the Turks. The young turks,the old turks, they were all wild; from the quiet tranquility of the garden to the live action slicing and dicing of the human body, there was rarely a dull moment in the Ottoman Turkish empire. You had to live with your wits, but even that was stretched to the limit and hiding in the harem was only a temporary respite. But within all the hustle and bustle of the Grand Seraglio the Sultans were nonetheless groping about in their own unique way for an answer to a very old question, the same on that the ancient Egyptians pondered: Can absolute power bring absolute bliss?
…The Law of Fratricide claimed the lives of both Mustafa and Osman before order had been restored. A tie game called off after murder fatigue. The next Sultan, Murad IV, who came to the throne at twelve, put things to rights by liquidating four thousand fractious janissaries who probably merited something at least approximating death and closing the coffehouses which had become nests of spies and plotters. Prohibition, already a state law, was put to public example by pouring boiling lead down the throats of drinkers. He also, for pleasure, used to cut an ass in two with one sword stroke.
This pathological maniac, criminally insane was totally under the control of his mother, a scheming rat named Kiusem. Kiusem persuaded Murad not to liquidate his younger brother Ibrahim but to keep him instead in a Cage; so that when Murad died in 1640 Ibrahim succeeded him and Kiusem continued as Queen Mother and the power behind the throne.
Ibrahim made his brother look like Mother Teresa. He had been in the cage since babyhood and ever since it had dawned on him that he was a younger brother, he lived in daily expectation of mutes with bowstrings coming to dispatch him. Therefore, when the Viziers came to proclaim him Sultan, the first thing he did was to pile all the furniture and anything else including the kitchen sink in front of the door. Once convinced that he was not to be executed, he indulged himself in all manner of crazy and criminal whims. He built a kiosk and lined it with sable, he threw gold sequins to goldfish in the palace lake, he festooned his beard with precious stones, and one fine morning had all three hundred of his concubines put into a sack with a stone at their feet and pitched into the Sea of Marmara.
Ibrahim made the General of the Janissaries a bath attendant while appointing an itinerant street musician to the lofty position of Lord Chamberlain. Even Evliya Effendi, a staunch admirer of Sultans was obliged to write:
” Man proposes, but God disposes.” I have since heard from the pearl-shedding lips of my worthy lord, Kara Mustafi’i, that had God spared Murâd but six months longer, the whole of the infidels would have been reduced to the capitation tax. The Ragusians came forward as mediators for the infidels of Malta and Spain, stipulating on the part of the former to give up the island of Malta, and on the part of the latter, the Red-
apple (Rome). But fate had otherwise decreed.
Ibrahim, the youngest of Sultân Ahmed’s seven sons, ascended the throne in the year 1049 (1639). He was then twenty-five years old ; but not very intelligent….