The year 1606 is sometimes cited as the end of the Golden Period in the history of the Ottoman Empire, which tells you something about its fortunes in the following century. 1606 saw the end of the Long Turkish War, which proved indecisive for both sides, but after that Ottoman strategy generally became more defensive than expansionist, and they began to suffer more defeats. There were still many victories however, but European states in particular were increasingly organising professional, national armies (especially after the Thirty Years War) and so were better able to meet the professional forces of the Empire. The bold but failed attempt to capture Vienna in 1683 is seen as a turning point, after which the War of the Holy League proved disastrous, heralding a long decline that the Empire would never be able to reverse.
The Ottoman military machine had not stagnated during the 17th century, but it had not progressed as much as the European powers. What reforms there had been favoured the Janissaries and the artillery (at the expense of the Sipahis and the navy), but the artillery still lacked any standardisation, and although it remained a powerful force it lost much of the advantage it had had over other powers in the previous century, despite assistance from the English and Dutch in particular. The guns in this set are exactly the same as those in the set of 16th Century Artillery, and are still very appropriate to the 17th. There are two guns, of standard design for the period, with the larger having a barrel length of 35mm (2.5 metres) and a carriage length of 46mm (3.3 metres), while the smaller has a barrel length of 29mm (2.1 metres) and a carriage 40mm (2.9 metres) long. Both are fine historically, and fair models too though naturally lacking some smaller details as is usual in this hobby. The barrels sit on the carriage well and the wheels fit easily onto the axles, so the only problem is the larger barrel, which is missing the cascable at the breech.
Each gun is served by a generous eight figures, all of which we liked. They are engaged in the usual tasks for serving the gun, although as usual they would not all be doing their particular job at the same moment, particularly as one man is applying the match. Nevertheless everything here is correct and useful, and the poses are quite natural in general appearance.
Ottoman dress did not change nearly as much as Western dress during the early modern period, and for the 17th century the main garments remained the traditional inner and outer kaftans, loose trousers and tall boots, which is what these model figures wear. One man has tucked the skirts of his outer kaftan into his belt, which was a common expedient when working to keep them out of the way. Headgear remained caps of various sorts and turbans. Basically the size and style of the turban denoted status, so that of the splendid officer in this set is suitably large. All the caps and turbans look good, but four of the figures wear a curious hat which looks something like a normal brimmed hat but with cuts into the brim to form pointed flaps. There are many illustrations of the time that show hats with triangular flaps, including one of an artilleryman in 'The Habits of the Grand Signor's Court', dated 1620 and now held in the British Museum. The trouble is it is hard to tell from these illustrations what this garment looked like in reality. More than one style has been recreated in modern illustrations, and we have been unable to find definitive evidence for this somewhat impractical item, which may have Balkan origins, so in the absence of any proof we have to accept what has been modelled here as authentic. That being the case, all the clothing and equipment in this set looks fine.
The sculpting is pretty good, like all recent RedBox sets, with good detail and almost no flash. There are no separate parts to put together on the figures, yet they don’t have the feel of being particularly flat. A small drill will be needed to complete the pintle hole in the gun carriage, and the top of the commander’s coat seems to have lost a little detail, but these are very acceptable figures and an average result for the gun. With good accuracy and sculpting, the high number of figures per gun is the most pleasing aspect of this attractive set, which should serve well in those many conflicts between the Ottomans and their neighbours during this pivotal century.