Ahmed I: Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1603 to 1617


From 1603 to 1617, Ahmed I served as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Ahmed's reign is notable for being the first time the Ottoman custom of royal fratricide was broken; from then on, Ottoman rulers would not systematically execute their brothers upon ascending to the throne. He is also recognized for building the Blue Mosque, one of Turkey's most famous mosques.

Ahmed I

14th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire


From 22 December 1603 to 22 November 1617

Sword girding

On 23 December 1603


Mehmed III


Mustafa I


On April 1590


On 22 November 1617, at the age of 27 years old


Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul




Mehmed III


Handan Sultan


Sunni Islam

Early Life

Ahmed was most likely born in Manisa Palace in April 1590, when his father, Şehzade Mehmed, was still a prince and governor of the Sanjak of Manisa. Handan Sultan was his mother's name. His father came to Constantinople after his grandfather Murad III died in 1595 and ascended the throne as Sultan Mehmed III. Mehmed sentenced nineteen of his brothers and half-brothers to death. Ahmed's older brother, Şehzade Mahmud, was likewise executed by his father Mehmed on 7 June 1603, just a few months before Mehmed's end on 22 December 1603. Mahmud and his mother were interred in a separate mausoleum built by Ahmed in Constantinople's Şehzade Mosque.


After his father died in 1603, Ahmed seized the kingdom at the age of thirteen, but his formidable grandmother Safiye Sultan was still living. Yahya, Ahmed's long-lost uncle, despised his accession to the throne and spent his entire plotting to become Sultan. Following past enthronements, Ahmed broke with custom and did not order the killing of his brother Mustafa. Instead, Mustafa and their grandmother Safiye Sultan were moved to live in the old palace at Bayezit. This was most likely owing to Ahmed's youth, as he had not yet proven his capacity to father children, and Mustafa was the only other contender for the Ottoman throne at the time. His brother's execution would have put the family's dynasty in jeopardy; thus, he was spared. Ahmed displayed determination and enthusiasm early in his rule, but his subsequent actions belied such qualities. The empire's conflicts in Hungary and Persia, which accompanied his ascension, ended badly. The Treaty of Zsitvatorok, signed in 1606, further degraded its reputation by abolishing Austria's annual tribute payment. Following a crushing defeat in the Ottoman–Safavid War (1603–18), Georgia, Azerbaijan, and other extensive Caucasus areas were handed back to Persia under the Treaty of Nasuh Pasha in 1612, territory that had been temporarily seized during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1578–90). The new frontiers were defined along the same line as those established in the Amasya Peace of 1555.

Ottoman-Safavid War

The Ottoman–Safavid War had started just before Ahmed's father, Mehmed III, died. Ahmed, I selected Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha as commander of the eastern army after ascending the throne. By the time the army arrived on the east front on 8 November 1604, the Safavid force had taken Yerevan, invaded the Kars Eyalet, and could only be stopped in Akhaltsikhe. Despite the favourable weather, Sinan Pasha chose to spend the winter in Van but subsequently marched to Erzurum to stave off a Safavid onslaught. This produced friction in the army, and the Ottomans' year was effectively wasted. Sinan Pasha marched on Tabriz in 1605, but his army was weakened by Köse Sefer Pasha, the Beylerbey of Erzurum, who marched independently of Sinan Pasha and was captured by the Safavids. After being routed in Urmia, the Ottoman army was forced to withdraw to Van and subsequently Diyarbekir. On the pretence of arriving too late, Sinan Pasha ignited a revolt by murdering the Beylerbey of Aleppo, Canbulatoğlu Hüseyin Pasha, who had come to assist. He died soon after, and the Safavid army conquered Azerbaijan's Ganja, Shirvan, and Shamakhi.

