Süleyman I, byname Süleyman the Magnificent or the Lawgiver, Turkish Süleyman Muhteşem orKanuni (born November 1494–April 1495—died September 5/6, 1566, near Szigetvár,Hungary) sultan of the Ottoman Empirefrom 1520 to 1566 who not only undertook bold military campaigns that enlarged his realm but also oversaw the development of what came to be regarded as the most characteristic achievements of Ottoman civilization in the fields of law, literature, art, and architecture.
SULEIMAN I (1494/95–1566; ruled 1520–1566)
SULEIMAN I (1494/95–1566; ruled 1520–1566), tenth Ottoman sultan, born in Trabzon, the son of Hafsa, a Crimean Tatar princess, and the future sultan Selim I (ruled 1512–1520). Under Suleiman, the Ottoman Empire became the Islamic world's Sunni exemplar. Suleiman spent his childhood in Trabzon, where Selim was governor. As a prince, Suleiman himself received the governorship first of Kefe (Fedosiya) and then, in 1513, of Manisa. In 1514–1515 he acted as regent during his father's campaign against Iran. In 1516–1517, he oversaw the defense of Edirne while his father campaigned against the Mamluks in Syria and Egypt.
Suleiman suceeded to the throne in September 1520. In Syria, he immediately suppressed the revolt of a former Mamluk governor, Janberdi Ghazali, and then, using as a pretext the Hungarian maltreatment of his ambassador, he attacked Hungary in 1521, capturing Belgrade. In 1522, he conquered Rhodes, allowing the Knights of St. John to depart freely. In 1526 he invaded Hungary again, defeating and killing King Lajos (Louis II) at Mohács. Following Suleiman's departure, the Hungarian Diet elected János Szapolyai (John Zapolya) as king of Hungary, but later in the year, the Diet of Bratislava elected the Habsburg counter-claimant, Ferdinand of Austria. In 1529, Ferdinand occupied Buda. Suleiman, however, expelled him from Buda, re-enthroned Szapolyai, and unsuccessfully besieged Vienna, the highwater mark of Ottoman expansion efforts. In 1530, Ferdinand again besieged Buda, and Suleiman again invaded, forcing Ferdinand to an agreement that left Szapolyai as king of central and eastern Hungary and himself as king in the west and north, both ruling as Suleiman's tributaries.
The truce freed Suleiman to attack the Shi‘ite Safavids of Iran, for which a series of defections on both sides of the frontier gave a pretext. In 1533, Suleiman's grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha reoccupied Bitlis, whose lord had defected to Shah Tahmasb. Next year he occupied Tabriz and, after the sultan had joined him, Baghdad. By 1536, the sultan had added Baghdad, Erzurum, and, temporarily, Van to his empire. In 1533, recognizing the need to counter the threat especially of Spanish power in the Mediterranean, Suleiman had appointed as admiral the privateer-ruler of Algiers, Hayreddin (Khayr ad-Dīn) Barbarossa, admiral of the Ottoman fleet. The Spanish threat materialized with the conquest of Tunis by Charles V—king ofSpain, Holy Roman emperor, and brother of Ferdinand—in 1535. This was a factor persuading Suleiman to agree in 1536 to an anti-Habsburg alliance with France, which lasted until the Franco-Spanish treaty of 1559.
A proposed Franco-Ottoman campaign in Italy in 1537 failed to materialize. Instead Suleiman unsuccessfully besieged Venetian Corfu. In 1538, by contrast, Barbarossa captured most of the Venetian islands in the Aegean and defeated a combined Spanish, Venetian, and papal fleet in the Gulf of Prevesa. The war ended in 1540, concluding the period of Suleiman's major conquests.
In Hungary, meanwhile, Szapolyai's death activated Ferdinand's claim, and in 1541 and 1542 he besieged Buda. Suleiman responded by converting central Hungary to an Ottoman province andTransylvania in the east to a kingdom under Ottoman suzerainty for Szapolyai's infant son, John Sigismund. In 1543, he led a campaign to Hungary, securing a line of fortresses along the western border. The war ended in 1547, but Ferdinand's claim to Transylvania continued. It was not until 1556, following campaigns in 1551 and 1552 and the Ottoman occupation of Temesvár, that the king and his mother could return to the kingdom. In the Mediterranean, too, the war with the Habsburgs continued. Charles V's failure to capture Algiers in 1541 encouraged Francis I to renew the Ottoman alliance, and in 1543 a Franco-Ottoman force stormed Nice. The Spanish occupation of Monastir and Mahdia on the Tunisian coast in 1550 encouraged further cooperation, but when in 1551, the French fleet failed to appear for a joint campaign, the Ottoman admiral, Sinan Pasha, instead seized Tripoli from the Knights of St. John.
