Mehmed III

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Mehmed III
محمد ثالث
Caliph of Islam
Amir al-Mu'minin
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Sultan Mehmet III of the Ottoman Empire.jpg
The portrait of Sultan Mehmet III by Italian painter Cristofano dell'Altissimo, 16th century.
5th Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate
13th Ottoman Sultan (Emperor)
Reign January 15, 1595 – December 22, 1603
Predecessor Murad III
Successor Ahmed I
Born May 26, 1566
Manisa, Ottoman Empire
Died December 21/22, 1603 (aged 37)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Consorts Handan Sultan
Halime Sultan
Dynasty Osmanli (Ottoman)
Father Murad III
Mother Safiye Sultan
Religion Sunni Islam
Mehmed III accepting the surrender of Eger, 1596

Mehmed III Adli (Ottoman Turkish: محمد ثالث‎, lit. 'Meḥmed-i sālis';Turkish: III.Mehmed; May 26, 1566 – December 21/22, 1603) was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1595 until his death in 1603. His reign is mostly remembered from his murders of his siblings and causing a general period of revolts and unease.

Early life[edit]

He was born during the reign of his great-grandfather, Suleiman the Magnificent, in 1566. He was the son of Şehzade Murad (later Murad III), himself the son of Şehzade Selim (later Selim II), who was the son of Sultan Suleiman and Hürrem Sultan. His great-grandfather died the year he was born and his grandfather became the new Sultan, Selim II. His grandfather Sultan Selim II died when Mehmed was 8 and Mehmed's father, Murad III, became Sultan in 1574. Mehmed thus became Crown Prince until his father's death in 1595, when he was 28 years old.


Mehmed III was more conservative than his predecessor and largely halted artistic patronage, including support of the Society of Miniaturists.[citation needed] His reign saw no major setbacks for the supposedly declining Ottoman Empire. He died at Topkapı Palace, Constantinople.

Power struggle in Constantinople[edit]

Mehmed III remains notorious even in Ottoman history for having nineteen of his brothers and half-brothers executed to secure power.[1][2] They were all strangled by his deaf-mutes.

Mehmed III was an idle ruler, leaving government to his mother Safiye Sultan, the valide sultan.[3] His first major problem was the rivalry between two of his viziers, Serdar Ferhad Pasha and Koca Sinan Pasha, and their supporters. His mother and her son-in-law Damat Ibrahim Pasha supported Koca Sinan Pasha, and prevented Mehmed III from taking control of the issue himself. The issue grew to cause major disturbances by janissaries. On 7 July 1595, Mehmed III finally sacked Serdar Ferhad Pasha from the position of Grand Vizier due to his failure in Wallachia and replaced him with Sinan.[4]

Austro-Hungarian War[edit]

The major event of his reign was the Austro-Ottoman War in Hungary (1593–1606). Ottoman defeats in the war caused Mehmed III to take personal command of the army, the first sultan to do so since Suleiman I in 1566. Accompanied by the Sultan, the Ottomans conquered Eger in 1596. Upon hearing of the Habsburg army's approach, Mehmed wanted to dismiss the army and return to Istanbul.[5] However, the Ottomans eventually decided to face the enemy and defeated the Habsburg and Transylvanian forces at the Battle of Keresztes[6] (known in Turkish as the Battle of Haçova), during which the Sultan had to be dissuaded from fleeing the field halfway through the battle. Upon returning to Istanbul in victory, Mehmed told his Vezirs that he would campaign again.[7] The next year the Venetian Bailo in Istanbul noted, "the doctors declared that the Sultan cannot leave for war on account of his bad health, produced by excesses of eating and drinking".[8]

In reward for his services at the war, Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha was made Grand Vizier in 1596. However, with pressure from the court and his mother, Mehmed reinstated Damat Ibrahim Pasha to this position shortly afterwards.[4]

However, the victory at the Battle of Keresztes was soon set back by some important losses, including the loss of Győr (Turkish: Yanıkkale) to the Austrians and the defeat of the Ottoman forces led by Hafız Ahmet Pasha by the Wallachian forces under Michael the Brave in Nikopol in 1599. In 1600, Ottoman forces under Tiryaki Hasan Pasha captured Nagykanizsa after a 40-day siege and later successfully held it against a much greater attacking force in the Siege of Nagykanizsa.[9]

Jelali revolts[edit]

Another major event of his reign was the Jelali revolts in Anatolia. Karayazıcı Abdülhalim, a former Ottoman official, captured the city of Urfa and declared himself sultan in 1600. The rumors of his claim to the throne spread to Constantinople and Mehmed ordered the rebels to be treated harshly to dispel the rumors, among these was the execution of Hüseyin Pasha, whom Karayazıcı Abdülhalim styled as Grand Vizier. In 1601, Abdülhalim fled to the vicinity of Samsun after being defeated by the forces under Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha, the governor of Baghdad. However, his brother, Deli Hasan, killed Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha and defeated troops under the command of Hadım Hüsrev Pasha. He then marched on to Kütahya, captured and burned the city.[4][9]

Relationship with England[edit]

