Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent

Aug 2019
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Like i told you i've been learning a lot about Ottoman Empire as of late. Alongside Mehmed the Conqueror their most successful and known leader was sultan Suleiman reigning from 1520 until his death in 1566. It happened while he was fighting Habsburgs in Szigetvar. Fact that he died on the battlefield tell you enoguh about his reign - full of conquests and military campaigns. I want to cover those important here and talk with you about him and his reign. First, couple of words about Suleiman. Son of sultan Selim (called Dreadful beacuse he murdered his brothers and father Bayezid, but also huge number of his viziers) and Ayse Hafsa, daughter of Crimean khan Mengli Giray which makes Suleiman noble from both father and mother. His private life was full of intrigues, mainly involving his best friend and grand vizier Ibrahim and only legal wife, very powerful and beautiful woman coming from Ukraine called Hurem. In short, Ibrahim supported his first born son Mustafa to claim the Ottoman throne with Hurem wanting some of her four sons as next sultan. Her intrigues and influence she had on her beloved Suleiman led to him killing both Ibrahim-pasha and prince Mustafa. Besides that sultans never married Suleiman break that tradition taking Hurem as his wife and one and only for him in entire Harem. Anyway, back to the topic which is war and politics.

Unlike his dad that was spreading across Arabic world, taking Damascus, Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina, parts of Yemen and off course hole of Egypt Suleiman swift back Ottoman focus towards Europe and his greatest foes - Charles V of Holy Roman Empire and king of Spain and his brother Ferdinand in control of Austria. Also Knights Hospitallers from Rhodes posed a threat for Ottoman ships and muslim pilgrams going for Holy Land which made sultan angry making his first two campaigns in 1521 and 1522 pointed towards Charles' ally Hungary and their king Ludwig and island of Rhodes, christian stronhold alongside mainland Turkey, in the middle od Mediterranean. In 1521 after Ludwig stop paying taxes Suleiman moved his ships upstream Danube, shelling Belgrade that was purely defended and capture that important fortress for Hungarians that Mehmed the Conqueror failed to do back in 1456. On Rhodes next year he banishes Knights from their strongold after months of bitter fighting. Venice was unable to help them beacuse Suleiman share a trading deal with them. In this battle Ibrahim prooved himself so sultan declared him grand vizier after returning to Istanbul. Sultan's name was soon known all across Europe beacuse he quickly achived two huge victories and shown himself as very capable leader that will spread Ottoman Empire in all directions.

After allying with France that was fighting Charles V for Apennine peninsula Suleiman used Habsburg capturing of king Francis as pretex for invading Hungary and finishing Ludwig off in retaliation. That led to famous battle of Mohacs in 1526, biggest victory in one day in Europe up to date. Suleiman's forces started advancing again upstream Danube until reaching smaller river Drava where Ludwig and his entire army waited on the other side. There Ibrahim-pasha's plan come to work. First they will make them think they are winning by retreating for no reason, them Ottoman cannons will burn them to the ground. Ludwig was young and naive king so he thought that his forces will slice Ottoman Center and kill sultan himself. While Suleiman was injured indeed his cavalry hunt Hungarians down with their army demolished and Ludwig drown in nearby river trying to escape. This was downfall of Hungary and blow to Charles and Ferdinand that were clearly next. Suleiman enter Budim with John Zapolya as vassalised leader that betrayed Ludwing on the battlefield in order to become king.

Anyway as Zapolya's coronation was delayed Charles and Ferdinand saw this as an opportunity to take Hungarian land for Habsburgs so by 1529 Ferdinand was declared king of Hungary. That forced Suleiman to come across Christianity once again. This time his direct enemy is Holy Roman Empire and his first loss would be at their hands. When Suleiman started advancing Ferdinand run away from Budim, Hungary was retaken with Zapolya as official king, but instead of stopping right there Ottomans continued into Austria towards Vienna. Beacuse of mud and rains at that time heavy cannons were left in Belgrade. Charles gathered huge army. Siege was ineffective againts walls of Vienna and every charge was repusled. When snow come early by October Suleiman order his troops to retreat beacuse they were broken and humiliated. Anyhow, their goals for Hungary were achived. In 1532, 1541 and 1543 some campaigns againts Ferdinand's intrusions into Hungary were taken being successful with sultan annexing that territory to stop such a things unfolding again. At that time Zapolya died with his wife Isabella becoming respresentative for their infant son before he can rule Erdel (Transylvania) like his father did at the time of Ludwig.

