Sultan Yahya

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Sultan Yahya
Born 1585?
Manisa, Ottoman Empire?
Died 1648 (aged 62–63)
Burial Kotor, Montenegro
Full name
Yahya bin Mehmed?; Count Alexander of Montenegro
House House of Osman?
Father Mehmed III (claimed)
Mother Elena Sultana Lalpare?
Religion Orthodox formerly Sunni Islam (claimed)

Sultan Yahya (1585?–1648?; sometimes spelled Jachia or Jahja), also known as Count Alexander of Montenegro, was a pretender to the Ottoman throne who claimed to be the second son of Sultan Mehmed III.[1][2]



According to Yahya's own writings, when his father, Mehmed, became Sultan, he followed the Ottoman custom of executing all of his brothers (potential rival claimants to the Ottoman throne). Yahya's mother was concerned that this could also eventually happen to him after the death of his father, so he was smuggled out of the empire, first to Greece, and then to present-day Bulgaria. He was then supposedly baptized at an Orthodox Christian monastery, where he lived for the next eight years of his life.[3]

Battle for Ottoman throne[edit]

Yahya's narrative then claims that eventually, Yahya's two older brothers died, but in 1603, since Yahya had escaped the country to avoid fratricide, his nephew Ahmed I became the Ottoman sultan. Yahya believed that as the next oldest son of Murad III, he was next in line to be Ottoman Sultan and felt cheated out of his rightful destiny. He would dedicate the rest of his life to gaining the Ottoman throne. However, the standard Ottoman practice at the time for determining the succession was not birth order of sons; instead the Ottoman laws of succession to the throne stated that after the death of their father, the Ottoman princes would fight among themselves until one emerged triumphant.

From 1603 on, Yahya made frequent trips to northern and western Europe to gain support for his claim to the throne (visiting Florence, Madrid, Rome, Kraków, Antwerp, Prague, and other cities). At one point he managed to win the support of the Tatar Khan Shahin, and of the Cossacks as well.[4] Between 1614 and 1617, he schemed with Serbian Orthodox Christian bishops in the Sanjak of Prizren and Western Roman Catholic bishops and leaders as part of his strategy to gain the Ottoman throne. A few years later, with the assistance of Russian and Ukrainian cossacks, he led a fleet of 130 ships and unsuccessfully attacked Constantinople. He died in 1648 or 1649[4] on the Montenegrin coast, where he was involved in a rebellion organized by the Roman Catholic bishops of Skodra-and-Bar.


Yahya was married to Anna Cat(t)erina, the daughter of Duke Peter, Count of Drisht, in the early 1630s, when Yahya started calling himself Duke of that region. Anna Caterina was supposedly descended from the national hero Skanderbeg. They had two children, Maurice (born 1635) and Elena (born 1638).[5]


  1. ^ James P. Krokar, "Maps in the Service of an Anti-Ottoman Crusade", Imago Mundi 60:1:23-38 (2008) JSTOR 40234115 p.29
  2. ^ Ostapchuk, p. 92
  3. ^ Kosovo, A Short History (1998), Noel Malcolm -- Harper Perennial - pp. 121 - 122 ISBN 978-0-06-097775-7
  4. ^ a b Faroqhi, Suraiya (December 20, 2005). The Ottoman Empire and the World around it. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-0-857-73023-7. 
  5. ^ Giammanco, p. 43, 60


See also[edit]

List of unrecognized heirs of the Ottoman dynasty