The Ottoman Sultans of Turkey
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On May 28, 1524 AD, Selim II, the Drunkard, the 3rd self-styled Turkish caliph and the 11th Ottoman Sultan, was born in Istanbul. Son of Sultan Suleiman and the Rutherian (Ukrainian-Polish) concubine, Khurram Sultan (original name: Alexandra Lisowska), he succeeded to the throne at the age of 42 through intrigue and fraternal dispute. Despite claiming to be caliph and having a powerful fleet that controlled the Mediterranean Sea, he refused the pleas for help by the Spanish Muslims during the 3-year Morisco Revolt (1568-71) in Granada, southern Spain. As a result the uprising was ruthlessly crushed by a joint Christian armies of Spain, Austria, and Italy, in the aftermath of which hundreds of thousands of Spanish Muslims were forcibly Christianized and all books and documents in Arabic burned. Selim II died at the age of 50 after an incompetent reign of 8 years, as a result of drunkenly slipping on the wet floor of a bath-house, and fatally injuring his head.
On May 30, 1913 AD, the First Balkan War ended with the Treaty of London, and the emergence of Albania as an independent nation. It began in October 1912, and pitted the Balkan League, made up of Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria, against the weakened Ottoman Empire. As a result of the war, almost all remaining European territories of the Ottoman Empire were seized by Christian powers and partitioned among them.
On 27th of the Islamic month of Rajab in 848AH, Ottoman Sultan Murad II won a decisive victory at the Battle of Varna in eastern Bulgaria over the joint Bulgarian, Hungarian and Polish armies under King Władysław III of Poland, who lost his life in the encounter in which the Turks captured some 80 thousand prisoners. This was one of the most important events in European history and established Muslim rule over a large part of southeastern Europe.
On 28th of the Islamic month of Rajab in 1094AH, the Ottoman army led by Sultan Mohammad IV began the second siege of the Austrian capital Vienna which lasted for two months and ended in the defeat of the Turkish army by the combined forces of the holy Roman Empire in league with the Polish-Lithuanian alliance. This defeat marked the gradual decline of Ottoman power in Europe. A century and-a-half earlier also the Ottomans, under Sultan Suleiman, had failed to take Vienna, as they swept across central Europe.
On June 10, 1329 AD, the Battle of Pelekanon resulted in a Byzantine defeat by the rising power of the Ottoman Turks, led by Orhan I. The defeat suffered by Emperor Andronicus III meant that no Byzantine army would again attempt to regain any territory in Anatolia or Asia Minor. The Ottomans built up a strong base from which they eventually swept away the Byzantine Empire as a whole, a century-and-a-half later.
On 22nd of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 1214 AH, the Treaty of al-Arish was signed by France and the Ottoman Empire for withdrawal of French occupation forces from Egypt, three years after Napoleon Bonaparte had invaded and occupied the Land of the Nile.
On June 15, 1389 AD, the Ottomans triumphed in the Battle of Kosovo against the Serbs, but Sultan Murad I lost his life, as a result of a surprise attack by a lone Serb warrior, while reviewing his success after the battle. Son of Orhan Bey and grandson of Osman, the Central Asian Turk who founded the Ottoman principality in what is now western Turkey, Murad through his conquests transformed the family fiefdom into a sultanate that subsequently became a vast empire straddling southwest Europe, west Asia and northern Africa.
On 10th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 1100 AH, Tartar Muslim commander of Crimea, Spem Giray, who was an ally of the Ottoman Empire, defeated a huge Russian army 300,000 soldiers in what is now Ukraine. The Tartars, who for several centuries were a major power in the northern Black Sea region, were later conquered by the Russians, brutally suppressed and deported to other lands.
On 12th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 958 AH, the Ottoman fleet under the command of Turgut Ra’ees freed the Libyan sea port of Tripoli from the 21-year occupation of the Christian Knights. He was subsequently named the Pasha (governor) of Tripolitania by Sultan Sulaiman. Born into a Greek family, Turgut Ra’ees converted to Islam at an early age, and grew up into an expert gunner and sailor, whose services were utilized by the Ottomans during the conquest of Mamluk Egypt. He subsequently served as admiral in the Mediterranean Sea, and for over forty years subjugated and captured many islands and the coastal areas of the Italian kingdoms and Spain, never allowing the Genoese, the Venetians, and the Spanish fleets to dominate the region or setting foot on the north African coast. He built the city of Tunis and made into a leading trade centre, before being appointed the Beglarbeigi of Algeria. He died during the Ottoman siege of the island of Malta.
On 12th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 1197 AH, the Ottoman marines succeed in dispersing 75 Spanish warships which were trying to land forces at Algerian ports as a step for occupying it.
On June 21, 1824 AD, Egyptian forces, dispatched by Mohammad Ali Pasha to quell the West European-backed Greek sedition against Ottoman rule, recaptured Psara Island in the Aegean Sea from the rebels.
On 16th of the Islamic month of Sha'ban in 1048 AH, Ottoman Grand Vizier, Tayyar Mohammed Pasha was killed by a bullet fired by Iranian defenders during the siege of Baghdad. Tayyar was the fourth Ottoman Grand Vizier to be killed on the battlefield. Incidentally, his father Ogar Mustafa Pasha had also lost his life near Baghdad during the Ottoman-Safavid battle over the city, which was won by the Iranians. For over two hundred years the Ottomans and the Safavids fought over Iraq, which exchanged hands many times.
