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Kara Mustafa Pasha
Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa (Born 1634/1635 – died December 25, 1683) was an Ottoman military leader and grand vizier who was a central character in the empire's last attempts at expansion into both Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

His Name

In contemporary sources, Mustafa is universally described as both greedy and villainous. The veracity of this is naturally open to conjecture, although his nickname of Kara (black or handsome [12858]) can certainly be interpreted in this way.

He was adopted into the powerful Rumelian Köprülü family at a young age, and served as a messenger to Damascusmarker for his brother-in-law, the grand vizier Ahmed Köprülü. He directed in the name of Köprülü family's mukata' or tımar fields in Merzifon . After distinguishing himself, Mustafa became a vizier in his own right, and by 1663, commander of the Ottoman Grand Fleet of the Aegean Seamarker.

His Official Life

He served as a commander of ground troops in a war against Polandmarker in 1672, negotiating a settlement that added the province of Podolia to the empire. The victory enabled the Ottomans to transform the Cossack regions of the southern Ukrainemarker into a protectorate. In 1676, when the grand vizier died, Mustafa succeeded him.

He was less successful in combating a Cossack rebellion that began in 1678. After some initial victories, intervention by Russiamarker turned the tide and forced the Turks to conclude peace in 1681, effectively returning the Cossack lands to Russian rule with the exception of a few forts on the Dnieper and Bug rivers.

Siege of Vienna

In 1683, he launched a campaign northward into Austriamarker in a last effort to expand the Ottoman empire after more than 150 years of war. By mid-July, his 100,000-man army had besieged Vienna (guarded by 10,000 Habsburg soldiers), following in the footsteps of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1529. By September, he had taken a portion of the walls and appeared to be on his way to victory.

But on September 12, 1683, the Austrians and their Polish allies under King Jan Sobieski took advantage of dissent within the Turkish military command and poor disposition of his troops, winning the Battle of Vienna with a devastating flank attack led by Sobieski's Polish cavalry. The Turks retreated into Hungarymarker, never again to threaten Central Europe.

The defeat cost Mustafa his position, and ultimately, his life. On December 25, 1683, Kara Mustafa was executed in Belgrademarker by the order of the commander of the Janissaries. He suffered death by strangulation with a silk cord which was the capital punishment inflicted on high-ranking persons in the Ottoman Empire. His last words were, in effect, "Make sure you tie the knot right." Mustafa's head was presented to Sultan Mehmed IV in a velvet bag.

His headstone was originally in Belgrade. But it was eventually brought to Edirnemarker, the second Ottoman capital. Visitors can still see it today in the city.

Coffee legend

As Mustafa Pasha's army retreated it left several large bags of green beans behind in Vienna. These sacks contained unroasted coffee beans which as legend has it, formed the nucleus from which the Viennese coffee trade began.


See also


  • Goodwin, Jason - Lords of the Horizons (book)
  • Wheatcroft, Andrew The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe,
Basic Books.

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