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Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha

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Title: Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha  
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Subject: Suleiman the Magnificent, Greek Muslims, Siege of Güns, Siege of Vienna, Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–55)
Collection: 1494 Births, 1536 Deaths, 16Th-Century Executions by the Ottoman Empire, 16Th-Century Greek People, 16Th-Century Ottoman Grand Viziers, Converts to Islam from Eastern Orthodoxy, Damats, Devşirme, Executed Greek People, Executed Ottoman People, Former Greek Orthodox Christians, Grand Viziers of Suleiman the Magnificent, Greek Muslims, Greek Slaves of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Governors of Egypt, Ottoman People of Greek Descent, Ottoman People of the Ottoman–persian Wars, Pashas, People from Preveza (Regional Unit), Seraskers, Suleiman the Magnificent
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Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha

Pargalı · Frenk · Makbul · Maktul · Damat
Engraving of Ibrahim Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
27 June 1523 – 14 March 1536
Monarch Suleiman I
Preceded by Piri Mehmed Pasha
Succeeded by Ayas Mehmed Pasha
Ottoman Governor of Egypt
In office
Monarch Suleiman I
Preceded by Güzelce Kasım Pasha
Succeeded by Güzelce Kasım Pasha
Personal details
Born 1493
Parga, Republic of Venice
Died 15 March 1536
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Nationality Ottoman
Spouse(s) Hatice Sultan
Children Hanım Sultan
Fülane Sultan
Religion Islam, previously Orthodox Christianity
Ethnicity Greek

Pargalı İbrahim Paşa ("Ibrahim Pasha of Parga"; 1493, Parga, Republic of Venice – 15 March 1536, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire), also known as Frenk İbrahim Paşa ("the Westerner"), Makbul İbrahim Paşa ("the Favorite"), which later changed to Maktul İbrahim Paşa ("the Executed") after his execution in the Topkapı Palace, was the first Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire appointed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Ibrahim, born a Christian, was enslaved during his youth. He and Suleiman became close friends as children. In 1523, Suleiman appointed Ibrahim as Grand Vizier to replace Piri Mehmed Pasha, who had been appointed in 1518 by Suleiman's father, the preceding sultan Selim I. Ibrahim remained in office for the next 13 years. He attained a level of authority and influence rivaled by only a handful of other grand viziers of the Empire, but in 1536, he was executed on Suleiman's orders and his property was confiscated by the state.


  • Biography 1
  • In popular media 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Ibrahim was a Greek born to Greek Orthodox Christian parents, in Parga, Epirus, Northern Greece, then part of the Republic of Venice.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

He was the son of a sailor in Parga, and as a child, he was carried off by pirates and sold as a slave to the Manisa Palace in western Anatolia, where Ottoman crown princes (şehzade) were being educated. There, he was befriended by crown prince Suleiman, who was of the same age. Ibrahim received his education at the Ottoman court and became a polyglot and polymath. Upon Suleiman's accession to the Ottoman throne in 1520, he was awarded various posts, the first being the Falconer of the Sultan. Ibrahim proved his skills in numerous diplomatic encounters and military campaigns, and was so rapidly promoted that at one point he begged Suleiman not to promote him too rapidly, for fear of arousing the jealousy and enmity of the other viziers, who expected some of those titles for themselves. Pleased with Ibrahim's display of modesty, Suleiman purportedly swore that he would never be put to death during his reign. After being appointed grand vizier, Ibrahim Pasha continued to receive other additional appointments and titles from the sultan (such as the title of Serasker), and his power in the Ottoman Empire became almost as absolute as his master's.

After his rival Hain Ahmed Pasha, the governor of Egypt, declared himself independent of the Ottoman Empire and was executed in 1524, Ibrahim Pasha traveled south to Egypt in 1525 and reformed the Egyptian provincial civil and military administration system. He promulgated an edict, the Kanunname, outlining his system.[7][8]

Although he married Suleiman's sister, Hatice Sultan, and was as such a bridegroom (Damat) to the Ottoman dynasty, this title is not frequently used by historians in association with him, possibly in order not to confuse him with other grand viziers who were namesakes (Damat Ibrahim Pasha and Nevşehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha). He is usually referred to as "Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha" or "Frenk (the European) Ibrahim Pasha" due to his tastes and manners. Yet another name given to him by his contemporaries was the purposefully oxymoronic "Makbul Maktul" (favorite and killed) Ibrahim Pasha.