Suleiman's another hateful foe was Persian Empire to the east. Selim terrorised shah Ismail back in his reign. Now their sons would meet again. Shah Tahmasp was one young and inexperienced leader, but just not afraid of Turks. Sultan declared campaign would be led by Ibrahim-pasha until he arrive to the battlefield. By 1534 Ottoman frontier started pushing towards southwest. Ibrahim had plans for seizing Baghdad, but was tricked into believing that Tahmasp left Tabriz by inner traitor Iskender Celebi ending in Ottomans massacred by Persians. When Suleiman come to their camp assault on Baghdad was undertaken resulting in that city captured. Celebi was executed, but such a turn of events followed that Suleiman lost his trust to his beloved grand vizier. By 1536 Ibrahim was strangled on sultan's orders. In next two decades Ottomans invaded Persia two more times ending in them reaching Persian Gulf coast and peace of Amasya was signed by 1555. Shah kept Tabriz in exchange of accepting Turks governing conquerd lands and parts of Persian shore. Tahmasp was also involved in personnal tragedies for Suleiman including death of his two sons: Mustafa and Bayezid. First being killed after Tahmasp send him letter with fake answer by grand vizier Rustem-pasha on behalf of Mustafa that seemed like taking enemy side while Bayezid did just that almost a decade later, fleding to Persia and rebbel to take throne of his father after being tricked by his brother Selim. Soon Suleiman give Tahmaps a lot of gold for exchange of prince. He was strangled somewhere on the border.

Another important campaign of Suleiman's reign was one in 1537 againts pope with aim of capturing Rome, first one without Ibrahim-pasha. With their camp located off the coast of Corfu near modern-day Vlore in Albania Ottoman naval forces moved soldiers towards Italian coastline and city of Otrantno in Kingdom of Naples. Otrantno was captured once again as well as surrounding areas, but momentum never went on since Venetian navy intervened on behalf it's fellow Italian kingdoms resulting in Suleiman swifting his attention to Venetian island of Corfu near their camp. Unlike Rhodes Corfu held on stopping Ottomans from seizing it. Heavy losses were among Suleiman's forces. Regreting he executed his best friend and most capable vizier Empire ever had he order his troops to return to Istanbul. Castle and this christian garnison were saved same as Italy itself, but still relations between trading partners Republice of Venice and Ottoman Empire worsened. Doge Andrea Gritti was worried that sultan and his army are coming for him too so we can regard that as a reason for Venetians ruining their partnership with Suleiman. Also France never helped Turks on the northen front giving pope hope to reunite christianity by some non-paper alliance of Francis and Charles V especially on the naval field. Still that wasn't enough to stop Suleiman's infamous admiral Hizar Hayreddin-pasha also know as Barbarossa.

By 1538 Suleiman was at war with another Charles' proxy named Petru Rares, vassalised duke of Bogdan (Moldova). He stopped paying taxes and raided Poland from time to time so sultan went for yet another war, this time moving north. Charles and pope were behind Rares as they wanted him to attack Istanbul due to his proximity to Ottoman capital. Also, Holy League consisting of fleets from Spain, Venice, Genoa, Malta, remaining Knight Hospitallers, etc was gathered with absence of French navy to counter Barbarossa at the sea. Turks were fighting on two fronts this time as well as their men from Egypt raiding coast of Portugese India. Rares fled Moldova with his eastern areas annexed by Suleiman, Barbarossa destroyed crusader fleet in Greek gulf of Preveza while campaign againts Portugese ending with creation on an outpost for trading in Indian ocean in today's Yemen. Regarding Moldova Ottoman territory now almost made a full circle around Black Sea and touched Ottoman holdings on Crimea. That's it about sultan Suleiman and his military operations. Like we know he died from natural causes in his tent in 1566 while battling it out with forces of Charles' son Maximillian on another try to conquer imperial city of Vienna. You can see how capable and how good leader he was. At moment of his death Ottoman Empire extended from just outside Vienna to Crimea in the east and Persian Gulf in the southeast. Rest is history. Important thing to note is i'm not some fan of him, he was quite brutal ruler, but still very intersting.
Likes: respond123
Nov 2010
I think you'll find that Lepanto was in 1571 and Hayreddin Barbarossa died in 1546. Not sure what you mean about 'remaining Knight Hospitallers' - by 1571 I think they were about at their peak, after rebuilding of Malta and replacement of dead knights. They were the best big, fast galley sailors in the Med - pirates from the Ottoman side.

You don't mention Malta in 1565 - how did Suleyman get on there?
Aug 2019
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I wasn't talking about Battle of Lepanto in 1571 led by sultan Selim and Sokollu Mehmed-pasha, but about Battle of Preveza in 1538 when Barbarossa wiped out christian naval coalition under Andrea Doria, at the time when Suleiman and his army were capaigning in Moldova.

