Mehmed’s reign. Sultans loved to do it. Mehmed’s own father once (unsuccessfully) laid siege to the city. Not for no reason, since the Byzantines (Eastern Roman Empire) had a nasty habit of interfering in Ottoman politics. So, taking the city was a matter both of practicality and pride.

This is where the show fills in the remaining gaps – what happened when, who built what, and who allied with or betrayed whom. If you’re even a little bit interested in the military and political history of the world, you should be watching Rise of Empires: Ottoman

It’s available on Netflix, and it has no chill.

The SABC wants Netflix and MultiChoice subscriptions to include a compulsory TV licence, lol