Selim II: Ottoman Sultan from 1566 to 1574


Sultan Selim II is often known as Selim the Blond or Selim the Drunk. He ruled the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman the Magnificent had a son with his wife, Hurrem Sultan. Selim had been an unlikely contender for the throne until his brother Mehmed died of smallpox, his half-brother Mustafa was strangled to death on his father's orders, his brother Cihangir died of grief at the news of this last execution, and his brother Bayezid was killed on his father's orders after a rebellion against Selim. On 15 December 1574, Selim died and was buried in Hagia Sophia.

Early Life

Selim was born on 30 May 1524 in Constantinople (Istanbul), during his father, Suleiman the Magnificent. Hurrem Sultan, a slave and concubine, was born the daughter of an Orthodox priest in modern-day Ukraine, was subsequently emancipated and became Suleiman's legal wife. Selim married Nurbanu Sultan, whose origins are contested, in Konya in 1545. Her given name was Cecelia Venier Baffo, Rachel, or Kale Katenou, according to legend. Murad III, Selim's successor, was born to her. Hubbi Hatun, a prominent sixteenth-century poet, was his lady-in-waiting.


Selim II ascended to the throne through palace intrigue and a sibling feud, becoming Sultan on 7 September 1566. Selim's Grand Vizier, Mehmed Sokollu, and his wife, Nurbanu Sultan, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were in charge of much of the state's affairs. Two years after Selim's accession, they signed a treaty with the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian II, in Constantinople (17 February 1568), in which the Emperor agreed to pay an annual "present" of 30,000 ducats and granted the Otto Gazanfer Agha (d. 1602), a Selim and Mustafa Ali acquaintance, was castrated to serve in Selim's harem. (Gazanfer's younger brother, Cafer, was castrated as well, but he died.) To prevent Russian progress near the Ottomans' northern frontier, a scheme was devised in Constantinople to link the Volga and Don rivers with a canal. While an Ottoman fleet besieged Azov in 1569, a large army of Janissaries and equestrians was despatched to lay siege to Astrakhan and commence the channel works. The besiegers were driven back by a sortie from the Astrakhan garrison. The artisans and the Tatar detachment deployed to guard them were attacked and scattered by a Russian relief army of 15,000 troops. A storm then decimated the Ottoman armada. Early in 1570, Ivan IV of Russia's envoy signed a pact in Istanbul that reestablished amicable relations between the Sultan and the Tsar. Expeditions to the Hejaz and Yemen were more successful. Still, the acquisition of Cyprus in 1571 resulted in a naval defeat in the Battle of Lepanto against Spain and Italian states in the same year. On 7 October 1571, the Holy League decisively defeated the Ottoman fleet at the famous Battle of Naupaktos or Battle of Lepanto; the Holy League sank or destroyed 50 Ottoman ships and captured 117 galleys and 20 galliots; 30,000 Turks were killed in battle, Thousands of Christian slaves were saved, and 10,000 Turks were imprisoned. The Holy League suffered a loss of approximately 7,500 men. The Ottomans quickly rebuilt their shattered fleets (in just six months, they had roughly 150 galleys and eight galleasses), and they maintained dominance of the eastern Mediterranean (1573). The Ottomans reclaimed possession of Tunis from Spain, which had taken it in 1572, in August 1574, just months before Selim's death. Mahidevran Hatun's prestige and fortune were restored thanks to Selim. His elder brother, Şehzade Mustafa, was hanged in 1553, and he erected his tomb for him. Due to severe cold during the famine of 1573, the farmers of the period were unable to supply adequate food for the population. In the food kitchen, Selim distributed food and vegetables to the people. A fire broke out in Topkapi Palace's printing house in April 1574, destroying numerous rooms, including those of the chefs and maids and the kitchen. The captain, the Janissary, the Istanbul lord, and Mimar Sinan determined the position and size of the new kitchens to be brought to the fire a few days later. Mimar Sinan Aa cleaned the fireplace in Üslüb-ı ahar's construction of the office building (design)." The new Matbalı-ı Amir, broader and longer than the previous one, was built on Divan-ı Ali Square.


In the sources of the time, he is introduced as a generous monarch who appreciates pleasure and entertainment, enjoys drink councils, enjoys the presence of intellectuals and poets about him, and musicians, wrestlers, and connoisseurs do not want to hurt anyone's heart. However, it is claimed that he did not go in public often, since his father frequently went to Friday and went public, and that he ignored this and spent time in the palace.


Nurbanu Sultan, Selim's first wife, was a Venetian who gave birth to his successor Murad III and the majority of his daughters. She received 1,000 aspers per day as a Haseki Sultan, whereas lower-ranking concubines who were the mothers of princes received 40 aspers per day. Selim gave Nurbanu 110,000 ducats as a dowry, exceeding his father's 100,000 ducats to his mother, Hürrem Sultan. According to a privy purse registry quoted by Leslie Pierce, Selim had four further wives, each of whom was the mother of a prince. Selimiye Sultan, another Venetian concubine, was his other wife.




  • Nurbanu Sultan
  • Selimiye Sultan
  • Unknown concubines
  • Murad III
  • Şehzade Mehmed
  • Şehzade Abdullah
  • Şehzade Cihangir
  • Şehzade Mustafa
  • Şehzade Osman
  • Şehzade Suleiman
  • Ismihan Sultan
  • Gevherhan Sultan
  • Şah Sultan
  • Fatma Sultan

Last updated: 2021-October-12
Tags: Ottoman Empire
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