Author Topic: 'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire  (Read 1043 times)

Offline Vetus Ordo

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'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire

In Daily Sabah.

Succession to the Ottoman throne was always an important occasion for Turks to celebrate. Although the ceremonies have changed throughout history, the ritual has not lost its significance.



A painting by an anonymous artist portrays the succession ceremony of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II.

Turks have celebrated the change and succession of their new leader with different ceremonies throughout history. In the pre-Islamic era, they would lift and lower the Khan who succeeded to the throne nine times. Then, the Khan would offer kumis to his comrades. The Ottomans, however, overhauled transformed the rituals of succession of a new sultan, making it even more glorious.

Cannons were fired

According to the Ottoman administrative tradition, all sons of a sultan had equal rights to succeed the throne until the end of the 16th century. The sons were sent to various sanjaks or administrative divisions in Anatolia so they could gain experience in statecraft. When the sultan died, the knell of the sultan on the throne was reported to his sons through messengers sent by the grand vizier.

The son who was chosen came to Üsküdar would be welcomed by state dignitaries with galleys and boats. While the new ruler would pass from Üsküdar to Eminönü on a galley, ceremonial cannon shots would be fired from Tophane. After landing from the galley, the new sultan would mount a horse and go to the Topkapı Palace in the company of thousands of soldiers and court officials.

As the procession advanced through the city, sergeants would applaud and pray. They would shout: "May God be with you. Be blessed our Sultan and live long with your state. Do not be proud because God is greater than you."

However, after the reign of Sultan Mehmed III, the sons of the sultans would not be sent to sanjaks, thus the accession ceremonies were renewed. In this period, the grand viziers would be informed about the death of a sultan through the head of the palace harem or the head of the eunuchs, and report the situation to the other state dignitaries in Istanbul. The dignitaries would arrive at the palace, wearing mourning clothes, and start to wait for the new sultan at the Imperial Council or Circumcision Room.

The agha of the harem would go to the apartment of the son who would ascend the throne in Şimşirlik, which means "cage," where the sultan's sons stayed. The agha would inform the successor about the death of his father and invite him to take the throne.

The new sultan, after visiting his father's body, would give one arm to the Agha of the harem and the other to the Agha of the armorer while going to the Apartment of Hırka-i Şerif, the cloak worn by Prophet Muhammad. As a tradition, the grand vizier, Shaykh al-Islam, the agha of the harem and some other court aghas would also pay homage to the sultan.

Homage ceremony

After the first, private homage, the preparation for the public homage would start. Teşrifatçıbaşı, who was the protocol official, would invite people to the ceremony of accession to the throne. An invitation would also be sent to the new sultan. Then, the throne would be installed in front of the Gate of Felicity (Babüssaade). When the teşrifatçıbaşı arranged everyone in accordance with their position, the agha of the gate of felicity would inform the sultan that all the preparations were complete.

The agha of the harem would take one arm of the sultan and the agha of the gate of felicity and agha of the armorer would take the other. They would walk together to the throne and the new sultan would wave at the people gathered at the square.

Starting from Nakibüleşraf, the chief of the Prophet's descendants, everyone would pay homage to the deceased sultan. The ceremony would end with the teşrifatçı paying homage.

After that ceremony at the palace, the new sultan would prepare for a procession, his first public event. Ottoman sultans have worn the swords of the Prophet Muhammad, Caliph Umar, and Khalid Ibn al-Walid. Osman I and Selim I, known as Selim the Grim. Murad IV wore the swords of the Prophet and Selim I.

Sword girding ceremony in the Ottoman Empire is the equivalent of the coronation ceremony in European kingdoms.

Accession announcement



Tughra, official signature, of Suleiman the Magnificent.

Sultans who succeeded the throne were giving "cülus" money to soldiers and state dignitaries as a bonus from them during the entering the office and increasing their salaries. After the accession, they prepared a seal called "mühr-i hümayun" in their names. One of these seals was given to the old grand vizier who was appointed again in the new government or the new grand vizier appointed by the sultan. The Sultan declared his accession, sending an order with his tughra (Ottoman sultan's signature) to the other countries. It was called the accession announcement. Ambassadors from foreign countries came to congratulate the accession and were welcomed with ceremonies.

The first Friday prayer of the sultan was presented with a great ceremony. Generally, he performed the prayer at the Hagia Sophia Mosque. The public who wanted to see the new sultan attended this ceremony.

Accession festivals

The accession of the new sultan was announced to the public with cannon shots and announcers touring the city. Orders were sent to the other regions of the country about the situation. After the telegraph started to be used by the Ottomans, it was also utilized for the accession announcements. With the news of the accession, large festivals were organized all around the empire. After the period of Mahmud II, the anniversary of the accessions started to be celebrated with festivals. Since the beginnings of Sultan Abdülaziz period, the anniversary of the accessions was officially celebrated with the ceremonies organized at the Dolmabahçe Palace. In the 25th accession anniversary of Abdülhamid II, every place within the empire was decorated with clock towers.

