Baltacı Mehmet Pasha

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Pakçemüezzin Baltacı
Mehmet
Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
25 December 1704 – 3 May 1706
Monarch Ahmet III
Preceded by Kalaylıkoz Hacı Ahmed Pasha (tr)
Succeeded by Çorlulu Damat Ali Pasha
Personal details
Born 1652
Osmancık, Çorum, Ottoman Empire
Died July 1712
Lemnos, Ottoman Empire
Nationality Ottoman
Origins Turkish
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire
Service/branch  Ottoman Navy (1704)
 Ottoman Army
Years of service 1704–06, 1710–12
Rank Kapudan Pasha (1704)
Serdar (Commander-in-Chief; 1710–12)
Battles/wars Pruth River Campaign

Baltacı Mehmet Pasha (also called Pakçemüezzin Baltacı Mehmet Pasha, sometimes known just as Baltacı or Baltaji; 1662, Osmancık – July 1712, Lemnos) was an Ottoman statesman who served as grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1704 to 1706, and as Kapudan Pasha (grand admiral of the Ottoman Navy) in 1704.

Early years[edit]

Mehmet was born in Osmancık, near Çorum (modern Turkey). He was of Turkish origin.[1] He travelled to North Africa, which was then Ottoman territory. He then came to Constantinople, the capital of the empire, where he found a job as a baltacı (palace employee) in the palace of the sultan which earned him the epithet Baltacı. He also worked as a secretary and muezzin (person who calls others to prayer in Islamic tradition) and earned the nickname pakçemuezzin. Soon, he was promoted to be the chief stableman (imrahor) and then Grand Admiral (Kapudan Pasha) in 1704. On 25 December 1704, he became the grand vizier.[2][3]

First term as Grand Vizier and governor[edit]

There are no remarkable feats in his first term as Grand Vizier, and in 1706 he was dismissed. In just four years, he was appointed three times to various remote provinces, namely Erzurum, the island Chios (Turkish: Sakız), and Aleppo (Turkish: Halep) as a governor (presently, Erzurum is in Turkey, Chios in Greece, and Aleppo is in Syria). On 18 August 1710, he began his second term as Grand Vizier.

Second term as Grand Vizier[edit]

Baltacı Mehmet Pasha (left) in his tent with Catherine I of Russia, during the Pruth River Campaign (i.e. Russo-Turkish War (1710–11)
Main article: Pruth River Campaign

His second term is quite well known. In 1709, during the Great Northern War, Charles XII of Sweden had been defeated by the Russians in the battle of Poltava and took refuge in Ottoman territory, with Peter I of Russia in pursuit. The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia. Baltacı Mehmet was named the commander (serdar) of the army. He was able to encircle the Russian army near the Pruth River (now forming the border line between Romania and Moldova), forcing Peter to sue for peace. The Treaty of Pruth stipulated the return of the fortress Azov, which had been annexed by Russia by the Treaty of Karlowitz, to the Ottomans; several Russian fortresses were to be demolished; and Peter I promised not to interfere into the affairs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Charles XII was given a free passage to his country.[4]

Some contemporaries, such as Voltaire in his book Peter the Great, reported that Mehmet Pasha was involved in an affair with future-Empress Catherine I of Russia, then the consort of Peter.[5] Surrounded by overwhelming numbers of Turkish troops, Catherine suggested before surrendering, that her jewels and those of the other women be used in an effort to bribe Baltacı Mehmet Pasha into allowing a retreat.[6] Mehmet allowed the retreat, whether motivated by the bribe or considerations of trade and diplomacy.[7]

The story of Mehmet Pasha's relationship with Catherine I and his subsequent punishment by exile has been the subject of several works of literature in both Turkey and Russia, including the 1961 play Lütfen Dokunmayın by Turkish playwright Haldun Taner and the book Baltacı ile Katerina ("Baltacı and Catherine") by Murat Sertoğlu.[5]

From Constantinople to Lemnos[edit]

Although the initial reaction of Sultan Ahmet III to the treaty was satisfactory, Baltacı Mehmet Pasha's political rivals, as well as Charles XII and Devlet II Giray, the vassal Crimean khan, were dissatisfied with the terms. He was accused of accepting the aforementioned bribe from Peter I of Russia (through Catherine) and was dismissed from his post in 20 November 1711.[8] Baltacı was exiled to the modern-day Greek islands of Lesbos (Midilli) and later Lemnos (Limni), where he died the next year in July 1712.

References[edit]

  1. ^ İsmail Hâmi Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, Türkiye Yayınevi, İstanbul, 1971, p. 52. (Turkish)
  2. ^ Biography of Baltacı Mehmed (Turkish)
  3. ^ Ayhan Buz: Osmanlı Sadrazamları, Neden Yayınları, İstanbul, 2009 ISBN 978-975-254-278-5 p 165
  4. ^ Prof. Yaşar Yüce-Prof. Ali Sevim: Türkiye tarihi Cilt III, AKDTYKTTK Yayınları, İstanbul, 1991 p 259-262
  5. ^ a b Stanley Hochman (1984). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama: An International Reference Work in 5 Volumes. VNR AG. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-07-079169-5. 
  6. ^ T. Byram Karasu (2007). Of God and Madness: A Historical Novel. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7425-5975-2. 
  7. ^ Skavronsky
  8. ^ Ahmad III, H. Bowen, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, ed. H.A.R. Gibb, J.H. Kramers, E. Levi-Provencal and J. Shacht, (E.J.Brill, 1986), 269.
Political offices
Preceded by
Kalaylıkoz Hacı Ahmed Pasha (tr)
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
25 December 1704 – 3 May 1706
Succeeded by
Çorlulu Damat Ali Pasha
Preceded by
Köprülü Numan Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
18 August 1710 – 20 November 1711
Succeeded by
Ağa Yusuf Pasha (tr)