(The). The Ottoman empire. It is the French for Porta Sublima, the “lofty gate.” Constantinople has twelve gates, and near one of these gates is a building with a lofty gateway called “Bab-i-humajun.” In this building resides the vizier, in the same are the offices of all the chief ministers of state, and thence all the imperial edicts are issued. The French phrase has been adopted, because at one time French was the language of European diplomacy.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894