Şehzade Mustafa

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This article is about the son of Suleiman the Magnificent. For the son of Bayezid I, see Mustafa Çelebi. For the son of Mehmed I, see Küçük Mustafa.
Miniature of Şehzade Mustafa.jpg
An Ottoman miniature of Şehzade Mustafa
Born 1515
Manisa, Ottoman Empire
Died 6 October 1553 (aged 37–38)
Konya, Ottoman Empire
Burial Muradiye Complex, Bursa
Spouse Fatma Sultan
Ayşe Hatun
Nuricihan Hatun
Rümeysa Sultan
Hatice Sultan
Handan Hatun
Nurbegüm Sultan
Issue Nergisşah Sultan
Şehzade Mehmed
Şehzade Orhan
Şah Sultan
Mihrişah Sultan
Hatice Sultan
Handan Sultan
House House of Osman
Father Suleiman the Magnificent
Mother Mahidevran

Şehzade Mustafa Muhlisi (Turkish pronunciation: [ʃehzaːˈde mustaˈfa muhliˈsi]; 1515, Manisa – 6 October 1553, Konya) was the son of Suleiman the Magnificent and Mahidevran Gülbahar. He was the ruler of Manisa from 1533 to 1541 and the ruler of Amasya from 1541 to 1553. Şehzade Mustafa was the heir apparent to the Ottoman throne and a very popular prince among the people of Anatolia prior to his execution.


The murder of Mustafa in 1553 was the subject of the 1561 French tragedy La Soltane by Gabriel Bounin.

Mustafa was born in 1515 in Manisa to Sultan Suleiman I and his first wife Mahidevran Gülbahar, while Suleiman was still a prince.

Mustafa experienced some problems in his relationship with his father since very early in his life. He was the first-born son and therefore the heir apparent to the throne, but his father, according to some historians, was more interested in Mustafa's younger half-brother Şehzade Mehmed, the eldest son of Hürrem Sultan, the most prominent one of Suleiman's consorts and his legal wife. Suleiman created more opportunities to the younger one and appeared to be preparing him for the throne. His father's treatment further displeased Mustafa and the whole people and even Suleiman's sisters who supported Mustafa.

Mustafa was reported to be very close to his brother Mehmed and to Selim II, this good relations probably made Selim II treat Mahidevran like his own mother during her last years and build Mustafa's lavish tomb at Bursa.

Then, he faced a second shock after being sent to Amasya from the more prominent Manisa. The rule of Manisa was given to Mehmed. However, after he was sent to Amasya, Mustafa got the news of an edict written by Suleiman: he had sent him to Amasya not because he did not want him to be his heir, but in order to defend the east coast of the Ottoman Empire and learn how to manage a large empire.[1] This edict also relieved the Ottoman army and people, as Şehzade Mustafa was the popular successor to the throne.

In Amasya, he got the news of the death of his brother Mehmed. It seemed like all barriers between the throne and Mustafa were gone, but he still faced another challenge. Another brother of Mustafa, Şehzade Bayezid, was sent to Konya for his sanjak assignment.

It was a critical decision, as they were Hürrem Sultan's sons, the mother of the late Mehmed. Her support of her own son, Bayezid, made Mustafa's political career difficult, but he successfully ruled Amasya for 12 years.

In 1547, during Sultan Suleiman’s Elkas Campaign, the sultan met with his sons Selim, Bayezid, and Mustafa in different places and talked to them about the political situation. It was long after the death of Mehmed, but the race between the three princes was still going on. Selim was sent to Anatolia as the prince of Manisa in 1544

In 1549, Mustafa moved to Konya for his sanjak assignment.[2]

The rumours and speculations say that Mustafa’s life was now in danger, as Hürrem and Rüstem had made a court alliance against him in favor of Hürrem's sons, Selim and Bayezid.


Strangle of Şehzade Mustafa engraving by Cl. Duflos, 18th century

During Suleiman’s Persian campaign, his army settled in Ereğli for a while. While Suleiman's army was in Ereğli, Rüstem Pasha made an offer to Mustafa to join his father’s army. At the same time he warned Suleiman and persuaded him that Mustafa was coming to kill him.[3]

Mustafa accepted Rüstem Pasha’s offer and assembled his army to join his father's. Suleiman saw this as a threat and ordered the execution of his son. When Mustafa entered his father’s tent to meet with him, Suleiman's guards attacked Mustafa, and after a long struggle they killed him using a bow-string.[4]

After the execution[edit]

After the death of the prince, the janissaries and Anatolian soldiers of Mustafa rebelled against the decision of Suleiman.

