Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire

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Caliph of Islam
Amir al-Mu'minin
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Ibrahim Deli.jpg
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Reign 9 February 1640 – 12 August 1648
Predecessor Murad IV
Successor Mehmed IV
Born 5 November 1615
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died 18 August 1648(1648-08-18) (aged 32)
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Consorts Turhan Sultan
Dilaşub Sultan
Muazzez Sultan
Ayşe Sultan
Mahienver Sultan
Şivekar Sultan
Hümaşah Sultan
Saçbağli Sultan
Issue Mehmed IV
Suleiman II
Ahmed II
Ümmü Gülsüm Sultan
Peykân Sultan
Atike Sultan
Ayşe Sultan
Gevherhan Sultan
Royal house House of Osman
Father Ahmed I
Mother Kösem Sultan
Religion Sunni Islam

Ibrahim (Ottoman Turkish: ابراهيم‎, Turkish: İbrahim)) (5 November 1615 – 18 August 1648) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640 until 1648. He was born in Istanbul the son of Ahmed I by Valide Kösem Sultan, an ethnic Greek originally named Anastasia.[1][2][3] He was later called Ibrahim the Mad (Turkish: Deli İbrahim) by twentieth century historians due to his reputed mental condition[4] —probably psychoneurosis.

Early years in power[edit]

One of the most notorious Ottoman Sultans, Ibrahim spent all of his early life in the close confinement of the Kafes before succeeding his brother Murad IV (1623–40) in 1640. Four of his brothers had been executed by Murad, and Ibrahim lived in terror of being the next to die. His life was only saved by the intercession of Kösem Sultan, mother of Ibrahim and Murad.[5]

After Murad's death, Ibrahim was left the sole surviving prince of the dynasty. Upon being asked by Grand Vizier Kemankeş Kara Mustafa Pasha to assume the Sultanate, Ibrahim suspected Murad was still alive and plotting to trap him. It took the combined persuasion of Kösem and the Grand Vizier, and personal examination of his brother's dead body, to make Ibrahim accept the throne.

Ḳara Muṣṭafā Pasha remained as Grand Vizier during the first four years of Ibrahim’s reign, keeping the Empire stable. With the treaty of Szön (March 15, 1642) he renewed peace with Austria and during the same year recovered Azov from the Cossacks. Ḳara Muṣṭafā also stabilized the currency with coinage reform, sought to stabilize the economy with a new land-survey, reduced the number of Janissaries, removed non-contributing members from the state payrolls, and curbed the power of disobedient provincial governors. During these years, Ibrahim showed concern with properly ruling the empire, as shown in his handwritten communications with the Grand Vizier.[6] Ḳara Muṣṭafā in turn wrote a memo on public affairs to coach his inexperienced master. Ibrahim’s replies to Ḳara Muṣṭafā's reports show he had actually received a good education. Ibrahim often traveled in disguise, inspecting the markets of Istanbul and ordering the Grand Vizier to correct any problems he observed.[7]

Decadence and crisis[edit]

Ibrahim was often distracted by recurring headaches and attacks of physical weakness, perhaps caused by the trauma of his early years.[8] Since he was the only surviving male member of the Ottoman dynasty, Ibrahim was encouraged by his mother Kösem Sultan to distract himself with harem girls and soon fathered three future sultans: Mehmed IV, Suleyman II and Aḥmed II. The distractions of the harem allowed Kösem Sultan to gain power and rule in his name, yet even she fell victim to the Sultan's disfavor and left the Imperial Palace.[9]

Ibrahim came under the influence of concubines and favorites such as the charlatan Cinci Hoca, who pretended to cure the Sultan's physical ailments. The latter, along with his allies Silahdar Yusuf Agha and Sultanzade Mehmed Pasha, enriched themselves with bribes and eventually usurped enough power to secure the execution of Grand Vizier Ḳara Muṣṭafā. Cinci Hoca became Kadiasker (High Judge) of Anatolia, Yusuf Agha was made Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral) and Sultanzade Mehmed became Grand Vizier.[8]

