Ibrahim: Ottoman Sultan from 1640 to 1648


From 1640 to 1648, Ibrahim (5 November 1615 – 18 August 1648) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He was the son of Ahmed I and Valide Kösem Sultan, an ethnic Greek originally called Anastasia and was born in Istanbul. Due to his mental state and conduct, he was dubbed "Deli Ibrahim" ("Ibrahim the Mad"). However, according to Scott Rank, the Sultan's opponents circulated tales of his lunacy, and other historians believe he was more inept than insane.

Early Life

Ibrahim was born in 1615, the son of Sultan Ahmed I and Kösem Sultan, his favourite concubine and subsequently legal wife. Ibrahim's father died when he was two years old, and Mustafa I, Ibrahim's uncle, became the new Sultan. Kösem Sultan and her children, including little Ibrahim, had been deported to the Old Palace by that time. Ibrahim was imprisoned in the Kafes following his brother Murad IV's accession, which harmed his health. Sultan Murad IV had ordered Ibrahim's other brothers, Şehzade Bayezid, Şehzade Suleiman, and Şehzade Kasm, to be killed, and Ibrahim believed he would be next. Ibrahim, on the other hand, became Sultan of the Empire after his brother died.



Ibrahim, one of the most infamous Ottoman Sultans, spent his whole childhood in the Kafes before replacing his brother Murad IV (1623 to 1640) in 1640. Murad had murdered four of their brothers, and Ibrahim was terrified of being the fifth. Only the intervention of Kösem Sultan, Ibrahim and Murad's mother spared his life. Following Murad's death, Ibrahim became the dynasty's lone surviving prince. Ibrahim thought Murad was still alive and scheming to trap him when he was urged to take the Sultanate by Grand Vizier Kemankeş Kara Mustafa Pasha. However, Ibrahim accepted the kingship when Kösem and the Grand Vizier persuaded him, as well as a firsthand examination of his brother's lifeless body.

Early Years as the Sultan

During the first four years of Ibrahim's rule, Kara Mustafa Pasha served as Grand Vizier, ensuring the Empire's stability. He reestablished peace with Austria with the Treaty of Szön (March 1642) and reclaimed Azov from the Cossacks the following year. Kara Mustafa also tried to stabilize the economy with a new land survey, decreased the number of Janissaries, withdrew non-contributing members from state payrolls, and limited the influence of dissident provincial governors. Ibrahim shown anxiety about adequately managing the Empire during these years, as seen by his handwritten conversations with the Grand Vizier. To help his novice master, Kara Mustafa produced a report on public affairs. Ibrahim's responses to Kara Mustafa's writings demonstrate that he had an excellent education. In addition, Ibrahim would frequently go in incognito, examining Istanbul's marketplaces and instructing the Grand Vizier to remedy any issues he saw.

Decadence and Crisis

Ibrahim was frequently distracted by recurring headaches and bouts of physical weakness attributed to childhood trauma. Ibrahim was strengthened by his mother, Kösem Sultan, to occupy himself with harem females because he was the Ottoman dynasty's sole surviving male member, and he quickly fathered three future sultans: Mehmed IV, Suleiman II, and Amed II. The harem's diversions allowed Kösem Sultan to rise to power and reign in his name, but she, too, fell prey to the Sultan's disapproval and fled the Imperial Palace. Ibrahim was influenced by several inappropriate persons, including Şekerpare Hatun, the mistress of the royal harem, and the charlatan Cinci Hoca, who purported to treat the Sultan's medical illnesses. The latter, together with his associates Silahdar Yusuf Agha and Sultanzade Mehmed Pasha, amassed wealth through bribery and finally gained enough authority to have Grand Vizier Ḳara Muṣṭafā executed. Cinci Hoca was promoted to Anatolia's Kadiasker, Yusuf Agha to Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral), and Sultanzade Mehmed to Grand Vizier. Maltese corsairs took a ship transporting high-status pilgrims to Mecca in 1644. Kapudan Yusuf Pasha pushed Ibrahim to assault the island when the pirates arrived in Crete. This marked the start of a 24-year struggle with Venice; Crete would not entirely fall under Ottoman control until 1669. Despite La Serenissima's fall, Venetian ships dominated the Aegean, conquering Tenedos (1646) and blockading the Dardanelles. Kapudan Yusuf briefly beat Canea, igniting a jealous rivalry with the Grand Vizier that resulted in his death (1646) and the resignation of the Grand Vizier (1645). Ibrahim's great inclinations went unrestrained while his buddies were in control. He elevated eight concubines to the status of Haseki, bestowing wealth and property on each. He ordered the mansion of Ibrahim Pasha to be carpeted with sable furs and presented to Telli Haseki after officially marrying her.

Deposition and Execution

The Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles, which produced scarcities in the city, and the imposition of high taxes during a war economy to pay for Ibrahim's whims sparked widespread resentment. Kösem Sultan, Grand Vizier Salih Pasha and şeyhülislam Abdürrahim Efendi conspired unsuccessfully to overthrow the Sultan and replace him with one of his sons in 1647. Kösem Sultan was expelled from the harem when Salih Pasha was executed. The Janissaries and associates of the ulema revolted the following year. A furious crowd strangled and tore Grand Vizier Amed Pasha to shreds on 8 August 1648, earning him the posthumous moniker "Hezarpare" ("thousand pieces"). Ibrahim was apprehended and imprisoned at Topkapı Palace on the same day. Kösem said she agreed to her son's fall "He would not leave you or me alive in the end. The government will be taken away from us. The entire civilization has crumbled. Remove him from the throne as soon as possible." Meḥmed, Ibrahim's six-year-old son, was named Sultan. Ṣofu Memed Pasha, the new grand vizier, petitioned the sheikh ul-Islam for a fatwā authorizing Ibrahim's death. It was issued with the instruction to "murder one of the caliphs if there are two." Kösem offered her approval as well. Two executioners were dispatched, one of whom being Ibrahim's top executioner. In August 1648, Ibrahim was strangled while authorities watched from a royal window. His assassination was the Ottoman Empire's second regicide in history.

Personal Life

According to some stories, Ibrahim was infatuated with bigger women. So he would order his officers to discover the fattest ladies in his realm so that he could add them as concubines to his vast harem. As a result, Ibrahim is alleged to have drowned 280 of his harem's concubines in the Bosphorus (according to specific accounts). Turhan Sultan, a Rus' girl (from modern-day Ukraine) who entered the Ottoman Empire as a slave sold by Nogai slavers, was one of his concubines who survived his reign.

Sons and Daughters

  • Mehmed IV (1642 to 1693)
  • Suleiman II (1642 to 1691)
  • Ahmed II (1643 to 1695)
  • Şehzade Murad (1643 to 1645)
  • Şehzade Selim (1644 to 1669)
  • Şehzade Osman (1644 to 1646)
  • Şehzade Bayezid (1646 to 1647)
  • Şehzade Cihangir (1646 to 1648)
  • Şehzade Orhan (1648 to 1650)
  • Fatma Sultan (1642 to 1657)
  • Gevherhan Sultan
  • Beyhan Sultan (1645 to 1701)

Ibrahim had a thing for the baby boy of a slave lady, to the point that he preferred the unrelated kid above his son Mehmed. Turhan, Mehmed's mother, became enraged and expressed her fury on Ibrahim, who erupted in passion and snatched Mehmed from Turhan's arms and hurled him into a pond. Mehmed would have sank if a servant had not saved him. On his forehead, he was left with a lifelong scar.

Last updated: 2021-October-19
Tags: Ottoman Empire
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