In 1599, the fourth year of Mehmed III's reign, Queen Elizabeth I sent a convoy of gifts to the Ottoman court. These gifts were originally intended for the sultan's predecessor, Murad III, who had died before they had arrived. Included in these gifts was a large jewel-studded clockwork organ that was assembled on the slope of the Royal Private Garden by a team of engineers including Thomas Dallam. The organ took many weeks to complete and featured dancing sculptures such as a flock of blackbirds that sung and shook their wings at the end of the music.[10][11] The musical clock organ was destroyed by the succeeding Sultan Ahmed I. Also among the English gifts was a ceremonial coach, accompanied by a letter from the Queen to Mehmed's mother, Safiye Sultan. These gifts were intended to cement relations between the two countries, building on the trade agreement signed in 1581 that gave English merchants priority in the Ottoman region.[12] Under the looming threat of Spanish military presence, England was eager to secure an alliance with the Ottomans, the two nations together having the capability to divide the power. Elizabeth's gifts arrived in a large 27-gun merchantman ship that Mehmed personally inspected, a clear display of English maritime strength that would prompt him to build up his fleet over the following years of his reign. The Anglo-Ottoman alliance would never see consummation, however, with relations between the nations growing stagnant due to anti-European sentiments reaped from the worsening Austro-Ottoman War and the deaths of Safiye Sultan's interpreter and the pro-English chief Hasan Pasha.[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

He was born at Manisa Palace, the son of Sultan Murad III, whom he succeeded in 1595. His mother was Safiye Sultan, an Albanian from the Principality of Dukagjini.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Mehmed had two known consorts:

None of Mehmed's consorts bore the title haseki sultan.[24]

He died in 1603 at the age of 37. The cause is unknown, but natural causes or disease are most likely.



  • Şehzade Selim[25] (1585 - 20 April 1597)
  • Şehzade Cihangir[26]
  • Şehzade Mahmud (1584 – 7 June 1603) – became Heir Apparent on 15 January 1595.
  • Ahmed I (18 April 1590 – 22 November 1617) – son with Handan.
  • Şehzade Süleyman
  • Mustafa I (1591 – 20 January 1639) – son with Halime.


  • a daughter from Halime Sultan, married in October 1604 to Kara Davud Pasha, Governor of Rumelia 1604 and later Ottoman Grand Vizier.
  • Hatice Sultan (b. 1590) – married in October 1604 to Damad Mustafa Pasha, Vizier 1604.
  • Esra Sultan (b. 1597) – daughter with Handan Sultan, married on 10 February 1612 to Damad Mahmud Pasha Cagaloglu, Vizier 1633-1634
  • Ayşe Sultan (b. 1598) – married on 28 August 1613 to Damad Husrav Pasha, Vizier 1626, Governor of Diyar-i-Bakr 1627, and Grand Vizier 1628-1631


  1. ^ Quataert, Donald. The Ottoman Empire, 1700–1922, p.90. Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-521-63328-1
  2. ^ Kinross, John Patrick. Ottoman Centuries, p.288. William Morrow & Co., 1977. ISBN 0-688-03093-9
  3. ^ Kinross, p.288
  4. ^ a b c "Mehmed III". İslam Ansiklopedisi. 28. Türk Diyanet Vakfı. 2003. pp. 407–413. 
  5. ^ Karateke, Hakan T. "On the Tranquility and Repose of the Sultan." The Ottoman World. Ed. Christine Woodhead. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2011. p. 120.
  6. ^ Finkel, Caroline. Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, p.175. Basic Books, 2005. ISBN 0-465-02396-7
  7. ^ Karateke, p. 122.
  8. ^ Goodwin, Jason. Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, p.166. New York: Henry Holt & Company.
  9. ^ a b "Mehmed III". Büyük Larousse. 15. Milliyet Newspaper Press. pp. 7927–8. 
  10. ^ Malcolm, Noel (2004-05-02). "How fear turned to fascination". London: Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Jean Giullou: Die Orgel. Erinnerung und Vision.Christoph Glatter-Götz 1984 p. 35 with image
  12. ^ a b "An eye for detail". BBC News. December 21, 2007. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ The Aviary Gate. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  15. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Inside the Seraglio. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  17. ^ The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Micropedia - Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc - Google Books. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  18. ^ Peirce, Leslie P. (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. ISBN 0-19-507673-7. , p.94
  19. ^ New Perspectives on Safavid Iran. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  20. ^ Mediterranean passages. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  21. ^ Transactions of the Royal Historical Society: Volume 14. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  22. ^ A Monarchy of Letters. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  23. ^ Islamic Art and Visual Culture. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  24. ^ Peirce (1993) p.104
  25. ^ Öztuna, Yılmaz (2005). Devletler ve Hanedanlar. Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Yayınlar. p. 176. ISBN 9789751707918. 
  26. ^ "The Imperial House of Osman GENEALOGY". 2 May 2006. Archived from the original on May 2, 2006. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Mehmed III at Wikimedia Commons

Mehmed III
Born: May 26, 1566 Died: December 22, 1603[aged 37]
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Murad III
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
January 15, 1595 – December 22, 1603
Succeeded by
Ahmed I
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Murad III
Caliph of Islam
January 15, 1595 – December 22, 1603
Succeeded by
Ahmed I