In 1644, Maltese corsairs seized a ship carrying high-status pilgrims to Mecca. The enraged Sultan considered the extermination of all Christians in his empire,[10] but under pressure from his ministers the idea was reduced to Roman Catholic priests before being abandoned.[11] Instead, all the Christian ambassadors were placed under house arrest.[12] Since the pirates had docked in Crete, Kapudan Yusuf Pasha encouraged Ibrahim to invade the island. This began a long war with Venice that lasted 24 years—Crete would not completely fall under Ottoman domination until 1669. In spite of the decline of La Serenissima, Venetian ships won victories throughout the Aegean, capturing Tenedos (1646) and blockading the Dardanelles. Kapudan Yusuf enjoyed temporary success in conquering Canea, starting a jealous rivalry with the Grand Vizier that led to his execution (January 1646) and the Grand Vizier's deposition (December 1645).

With his cronies in power, Ibrahim's extravagant tendencies went unchecked. He raised eight concubines to the favored position of haseki (royal consort), granting each riches and land.[13] After legally marrying the concubine Telli Haseki, he ordered the palace of Ibrahim Pasha[disambiguation needed] to be carpeted in sable furs and given to her.[8]

Deposition and execution[edit]

Mass discontent was caused by the Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles—which created scarcities in the capital—and the imposition of heavy taxes during a war economy to pay for Ibrahim's whims. In 1647 the Grand Vizier Salih Pasha, Kösem Sultan, and the şeyhülislam Abdürrahim Efendi unsuccessfully plotted to depose the sultan and replace him with one of his sons. Salih Pasha was executed and Kösem Sultan was exiled from the harem.[13]

The next year the Janissaries and members of the ulema revolted. On August 8, 1648, corrupt Grand Vizier Aḥmed Pasha was strangled and torn to shreds by an angry mob, gaining the posthumous nickname “Hezarpare” ("thousand pieces").[8] On the same day, Ibrahim was seized and imprisoned in Topkapı Palace.[9] Kösem gave consent to her son's fall, saying "In the end he will leave neither you nor me alive. We will lose control of the government. The whole society is in ruins. Have him removed from the throne immediately."[14]

Ibrahim's six-year-old son Meḥmed was made Sultan. The new Grand Vizier, Ṣofu Meḥmed Pasha, petitioned the Sheikh ul-Islam for a fatwā sanctioning Ibrahim's execution. It was granted, with the message "if there are two Caliphs, kill one of them." Kösem also gave her consent. Two executioners were sent for; one being the chief executioner who served under Ibrahim.[15] As officials watched from a palace window, Ibrahim was strangled on August 18, 1648. He became the second regicide in the history of the Ottoman Empire.

There is an apocryphal story that the şeyhülislam joined the rebellion because of Ibrahim's fabled decision to drown all 280 members of his harem, but at least one of Ibrahim's concubines survived him. This was Turhan Hatice, who was responsible three years later for the execution of Kösem (then serving as regent for Turhan's son Mehmed IV). This story was probably circulated after the coup to further blacken Ibrahim's name.

Personal life[edit]

Ibrahim's wives were:

  1. Turhan Hatice Sultan, daughter of Samilo Tuçapski a Ukranian nobleman; (mother of Mehmed IV)
  2. Dilaşub Sultan née Saliha Baboniçi, daughter of Mehmed Bey Baboniçi, a Croat–Bosniak nobleman; (mother of Suleiman II),
  3. Muazzez Sultan née Hatice Akuçba, daughter of Hasan Bey Akuçba, an Abkhazian nobleman; (mother of Ahmed II)
  4. Ayşe Sultan, daughter of Şahin Bey Bulgakova Crimean Tatar noble and Süğlünbike Hatun a Giray princess;
  5. Mahienver Sultan née Fatma Muzaka, daughter of Murad Bey Muzaka, Bey of Dibra and Fülane Arianiti, an Albanian noble;
  6. Şivekar Sultan, an Armenian lady from Istanbul, possible a Hemshin, a Turkish speaking Muslim;
  7. Saçbağli Sultan née Leyla Çerkasski, daughter of Ahmet Birhan Bey Çerkasski, a Kabardian prince;
  8. Hümaşah Sultan, daughter of Bahadır I Giray, Khan of the Crimean Khanate from 1637 to 1641;

