Ottoman conquest hits screens with University of Greenwich historian


One of history’s key conquests is explained by a University of Greenwich expert in a new Netflix docudrama, which starts this week.

One of history's key conquests is explained by a University of Greenwich expert in a new Netflix docudrama, which starts this week.

The six-part Rise of Empires: Ottoman begins on Friday 24 January and features Dr Michael Talbot, from the university's history, politics and social sciences department.

Michael, pictured, said: "The series looks at the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 1453. One of my passions is communicating Ottoman history with the wider public, and I was invited by the producers to be interviewed as an expert historian for this series. It was so much fun to talk through not just the siege, but how it sat in a broader historical context and what it means today.

"I was also asked to be a historical consultant for the script, production and post-production process. Because this is a docudrama, there was an interesting balance to be kept between trying to be faithful to the historical record, but also making this an entertaining and engaging piece of drama. I learned so much seeing how the script developed, and how the historical and dramatic elements were woven together."

Series executive producer and co-writer Kelly McPherson enjoyed working with Michael and the other experts involved in the series.

He said: "Few people know much about the Ottoman Empire it - it's Mehmed (the Conqueror's) Origin Story. Wolverine has his origin story and this is Mehmed's! We started writing it about 18 months ago and our research team started to look for experts. They saw a clip of Michael talking about the Ottoman Empire  and he was so passionate about it and such a great storyteller – he really brings it to life.

"Michael came to interview in London and ended up staying and shooting for three hours – it was amazing. After that we asked him to be a consultant – he's extremely knowledgeable about what the series covers. For about 10 months I bugged him with random questions, such as how long was an Ottoman naval ship and what kind of cannon would it have."

Michael added: "I would get questions from the production team on all sorts of subjects: armour, clothing, buildings, language, ceremonies, personalities, and so forth. I am so excited for the release of the show, and I hope it will get a wider audience interested in Ottoman history.

"It's also perfectly timed, as the release date coincides with the early weeks of my third-year undergraduate history module 'Cities of the Sultans: Life in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire', which I teach here at the University of Greenwich and which explores Ottoman history from the time of the conquest of Constantinople."