Kara Mustafa Pasha

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Merzifonlu Kara
Kara Mustafa Pasha.jpg
Kara Mustafa Pasha, painted shortly after the Battle of Vienna (1683)
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
19 October 1676 – 25 December 1683
Monarch Mehmed IV
Preceded by Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha
Succeeded by Bayburtlu Kara Ibrahim Pasha
Personal details
Born 1634 or 1635
Merzifon, Ottoman Empire
Died 25 December 1683
Belgrade, Ottoman Serbia
Nationality Ottoman
Relations Köprülü Mehmed Pasha (father-in-law)
Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha (brother-in-law)
Köprülü Fazıl Mustafa Pasha (brother-in-law)
Origins Albanian
Family Köprülü family
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire
Service/branch  Ottoman Navy
 Ottoman Army
Years of service 1660s–1683
Rank Kapudan Pasha (1666–70)
Commander-in-Chief (1676–83)

Polish–Ottoman War (1672–76)
Russo-Turkish War (1676–81)
Polish–Ottoman War (1683–99)
Great Turkish War (1683–99)

Kara Mustafa Pasha's strangulation by a silk cord on 25 December 1683.

Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha (1634/1635 – 25 December 1683) was an Ottoman military leader and grand vizier who was a central character in the Ottoman Empire's last attempts at expansion into both Central and Eastern Europe.

Born to Albanian parents[1][2][3] in Merzifon, he married into the powerful Köprülü family and served as a messenger to Damascus for his brother-in-law, the grand vizier Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha. He directed in the name of Köprülü family's mukata or tımar fields in Merzifon. After distinguishing himself, Mustafa became a vizier in his own right, and by 1663 or 1666 became the Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy).

Official life[edit]

He served as a commander of ground troops in a war against Poland in 1672, negotiating a settlement that added the province of Podolia to the empire. The victory enabled the Ottomans to transform the Cossack regions of the southern Ukraine into a protectorate. In 1676, when his brother-in-law Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha died, Mustafa succeeded him as grand vizier.

He was less successful in combating a Cossack rebellion that began in 1678. After some initial victories, intervention by Russia turned the tide and forced the Turks to conclude peace in 1681, effectively returning the Cossack lands to Russian rule with the exception of a few forts on the Dnieper and Southern Bug rivers.

Battle of Vienna[edit]

Main article: Battle of Vienna

In 1683, he launched a campaign northward into Austria in a last effort to expand the Ottoman Empire after more than 150 years of war. By mid-July, his 100,000-man army had besieged Vienna (guarded by 10,000 Habsburg soldiers), following in the footsteps of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1529. By September, he had taken a portion of the walls and appeared to be on his way to victory.

But on 12 September 1683, a Polish army under King Jan Sobieski took advantage of dissent within the Turkish military command and poor disposition of his troops, winning the Battle of Vienna with a devastating flank attack led by Sobieski's Polish Winged Hussars. Mustafa successfully ordered the slaughter of 30,000 Christian "hostages" on realising the battle was fading from his grasp.[4] The Turks retreated into Hungary, leaving the kingdom for retaking by the Austrians in 1686.

The defeat cost Mustafa his position, and ultimately, his life. On 25 December 1683, Kara Mustafa was executed in Belgrade at the order of Mehmed IV. He suffered death by strangulation with a silk cord, which was the method of capital punishment inflicted on high-ranking persons in the Ottoman Empire. His last words were, in effect, "Make sure you tie the knot right." Mustafa's head was presented to Mehmed IV in a velvet bag.


The Austrian government announced the discovery of a skull thought to belong to Mustafa Pasha and also announced they would bury the skull unless Turkish authorities raised a claim.[citation needed] His headstone was originally in Belgrade, Serbia but was moved to Edirne, Turkey.

The Foundation of Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha was one of the largest foundations ever founded both in Ottoman Empire and Turkey. According to the official records, it was last managed by the descendants of Kara Mustafa Pasha. The last few managers of the foundation were Mustafa Pasha's descendant Ahmed Asım Bey (born 1844), his son Mehmed Nebil Bey (born 1888) (also known as Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu or Merzifonlu Karamustafapaşaoğlu), and his son, the Turkish painter Doğan Yılmaz Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu, better known as Yılmaz Merzifonlu (1928–2010), until 1976. The "Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu" family name ended with the marriage of Yılmaz Merzifonlu's only daughter, Abide Tuğçe Mit.[5] Kara Mustafa Pasha's family and descendant tree can be found via Turkey's Directorate General of Foundations.[6]

Coffee legend[edit]

As Mustafa Pasha's army retreated from Vienna after the siege, it left several large bags of green beans behind in Vienna. These sacks contained unroasted coffee beans which, as legend has it, formed the nucleus from which the Viennese coffee trade began.

In media[edit]

In the 2012 Polish and Italian historical drama film September Eleven 1683 about the Battle of Vienna, Kara Mustafa Pasha is portrayed by Italian actor Enrico Lo Verso.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Goodwin, Jason - Lords of the Horizons (book)
  • Wheatcroft, Andrew The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe, Basic Books.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
19 October 1676 – 25 December 1683
Succeeded by
Bayburtlu Kara Ibrahim Pasha