War with the Habsburgs

By the time Ahmed gained the throne, the Long Turkish War between the Ottomans and the Habsburg Monarchy had been raging for nearly a decade. Grand Vizier Malkoç Ali Pasha marched from Constantinople to the western front on 3 June 1604 and arrived in Belgrade, but died there, so Lala Mehmed Pasha was named Grand Vizier and commander of the army of the west. The western military reclaimed Pest and Vác under Mehmed Pasha's command but failed to seize Esztergom when the siege was lifted due to lousy weather and troops' protests. Meanwhile, Stephen Bocskay, Prince of Transylvania, fighting for the region's independence and had previously supported the Habsburgs, dispatched an envoy to the Porte requesting assistance. His soldiers also joined the Ottoman army in Belgrade after being promised aid. With this assistance, the Ottoman army besieged and captured Esztergom on 4 November 1605. Bocskai took Nové Zámky (Uyvar) with Ottoman assistance, and Tiryaki Hasan Pasha's soldiers took Veszprém and Palota. The Beylerbey of Nagykanizsa (Kanije), Sarhoş İbrahim Pasha, attacked the Austrian territory of Istria. However, Mehmed Pasha was summoned to Constantinople as the Jelali revolts in Anatolia became more complex than ever and defeated the eastern front. While ready to go for the east, Mehmed Pasha died unexpectedly. The Peace of Zsitvatorok, negotiated by Kuyucu Murad Pasha, eliminated the 30,000 ducat payment given by Austria and addressed the Habsburg emperor as an equal to the Ottoman sultan. The Ottomans' acceptance of the agreements was influenced by the Jelali revolts. This was the end of Ottoman expansion in Europe.

Jelali Revolts

The pinnacle of the Jelali revolts occurred under the reign of Ahmed I when resentment over the Habsburg war and harsh taxation mixed with the Ottoman military's inferiority. Soon after Ahmed I's coronation, Tavil Ahmed led an uprising against Nasuh Pasha and Kecdehan Ali Pasha, the Beylerbey of Anatolia. Tavil Ahmed was offered Beylerbey of Shahrizor in 1605 to end his revolt, but he took Harput soon after. Mehmed, his son, seized the governorship of Baghdad using a forged firman and beat Nasuh Pasha's army sent to overthrow him. Meanwhile, Canbulatoğlu Ali Pasha teamed up with Druze Sheikh Ma'noğlu Fahreddin to defeat Tripoli's Amir Seyfoğlu Yusuf. He then went on to conquer the Adana region, creating an army and minting coins. Hüseyin Pasha, the newly appointed Beylerbey of Aleppo, was routed by his men.

For his weakness against the Jelalis, Grand Vizier Boşnak Dervish Mehmed Pasha was killed. On 24 October 1607, he was superseded by Kuyucu Murad Pasha, who marched to Syria with his soldiers and defeated the 30,000-strong rebel army with much difficulty but a resounding victory. Meanwhile, he feigned to forgive the Anatolian rebels by appointing the rebel Kalenderoğlu as the sanjakbey of Ankara, although he was active in Manisa and Bursa. Baghdad was also recaptured in 1607. Canbulatoğlu Ali Pasha escaped to Constantinople and pleaded for pardon with Ahmed I, who sent him to Timișoara and subsequently Belgrade, but ultimately executed him for misruling. Meanwhile, the people of Ankara refused to let Kalenderoğlu enter the city, and he rebelled once more, only to be crushed by Murad Pasha's army. Kalenderoğlu eventually fled to Persia. Murad Pasha put down a few more minor uprisings in Central Anatolia and forced other Jelali leaders to join the army. Many people had fled their villages due to the widespread brutality of the Jelali revolts, and many towns had been destroyed. Some military commanders claimed ownership of the abandoned settlements. The Porte lost tax revenue as a result, and on 30 September 1609, Ahmed I issued a letter protecting the peasants' rights. Following that, he worked on the re-establishment of abandoned settlements.

