The Grand Seraglio. As opposed to Seraglio Minor. Yes that Grand Seraglio with the violence, the death and the sex fueled only the passion thatsix thousand concubines can command and the wayward restlessness of the Janissary guards. Frontier justice and Biblical style perturbations way back when when the long arm and sword of the Ottoman reach extended into the Western world. Of course after a surge and purge of conquest, the Sultans became more interested in dallying around the Seraglio fighting off boredom with good, song, dance, palace intrigue and women than in fighting what were then viewed as less civilized and more barbaric peoples than themselves. It was a world unto its own, its own insularity in part, the cause of its demise. For the slaves and the less adroit aspirants to the throne, it was the best of times it was the worst of….
Ahmed I, the son of Mohammed III, was the first Sultan to break the Law of Fratricide. sort of. He refused to eliminate his brother Mustafa because Mustafa was half-witted, and all half-wits are, according to the Koran, especially beloved of Allah. Instead of killing him, Ahmed had him shut up in a small, two-story building, in the inner regions of the harem, which came to be known as the Cage.
When Ahmed died in 1617, Mustafa, under the Law of Succession, inherited the throne. But when it became clear that he was not up to running the empire, and functioning as Sultan, he was returned to the Cage and Ahmed’s fourteen-year-old son Osmon was enthroned in his place. All hell broke loose; civil disorder broke out that the Law of Fratricide had been designed to prevent. The janissaries overturned their kettles, and for six years there was a terrible struggle between factions for Mustafa and factions for Osman. Before order had been restored, both of them had been murdered.
The next Sultan, Murad IV, who came to the throne at twelve, put things to rights by liquidating four thousand fractious janissaries and closing the coffeehouses, which had become nests of spies and plotters. Prohibition, already a church and state law, he emphasized by pouring boiling lead down the throats of drinkers. He also, for pleasure, used to cut an ass in two with one sword stroke.
The ferocious Sultan was completely under the control of his mother, a bloody old lady Kiusem. Kiusem persuaded Murad not to liquidate his younger brother Ibrahim but to keep him instead in the Cage; so that when Murad died in 1640 Ibrahim succeeded him, and Kiusem continued as Queen Mother and the power behind the throne.
When Sultan Ahmed I (1590-1617) came to the throne in 1603, he left his 11-year-old brother Mustafa in the “Cage”, and he had a wall built to block the entrance. Mustafa was possibly already mentally retarded before he was incarcerated and the psychosocial depravation he experienced in the “Cage” can only have worsened his mental condition. He is described as a “paranoid”, because he was overwhelmed by fear that he would be deposed or murdered – in itself no strange behaviour considering his circumstances….
Sultan Ahmed I used to take a different woman to his bed each night, although he subsequently favoured two women: Hadice and Kösem (1589-1651). Hadice was the mother of Osman II (1604-1622) and Kösem gave birth to Murad IV (1612-1640), Bayezid and Mad Ibrahim (1615-1648). When Ahmed died of typhus in November 1617, at the age of 28, his most powerful concubine, Kösem, opposed the succession of his eldest son, Osman, because she was afraid that Osman would execute her sons. It was due to her influence that the completely insane Mustafa was released from the “Cage” and declared Sultan. It was said that he had visions and some saw in him a holy man. However, it soon became clear that Mustafa was incapable of governing. He appointed two favourite young pages as governors of Cairo and Damascus and replaced one of his high officers by a farmer who had offered him something to drink when he was out hunting.Read More:http://madmonarchs.guusbeltman.nl/madmonarchs/mustafa1/mustafa1_bio.htm