Ibrahim Pasha Palace in Sultanahmet, Fatih, now the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

His palace, which still stands on the west side of the Hippodrome in Istanbul, has been converted into the modern-day Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

Draft of the 1536 Treaty negotiated between French ambassador Jean de La Forêt and Ibrahim Pasha, a few days before his execution, expanding to the whole Ottoman Empire the privileges received by France in Egypt from the Mamluks before 1518.

On the diplomatic front, Ibrahim's work with Western Christendom was a complete success. Portraying himself as "the real power behind the Ottoman Empire", Ibrahim used a variety of tactics to negotiate favorable deals with the leaders of the Catholic powers. The Venetian diplomats even referred to him as "Ibrahim the Magnificent", a play on Suleiman's usual sobriquet. In 1533, he convinced Charles V to turn Hungary into an Ottoman vassal state. In 1535, he completed a monumental agreement with Francis I that gave France favorable trade rights within the Ottoman Empire in exchange for joint action against the Habsburgs. This agreement would set the stage for joint Franco-Ottoman naval maneuvers, including the basing of the Ottoman fleet in southern France (in Toulon) during the winter of 1543–1544.

A skilled commander of Suleiman's army, he eventually fell from grace after an imprudence committed during a campaign against the Persian Safavid empire during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–55), when he awarded himself a title including the word "Sultan" (in particular, his adoption of the title Serasker Sultan was seen as a grave affront to Suleiman).[9] Another conflict occurred when Ibrahim and his former mentor, Iskender Çelebi, repeatedly clashed over military leadership and positions during the Safavid war. These incidents launched a series of events which culminated in his execution in 1536, thirteen years after his appointment as grand vizier. (Iskender Çelebi was also executed one year earlier in 1535.) It has also been suggested by a number of sources that Ibrahim Pasha had been a victim of Hürrem Sultan's (the sultan's legal wife) intrigues and rising influence on the sovereign, especially in view of Ibrahim's past support for the cause of Şehzade Mustafa, Suleiman's first son and heir to the throne. Şehzade Mustafa was accused of treason and strangled to death upon an order by his father on 6 October 1553, through a series of plots put in motion by Hürrem Sultan (who wanted one of her sons to become the next sultan, instead of Mustafa who was the son of Mahidevran Sultan).

Although Ibrahim Pasha had long since converted to Islam, he maintained some ties to his Christian roots, even bringing his Christian parents to live with him in the Ottoman capital.[4]

Since Suleiman had sworn not to take Ibrahim's life during his reign, he acquired a fetva from a local religious leader, which permitted him to take back the oath by building a mosque in Constantinople. Suleiman later regretted Ibrahim's execution, and this is reflected in his poems, in which even after 20 years, he stresses topics of amity and trust between friends and often hints on character traits similar to Ibrahim Pasha's.

In popular media

See also


  1. ^ Margaret Rich Greer, Walter Mignolo, Maureen Quilligan. Rereading the Black Legend: the discourses of religious and racial difference in the Renaissance empires., University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-226-30722-0, p. 41: "Ibrahim Pasha, his intimate and grand vezir, a Greek from Parga in Epirus"
  2. ^ Willem Frederik Bakker.Studia Byzantina et Neohellenica Neerlandica. BRILL, 1972. ISBN 978-90-04-03552-2 ,p. 312
  3. ^ Roger Bigelow Merriman.Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566. READ BOOKS, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4437-3145-4, p. 76
  4. ^ a b Walter G. Andrews, Najaat Black, Mehmet Kalpaklı.Ottoman lyric poetry: an anthology. University of Washington Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-295-98595-4, p. 230.
  5. ^ Machiel Kiel. on the Ottoman architecture of the Balkans. Variorum, 1990. ISBN 9780860782766, p. 416.
  6. ^ Ostle, Robin (2008-10-14). Sensibilities of the Islamic Mediterranean: self-expression in a Muslim culture from post-classical times to the present day. I.B. Tauris. p. 75.  
  7. ^ Raymond, André (2001). Cairo: City of History. Translated by Willard Wood (Harvard ed.). Cairo, Egypt; New York: American University in Cairo Press. p. 191.  
  8. ^ Holt, P. M.; Gray, Richard (1975). Fage, J.D.; Oliver, Roland, eds. "Egypt, the Funj and Darfur". The Cambridge History of Africa (London, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press) IV: 14–57.  
  9. ^ Kinross, 230.
Other sources
Political offices
Preceded by
Piri Mehmed Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
27 June 1523 – 14 March 1536
Succeeded by
Ayas Mehmed Pasha
Preceded by
Güzelce Kasım Pasha
Ottoman Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Güzelce Kasım Pasha
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