Kara Mustafa Pasha
Kara Mustafa Pasha
Headstone of Kara Mustafa, Edirne, Turkey

Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha (Born 1634/1635 – died 25 December 1683) was an Ottoman military leader and grand vizier who was a central character in the empire's last attempts at expansion into both Central Europe and Eastern Europe.


His Name

In contemporary sources, Mustafa is universally described as both greedy and villainous. The veracity of this is naturally open to conjecture, although his nickname of Kara (Turkish for "black" or "handsome") can certainly be interpreted in this way.

Born to Turkish parents in Merzifon, he was adopted into the powerful Albanian Köprülü family at a young age and served as a messenger to Damascus for his brother-in-law, the grand vizier Ahmed Köprülü. He directed in the name of Köprülü family's mukata' or tımar fields in Merzifon. After distinguishing himself, Mustafa became a vizier in his own right and, by 1663 or 1666, Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy).

His Official Life

He served as a commander of ground troops in a war against Poland in 1672, negotiating a settlement that added the province of Podolia to the empire. The victory enabled the Ottomans to transform the Cossack regions of the southern Ukraine into a protectorate. In 1676, when the grand vizier died, Mustafa succeeded him.

He was less successful in combating a Cossack rebellion that began in 1678. After some initial victories, intervention by Russia turned the tide and forced the Turks to conclude peace in 1681, effectively returning the Cossack lands to Russian rule with the exception of a few forts on the Dnieper and Southern Bug rivers.

Battle of Vienna

In 1683, he launched a campaign northward into Austria in a last effort to expand the Ottoman empire after more than 150 years of war. By mid-July, his 100,000-man army had besieged Vienna (guarded by 10,000 Habsburg soldiers), following in the footsteps of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1529. By September, he had taken a portion of the walls and appeared to be on his way to victory.

But on 12 September 1683, the Austrians and their Polish allies under King Jan Sobieski took advantage of dissent within the Turkish military command and poor disposition of his troops, winning the Battle of Vienna with a devastating flank attack led by Sobieski's Polish cavalry. The Turks retreated into Hungary, and then leaving the kingdom for retaking by the Austrians in 1686.

The defeat cost Mustafa his position, and ultimately, his life. On 25 December 1683, Kara Mustafa was executed in Belgrade by the order of the commander of the Janissaries. He suffered death by strangulation with a silk cord which was the capital punishment inflicted on high-ranking persons in the Ottoman Empire. His last words were, in effect, "Make sure you tie the knot right." Mustafa's head was presented to Sultan Mehmed IV in a velvet bag.


It was rumored that his remains were both in Turkey and in Austria, but it has never been proven. The Austrian Government announced the discovery of a skull thought to be the Grand Vizir's, and also announced they would bury the skull unless the Turkish Government raised a claim. His headstone was originally in Belgrade, but is now found in Edirne, the second capital of Ottoman Empire.

The Foundation of Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha was one of the biggest foundations ever founded both in Ottoman Empire and Turkey. According to the official records; it was last managed by the grandsons of Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha; District Governor Ahmed Asım Bey (Born in Istanbul,1844). Ahmed Asım Bey's predecessor was his son; Mehmed Nebil Bey (Born in Istanbul, 1888) who also served as a governor during Ottoman Empire in Syria. The Foundation was finally managed by Mehmed Nebil Bey's son; famous Turkish painter Doğan Yılmaz Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu (Famous as Yılmaz Merzifonlu) until 1976. The Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha's last name ended with the marriage of Doğan Yılmaz Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu's one and only daughter's ("Mrs. Abide Tuğçe" (Currently; Mit) who carries Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha's mother's first name) marriage. Family tree can be chased via T.R. Prime Ministry Directorate General of Foundations. [1]

Coffee legend

As Mustafa Pasha's army retreated it left several large bags of green beans behind in Vienna. These sacks contained unroasted coffee beans which as legend has it, formed the nucleus from which the Viennese coffee trade began.


Political offices
Preceded by
Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed
Ottoman Grand Vizier
19 October 1676 – 25 December 1683
Succeeded by
Kara İbrahim Pasha


See also


  • Goodwin, Jason - Lords of the Horizons (book)
  • Wheatcroft, Andrew The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe,

Basic Books.

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