Ahmed I Biography

Ahmed I, the Ottoman Emperor from 1603 to 1617, faced numerous challenges during his reign, including internal conflicts, rebellion, and multiple wars. Despite these difficulties, he made significant changes to the kingdom, such as ending the practice of fratricide and banning alcohol. Ahmed I was known for his religious devotion and generosity, regularly supporting religious institutes through donations. He also had a passion for poetry, using the pseudonym ‘Bahti’ to write political poems. Under his rule, the iconic Blue Mosque was constructed. Despite assuming the throne at a young age, Ahmed I remained committed to his responsibilities and the well-being of his people.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Ahmed bin Mehmed
  • Died At Age: 27
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Fatma Haseki, Kösem Sultan (m. ?–1617), Mahfiruz Hatun
    • Father: Mehmed III
    • Mother: Handan Sultan
    • Siblings: Ahmed I Ayşe Sultan, Ahmed I Hatice Sultan, Dilruba Sultan, Mustafa I, Şehzade Cihangir, Şehzade Mahmud, Şehzade Selim, Sultan Yahya
    • Children: Abide Sultan, Atike Sultan, Ayşe Sultan, Fatma Sultan, Gevherhan Sultan, Hanzade Sultan, Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire, Murad IV, Osman II, Şehzade Bayezid, Şehzade Kasim, Şehzade Mehmed, Şehzade Orhan, Şehzade Suleiman
  • Born Country: Turkey
  • Died on: November 22, 1617
  • Place of Death: Topkapi Palace Museum, İstanbul, Turkey
  • Cause of Death: Typhus

Childhood & Early Life

Ahmed I was born on April 18, 1590, in Manisa, Ottoman Empire, to Prince Sehzade Mehmed and his wife Handan Sultan. When Ahmed was born, his father was the governor of the Sanjak division in Manisa while his grandfather Murad III was on the throne.

In the Ottoman Empire, the fratricide culture was at its peak at the time. When Ahmed’s father Mehmed III ascended to the throne, he executed all his nineteen brothers. In 1603, he also executed his eldest living son Sehzade Mahmud, leaving only two of his sons, Ahmed I and Mustafa I as his heirs.

Accession & Reign

Mehmed III died in December 1603, making Ahmed I, his eldest living son, the next in line for the throne. Ahmed I was just thirteen years old at that time. He broke the tradition by not killing or passing the death order of his younger brother Mustafa I who was sent to live with their grandmother Safiye Sultan. It has been argued that the young age of Ahmed was the major reason for not killing Mustafa which would have put the lineage in immediate danger had anything happened to the young sultan.

War with the Safavids

The Ottoman Empire was locked in a war with Safavid Persia when Ahmed I became the emperor. His army, under the leadership of Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha, tried to stop the Safavid army that was marching towards Yerevan. The Ottoman army didn’t make it in time and lost the capital of Armenia as well as the Kars Eyalet to the Safavid army. Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha led the Ottoman army to capture Tabriz in 1605, but the Beylerbey of Erzurum, Sefer Pasha, led an independent army which was captured by the Safavids. Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha executed the Beylerbey of Aleppo for arriving late in a bid to help the Ottoman army which started a rebellion. The Ottoman army eventually lost the majority of Azerbaijan, including the cities of Shamakhi and Ganja.

War With the Habsburg Monarchy

The Turkish war between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy started back in 1593, ten years before Ahmed I came to the throne. In 1604, Lala Mehmed Pasha was appointed the Grand Vizier by the emperor to lead the western army. The Ottoman army recaptured the cities of Vac and Pest, but the unfavorable weather made it difficult for the army to march to and capture Esztergom. A little more than a year later, the Ottoman army was joined by the forces of Stephen Bocskay, the Prince of Transylvania. The siege of Esztergom was successful, and the city was recaptured by the Ottoman army. Mehmed Pasha was called to Constantinople as the Jelali revolt grew stronger and became a bigger issue than the Habsburgs. Mehmed Pasha died upon reaching Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire faced great difficulties in controlling the war. With the Jelali rebellion growing stronger by the day, the Ottoman Empire had to compromise and a peace treaty, the Peace of Zsitvatorok, was offered. This brought an end to the tribute of 30,000 ducats paid by Austria to the Ottoman Empire, bringing the curtains down on the Ottoman Empire’s stronghold in Europe. The emperor also declared the Habsburg Monarchy as the equal of the Ottoman Empire.

Peace Treaty With the Safavids

The war between the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire became an issue for both the parties. With both sides willing to end the war, the Safavid sultan offered a peace treaty agreeing to pay about 200 loads of silk to the Ottoman Empire on a yearly basis. In November 1612, the peace treaty, the Treaty of Nasuh Pasha, was signed between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia, bringing an end to a decade-long war. The treaty brought back to Persia all territories captured during the war of 1578–90 by the Ottoman Empire. Persia, in return, agreed to pay about 59,000 kilograms of silk to the Ottoman Empire.

Trade & Religious Services

As his stronghold in Europe came to an end, Ahmed I tried to build better trade relations with England, Italy and France. He signed a treaty with the Dutch Republic in 1612, which would allow merchants from the Republic of Ragusa, Habsburg Spain, The Republic of Genoa, and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to do business under the French flag. Ahmed I was a religious person and regularly donated to various religious causes. On his order, the great Blue Mosque or the Sultan Ahmed Mosque was built in Turkey. He also renovated the Great Mosque of Mecca, Kaaba, after it was damaged in floods. The part which was used to store the rainwater from its roof was heavily damaged and required plenty of repairs. Ahmed I sent his best craftsmen from Constantinople to repair and restore the dignity of the mosque.

Family & Personal Life

Ahmed I had two wives, Mahfiruz Hatun and Kosem Sultan, and nine sons and six daughters. After his death on November 22, 1617, due to typhus fever, he was buried in Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Immediately after his death, his younger brother Mustafa I became the emperor until Osman II succeeded him in 1618. Later, Murad IV and Ibrahim (Ahmed’s other two sons) also ruled the Ottoman Empire between 1623 and 1648.

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