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Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha

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Makbul Ibrahim Pasha
Sebald Beham - Pargali Damat Ibrahim Pascha ca 1530.jpg
Depiction of Ibrahim Pasha on a contemporary German print, with a translation of a letter sent by Ibrahim to the commanders of Vienna during the siege of 1529. Print by Sebald Beham.
Parga, Ottoman Empire
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
RankGrand Vizier

Pargali Ibrahim Pasha (Turkish pronunciation: [paɾgaˈlɯ ibɾaːˈhim paˈʃa]) (1493 or 1494–1536), also known as Frenk Ibrahim Pasha (the "Westerner"), Makbul Ibrahim Pasha ("the Favorite"), which later changed into Maktul Ibrahim Pasha ("the Executed") after his execution in the Topkapı Palace, was the first Grand Vizier in the Ottoman Empire appointed by Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520 to 1566). In 1523, he replaced Piri Mehmed Pasha, who had been appointed in 1518 by Süleyman's father, the preceding sultan Selim I, and remained in office for 13 years. He attained a level of authority and influence rivalled by only a handful of other Grand Viziers of the Empire, but in 1536 he was executed by the Sultan and his property was confiscated by the State.


Ibrahim was born a Christian Greek, near Parga, Epirus, modern Greece.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

He was the son of a sailor in Parga and as a child he was carried off by pirates and sold as a slave to the Manisa Palace in western Anatolia, where Ottoman crown princes (şehzade) were being educated. There, he was befriended by crown prince Suleiman, who was of the same age. Ibrahim received his education at the Ottoman court and became a polyglot and polymath. Upon Suleiman's accession to the Ottoman throne in 1520, he was awarded various posts, the first being the Falconer of the Sultan. Ibrahim proved his skills in numerous diplomatic encounters and military campaigns, and was so rapidly promoted that at one point he begged Suleiman not to promote him too rapidly, for fear of arousing the jealousy and enmity of the other viziers, who expected some of those titles for themselves. Pleased with Ibrahim's display of modesty, Suleiman purportedly swore that he would never be put to death during his reign. After being appointed Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha continued to receive other additional appointments and titles from the sultan (such as the title of Serasker), and his power in the Ottoman Empire became almost as absolute as his master's.

Although he married Süleyman's sister, Sultana (Princess) Hatice, and was as such a bridegroom to the Ottoman dynasty (Damat), this title is not frequently used in association with him, possibly in order not to confuse him with other grand viziers who were namesakes (Damat Ibrahim Pasha (a Bosniak) and Nevşehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha (a Turk).) He is usually referred to as "Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha" or "Frenk (the European) Ibrahim Pasha" due to his tastes and manners. Yet another name given by his contemporaries was "Makbul Maktul" (favorite and killed) Ibrahim Pasha.

His palace, which still stands on Sultanahmet Square in İstanbul, is currently the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. Built according to a design which is unmistakably defensive in concept (he had fearsome rivals), the building is the only residence built by someone outside the Ottoman dynasty that deserves to be designated as a palace.

Draft of the 1536 Treaty negotiated between French ambassador Jean de La Forêt and Ibrahim Pasha, a few days before his execution, expanding to the whole Ottoman Empire the privileges received by France in Egypt from the Mamluks before 1518.

On the diplomatic front, Ibrahim's work with Western Christendom was a complete success. Portraying himself as "the real power behind the Ottoman Empire", Ibrahim used a variety of tactics to negotiate favorable deals with the leaders of the Catholic powers. The Venetian diplomats even referred to him as "Ibrahim the Magnificent", a play on Suleiman's usual sobriquet. In 1533, he convinced Charles V to turn Hungary into an Ottoman vassal state. In 1535, he completed a monumental agreement with Francis I that gave France favorable trade rights within the Ottoman empire in exchange for joint action against the Habsburgs. This agreement would set the stage for joint Franco-Ottoman naval maneuvers, including the basing of the Ottoman fleet in southern France (in Toulon) during the winter of 1543-1544.

A skilled commander of Suleiman's army, he eventually fell from grace after an imprudence committed during a campaign against the Persian Safavid empire, when he awarded himself a title including the word Sultan (in particular, his adoption of the title Serasker Sultan was seen as a grave affront to Suleiman.[citation needed]) This incident launched a series of events which culminated in his execution in 1536, thirteen years after having been promoted as Grand Vizier. It has also been suggested by a number of sources that Ibrahim Pasha had been a victim of Hürrem Sultan's (Roxelana, the sultan's wife) intrigues and rising influence on the sovereign, especially in view of Ibrahim's past support for the cause of Şehzade Mustafa, Suleiman I's first son and heir to the throne, who was accused of treason and strangled to death upon an order by his father on 6 October 1553, through a series of plots put in motion by Roxelana (who wanted one of her sons to become the next sultan, instead of Mustafa who was the son of Mahidevran, Suleiman's first haseki.)

Although he had long since converted into Islam, he maintained some ties to his Christian roots, even bringing his parents to live with him in the Ottoman capital.[4]

Since Suleiman had sworn not to take Ibrahim's life during his reign, he acquired a fetva, which permitted him to take back the oath by building a mosque in Constantinople. He announced the fetva one week before Ibrahim's execution and dined alone with him seven times before the final move, so to give his life-long friend a chance to flee the country or to take the sultan's own life. It was later discovered in Ibrahim's letters that he was perfectly aware of the situation but nevertheless decided to stay true to Suleiman.

Suleiman later greatly regretted Ibrahim's execution and his character changed dramatically, to the point where he became completely secluded from the daily work of governing. His regrets are reflected in his poems, in which even after twenty years he continually stresses topics of amity and trust between friends, and often hints on character traits similar to Ibrahim's.

See also



  1. ^ Margaret Rich Greer, Walter Mignolo, Maureen Quilligan. Rereading the Black Legend: the discourses of religious and racial difference in the Renaissance empires., University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-226-30722-0, p. 41: "Ibrahim Pasha, his intimate and grand vezir, a Greek from Parga in Epirus"
  2. ^ Willem Frederik Bakker.Studia Byzantina et Neohellenica Neerlandica. BRILL, 1972. ISBN 978-90-04-03552-2 ,p. 312
  3. ^ Roger Bigelow Merriman.Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566. READ BOOKS, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4437-3145-4, p. 76
  4. ^ a b Walter G. Andrews, Najaat Black, Mehmet Kalpaklı.Ottoman lyric poetry: an anthology. University of Washington Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-295-98595-4, p. 230.
  5. ^ Machiel Kiel. on the Ottoman architecture of the Balkans. Variorum, 1990. ISBN 9780860782766, p. 416.
  6. ^ Ostle, Robin (2008-10-14). [ Sensibilities of the Islamic Mediterranean: self-expression in a Muslim culture from post-classical times to the present day] Check |url= value (help). I.B. Tauris. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-84511-650-7. Retrieved 11 December 2011.

Other sources

Government offices
Preceded by
Piri Mehmed Pasha
Grand Vizier
27 June 1523-14 March 1536
Succeeded by
Ayas Mehmed Pasha