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Murad IV Ghazi (Ottoman Turkish: مراد رابع Murād-i rābi‘) (July 26/27, 1612February 8/9, 1640) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623 to 1640, known both for restoring the authority of the state and for the brutality of his methods. Murad IV was born in Istanbulmarker, the son of Sultan Ahmed I (1603–17) and the ethnic Greek Valide Sultan Kadinefendi Kösem Sultan (also known as Mahpeyker), originally named Anastasia. Brought to power by a palace conspiracy in 1623, he succeeded his mad uncle Mustafa I (1617–18, 1622–23). He was only eleven when he took the throne. He married Aisha, without issue.

Early Reign

Murad IV was for a long time under the control of his relatives and during his early years as Sultan, his mother, Kösem Sultan, essentially ruled through him. The Empire fell into anarchy; the Safavid Empire invaded Iraqmarker almost immediately, Northern Anatoliamarker erupted in revolts, and in 1631 the Janissaries stormed the palace and killed the Grand Vizier, among others. Murad IV feared suffering the fate of his elder brother, Osman II (1618–22), and decided to assert his power.

Absolute Rule and Imperial Policies

Murad IV tried to quell the corruption that had grown during the reigns of previous Sultans, and that had not been checked while his mother was ruling through proxy. He addressed this corruption with several policy changes, such as limiting wasteful spending.

Murad IV also banned alcohol, tobacco, and coffee in Istanbulmarker. He ordered execution for breaking this ban. He would patrol the streets and taverns of İstanbul in civilian clothes at night, policing the enforcement of his command. If, while patrolling the streets, he saw a subject using tobacco or alcohol, he would kill the person on the spot with his mace.

Military Success

Militarily, Murad IV's reign is most notable for the war against Persia in which Ottoman forces, invaded Azerbaijanmarker, occupied Yerevanmarker, Tabrizmarker and Hamadanmarker, and, in the last great feat of Imperial Ottoman arms, recaptured Baghdadmarker in 1638. The sultan had a famous quote about the fall of Baghdad, "Bağdat'ı almaya çalışmak, Bağdat'ın kendinden daha mı güzeldi ne" ("I guess trying to capture Baghdad was better than Baghdad itself").

Murad IV himself commanded the Ottoman army in the last years of the war, including the final invasion of Mesopotamia, and proved to be an outstanding field commander. He was the last Ottoman Sultan to command an army on the battlefield. During his campaign to Iranmarker, he annihilated all rebels in Anatolia and restored the order of the state. As a result, many local places were given his name by their residents so as to show their gratitude.

The war was concluded by the Treaty of Kasrı Şirin in May 1639, which permanently restored Mesopotamia to the Ottomans. After his return to İstanbul, he ordered respected statesmen of the Empire to prepare a new economic and political project to return to the Empire the old successful days. However, his illness and relatively early death prevented him from implementing his ideas for the Empire.

Physical Power

Murad IV was a huge, tall man and one of the most feared warriors of his time. He was the last Warrior Sultan who led campaigns in front of his army and fought on the battlefield. His physical strength was phenomenal, which is described in detail on the books of Evliya Çelebi. He was especially known for his exceptional strength in wrestling - capable of fighting several opponents at the same time. His favorite weapon was a huge mace, weighing 60 kilograms (132 lbs), which he wielded effortlessly with a single hand . Among his other favourite weapons are a longbow and a large two-handed broadsword weighing more than 50 kilograms (110 lbs). His weapons are today displayed at the Topkapı Palace Museummarker in Istanbul, intact and well preserved.

Death

Murad IV, who had outlawed alcohol, died in Istanbulmarker at the age of 27 from cirrhosis of the liver in 1640. On his deathbed he ordered the execution of his brother, Ibrahim (1640–48), which would have meant the end of the Ottoman line, but the order was not carried out. Murad possibly gave this order because he thought that Ibrahim, who was mentally ill, was not capable of being a good emperor.

Notes

  1. E. van Donzel, Islamic Desk Reference: Compiled from the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Brill Academic Publishers, p 219
  2. Robert Bator, Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul, Runestone Press, p 42
  3. Douglas Arthur Howard, The History of Turkey, Greenwood Press, p 195
  4. Akın Alıcı, Hayata Yön Veren Sözler, 2004


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