Mustafa III: an Ottoman Sultan


Mustafa III, an Ottoman sultan who sought governmental and military reforms to stem the empire's decline and waged war on Russia, ended in a terrible defeat (after his death). However, Mustafa and his capable grand vizier recognized the need for reform. Their efforts were focused on the outcomes rather than the causes of the Ottoman downfall. They were unable to prevent tax evasion. As a result, their fiscal measures have been ineffectual. In Europe and Asia, administrative reforms failed due to the central government's incapacity to extend its control over the local rulers of its provinces. They were more effective in their military reforms with the help of Baron François de Tott. The artillery corps was restructured, an engineering school that the Janissaries had abolished in 1747 was restored, and a navy math school was established. Mustafa was adamant about maintaining the peace created by the Treaty of Belgrade in his foreign policy. Despite the French and Frederick, the Great of Prussia's urgings, the Ottomans resisted joining the European alliances and counter alliances. Later, Mustafa was forced to declare war on Russia due to Russian ambitions in Poland and Crimea (1768). Following a few minor victories on the Danube and the Crimean Peninsula, the Ottomans suffered a series of defeats, culminating in the destruction of the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Çeşme (1770) in the Aegean.

Early Life

Mustafa was born on 28 January 1717 at the Edirne Palace. Sultan Ahmed III was his father, and Mihrişah Kadn was his mother. Şehzade Süleyman, his full brother, was his only sibling. Mustafa and his brothers, Mehmed, princes Süleyman and Bayezid, had a sizeable fifteen-day circumcision ceremony in 1720. Mustafa, his father, and his brothers were all imprisoned in the Topkapı Palace during the Patrona Halil uprising in 1730, which resulted in the deposition of his father Sultan Ahmed III and the succession of his cousin Sultan Mahmud I. He became the successor to the throne in 1756, following the death of his elder half-brother Mehmed.



After the death of his cousin Osman III, Sultan Mustafa II's son, Mustafa, ascended the throne on 30 October 1757.

The Character of Mustafa's Rule

Mustafa displayed a vital concern for justice soon after assuming the throne. He took a lot of steps to boost Istanbul's prosperity. He instituted a tight fiscal policy, regulated coinage, built enormous grain storage, maintained aqueducts, and regulated coinage. He went extensively to ensure that the laws he had enacted were being implemented.

Treaty with Prussia

Mustafa liked Frederick the Great's generalship to sign a peace pact with Prussia in 1761. Mustafa sought to modernize his realm and army, and Frederick wanted to form an ally against the Habsburgs. To reorganize his army, Mustafa preferred to recruit his officers in Berlin rather than Paris or London. For the first time in 1763, the two countries exchanged diplomats.

Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774)

Grand vizier Koca  Ragıp Pasha kept a policy of peace with his neighbours until 1763. However, the Ottomans and Russia were at odds due to Russia's growing dominance in the Caucasus and its desire to conquer Poland. Muhsinzade Mehmed Pasha, Ragıp Pasha's successor, similarly supported peace, and Mustafa's insistence on conflict with Russia ("I will find some method of humbling those unbelievers") led to his resignation in 1768. The Sultan anticipated an easy win over the Russians, but the Ottomans were preparing for a lengthy conflict. Military reforms were carried out during the war with the help of French officer François Baron de Tott. The upgrading of the artillery corps and the founding of the Naval Engineering School in 1773 were among them. For the Ottoman Empire, the war was a disaster. The Crimea, Romania, and sections of Bulgaria were all occupied by Russian soldiers.


During Mehmed, the Conqueror's reign, many massive structures, including the Fatih Mosque, were reconstructed from the ground up. He had also constructed the Laleli Mosque complex, and the shoreline along the Yenikap had been filled to create a new neighbourhood. Apart from them, after the earthquakes of 1766 and 1767, he conducted other construction projects.

Personal Life


He was a poet, his poetry being written under the pseudonym of Cihangir.


Mustafa had married all of his consorts. He had made the marriage of morality because there were lands for trusting that the females in question had been born Muslims. In each case, the Sultan acknowledged the girl free and repeated the marriage vow on her behalf before the Şeyhülislam, but did this without pomp.




  • Mihrişah Sultan
  • Mihrişah Kadın
  • Aynülhayat Kadın
  • Adilşah Kadın
  • Rif’at Kadın
  • Selim III
  • Şehzade Sultan Mehmed
  • Hibetullah Sultan
  • Şah Sultan
  • Mihrimah Sultan
  • Mihrişah Sultan
  • Beyhan Sultan
  • Hatice Sultan
  • Fatma Sultan


Mustafa died of a heart attack in the Topkapı Palace on Friday, 21 January 1774, and was buried in his mausoleum at Istanbul's Laleli Mosque. After his death, the empire faced economic and administrative difficulties.

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