Capture of Baghdad (1638)
|Siege of Baghdad (1638)|
|Part of Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–1639)|
Portrait of Murad IV
|Safavid Empire||Ottoman Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Bektaş Khan|| Murad IV
Grand Vizier Tayyar Mehmet Pasha †
|40,000 infantry, 37 fortified city towers and 100 cannons||35,000 infantry, 73,000 cavalry and 200 cannons
not in combat: 8,000 lagimci engineers, 24,000 beldar sappers and diggers
|Casualties and losses|
Capture of Baghdad refers to the second conquest of the city by the Ottoman Empire.
Baghdad (capital of modern Iraq), once the capital of Arab Abbasid Caliphate, was one of the most important cities of the Muslim World. In the second half of the Medieval age, Turkic rulers (Seljuks, Kara Koyunlu, Ak Koyunlu) as well as others always tried to control this prestigious city. In 1534, Ottoman sultan Suleyman I (also known as Suleyman the Magnificent) captured the city without any serious combat. However 90 years later it was captured by Abbas I of Persia.
Attempts of several Ottoman commanders (Turkish: serdar) to retake the city following 1624, were fruitless. According to a legend only the sultans could capture the city. Murad was seen as a warrior hero and thus it seemed as his duty to campaign and regain Baghdad. He had been victorious against the Druze rebels a decade earlier and won a great victory at the Siege of Yerevan in 1635. In 1638 Ottoman Sultan Murad IV (five generation younger than Suleyman I) decided to recapture the city.
According to the eyewitness account of Zarain Agha the Ottoman mobilization for the siege of Baghdad was 108,589 men composed of 35,000 infantry in part Janissaries, and 73,589 cavalry.
 The siege
The birds' flight distance between Istanbul and Baghdad is about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi). According to historian Joseph von Hammer the Ottoman army covered this distance in 197 days with 110 staging stations in between. The siege began on 15 November 1638. The Safavids had increased the garrison size of the city by around 4-5 times. There were four main gates of the city, namely Azamiye (of Abū Ḥanīfa), Karanlık (dark), Ak (white) and Köprü (bridge) gates. Two pashas deployed against the first two gates. But the grand vizier Tayyar Mehmet Pasha noticed that these two gates were very well fortified. So he chose to attack on the third (Ak) gate which seemed less fortified. The commander of the defenders was Bektaş Khan. During the siege the Safavids made sallies of around 6,000 men at a time, this was followed by a retreat into the city and a fresh 6,000 to attack. These types of attacks greatly increased the casualties of the Ottomans. The siege continued for 40 days. Towards the end, impatient Murad urged the grand vizier for a general attack. The attack was successful and the city was captured on 25 December 1638 (on the 116th anniversary of the capture of Rhodes by Suleyman I). But during the final clashes, the grand vizier was shot down.
Although the defenders were given free passage to Persia, some resumed fighting after the capture of the city around Karanlık gate. The human loss during the after-capture fighting was severe. Nevertheless soon after the capture, the new grand vizier Kemankeş Mustafa Pasha and the Persian representative Saruhan began peace talks and on 17 May 1639 the treaty of Zuhab was signed, which was an important historical treaty. By this treaty the modern Turkey-Iran and Iraq-Iran frontier lines were drawn. Although there were some other wars after the treaty of Zuhab, the treaties following the wars were merely the ratification of the treaty of Zuhab.
During the Baghdad campaign Murad lost two of his grand viziers. The first was Bayram Pasha on 17 August 1638, who died on way to Baghdad and the second was Mehmet Tayyar who died on 24 December 1638. Tayyar Mehmet was also the third Ottoman grand vizier who died on the battle field (the first two being Hadim Ali Pasha in 1511 and Hadim Sinan Pasha in 1517).
After this victory Murad had two magnificent kiosks built in the Topkapi gardens, one for his victory at Yerevan and the other for his victory at Baghdad.
 See also
- Ottoman Warfare 1500-1700, Rhoads Murphey, 1999, p.36
- Joseph von Hammer: Geschichte der osmanischen Dichtkunst Vol II (translation: Mehmet Ata) Milliyet yayınları, p 220-221
- Prof. Yaşar Yüce-Prof. Ali Sevim: Türkiye tarihi Cilt III, AKDTYKTTK Yayınları, İstanbul, 1991 p 81-82