At the time of Siege of Rhodes Knights were just like i said, remaining. After evacuation and Charles' gifts in form of Malta and Tripoli they fought Ottomans only in 1565 when Malta held on. Suleiman wasn't personally there because getting older and sick while at the same time he rarely went on campaigns involving navy.
Nov 2018
Istanbul, Turkey
Here is the script which was written in the mosque of Jazair, which was builded Barbarossa’s himself and he let written that script. It is written that “ "es-sultânu'l-mucâhid fî sebili Rabbi'l-âlemîn Mevlânâ Hayreddin ibn el-emîru'ş-şehîru'l-mucâhid Ebî Yûsuf Ya'qûb et-Turkî”
“ Son of the famous Turkish sipahi, Yakub Beg, Our majesty the sultan Haireddin “


Aug 2019
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Barbarossa is indeed one underrated historical individual. He is the greatest kapudan-pasha (admiral) Empire witnessed and like they said nobody from Gibraltar to Sicily was unable to eat and sleep in peace if living near the sea thanks to him. His brothers that fought Spanish and Knights Hospitallers were all pirates until sultan Selim hired them to take Algeria. He is one remaining of four of them at the time Suleiman become a sultan and he beacome his commander. Preveza was off-course his biggest win 8 years before he died. Also to note, seems like his death was not an incident since he was taking side of prince Mustafa so we can consider him victim of intrigues of Hurem Sultana and her son-in-a-law Rustem.
Sep 2014
Queens, NYC
I see no mention in this thread as to how Suleiman's rule may have benefitted the people he ruled.

Also, I consider Suleiman's disinheriting and killing a competent son for an incompetent son to be seriously disqualifying him for "Great". I guess "Magnificent" will have to stay.
Likes: WhatAnArtist
Mar 2016
Since this post seems to mostly be about his military conquests, I would argue that his father Selim I was a considerably more impressive individual, since he conquered all of the Levant and Egypt from the Mamluks, as well as western Anatolia from the Safavid Persians. He did not have failures as large or humiliating as Vienna or Malta like Suleiman did. He also passed the throne to a competent successor, unlike Suleiman, who murdered his most competent son.


Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
I see no mention in this thread as to how Suleiman's rule may have benefitted the people he ruled.

Also, I consider Suleiman's disinheriting and killing a competent son for an incompetent son to be seriously disqualifying him for "Great". I guess "Magnificent" will have to stay.
It was NOT the sole reason that began the decline of the Ottoman Empire.
Many consider the death of Murad IV as the beginning of the decline.
Aug 2019
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Like i said, Suleiman was quite brutal due to killing two of his sons and best friend, you must have a little bit of stomach to understand that, but still he was considered, and i agree with that statement, as one of the most calm and one of those sultans that executed a lesser number of people unlike those before and after him. I mean, Mehmed the Conqueror order his guards to strangle his BABY brother. Sultan Mehmed, third sultan after Suleiman executed nearly 20 of his brothers. That's tragic. Not death of greedy Ibrahim-pasha and unstable princes such as Mustafa and Bayezid. WhatAnArtist talked about Selim that haven't killed Suleiman and being better than him thanks to that, but that just not beign true. You see Selim was way more paraonid then his son. He banishes his father who died somewhere on the way to that province, i forgett it's name on unknown circumstances. Killed many of his brothers. Try to KILL Suleiman two times while he was governing Manisa for NO REASON. He wasn't victim of depression after any of the murders while Suleiman died in saddnes for Ibrahim in the first place, then Mustafa, etc. Also in foreign policy Suleiman wasn't nearly a monster his dad was. Before war with Ismail's Persia sultan Selim massacred nearly 40 thousand shia Qizlibashes in eastern Anatolia. Suleiman benefitet people under him just like MJuingong said, nobody was forced to convert to islam, taxes were delayed after conquering, defenders were always assisted in leaving the place, not to mention his laws that were even used in France and UK with many of them still being used today in someway or another in Turkey, his great buildings constructed by Mimar Sinan in Istanbul, Bosnia, he was involved in building of Taj Mahal as well. Also Suleiman shared some western values which is terribly rare for that time. He was fan of art, he married, etc. It's just stupid to talk about him in worse context than any sultan. His father was most brutal sultan of all of them. That's important.
Since this post seems to mostly be about his military conquests, I would argue that his father Selim I was a considerably more impressive individual, since he conquered all of the Levant and Egypt from the Mamluks, as well as western Anatolia from the Safavid Persians. He did not have failures as large or humiliating as Vienna or Malta like Suleiman did. He also passed the throne to a competent successor, unlike Suleiman, who murdered his most competent son.
I vaguely remember an article that explained Sultan Suleimans execution of his son as due to him gaining the popularity of the army and potentially planning to over throw his father as had happened earlier in Ottoman history, and Suleiman stopping it in its tracks through executing him.

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