Ottoman-Safavid War

Peace and continuation: Nasuh Pasha, the new Grand Vizier, did not want to confront the Safavids. The Safavid Shah also wrote a letter claiming he was willing to sign a peace treaty to send 200 tons of silk to Constantinople every year. The Treaty of Nasuh Pasha was signed on 20 November 1612, ceding all territory conquered by the Ottoman Empire during 1578–90 to Persia and restoring the 1555 borders. The truce was broken in 1615 when the Shah failed to send the 200 tons of silk promised. On 22 May 1615, Grand Vizier Öküz Mehmed Pasha was tasked with organizing a war against Persia. Mehmed Pasha postponed the attack until the following year, when the Safavids were ready to attack Ganja. Mehmed Pasha marched from Aleppo to Yerevan with a massive army in April 1616 but failed to capture the city and fled to Erzurum. Damat Halil Pasha was appointed to replace him in his position. Halil Pasha spent the winter at Diyarbekir while Canibek Giray, Khan of Crimea, assaulted Ganja, Nakhichevan, and Julfa.

Capitulations and Trade Treaties

The commercial treaties with England, France, and Venice were renewed by Ahmed I. The first commercial pact with the Dutch Republic was signed in July 1612. In addition, he widened the scope of France's capitulations, allowing merchants from Spain, Ragusa, Genoa, Ancona, and Florence to trade under the French flag.

Architect and Service to Islam

Across from the Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed built the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the crowning work of Ottoman architecture. The Sultan was present during the ground-breaking ceremony for the mosque complex, which he did with a golden pickaxe. When the Sultan found that the Blue Mosque had the same number of minarets as Mecca's Grand Mosque, a riot nearly erupted. Ahmed was outraged and apologetic about his mistake until the Shaykh-ul-Islam suggested that he build another minaret at Mecca's Grand Mosque, and the problem was fixed. Ahmed was ecstatic to be a part of the eleventh thorough renovations of the Kaaba, which had recently been flooded. He dispatched workers from Constantinople, and the golden rain gutter that kept the rain off the Ka'ba's roof was successfully restored. An iron web was installed inside the Zamzam Well in Mecca once more during Sultan Ahmed's reign. This web was placed about three feet below the water level in reaction to lunatics who leapt into the well in the hopes of heroic death. In Medina, the Prophet Muhammad's hometown, a new pulpit constructed of white marble and brought from Istanbul was installed in the Prophet's Mosque, replacing the old, worn-out pulpit. Sultan Ahmed has built two other mosques at Uskudar on Istanbul's Asian side, although neither has survived. On Fridays and joyous days, the Sultan wore a crest carved with Muhammad's footprint, signifying one of Ottoman history's most significant displays of devotion to the prophet.


Sultan Ahmed was well-known for his fencing, poetry, horseback riding, and multilingual abilities. Ahmed was a poet who went by the moniker Bahti and published many political and lyrical works. Scholars, calligraphers, and devout individuals were among Ahmed's patrons. As a result, he commissioned calligraphers to work on a book titled The Quintessence of Histories. He also endeavored to police adherence to Islamic rules and traditions, restoring the previous prohibitions prohibiting alcohol consumption and attempting to compel attendance at Friday prayers and proper almsgiving to the needy.


On 22 November 1617, Ahmed I died in Istanbul's Topkapı Palace from typhus and stomach haemorrhage. Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, was where he was laid to rest. Sultan Mustafa I was named after him by his younger brother, Şehzade Mustafa. Murad IV (r. 1623–40), Osman II (r. 1618–22) and Ibrahim (r. 1640–48) were Ahmed's sons who later came to the throne.





  • Mahfiruz Hatun
  • Kösem Sultan
  • Sultan Osman II
  • Şehzade Mehmed
  • Sultan Murad IV
  • Şehzade Bayezid
  • Şehzade Süleyman
  • Şehzade Selim
  • Şehzade Hüseyin
  • Şehzade Kasım
  • Sultan Ibrahim
  • Gevherhan Sultan
  • Ayşe Sultan
  • Fatma Sultan
  • Hanzade Sultan
  • Atike Sultan


Ahmed I is most recognized today for constructing the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (commonly known as the Blue Mosque), Islamic architecture's masterpieces. Sultanahmet is the name given to the area in Fatih surrounding the Mosque today. He died in Constantinople's Topkapı Palace and was buried in a mausoleum outside the famed Mosque's walls.

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