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Ottoman Sultan who Married a White European – 1595

Ottoman Sultan who Married a White European – 1595

Upon coming to power, Sultan Murad III had his younger brothers strangled, which was standard practice at that time. In that way sultans made sure their own sons would inherit the throne.

This day marked the death of Ottoman sultan Murad III. Among other things, his reign was marked by costly defeats against Habsburg forces, such as the one at the Battle of Sisak in 1593. This was one of the first great defeats of the Ottomans on land, and was celebrated throughout Christian Europe. Of course, for the Ottomans it was a warning that the power of their empire is waning. Still, the Ottoman Empire was at the time still large enough (it stretched from Croatia in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east) that the sultans didn’t have to worry about losing their vast wealth.

Upon coming to power, Sultan Murad III had his younger brothers strangled, which was standard practice at that time. In that way sultans made sure their own sons would inherit the throne. Namely, according to Muslim tradition the throne would pass first to the deceased ruler’s brothers, and only then to the next generation.

It is interesting to note that Murad’s favorite wife was a Venetian noblewoman by birth. She was originally called Sofia Bellicui Baffo and was of Catholic faith. She was captured by pirates and taken to the sultan’s court. Upon converting to Islam she took the name Safiyā and became one of the most influential women in the history of the Ottoman Empire.

Sultan Murad III is also interesting since Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name is Red takes place during his reign. The sultan died on this day in 1595, less than three years after his army was defeated at Sisak. He died in the well-known Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.

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