The whole Ottoman Society found the execution unfair because they believed that the reason for the execution was due to political maneuverings of Hürrem Sultan and Rüstem Pasha.

The Janissaries supported Mustafa because of Ottoman traditions about succession and the success of Mustafa as a warrior.

After the protests of the army, Suleiman dismissed Rüstem from his position as grand vizier and sent him back to Istanbul.

Suleiman ordered that Mustafa be given state funeral in Istanbul. After a week lying in state at the Hagia Sophia, Mustafa was laid to rest in a large mausoleum in Bursa.

Mustafa’s execution caused unrest in Anatolia, especially in Amasya, Manisa and Konya because the people saw him as the next sultan and because of his generosity and braveness.

In the majority of Anatolia, people reminisced Mustafa as Sultan Mustafa as though he had successfully inherited throne. His life and fate became a part of Anatolian Turkish literature. The poet Taşlıcalı Yahya composed an elegy for the dead prince. His story was similar to the story of Sultan Cem.

It is also important to note that the involvement of Hürrem Sultan in his execution is based on rumours and hearsay, mostly because women couldn't leave the harem and people were forbidden to enter in it; ambassadors and foreigners could only imply and base their statements from the words of the servants and slaves that lived in the palace.


Mustafa was born to Suleiman I and his consort Mahidevran Gülbahar.


  • Fatma Sultan (originally a Croatian woman named Adriana), the mother of Şehzade Orhan, Şehzade Suleiman and Mihrişah Sultan.
  • Ayşe Hatun, the daughter of Mirza Aslanbek Bey, a Circassian nobleman and the mother of Nergisşah Sultan.
  • Nuricihan Sultan, his legal wife, daughter of Saadet I Giray, a Crimean Tatar princess and the mother of Hatice Sultan, Handan Sultan and Şah Sultan.
  • Rümeysa Sultan, a Bosniak the mother of Şehzade Mehmed and Şehzade Ahmed.
  • Hatice Hatun, a Circassian daughter of Kaytuko Bey, a Circassian ruler and relative of Şemsiruhsar Hatun.
  • Handan Hatun was born at Anapa, daughter of Mirza Beslan Bey, a Circassian prince, mother of Ayşe Sultan. She was brought by his mother Mahidevran.
  • Nurbegüm Sultan (m. 1547), his legal wife, a Crimean Tatar princess, the daughter of the Crimean Khan Mahmud Giray, mother of Şehzade Murad and Şehzade Osman.

He had eleven known children:


  • Şehzade Suleiman (1534 Manisa - 1537).
  • Şehzade Orhan (1535 Manisa - 10 December 1553).
  • Şehzade Mehmed (1547, Amasya – 10 December 1553, Bursa).
  • Şehzade Murad (1548, Amasya - 10 December 1553).
  • Şehzade Ahmed (1552, Konya - ?).
  • Şehzade Osman (1552, Konya - ?).


  • Nergisşah Sultan (1536, Manisa – 1592). Mustafa's favorite daughter. She married in 1555 to Damat Cenabi Ahmet Pasha, governor of Anatolia but she still lived at Bursa. She was buried in her father's tomb.
  • Hatice Sultan (1538, Manisa - 1603).
  • Handan Sultan (1544, Amasya - 1621).
  • Ayşe Sultan (1546, Amasya - ?).
  • Mihrişah Sultan (1547, Amasya - 1598).
  • Şah Sultan (1550, Amasya – 1597). She married in 1562 to Damat Abdülkerim Pasha, Amasya's governor.[5]

Depictions in literature and popular culture[edit]

In 1561, eight years after Mustafa's death, the French author Gabriel Bounin wrote a tragedy titled La Soltane about the role of Hürrem Sultan in Mustafa's death.[6] This tragedy marks the first time the Ottomans were introduced on stage in France.[7]

In the television series Muhteşem Yüzyıl, Mustafa is played by Turkish actor Mehmet Günsür.

The majority of his contemporaries tend to consider that if Mustafa had not been executed, he could have become a great Ottoman Sultan.


  1. ^ Afyoncu, Erhan (2012). Şehzade Mustafa. Atlas Tarih. 
  2. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet; Bu Mülkün Sultanları, page 137.
  3. ^ Beosch, Moritz. The Height of the Ottoman Power; Murder of Prince Mustafa
  4. ^ A General History of the Middle East, Chapter 13: Ottoman Era, Suleiman the Magnificent
  5. ^ Yılmaz Öztuna, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (Pages: 174-189), Babıali Kültür Publications, 2006
  6. ^ The Literature of the French Renaissance by Arthur Augustus Tilley, p.87 [1]
  7. ^ The Penny cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge p.418 [2]