Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha ("Ibrahim Pasha of Parga"; c. 1495 – 15 March 1536), also known as Frenk Ibrahim Pasha ("the Westerner"), Makbul Ibrahim Pasha ("the Favorite"), which later changed to Maktul Ibrahim Pasha ("the Executed") after his execution in the Topkapı Palace, was the first Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire appointed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
Ibrahim, born a Christian, was enslaved during his youth. He and Suleiman became close friends in their youth. In 1523, Suleiman appointed Ibrahim as Grand Vizier to replace Piri Mehmed Pasha, who had been appointed in 1518 by Suleiman's father, the preceding sultan Selim I. Ibrahim remained in office for the next 13 years. He attained a level of authority and influence rivaled by only a handful of other grand viziers of the Empire, but in 1536, he was executed on Suleiman's orders and his property was confiscated by the state.
Ibrahim was born to Orthodox Christian parents in Parga, Epirus, then part of the Republic of Venice. His ethnicity is unknown, but he probably originally spoke a Slavic dialect and also knew Greek and Albanian. His father was either a sailor or a fisherman.Some time between 1499 and 1502 he was captured in a raid by Iskender Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Bosnia, becoming a slave. He first met Prince Suleiman while residing at Iskender Pasha's estate near Edirne, most likely in 1514. It was then that he was taken into Suleiman's service.
Upon Suleiman's accession to the Ottoman throne in 1520, he was awarded various posts, the first being the Falconer of the Sultan. Ibrahim proved his skills in numerous diplomatic encounters and military campaigns, and was so rapidly promoted that at one point he begged Suleiman not to promote him too rapidly, for fear of arousing the jealousy and enmity of the other viziers, who expected some of those titles for themselves. Pleased with Ibrahim's display of modesty, Suleiman purportedly swore that he would never be put to death during his reign. After being appointed grand vizier, Ibrahim Pasha continued to receive other additional appointments and titles from the sultan (such as the title of Serasker), and his power in the Ottoman Empire became almost as absolute as his master's.
After his rival Hain Ahmed Pasha, the governor of Egypt, declared himself independent of the Ottoman Empire and was executed in 1524, Ibrahim Pasha traveled south to Egypt in 1525 and reformed the Egyptian provincial civil and military administration system. He promulgated an edict, the Kanunname, outlining his system.
In a lavish ceremony in 1523, Ibrahim Pasha was married to Muhsine Hatun, the granddaughter of the same Iskender Pasha who had captured him more than two decades previously. This marriage appears to have been politically motivated as a method of integrating Ibrahim, an outsider, into the Ottoman elite. While Muhsine was initially skeptical about her new husband, they eventually formed a loving relationship. Although it was once commonly believed that Ibrahim was married to Hatice Sultan, Sultan Suleiman's sister, the fact is such a marriage never took place.
His palace, which still stands on the west side of the Hippodrome in Istanbul, has been converted into the modern-day Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
Draft of the 1536 Treaty negotiated between French ambassador Jean de La Forêt and Ibrahim Pasha, a few days before his execution, expanding to the whole Ottoman Empire the privileges received by France in Egypt from the Mamluks before 1518.
On the diplomatic front, Ibrahim's work with Western Christendom was a complete success. Portraying himself as "the real power behind the Ottoman Empire", Ibrahim used a variety of tactics to negotiate favorable deals with the leaders of the Catholic powers. The Venetian diplomats even referred to him as "Ibrahim the Magnificent", a play on Suleiman's usual sobriquet. In 1533, he convinced Charles V to turn Hungary into an Ottoman vassal state. In 1535, he completed a monumental agreement with Francis I that gave France favorable trade rights within the Ottoman Empire in exchange for joint action against the Habsburgs. This agreement would set the stage for joint Franco-Ottoman naval maneuvers, including the basing of the Ottoman fleet in southern France (in Toulon) during the winter of 1543–1544.
A skilled commander of Sulei
man's army, he eventually fell from grace after an imprudence committed during a campaign against the Persian Safavid empire during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–55), when he awarded himself a title including the word "Sultan" (in particular, his adoption of the title Serasker Sultan was seen as a grave affront to Suleiman).[unreliable source] Another conflict occurred when Ibrahim and his former mentor, Iskender Çelebi, repeatedly clashed over military leadership and positions during the Safavid war. These incidents launched a series of events which culminated in his execution in 1536, thirteen years after his appointment as grand vizier. (Iskender Çelebi was also executed one year earlier in 1535.) It has also been suggested by a number of sources[which?] that Ibrahim Pasha had been a victim of Hürrem Sultan's (the sultan's legal wife) intrigues and rising influence on the sovereign, especially in view of Ibrahim's past support for the cause of Şehzade Mustafa, Suleiman's first son and heir to the throne.
Although Ibrahim Pasha had long since converted to Islam, he maintained some ties to his roots, even bringing his parents to live with him in the Ottoman capital, where they also converted to Islam. His father took the name Yusuf and joined the Ottoman elite, becoming a governor in Epirus.
Since Suleiman had sworn not to take Ibrahim's life during his reign, he acquired a fetva from a local religious leader, which permitted him to take back the oath by building a mosque in Constantinople. Suleiman later regretted Ibrahim's execution, and this is reflected in his poems, in which even after 20 years, he stresses topics of amity and trust between friends and often hints on character traits similar to Ibrahim Pasha's.
Ibrahim Pasha was immensely wealthy, and was said to own 1,300 slaves, it is even said that he personally seized the fortune of Iskender Çelebi, his former rival.