On June 25, 1991 AD, Croatia and Slovenia became independent from the Federation of Yugoslavia, or more properly from the Serbs. Croatia and Slovenia are located in the Balkan region, which for several centuries was ruled by the Ottoman Turks. Still a sizeable Muslim minority exists in both the countries.
On 20th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 852 AH, Ottoman Sultan Murad II decisively defeated a united European Christian Crusader army of 100,000 soldiers in the Second Battle of Kosovo, led by the king of Hungary, after three days of fierce fighting. The Crusaders arrived at the Kosovo Field, the same place the famous First Battle of Kosovo had occurred 60 years earlier between the Serbs and Ottomans, and resulted in Turkish domination of the Balkans. In this Second Battle of Kosovo, the 60,000-strong Muslim army completely destroyed the numerically superior Christian army, and five years later ended the existence of the tottering Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire by taking its capital Constantinople and renaming it Islambol (present Istanbul).
On June 29, 1807 AD, during the the Russo-Turkish War, Admiral Dmitry Senyavin, destroyed a third of the Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Athos. Fought a month after the Battle of the Dardanelles that lifted the Russian blockade of marine supplies to Istanbul, this battle was triggered by Senyavin's retreat from the Dardanelles towards the Russian naval base at Tenedos. The Ottoman commander, Kapudan Pasha Seyyed-Ali, ventured with 9 battleships, 5 frigates and 5 other vessels out of the strait into the Aegean Sea. Thereupon Senyavin returned to cut off his retreat and fell upon the Ottoman fleet halfway between Mount Athos and Lemnos. During the battle three Ottoman battleships and four frigates - around one third of the Turkish fleet - were either sunk or forced aground. On the way they scuttled another battleship and a frigate near Thasos. Of the 20 Turkish ships in Dardanelles, only 12 returned. As a result of the battle, the Ottoman Empire lost a combat-capable fleet for more than a decade and was forced to sign an armistice with Russia on 12 August.
On June 29, 1913 AD, the Second Balkan War broke out against the tottering Ottoman Empire by an alliance of its former provinces of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Monte Negro, and Romania, resulting in the loss of almost 80% of the remaining Turkish territories in Europe. The Balkan Wars set the stage for the World War I in 1914, in which the Ottomans allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, tried to regain their lost glory, but lost their West Asian territories of Arabia, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq as well, becoming confined to Anatolia or present day Turkey.
On 21st of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 966 AH, Prince Bayazid lost the Battle of Konya against the forces of his father, the Ottoman Emperor, Sultan Sulaiman, and sought refuge in Iran at the court of Shah Tahmasb I in Qazvin, roughly the same time when the Safavid Emperor was hosting another royal dignitary as refugee – the Mughal Emperor Humayun Shah who had been ousted from India by the Afghan rebel, Sher Shah Suri. Eventually, Humayun, through Iranian support managed to regain the throne of Delhi, but when Shah Tahmasb tried to patch up the differences between the Ottoman Sultan and his son, by persuading Bayazid to return, the latter along with his four sons, was cruelly killed by Sulaiman the so-called ‘Magnificent’, who years earlier had killed his eldest son, Prince Mustafa on mere suspicion.
On July 2, 1555 AD, the Ottoman Admiral Turgut Ra’ees, who was Greek Christian before conversion to Islam, sacked the Italian city of Paola in retaliation for the Christian raids on Turkish Muslim possessions in the Mediterranean.
On 25th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 942 AH, Ottoman Prime Minister “Damaad” Ibrahim Pasha, who was the Sultan’s son-in-law, concluded a treaty with France for lease of the French Port of Toulon to establish a Turkish naval base for checking Spain’s ambitions. For the period of the lease, the French evacuated the local Christian population, while the Ottomans built mosques and used Toulon as a safe haven to raid Spanish coasts and dominate the Mediterranean Sea.
On 25th of the Islamic month of Sha’ban in 993 AH, the Ottomans, taking advantage of the power vacuum in Iran, breached the treaty of peace with the Safavids to occupy the Iranian city of Tabriz. The occupation lasted 18 years until Shah Abbas, after assuming power, inflicted a shattering defeat on the Ottomans to liberate Tabriz, the Caucasus, and eventually Iraq, where he reconstructed the holy shrines in Najaf, Karbala, and Kazemain on a grand scale.
On July 5, 1770 AD, the naval Battle of Chesma took place in the bay of the same name, in the area between the western tip of Anatolia and the island of Chios, between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire. It was the greatest naval defeat suffered by the Ottomans, who until then were masters of the seas. The victory inspired great confidence in the Russian fleet and allowed the Russians to control the Aegean Sea for some time. The defeat of the Ottoman fleet also sped up rebellions by minority groups in the Empire, especially the Orthodox Christian nations in the Balkan Peninsula, who helped the Russian army in defeating the Turkish Muslims.
On July 7, 1770 AD, the Battle of Larga between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire took place. It was fought in what is now Romania on the banks of River Larga, a tributary of River Pruth, by an invading force of Russia led by Field-Marshal Rumyantsev, and a joint defence force of Crimean Muslim Tatar and Ottoman Turks, under the command of Kaplan Giray. The battle ended in victory for the Russian invaders, who two week later defeated the Ottomans in the Battle of Kagul.