Bayezid II

After the death of Mehmed II, known as Mehmed the Conqueror, soldiers revolted and killed the supporters of Cem Sultan, plundering Istanbul. The supporters of Şehzade Bayezid made Şehzade Korkud, the son of Bayezid, succeed the throne by proxy until the sultan came and they presented him at streets. The messenger who went to Cem Sultan was caught on the way and killed by Anatolian Governor Sinan Pasha, who was the father-in-law of Şehzade Bayezid. The death of the messenger prevented Cem Sultan's being informed about the death of his father and coming to the capital city quickly. Bayezid II, who came to Istanbul after a nine-day journey with 4000 servants after hearing the knell of his father, was welcomed with an enthusiasm in Istanbul. He entered the city in his mourning clothes and after landing gave money to soldiers. The notables of the city and artisans rolled out precious carpets and fabrics and poured plates of gold and silver along the path of the sultan. The Janissaries were waiting for the sultan, who came to the new palace, Topkapı Palace, through the Imperial Gate, which is the main entrance door. At the Imperial Council, which met on May 20, 1481, Bayezid II officially took over the throne from Şehzade Korkud.
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.
 
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Offline mikemac

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Groan.  Are you a Muslim Vetus?
Like John Vennari (RIP) said "Why not just do it?  What would it hurt?"
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Groan.  Are you a Muslim Vetus?

Me thinks this Southwest Iberian is attempting to take this forum down with these posts. As these threads turn up in feeds and searches, the malignants will start spamming. Down with this! Vienna, September 11, 1683. Open up some Sobieski on this sum  . . .     .
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
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Offline Fleur-de-Lys

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Uh-oh, Vetus, they’re on to you. I told you this plan to bring down the forum by posting threads on history and science would never work.
 
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Well, I'm headstrong so I'll keep trying to bring the forum down by reviewing the succession practices of the Ottoman dynasty.

In the early period (from the 14th through the late 16th centuries), the Ottomans practiced open succession, or what historian Donald Quataert has described as "survival of the fittest, not eldest, son." During their father's lifetime, all of the adult sons of the reigning sultan would hold provincial governorships. Accompanied and mentored by their mothers, they would gather supporters while ostensibly following a Ghazi ethos. Upon the death of their father, the sons would fight among themselves until one emerged triumphant. How remote a province the son governed was of great significance. The closer the region that a particular son was in charge of, the better the chances were of that son succeeding simply because he would be told of the news of his father's death and be able to get to Constantinople first and declare himself Sultan. Thus, a father could hint at whom he preferred by giving his favourite son a closer governorship. Bayezid II, for instance, had to fight his brother Cem Sultan in the 1480s for the right to rule. Occasionally, the half-brothers would even begin the struggle before the death of their father. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), strife among his sons Selim and Mustafa caused enough internal turmoil that Suleiman ordered the death of Mustafa and Bayezid, leaving Selim II the sole heir.

With Suleiman and Selim, the favourite concubine (haseki) of the Sultan achieved new prominence. Gaining power within the harem, the favourite was able to manoeuvre to ensure the succession for one of her sons. This led to a short period of effective primogeniture. However, unlike the earlier period, when the sultan had already defeated his brothers (and potential rivals for the throne) in battle, these sultans had the problem of many half-brothers who could act as the focus for factions that could threaten the sultan. Thus, to prevent attempts upon his throne, the sultan practiced fratricide upon ascending the throne. The practice of fratricide, first employed by Mehmed II, soon became widespread. Both Murad III and his son Mehmed III had their half-brothers murdered. The killing of all the new sultan's brothers and half-brothers (which were usually quite numerous) was traditionally done by manual strangling with a silk cord. As the centuries passed, the ritual killing was gradually replaced by lifetime solitary confinement in the kafes ("Golden Cage"), a room in the Imperial Harem from where the sultan's brothers could never escape, unless perchance they became next in line to the throne. Some had already become mentally unstable by the time they were asked to reign.

Mehmed III, however, was the last sultan to have previously held a provincial governorship. Sons now remained within the imperial harem until the death of their father. This denied them not only the ability to form powerful factions capable of usurping their father, but also denied them the opportunity to have children while their father remained alive. Thus when Mehmet's son came to the throne as Ahmed I, he had no children of his own. Moreover, as a minor, there was no evidence he could have children. This had the potential to create a crisis of succession and led to a gradual end to fratricide. Ahmed had some of his brothers killed, but not Mustafa (later Mustafa I). Similarly, Osman II allowed his half-brothers Murad and Ibrahim to live. This led to a shift in the 17th century from a system of primogeniture to one based on agnatic seniority, in which the eldest male within the dynasty succeeded, also to guarantee adult sultans and prevent both fratricides as well as the sultanate of women. Thus, Mustafa succeeded his brother Ahmed; Suleiman II and Ahmed II succeeded their brother Mehmed IV before being succeeded in turn by Mehmed's son Mustafa II. Agnatic seniority explains why from the 17th century onwards a deceased sultan was rarely succeeded by his own son, but usually by an uncle or brother. It also meant that potential rulers had to wait a long time in the kafes before ascending the throne, hence the old age of certain sultans upon their enthronement. Although attempts were made in the 19th century to replace agnatic seniority with primogeniture, they were unsuccessful, and seniority was retained until the abolition of the sultanate in 1922.
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.
 
