Ibrahim I

Ibrahim I (in Arabic ابراهيم الأول) (November 5, 1615ndash August 12, 1648) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640 until 1648. He was unofficially called Ibrahim the Mad (Turkish: "Deli İbrahim" or "İbrahim Deli") due to his mental condition.

One of the most famous Ottoman Sultans, he was released from the Kafes and succeeded his brother Murad IV (1623–40) in 1640, though against the wishes of Murad IV, who had ordered him killed upon his own death. Murad IV had himself succeeded their older brother Osman II in 1622, and had ordered his three other brothers executed. Ibrahim I was allowed to live because he was to mad to be a threat. Ibrahim brought the empire almost to collapse in a very short space of time — paralleled only perhaps, by the rule of Phocas (602–610) in the Byzantine Empire. Probably mentally unstable, he is claimed to have suffered from neurasthenia, and was also depressed after the death of his brother. His reign was essentially that of his Greek [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9046105/Kosem-Sultan Kösem Sultan - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] mother, Kösem Sultan, who was no longer hindered in controlling the empire as she willed.

He is known to have had an obsession with obese women, urging his agents to find the fattest woman possible. A candidate was tracked down in Georgia or Armenia who weighed over weighed around 330 pounds and was given the pet name Sechir Para ("Sugar Cube"). Ibrahim was so pleased with her that he gave her a government pension and (allegedly) a governorship. When he heard an rumor his concubines were compromised by another man, he had 280 members of his harem drowned in the Bosporus Sea. He was seen feeding coins to fish living in the palace's pool. These feats earned him the nickname Mad.

Ibrahim at first stayed away from politics, but eventually he took to raising and executing a number of viziers. A war with Venice was fought, and in spite of the decline of "La Serenissima", Venetian ships won victories throughout the Aegean, capturing Tenedos (1646), the gateway to the Dardanelles. Ibrahim's rule grew ever more unpredictable. Eventually, he was deposed in a coup led by the Grand Mufti. There is an apocryphal story to the effect that the Grand Mufti acted in response to Ibrahim's decision to drown all 280 members of his harem, but there is other evidence to suggest that at least two of Ibrahim's concubines survived him (particularly Turhan Hatice, who was responsible for the death three years later of Kösem, then serving as regent for Ibrahim's son by Hatice, Mehmed IV. Chances are this story was circulated after the coup to silence those who for whatever reason preferred a mad sultan.


*"The World's Most Infamous Crimes and Criminals". New York: Gallery Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8317-9677-4

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