Mehmed III: Ottoman Sultan from 1595 to 1603


Mehmed III, whose reign was marked by a protracted war with Austria and major uprisings in Anatolia. Mehmed's rule began with the fight against Austria, which had already been going on for two years. An alliance between Austria and the Danubian principalities of Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia accelerated the process. Following the Ottomans' loss of Gran to Christian allies in 1595, Mehmed took part in the 1596 campaign. The Ottomans conquered the Kanizsa fortress in 1601.

Meanwhile, Ottoman institutions are crumbling in Anatolia. The land-tenure system, in particular, sparked widespread revolts among the sipahiyan and peasants who were oppressed by taxes. War with Iran broke out in 1603 as the Ottoman Empire battled to put down these uprisings.

Mehmed III

13th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire


From 16 January 1595 to 22 December 1603


Murad III


Ahmed I


On 26 May 1566


On 22 December 1603, at 37 years old


Hagia Sophia, Istanbul




Murad III


Safiye Sultan


Sunni Islam

Early Life

Mehmed was born in 1566 at the Manisa Palace, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, his great-grandfather. Safiye Sultan, an Albanian from the Dukagjin mountains, was his mother. His great-grandfather passed away the year he was born, and his grandfather, Selim II, succeeded him as Sultan. Selim II, Mehmed's grandfather, died when he was eight years old, and Murad III, Mehmed's father, became Sultan in 1574. Mehmed was 28 years old when Murad died in 1595. Mehmed lived in Manisa with his father Murad and mother Safiye, and his first teacher Ibrahim Efendi. On 29 May 1582 at the age of 16 years old, he was circumcised.



Mehmed III ordered the execution of all nineteen of his brothers after succeeding to the throne. His royal executioners murdered them to guarantee perfect allegiance, many of whom were deaf, mute, or 'half-witted.' Sultans often had dozens of children with their concubines; therefore, fratricidal successions were not uncommon. Even in Ottoman history, Mehmed III is remembered for his harshness.

Power Struggle in Constantinople

Mehmed III was a slacker king who delegated power to his mother, the valide Sultan, Safiye Sultan. His first major challenge was a competition between two of his viziers, Serdar Ferhad Pasha and Koca Sinan Pasha, and their followers. Koca Sinan Pasha was supported by his mother and son-in-law, Damat Ibrahim Pasha, who stopped Mehmed III from assuming control of the situation himself. The problem escalated to the point where janitors were causing massive disruptions. Due to Serdar Ferhad Pasha's failure in Wallachia, Mehmed III eventually removed him from his role as Grand Vizier on 7 July 1595 and replaced him with Sinan.

Austro-Hungarian War

The Austro-Ottoman War in Hungary (1593–1606) was a pivotal event during his rule. Due to Ottoman failures in the war, Mehmed III became the first Sultan to take personal command of the army since Suleiman I in 1566. In 1596, the Ottomans seized Eger with the help of the Sultan. Mehmed wished to dismiss the Habsburg army and return to Istanbul when he learned of their approach. However, the Ottomans eventually resolved to face the enemy. They destroyed the Habsburg and Transylvanian forces at the Battle of Keresztes (also known as the Battle of Haçova in Turkish). The Sultan was persuaded not to escape the battlefield halfway through. Mehmed promised his viziers that he would campaign again after returning to Istanbul victorious. "The doctors decided that the Sultan cannot depart for a war on account of his terrible health, created by excesses of eating and drinking," the Venetian Bailo in Istanbul reported the following year. Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha was promoted to Grand Vizier in 1596 to reward his contributions during the war. Under duress from the court and his mother, Mehmed promptly reinstated Damat Ibrahim Pasha in this post. In Nikopol in 1599, Ottoman soldiers headed by Hafız Ahmet Pasha were destroyed by Wallachian forces led by Michael the Brave. The Battle of Keresztes triumph was quickly overshadowed by several severe losses, including the loss of Győr to the Austrians and the defeat of the Ottoman forces led by Hafız Ahmet Pasha by the Wallachian forces led by Michael the Brave in Nikopol in 1599. After a 40-day siege, Ottoman forces led by Tiryaki Hasan Pasha conquered Nagykanizsa in 1600 and held it against a considerably larger invading force in the Siege of Nagykanizsa.

Jelali Revolts

The Anatolian Jelali revolts were another notable occurrence during his reign. In 1600, Karayazıcı Abdülhalim, a former Ottoman officer, conquered Urfa and declared himself Sultan. Allegations of his claim to the throne circulated across Constantinople, and Mehmed ordered the rebels to be punished cruelly to dispel the rumours, one of which was the execution of Hüseyin Pasha, who was called Grand Vizier by Karayazıcı Abdülhalim. After being defeated by the armies of Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha, the ruler of Baghdad, Abdülhalim escaped to the region of Samsun in 1601. On the other hand, his brother, Deli Hasan, assassinated Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha and destroyed Hadım Hüsrev Pasha's forces. He then marched on to Kütahya, where he conquered the city and set it on fire.

Relationship with England

Queen Elizabeth, I sent a convoy of presents to the Ottoman court in 1599, the fourth year of Mehmed III's rule. These presents were meant for the Sultan's predecessor, Murad III, but he died before they could be delivered. An enormous jewel-studded clockwork organ, erected on the slope of the Royal Private Garden by a team of engineers, including Thomas Dallam, was among the gifts. The organ took weeks to create and included dancing sculptures like a swarm of blackbirds who sang and shook their wings at the end of the music. A ceremonial vehicle was also among the English gifts and a letter from the Queen to Mehmed's mother, Safiye Sultan. These presents were designed to strengthen ties between the two countries, expanding on a 1581 trade deal that granted English merchants first preference in the Ottoman Empire. Under the danger of a Spanish military presence, England was ready to ally with the Ottomans, believing that the two nations could divide power. Elizabeth's gifts arrived in a big 27-gun merchantman ship, which Mehmed personally examined, demonstrating English maritime prowess and prompting him to build up his fleet in the years ahead. However, the Anglo-Ottoman alliance would never be completed as anti-European feelings intensified as the Austro-Ottoman War worsened, and the deaths of Safiye Sultan's interpreter and the pro-English leader Hasan Pasha.


Mehmed, who was 37 years old at the time, died on 22 December 1603. According to one story, his death was caused by his grief over the loss of his son, Şehzade Mahmud. He died of plague or stroke, according to another report. He was laid to rest in the Hagia Sophia Mosque. His son Ahmed I ascended to the throne as the next Sultan.





  • Halime Sultan
  • Handan Sultan
  • A consort who died in 1597
  • Şehzade Selim
  • Şehzade Süleyman
  • Şehzade Mahmud
  • Sultan Ahmed I
  • Sultan Mustafa I
  • Şehzade Cihangir
  • Şehzade Osman
  • A daughter (wedded in 1604 to Damat Kara Davud Pasha)
  • A daughter (wedded firstly in 1604 to Damat Mirahur Mustafa Pasha, married secondly in 1612 to Damat )Mahmud Pasha
  • A daughter (wedded firstly in 1604 to Damat Tiryaki Hasan Pasha, married secondly in 1616 to Damat Ali Pasha)
  • A daughter, married in 1612 to Damat Halil Pasha

Last updated: 2021-October-12
Tags: Ottoman Empire
Share this Article
Facebook Google+ Twitter