Two men became rulers 121 years apart on September 30.
The first was King Henry IV of England (April 1367-March 20, 1413), known as Henry Bolingbroke, in 1399. His parents were John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and his mother was Blanche of Lancaster, who were third cousins through their great-great grandfather King Henry III of England.
Henry IV succeeded his cousin King Richard II (January 6, 1367-February 1400). Richard was the son of Edward, the black Prince, son of King Edward III, who died a year apart, making Richard king at age 10 in 1377. As he was a minor, his uncle John of Gaunt ruled until he came of age. But once Richard came of age, he made several unpopular decisions, including gathering some unwelcome favourites, and asking Parliament to fund a war with France. Parliament demanded that Richard’s favourites be dismissed, which Richard refused and provoked Parliament to impeach his chancellor, the Earl of Suffolk and create a commission to oversee his activities. Richard declared these acts treasonable, and Parliament and his opponents outlawed his closest friends in 1388. Some were executed and Richard submitted to the demands of the five ‘Lords Appellant’.
For eight years, Richard appeared to get along with Gaunt and the Lords Appellant, but was actually forming a stronger royalist party. In 1397, he arrested and tried three of the appellants. Two were murdered and one was exiled.
In September the following year, Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, to former appellants quarreled and were banished. When Henry Bolingbroke’s father John of Gaunt died in February 1399, Richard confiscated his estates and exiled him for life.
In May, Richard left to campaign in Ireland. While he was gone, Bolingbroke invaded England, rallying nobles and commoners. When Richard returned in August, he surrendered. In September, he abdicated and Bolingbroke became King Henry IV. In October, Richard was imprisoned in Pontefract Castle, where he died the following February.
King Henry IV’s reign was also turbulent. He had to consolidate his power bu crushing rebellions in Wales and Scotland, and waging war with France. Like Richard, Henry asked Parliament for funds, which were granted, but he was accused of mismanagement and Parliament eventually acquired power over royal expenditures and appointments.
But his troubles were far from over. As Henry’s health declined, two factions appeared, one headed by his favourite Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, and the by one of his half-brothers and son, Prince Henry. The King’s uneasy relationship with his son lasted until he died. Prince Henry succeeded his father as King Henry V, who became “one of the greatest warrior kings of medieval England” who won the Battle of Agincourt.
Sultan Suleyman I (April 27, 1495-September 7, 1566) was proclaimed sultan of the Ottoman Empire on September 30, 1520. He was the son of Sultan Selim I and Hafsa Sultan who reigned for forty-six years and was given the appellations “the Magnificent” or “the Great” by Europeans and “the Lawgiver” (kanun) and “lord of his century” by his subjects.
Suleyman’s father Selim emphasized his education. His first teacher was his grandmother Gulbahar Hatun. At seven, Suleyman was sent to his grandfather Sultan Bayezid II in Istanbul where he studied history, science, literature, and theology, war tactics and techniques. He returned to his father until he left to be the governor of several provinces.
When Sultan Selim I succeeded his father, Suleyman went to Istanbul as his father’s regent while serving as governor of Saruhan province. After Selim I died Suleyman succeeded him.
Suleyman is called “the lawgiver” because he made the final revisions to what became known as the “Ottoman laws.” The kanun refers situations that are not covered by the Shari’ah or laws derived from the Qur’an. Mehmed the Conqueror collected the laws and divided them into two sets, dealing with government and military organization, and taxation and treatment of peasants. Suleyman revised the codes, but kept them almost identical to its original form, but he created the final version.
Suleyman was also a conqueror, who acquired vast territory, conquering Rhodes, most of Greece, Hungary, and part of the Austrian Empire, which nearly included Vienna. He nearly invaded Rome, and though he never occupied them, claimed them for himself. Under his reign, the Ottoman empire stretched from the western Carpathians and the Persian Gulf, almost to the Caspian Sea and the Straights of Gibraltar. He also helped any Muslim country threatened by European expansion.
While conquering vast territories, Suleyman also built up his empire, including bridges, mosques, and palaces. Istanbul became the center of art, music, writing, and philosophy, making this the most creative Ottoman period. However, this was the high point of Ottoman culture and history. Under Suleyman’s successor, his son Sultan Selim II Ottoman power began to decline internally and externally.
Suleyman died the day that the Ottomans conquered Szigetvar in Austria. However, his death was kept a secret for over a month. He was the longest-reigning Ottoman sultan.
His body was taken to Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. But during his journey, his organs were removed and said to have been buried in a golden coffin under the encampment where he died. This tomb was found in 2016 during an archaeological dig.