Selim II

Ottoman Succession box
Sultan_Name=Selim II
image_portrait=II Selim.jpg
Military=Growth of the Ottoman Empire
before=Suleiman I
after=Murad III|years=1566–74

Selim II (Ottoman Turkish: سليم ثانى "Selīm-i sānī", Turkish:"II.Selim") (May 28 1524ndash December 12 1574), also known as "Selim the Sot", was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death. He was a son of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–66) and his favourite wife Roxelana (also known as Hürrem).


After gaining the throne after palace intrigue and fraternal dispute, Selim II became the first Sultan devoid of active military interest and willing to abandon power to his ministers, provided he was left free to pursue his orgies and debauches. Therefore, he became known as Selim the Drunkard or Selim the Sot (Turkish:"Sarhoş Selim"). His Grand Vizier, Mehmed Sokollu, a Serbian devsirme from what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, controlled much of state affairs, and two years after Selim's accession succeeded in concluding at Constantinople an honourable treaty (February 17 1568) with the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian II (1564–76), whereby the Emperor agreed to pay an annual "present" of 30,000 ducats and essentially granted the Ottomans authority in Moldavia and Walachia.

Against Russia Selim was less fortunate, and the first encounter between the Ottoman Empire and her future northern rival gave presage of disaster to come. A plan had been elaborated at Constantinople for uniting the Volga and Don by a canal, and in the summer of 1569 a large force of Janissaries and cavalry were sent to lay siege to Astrakhan and begin the canal works, while an Ottoman fleet besieged Azov. But a sortie of the garrison of Astrakhan drove back the besiegers; a Russian relief army of 15,000 attacked and scattered the workmen and the Tatar force sent for their protection; and finally, the Ottoman fleet was destroyed by a storm. Early in 1570 the ambassadors of Ivan IV of Russia concluded at Constantinople a treaty which restored friendly relations between the Sultan and the Tsar.

Expeditions in the Hejaz and Yemen were more successful, but the conquest of Cyprus in 1571, which provided Selim with his favourite vintage, led to the calamitous naval defeat against Spain and Italian states at Lepanto in the same year, freeing the Mediterranean Sea from corsairs.

The Empire's shattered fleets were soon restored (in just six months; it consisted of about 150 galleys and 8 galleasses) and the Ottomans maintained control of the Mediterranean (1573). In August 1574, months before Selim's death, the Ottomans regained control of Tunisia from Spain who had controlled it since 1572.

Marks of decay

Lord Patrick Kinross' account of Selim's reign is how he starts a chapter of his book called "The Seeds of Decline". He sees the massive outlay for the fleet-rebuilding following the Battle of Lepanto as the start of the Empire's slow decay. Kinross also says that Selim's reputation for drunkenness was solidified in his decision to invade Cyprus rather than supporting the Morisco Revolt in Granada as well as in the manner of his death; Selim died after a period of fever brought on when he drunkenly slipped over on the wet floor of an unfinished bath-house (Kinross 1977, p. 273).


*Patrick Balfour Kinross, "Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire" (1977), ISBN 0-688-08093-6
*John Julius Norwich, "A History of Venice" (1989), ISBN 0679721975

External links

* [ Selim II Tomb]

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