Sultan Yahya

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Sultan Yahya
Born 1585
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died 1649 (aged 63–64)
Burial Kotor, Montenegro
Full name
Count Alexander of Montenegro (after baptism)
House House of Osman
Father Mehmed III (alleged)
Mother Helena
Religion Orthodox

Sultan Yahya (1585–1649) was the alleged son of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed III. His mother was a crypto-Christian Greek named Helena, who fled with him from the Anatolian town of Manisa.[1]


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.[2]

Battle for Ottoman throne[edit]

Eventually, Yahya's two older brothers died, but in 1603, since Yahya had escaped the country to avoid fratricide, his younger brother Ahmed I (the fourth-born) became Ottoman sultan. Yahya believed that as the next oldest son of Mehmed 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.[3] Between 1614 and 1617, he schemed with Serbian Orthodox Christian bishops in Kosovo 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 Istanbul. He died in 1649 on the Montenegrin coast, where he was involved in a rebellion organized by the Roman Catholic bishops of Skodra-and-Bar.[4]

See also[edit]

List of unrecognized heirs of the Ottoman dynasty


  1. ^ Ostapchuk, Victor (1989). The Ottoman Black Sea Frontier and the Relations of the Porte with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Muscovy: 1622-1628. Harvard University. p. 92. 
  2. ^ Kosovo, A Short History (1998), Noel Malcolm -- Harper Perennial - pp. 121 - 122 ISBN 978-0-06-097775-7
  3. ^ Faroqhi, Suraiya (December 20, 2005). The Ottoman Empire and the World around it. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-0-857-73023-7. 
  4. ^ Kosovo, A Short History (1998), Noel Malcolm -- Harper Perennial - p. 124 ISBN 978-0-060-97775-7