Ottoman expansion in North Africa continued with the capture of Wahran and Bizerta in 1556–1557 and the expulsion of the Spaniards from Jerba in 1560. However, Suleiman's last major naval campaign against the Knights on Malta, in 1565, was a failure.
Immediately after 1547, Suleiman's main concern was the eastern front and Iran. In 1548, the flight of Shah Tahmasb's brother toIstanbul gave Suleiman the opportunity to invade, but again without conquest apart from the recapture of Van. A third Iranian campaign in 1553–1554 was equally unproductive, concluding with the treaty of Amasya in 1555, fixing the borders between the two empires. After 1564, the sultan's attention turned to Hungary again. With the bulk of Ottoman forces at Malta, Ferdinand's son Maximilian pressed his claim to Transylvania: Suleiman's response was to launch a major campaign in 1566. In September 1566 he died during the siege of Szigetvár.
During his reign, Suleiman had added central Hungary, Iraq, and territories in eastern Anatolia, the Aegean, and North Africa to the Ottoman Empire, while from the 1530s his fleets dominated the eastern Mediterranean. The kings of France, Muslim rulers in India, and the sultan of Aceh (Sumatra) sought him as an ally, emphasizing his stature as ruler of a world empire. His reach into the western Mediterranean, however, depended on cooperation with the French and the semiautonomous Algerians. After 1540, Habsburg power in central Europe and the Mediterranean, and the Safavids on his eastern border, together with geographical constraints, limited the scope for further conquest and, in the age of Iberian maritime empires, the Ottoman Empire remained essentially land-based. Despite a memorandum of 1525 urging Suleiman to establish an Ottoman hegemony in the Indian Ocean, efforts to disrupt Portuguese shipping at sea and to dislodge the Portuguese from Diu in 1538 and Hormuz in 1552 were unsuccessful.
Despite incessant warfare, the reign was a period of prosperity in the Ottoman Empire. Tax censuses indicate a rising population, with an increase in the number and size of settlements. The treasury remained in surplus, and the standard of the silver currency relatively stable. There were, however, discontents, particularly in Anatolia, leading to a series of popular revolts in the 1520s. In particular, the Safavid shahs made messianic claims, and their many adherents in the Ottoman East posed a constant threat of rebellion, which the sultan controlled through a network of informers.
Suleiman's reign brought conflict within the dynasty. The royal family reproduced through concubines: the practice of marriage, abandoned after 1450, had served political, not reproductive ends. It had also been customary to limit each concubine to one son, with civil war and fratricide deciding which one was to succeed. As an only son, Suleiman had succeeded to the throne unchallenged. However, early in his reign Suleiman became infatuated with his Slavic concubine Hurrem (known as Roxelanna in the West) who bore him more than one son and, in 1534, became his wife. In 1553, when rivalry for the succession increased, Suleiman, probably with the collusion of Hurrem and her faction, executed Mustafa, his son by the concubine Mahidevran, leaving Hurrem's sons Bayezid and Selim as sole contestants. After her death in 1558, Bayezid rebelled. Suffering defeat in 1559, he fled to Iran, where, after Shah Tahmasb had extracted a peace agreement and a payment from Suleiman, he was executed, leaving Selim as sole heir.
Suleiman was intensely conscious of his image. A number of European engravings, all deriving from a single original, give a sense of his appearance, which he clearly tended, applying make-up in his old age to hide blemishes. To his ordinary subjects, however, he would appear only occasionally as a distant figure in a magnificent cavalcade. More enduring are his titles. To Europeans, he is "the Magnificent" in reference to the extent of his empire, and to his youthful ostentation, best known to the Venetians in his commission of a bejewelled triple tiara in 1532. To Muslims he is "the Lawgiver," a title first attested in the eighteenth century, but presumably used earlier. This reflects his promulgation of a new recension of the "feudal" code compiled circa 1500, under Bayezid II, but more importantly his co-operation with the chief mufti, Ebu’s-su‘ud, in systematizing some areas of of Islamic law, and Ebu’s-su‘ud's reformulation of "feudal" land law in Islamic terms. It was under Ebu’s-su‘ud's influence that Suleiman became conspicuously pious in the second half of his reign.
Suleiman was the first Ottoman sultan to adopt formally the title of caliph, implying leadership of the Islamic world. The impetus for the claim came from his overwhelming power, his status as guardian of the Holy Cities, and the need to counter Safavid claims and to emulate Charles V's status as Holy Roman emperor. After the Ottoman-Habsburg treaty of 1547, where Charles V no longer used the title "Emperor," Suleiman also adopted the epithet "Caesar" or "breaker of Caesars." In the same year, he began the construction of the Suleimaniye Mosque in Istanbul, a masterpiece of his chief architect Sinan, as a monument to his imperial pretensions. Its completion in 1557 coincided with Bayezid's rebellion, an event that undermined his caliphal-imperial image. Nonetheless, his death on the battlefield secured him the posthumous title of "Holy Warrior and Martyr."