Mahmud Pasha Angelovic

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Mahmud Angelovic
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
Monarch Mehmed II
Preceded by Ishak Pasha
Succeeded by Gedik Ahmed Pasha
In office
Monarch Mehmed II
Preceded by Zaganos Pasha
Succeeded by Rum Mehmed Pasha
Personal details
Born 1420
Novo Brdo, Serbian Despotate
(modern disputed Kosovo)
Died 1474
Nationality Ottoman
Spouse(s) daughter of Sultan Mehmed II
Military service
Nickname(s) Adni
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire
Service/branch  Ottoman Navy
Rank Kapudan Pasha (grand admiral)
Battles/wars Siege of Belgrade (1456)
Siege of Trebizond (1461)
Ottoman conquest of Bosnia

Mahmud Pasha Angelovic (Serbian: Махмуд-паша Анђеловић/Mahmud-paša Anđelović; Turkish: Veli Mahmud Paşa; 1420–1474) was the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1456 to 1466 and again from 1472 to 1474, who also wrote Persian and Turkish poems under the pseudonym Adni (the "Eden-like").[1]

Born in Serbia, he was a descendant of the Byzantine Angelos family that had left Thessaly in 1394. As a child, he was abducted by the Ottomans according to the devşirme system and raised as a Muslim in Edirne. A capable soldier, he was married to a daughter of Sultan Mehmed II. After distinguishing himself at the Siege of Belgrade (1456), he was raised to the position of Grand Vizier as a reward, succeeding Zagan Pasha. Throughout his tenure, he led armies or accompanied Mehmed II on his own campaigns.

Origin and early life[edit]

He was born in 1420, in the village of Novo Brdo, in the Serbian Despotate, at the time a vassal of the Ottoman Empire (present-day Kosovo). After the Ottoman conquest of Thessaly in 1394, the ruling Angeloi Philanthropenoi family took refuge in Serbia. The grandchildren of either Alexios or Manuel were Mahmud Pasha and his brother Mihailo Anđelović. He may have also been related to the noblemen Alessio and Peter Spani through Alexios III Angelos, who was possibly their ancestor.[2] Although the contemporary Byzantine sources and Ibn Kemal calls him Serbian, some late Ottoman sources erraneously call him Croatian.[a]

He was abducted by the Ottomans as part of the devşirme practice, in 1427, during an invasion of Serbia.[3] He was sent together with two other boys to Edirne.[4] According to Laonikos Chalkokondyles, he was captured by the horsemen of Sultan Murad II, while traveling with his mother from Novo Brdo to Smederevo.[5] He was raised a Muslim according to the practice.[3] His brother Michael stayed in Serbia, but he would also quickly rise up in the Ottoman bureaucracy. Their mother moved to Constantinople, while remaining a Christian, she was favored and awarded by land property by the Sultan.[6]


A capable soldier, he was married to a daughter of Sultan Mehmed II. After distinguishing himself at the Siege of Belgrade (1456), he was raised to the position of Grand Vizier as a reward, succeeding Zagan Pasha.[7] Throughout his tenure he led armies or accompanied Mehmed II on his own campaigns.[8]

In 1458, the Serbian Despot Lazar Branković died. Mahmud's brother Mihailo became member of a collective regency, but he was soon deposed by the anti-Ottoman and pro-Hungarian faction in the Serbian court. In reaction, Mahmud attacked and seized Smederevo Fortress, although the citadel held out, and seized some additional strongholds in its vicinity. Threatened by a possible Hungarian intervention however he was forced to withdraw south and join the forces of Sultan Mehmed II at Skopje.[9] In 1461, he accompanied Mehmed in his campaign against the Empire of Trebizond, the last surviving fragment of the Byzantine Empire. Mahmud negotiated the surrender of the city of Trebizond with the protovestiarios, the scholar George Amiroutzes, who was also his cousin.[10]

In 1463, Mahmud led the invasion and conquest of the Ottoman vassal state of Bosnia, even though a peace treaty between Bosnia and the Ottomans had just been renewed. He captured the Bosnian king, Stephen Tomašević, at Ključ, and obtained from him the cession of the country to the Empire.[9]