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Here's a rare video of the enthronement ceremony of Mehmed VI, the 36th and last sultan of the Ottoman Empire. In the video you can see the actual throne where the sultan was girded with the sword of Osman. The girding was held at the famous Eyüp Mosque in Istanbul.

Quote from: Wikipedia
Until the late 19th century, non-Muslims were banned from entering the Eyüp Mosque and witnessing the girding ceremony. The first to depart from this tradition was Mehmed V, whose girding ceremony was open to people of different faiths. Held on 10 May 1909, it was attended by representatives of all the religious communities present in the empire, notably the Sheikh ul-Islam, Greek Patriarch, the chief rabbi and a representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The fact that non-Muslims were allowed to see the ceremony enabled The New York Times to write an extremely detailed account of it. Mehmed V's brother and successor, Mehmed VI, whose girding ceremony was held on 4 July 1918, went even further by allowing the ceremony to be filmed. Since he was the last reigning Ottoman sultan, this is the only such ceremony that was ever put on film.

DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.
 
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Offline Sempronius

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I think he is aiming for a job at the Vatican. Chief of the ecumenical departement or something
 
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Offline Fleur-de-Lys

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I think he is aiming for a job at the Vatican. Chief of the ecumenical departement or something

I could see Vetus wearing a cardinal’s hat.
 

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I think he is aiming for a job at the Vatican. Chief of the ecumenical departement or something

I could see Vetus wearing a cardinal’s hat.

Are you that French professor who also scribe a good Teutonic note?
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 

Offline mikemac

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I think he is aiming for a job at the Vatican. Chief of the ecumenical departement or something

I could see Vetus wearing a cardinal’s hat.

Yeah, backwards.
Like John Vennari (RIP) said "Why not just do it?  What would it hurt?"
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https://lifepetitions.com/petition/consecrate-russia-to-the-immaculate-heart-of-mary-petition

"We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete." Benedict XVI May 13, 2010

"Tell people that God gives graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to Her." Saint Jacinta Marto

The real nature of hope is “despair, overcome.”
Source
 
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Offline Miriam_M

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Re: 'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2019, 01:14:59 PM »
Well, I'm headstrong so I'll keep trying to bring the forum down by reviewing the succession practices of the Ottoman dynasty.

Because that's definitely so relevant to the Traditional Catholic movement in the late 20th and now 21st centuries.

Not.
 
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Re: 'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2019, 06:36:00 PM »
Well, I'm headstrong so I'll keep trying to bring the forum down by reviewing the succession practices of the Ottoman dynasty.

Because that's definitely so relevant to the Traditional Catholic movement in the late 20th and now 21st centuries.

Not.

You don't seem to realize two simple concepts:

1. Irony;
2. What a History Subforum is for.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 06:41:36 PM by Vetus Ordo »
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.
 

Online Heinrich

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Re: 'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2019, 06:41:56 PM »
We'll give you the history point. A concession with a caveat: what is the the spam like and hintingly effusive point of so much Islam this, Muslim that?
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Re: 'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2019, 06:58:16 PM »
what is the the spam like and hintingly effusive point of so much Islam this, Muslim that?

Sharing articles of historical interest in the subforum created for that very purpose does not fit the definition of "spam."

If you are not interested in Islamic topics, that is fine. You are not required to comment on them but be so kind as to let other people participate without derailing the thread. If you want to discuss other historical topics, feel free to start other threads of your own.

Islamic religion, history and culture was part of my academic formation and it is one of my several intellectual interests.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 07:02:36 PM by Vetus Ordo »
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.
 
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Online Heinrich

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Re: 'May God Be with the Sultan' – Succession Ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2019, 06:54:32 PM »
what is the the spam like and hintingly effusive point of so much Islam this, Muslim that?

Sharing articles of historical interest in the subforum created for that very purpose does not fit the definition of "spam."

If you are not interested in Islamic topics, that is fine. You are not required to comment on them but be so kind as to let other people participate without derailing the thread. If you want to discuss other historical topics, feel free to start other threads of your own.

Islamic religion, history and culture was part of my academic formation and it is one of my several intellectual interests.

When did this formation take place? We have "known" you going on 5 - 7 years now and other than your foray into Anglicanism, you have never given so much determined effort to share your intellectual felicity.

Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.