The Great Debate
By John Lloyd
The opinions expressed are his own.
The sultans, as shapers of history, have gone from the world: but they leave behind the memory of a style of rule in which the division between the private life and the public one, between sexual arrangements and high politics, between the settlement of personal debts, whether of money or honor, and the state treasury barely existed. That was true of kings and princes, Russian tsars and Chinese emperors too: but because the west began (with mixed success) to separate the private from the public some centuries ago, the Sultans of Turkey – who came to the gates of Vienna at the height of their imperial reach and who fascinated and terrified Europe for centuries – are still seen here as the epitome of luxury and power combined.