Suleiman the Magnificent

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Suleiman the Magnificent
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Suleiman I attributed to Titian c. 1530
Reign1520–1566 (46 years)
PredecessorSelim I
Heir ApparentSelim II
Born(1495-11-06)November 6, 1495
Trabzon, Ottoman Empire
DiedSeptember 7, 1566(1566-09-07) (aged 70)
Szigetvar, Hungary
SpouseHurrem Sultan
Mahidevran Hatun
Gulfam Hatun
Fülone khatun
Melekisma Hatun
Selim II
Full name
Sultan Suleiman Khan
HouseHouse of Osman
FatherSelim I
MotherHafsa Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam

Suleiman I, commonly known as Suleiman the Magnificent in Western Europe and Suleiman the Lawgiver (Ottoman Turkish: قانونى سلطان سليمان, romanized: Ḳānūnī Sulṭān Suleymān) in his Ottoman realm, was the tenth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He became sultan when he was 26 years old. He reigned for 46 years, from 1520 to 1566, which was longer than any other Ottoman sultan. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the Muslim world, as the Lawgiver (in Turkish Kanuni; Arabic: القانونى, al‐Qānūnī), because he changed the organization of the Ottoman legal system. This nickname shows how important he was in the Ottoman Empire. Some people even considered Suleiman as the “World Emperor and Messiah of the Last Age”.[1]

He also led many wars in Europe, including wars in Hungary, Austria, the Mediterranean, and parts of North Africa.[2]

Childhood[change | change source]

Suleiman was the only son of Sultan Selim I and Ayşe Hafsa Sultan. Suleiman spent his childhood in the city of Trabzon, where he got a basic education from his personal teachers. One of his first known teachers was Hayreddin Efendi. Suleiman spoke eight languages fluently. He also wrote Persian poetry and his hobby was composing lute music. Besides battle, he also enjoyed philosophical debate.[3]

During his childhood, Suleiman became friends with Damat Ibrahim Pasha, who was a slave of the sultan. Later during Suleiman’s reign Ibrahim became an important adviser and grand vizier.[2]

When Suleiman was 10 years old, he was expected to take over an administrative position (sancak) in the Ottoman government, but the sons of Beyazid II held him back. Suleiman followed his father Selim I to become emperor of the Ottoman Empire in September 1520.[2]

Siege of Vienna[change | change source]

Suleiman tried to capture Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg Austrian Empire, two times. The first time was in 1529 after he destroyed and captured the Kingdom of Hungary in the 1526 Battle of Mohács. The second time was in 1532. Both times Suleiman failed. The Siege of Vienna resulted in the end of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe. After these failed attempts, Suleiman started to focus on growing his Empire into Asia and the Mediterranean instead of Central Europe.[4]

Characteristics of the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman[change | change source]

Painting of Suleiman the Magnificent.

The empire that Suleiman ruled over had Ottoman Turkish as its main language. The religion of Islam played a central role during his reign.[5] The Ottoman Empire ruled a diverse population. They were separated by differences in race, language, religion, and customs. Muslims were favored, because they followed the state religion, which was Islam. Others, for example Jews and Christians, had a lesser position but still were allowed to have their own religion. Throughout Suleiman's reign, the government was made up of the Ruling Institution. This institution included the family of the sultan, the ministers of the sultan, and the army. During Suleiman’s reign, it can be said that the Muslim Institution had more power and influence than the Ruling Institution. However, the Muslim Institution was aiming to catch up with the Sharia Institution.[6]

Accomplishments in the Ottoman Empire[change | change source]

  • Suleiman hired people who were very talented and smart to help him govern.[2]
  • Suleiman captured a very big territory and the Ottoman Empire’s size doubled during his reign. His navy was successful in the Mediterranean, and he captured almost all of North Africa except for Tunis.[2]
  • Suleiman captured Belgrade in 1521, and Rhodes in 1522. He captured Hungary after destroying the Hungarian Kingdom in 1526 and he also captured some parts of Southern Slovakia and laid siege to the Austrian capital city of Vienna in 1529 and again in 1532 although he failed. Suleyman did this to show how powerful he was.[2]
  • One of Suleiman’s first actions as a sultan was to give freedom of movement to 600 important families. Those families had been deported by Selim I to Cairo in 1517. Suleiman gave those families the chance to move back to the Ottoman Empire if they wanted to. Suleiman also played a role in the protection of the Jewish people and other non-Muslims under his empire.[2]
  • At the start of his reign, Suleiman decided to strengthen Ottoman military power against the Christian enemies of the Ottoman Empire.[2]

Successor of Suleiman[change | change source]

Suleiman wanted to keep the power to himself. To prevent his son Mustafa from taking power with a coup, Suleiman had Mustafa strangled in 1553.[7] Several other sons also died. Suleiman’s successor was his son Selim II. He came to the throne during civil conflicts with his surviving brothers. Selim II had the urge to live a life of pleasure, instead of focusing on the difficult task of governing. He assigned affairs of state to his grand vizier (chief minister) and son-in-law, Mehmed Sokullu.[3]

After Selim II came to power to follow Suleiman, the reign of the Ottoman Empire steadily went downhill, because Selim II was more focused on his personal pleasure.[8]

Death of Suleiman[change | change source]

Suleiman died on September 7th 1566.[2] He died during the war with Austria. After his death, his body was moved back to Istanbul. He was buried in Mimar Sinan’s biggest mausoleum.[9]

Painting of Suleiman the Magnificent during his old age, a few years before his death.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Bonney, Richard (2011-11-13), "Suleiman I ("the Magnificent") (1494-1566)", in Martel, Gordon (ed.), The Encyclopedia of War, Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. wbeow612, doi:10.1002/9781444338232.wbeow612, ISBN 978-1-4051-9037-4, retrieved 2022-05-09
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Süleyman the Magnificent and his age : the Ottoman Empire in the early modern world. İ. Metin Kunt, Christine Woodhead. London: Longman. 1995. ISBN 0-582-03828-6. OCLC 31901146.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Suleiman". C3 Teachers. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  4. Erler, Mary Carpenter (1987). "Süleyman's 1532 Vienna Campaign: An English News Dispatch". The Slavonic and East European Review. 65 (1): 101–112. ISSN 0037-6795. JSTOR 4209433.
  5. Süleyman the Magnificent and his age : the Ottoman Empire in the early modern world. İ. Metin Kunt, Christine Woodhead. London: Longman. 1995. ISBN 0-582-03828-6. OCLC 31901146.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. Lybyer, Albert Howe (2013-10-01). The Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent. Harvard University Press. doi:10.4159/harvard.9780674337053. hdl:2027/hvd.32044018111633. ISBN 978-0-674-33705-3.
  7. "Why Did Suleyman the Magnificent Execute His Son Sehzade Mustafa in 1553?". ResearchGate.
  8. "Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent | All About Turkey". Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  9. Walton, Jeremy F. (2019-08-08). "Sanitizing Szigetvár: On the post-imperial fashioning of nationalist memory". History and Anthropology. 30 (4): 434–447. doi:10.1080/02757206.2019.1612388. ISSN 0275-7206. S2CID 164318948.

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