At one point Ibrahim took a great liking to the infant son of a slave woman, to the extent of preferring the unrelated child to his son Mehmed. Turhan, Mehmed's mother, grew extremely jealous and vented her anger to Ibrahim, who flew into a rage and grabbed Mehmed from Turhan's arms and threw him into a pool. Mehmed would have drowned if a servant had not rescued him. He was left with a permanent scar on his forehead.[16]


  1. ^ Singh, Nagendra Kr (2000). International encyclopaedia of Islamic dynasties. Anmol Publications PVT. pp. 423–424. ISBN 81-261-0403-1. Kosem Walide or Kosem Sultan, called Mahpaykar (ca. 1589-1651), wife of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmad I and mother of the sultans Murad IV and Ibrahim [q.vv.]. She was Greek by birth, and achieved power in the first place through the harem, exercising a decisive influence in the state 
  2. ^ Sonyel, Salâhi Ramadan (1993). Minorities and the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish Historical Society Printing House. p. 61. ISBN 975-16-0544-X. Many of these ladies of the harem were non-Muslim, for example Sultana Kosem (Anastasia), of Greek origin, who was the wife of Ahmet I (1603-17), and the mother of Murat IV (1623-40), and of Ibrahim (1640-8) 
  3. ^ al-Ayvansarayî, Hafiz Hüseyin ; Crane, Howard (2000). The garden of the mosques : Hafiz Hüseyin al-Ayvansarayî's guide to the Muslim monuments of Ottoman Istanbul. Brill. p. 21. ISBN 90-04-11242-1. Kosem Valide Mahpeyker, known also simply as Kosem Sultan (c. 1589-1651), consort of Sultan Ahmed I and mother of Murad IV and Ibrahim. Greek by birth, she exercised a decisive influence in the Ottoman state 
  4. ^ Lucienne Thys-Senocak, Ottoman Women Builders. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006. Page 24
  5. ^ Baysun, M. Cavid. "Kösem Wālide or Kösem Sulṭān." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill Online, 2012. Accessed 10 July 2012 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/kosem-walideor-kosem-sultan-SIM_4438>
  6. ^ Gökbilgin, M. Tayyib. "Ibrāhīm." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill Online, 2012. Accessed July 10, 2012 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/ibrahim-SIM_3433>
  7. ^ Börekçi, Günhan. "Ibrahim I." Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Ed. Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Masters. New York: Facts on File, 2009. p.263.
  8. ^ a b c d Gökbilgin, "Ibrāhīm."
  9. ^ a b Baysun, "Kösem Wālide or Kösem Sulṭān"
  10. ^ Jenkins, Philip The Lost History of Christianity HarperOne (2008) p 142
  11. ^ Bliss, Edwin Munsell Turkey and the Armenian atrocities (1896) p 264
  12. ^ Kohen, Eli. History of the Turkish Jews and Sephardim: Memories of a Past Golden Age. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2007. Page 142.
  13. ^ a b Börekçi, p.263.
  14. ^ Quioted in Thys-Senocak, p.26.
  15. ^ Kohen, p. 142.
  16. ^ Thys-Senocak, p.25.
  • The World's Most Infamous Crimes and Criminals. New York: Gallery Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8317-9677-4

External links[edit]

Media related to Ibrahim I at Wikimedia Commons

Born: November 5, 1615 Died: August 12, 1648
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Murad IV
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Feb 9, 1640 – Aug 12, 1648
Succeeded by
Mehmed IV
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Murad IV
Caliph of Islam
Feb 9, 1640 – Aug 12, 1648
Succeeded by
Mehmed IV