1494: Birth of Suleiman the Magnificent

1494: Birth of Suleiman the Magnificent
Photo Credit To http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Suleiman_bas-relief_in_the_U.S._House_of_Representatives_chamber.jpg

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  • historical event: Suleiman reportedly loved his mother and she received the high title of Valide Sultan when he came to power.

On this day in 1494, the famous Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, probably the most famous ruler in the history of the Ottoman Empire, was born. It is interesting that he was not born in the capital Istanbul, but at the far end of the Empire – in Trabzon on the east coast of the Black Sea, near the border with Armenia and Persia. Specifically, Suleiman’s father was at that time governor of Trebizond eyelet and the Empire was still ruled by Suleiman’s grandfather – Sultan Bayezid II.

At the time of Suleiman’s birth, there existed an unusual threat to the Ottoman Empire. Namely, the brother of the reigning sultan Bayezid II (Suleiman’s grandfather) was held captive by pope in Rome. The pope was intending to take advantage of this brother in order to raise a rebellion against the Sultan and try to weaken Muslim power. But Sultan Bayezid used an interesting tactic against this. He paid the pope 120,000 gold coins to keep his rival brother in papal captivity. It was a huge amount of money, because it exceeded all other papal revenues that year. The Sultan promised to give the pope another 45,000 ducats each following year. Apart from this, Bayezid gave the pope an extremely important relic – the Holy Spear – with which, according to tradition, Jesus Christ was stabbed as he hung on the cross. The Spear was kept in Istanbul till then, and when it was transferred to Rome, it became one of the greatest papal treasures (it is kept in the Vatican even today). The Sultan’s brother eventually died in Italy.

Suleiman’s mother was apparently a native Tatar. Her name was Ayşe Hafsa or Aisha Hafsa (Aisha was the name of Prophet Muhammad’s favorite wife). Suleiman reportedly loved his mother and she received the high title of Valide Sultan when he came to power. Valide Sultan roughly means “Queen Mother” and signifies a woman who is at the forefront of the whole harem, and often has a great influence on politics.

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