Angelović accompanied Mehmed II when he attacked Albania Veneta in the summer of 1467, and ravaged the lands. For 15 days he pursued Skanderbeg, who was a Venetian ally at the time, but failed to find him, as Skanderbeg retreated into the mountains and then succeeded in fleeing to the coast.[11] According to Tursun Beg and Ibn Kemal, Angelović swam over Bojana, attacked Venetian-controlled Scutari, and plundered the surrounding area.[12]

Mahmud was dismissed in 1468 due to the machinations of his successor, Rum Mehmed Pasha, ostensibly due to irregularities regarding the resettlement of the Karamanids in Constantinople following the conquest of Karaman earlier in that year.[13] He was reinstated in 1472, but his relations with the Sultan were now strained. He was dismissed and executed in 1474, allegedly because of Mehmed's son, prince Mustafa. Mahmud had been at loggerheads with Mustafa after divorcing his second wife for spending a night in the same house as Mustafa during Mahmud's absence on campaign in 1473. Mustafa's death later in 1474 was even attributed by later accounts to poisoning by Mahmud.[14]


  1. ^ Based primarily on one source which says that Mahmut pasha was captured as a child while he was going from Novo Brdo to Smederevo, most modern historians accept the Serbian city of Novo Brdo (now in Kosovo) as Mahmud Pasha's place of origin. The contemporary Ecthesis Chronica and Historia Patriarchia says he was from Serbia, while Ibn Kemal is the only Ottoman source that explicitly say that he was "from the mines of Serbia" (Novo Brdo).[5] Some Ottoman authors give other information: The 16th-century biographer Asik Celebi says that Mahmud was from Kruševac. Some Ottoman historians like Ata, Sureyya and Osmanzade Taib, claim he was Croat (Hrovati) in origin. This information about Croat origin is reinforced by a letter written by Mahmud-Pasha to Republic of Ragusa in 1467, where he signed himself as 'Abogović Hrvat' (Abogović the Croat). Three points make the latter assumption implausible: It is contradicted by all Byzantine sources, It would imply he was born Catholic - strange given his relations to Byzantine Orthodox Christians, and his geographical origin in Serbia - both of his possible birthplaces were in the Serbian/Orthodox world, far from Catholic influence. There was some considerable confusion over the terms "Croat" and "Serb" in these times, which suggest that "Croat" in this case would mean someone from the wider South Slavic area.[5] It is concluded that Mahmud Pasha was of Serbian origin, descending from the Byzantine (or Byzantine-Serbian[15]) Angelos family.[5]


  1. ^ Stavrides 2001, p. 311.
  2. ^ Stavrides 2001, p. 228.
  3. ^ a b Finkel (2006), pp. 59–60, 48
  4. ^ Enes Duraković, Esad Duraković, Fehim Nametak, Đenana Buturović, Bošnjačka književnost u književnoj kritici, 1990, p. 142, Google Books
  5. ^ a b c d Stavrides 2001, pp. 73–74.
  6. ^ Babinger, Franz (1992). Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time. Princeton University Press. p. 115. ISBN 0691010781. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Finkel 2006, p. 78
  8. ^ Finkel (2006), pp. 78–79, 559, 560
  9. ^ a b Finkel 2006, p. 60
  10. ^ Finkel 2006, p. 62
  11. ^ Stavrides 2001, pp. 163, 164.
  12. ^ Stavrides 2001, p. 164.
  13. ^ Finkel (2006), pp. 78–79
  14. ^ Finkel 2006, p. 79
  15. ^ Teofilo F. Ruiz; Gabriel Piterberg; Geoffrey Symcox (2010). Braudel Revisited. University of Toronto Press. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-1-4426-4133-4. 


  • Finkel, Caroline (2006). Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300–1923. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-0-7195-6112-2. 
  • Stavrides, Théoharis (2001), The Sultan of vezirs: the life and times of the Ottoman Grand Vezir Mahmud Pasha Angelovic (1453–1474), Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-12106-5 
Political offices
Preceded by
Zaganos Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
Succeeded by
Rum Mehmed Pasha
Preceded by
Ishak Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
Succeeded by
Gedik Ahmed Pasha