Köprülü Mehmed Pasha


Köprülü Mehmed Pasha
Köprülü Mehmed Pasha

Köprülü Mehmed Pasha (in Albanian: Mehmed Pashë Kypriljoti or Qyprilliu, also called: Mehmed Pashá Rojniku) (born at 1575, 1578 or 1583 in Rojnik, Berat, Albania– 31 October 1661 Edirne), was the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1656 until his death. He was the first leader and founder of the Albanian Köprülü noble dynasty/family.

Life

He was recruited as a part of the devshirmeh system and was trained in the palace school. He eventually rose to the rank of pasha and was appointed the beylerbey (provincial governor) of the Trebizond Vilayet in 1644. Later he was to rule the provinces of Eğri in 1647, of Karamanid in 1648, and of Anadolu in 1650. He served as vizier of the divan for one week in 1652 before being dismissed due to the constant power struggle within the palace. He retired to an estate in the small town of Köprü in northern Anatolia that he had inherited from his father-in-law. The town became the seat of his family, and the family came to be called as Köprülü, meaning 'from Köprü'. It is called Vezirköprü today to the family's honor.

In 1656 the political situation in Ottoman Empire was very critical. The war in Crete against the Venetians was still continuing. The Ottoman Navy under Captain-of-Seas Kenan Pasha on May 1656 was defeated by the Venetian and Maltese navy at Battle of Dardanelles (1656) and the Venetian navy continued the blockade of the Canakkale Straits cutting the Ottoman army at Crete from Istanbul, the state capital. There was a political plot to unseat the reigning Sultan Mehmed IV led by important viziers including the Grand Mufti (Seyhulislam) Mesud Effendi. This plot was discovered and the plotters were executed or exiled. The Mother Sultana Turhan Hatice conducted consultations and the most favored candidate for the post of Grand Vizier came out as the old and retired but experienced Koprulu Mehmed Pasha. Koprulu Mehmed Pasha was offered the post of Grand Vizier but he would only accept it if he was given extraordinary powers and political rule without interference, even from the highest authority of the Sultan. His conditions were accepted and he was appointed Grand Vizier by the Sultan Mehmed IV on 15 September 1656.

As the Grand Vizier, his first task was to advise Sultan Mehmed IV to conduct a life of hunts and traveling around the Balkans and to reside in the old capital of Edirne, thus stop his political interventions. In 4 January 1657 the household cavalry Sipahi troops in Istanbul started a rebellion and this was cruelly suppressed by Koprulu Mehmed Pasha with the help of janissary troops. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Istanbul was proven to be in treasonous contacts with the enemies of Ottoman state and Koprulu Mehmed Pasha approved of his execution.

Against external enemies of the Empire Mehmed Köprülü was also quite successful. He started on a military expeditions against the Venetian blockade of Dardanelles Straits. The Ottoman navy had a victory against Venice in the Battle of the Dardanelles on 19 July 1657. This allowed Ottomans to regain some of the Aegean islands, including Tenedos and Limni (15 November) and to open the sea-supply routes to the Ottoman Army still conducting the sieges of Crete.

Koprulu Mehmed Pasha then directed his attention to internal rebellions in Anatolia and started on a military campaign in Anatolia. He suppressed the revolts some of the Anatolian governors of provinces, most notably the revolt of Abaza Hasan Pasha, the ruler of Aleppo and of Ahmed Pasha, Kenan Pasha, Ali Mirza Pasha, Ferhad Pasha, Mustafa Pasha in 1658–1659.

In 1658 he conducted a successful campaign in Transylvania where he defeated the disloyal vassal prince, George II Rákóczi (György Rákóczi), and had him replaced. He also annexed Yanova (Jenö) on 1 August 1660 and Várad on 27 August.

In July 1660 there was a big fire in Istanbul (the Ayazmakapi Fire) causing great damage to persons and buildings, leading later to a food scarcity and plague. Koprulu Mehmed Pasha became personally involved in the reconstruction affairs. The honesty and integrity in conducting state affairs by Koprulu Mehmed Pasha is shown by an episode in this task [see Sakaoglu (1999) p.281). The burnt-out Jewish quarters from the Ayazmakapi Fire were decided to be compulsorily purchased by the state. The Jewish merchants with the aim of changing this policy offered the Grand Vizier a very large monetary bribe from their 'Accidents and Emergencies Fund'. This was refused by the Grand Vizier and those who offered the bribes were punished.

Koprulu Mehmed Pasha died in Edirne on 31 October 1661. During his short extraordinary rule as the Grand Vizier from 1656 to 1661 the Ottoman Empire had regained some of its former prestige and power internally and externally. Koprulu Mehmed's victories in Transylvania would push the Ottoman border closer to Austria. He was succeeded as Grand Vizier by his son, Köprülü Fazıl Ahmet Pasha.

Political offices
Preceded by
Boynuyaralı Mehmed Pasha
Ottoman Grand Vizier
15 September 1656 – 31 October 1661
Succeeded by
Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed

References

  • N. Sakaoğlu (1999), Bu Mülkün Sultanları, İstanbul: Oğlak.

See also


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