Cemetery of the innocent: Children, the only sin was the Sultan’s testimony (VIDEO)



If you visit the turbos (mausoleum) near Ayia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, you will notice a large number of small burial mounds (sarcophagi) covered with green velvet and crowned with white turbans. The first thing that comes to mind is that children died from an epidemic. There were such cases, but most of the graves in the turbe complex were inhabited by children whose lives were violently interrupted immediately after the death of their father – the former Sultan. Some of them only had a year or two. Their lives were stripped of their silk braids, just because they were potential candidates for the throne. There are dozens of baby humpbacks in the turtle of Sultan Selima II, located in the Hagia Sophia complex. Here, besides Sultans Murat III, Selim II and Mehmed III, these unconquered sultans, whose lives were abruptly interrupted, were found calm. On their small graves are white turbans, as the posthumous sign of the sultanate, which was also the reason for their untimely death. There are no more sultans, and their small graves still stand as silent witnesses today.


Turbe Selima II
Tomb of Selim II


The practice was legalized by Sultan Mehmed II Fatih, when he enacted a law on fratricide, in which he states: “Rule is the gift of destiny to each of my children, fratricide is allowed for the sake of order in the world.” Most of the ulema approved it. This provision was applicable until the death of Sultan Ahmed I. 1617, after which the principle of inheriting the throne “according to the old age” was accepted. The fratricide law did not have a foothold in sharia, it was more about making power very important and maintaining it even more important. More important than even the lives of your closest blood relatives.

Thus, fratricide has since become a legalized act if it brings inner peace to the empire. It was Mehemd Fatih who ordered his young brother’s teacher to kill him. When the people asked the teacher why he did this, he replied: At first glance, it seems as if I have become a traitor. “I actually did the right thing. If I had let them go, these two armies would have clashed and hurt all over the country. Individual damage is better than general damage. Plus, it’s an old custom. That’s not what I did. ”

This was the beginning of the breakup of the Ottoman state with Sharia. This practice was cruel and contrary to Islamic principles. For, the meaning of Sharia is to preserve peace and overcome evil, but not in a Machiavellian way – “The goal justifies the means.” According to the Qur’anic principle: – If one kills someone who has not killed anyone, or one who does not make a mess on Earth – as if he had killed all people; and if one causes one’s life to be preserved, it is as if all people have been saved. ”

Well, it can be said that this was the beginning of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, although the empire was on the rise and territorial expansion.


Tomb -Blue Mosque ili Sultanahmet Mosque


Fratricide then became one of the strict rules of the hierarchy of the time, and it allowed the Sultan to survive more securely in power. On the one hand, if he killed his brother when he came to power, the sultan was sure that there would be no civil war and that his throne would be safer, and on the other, if he did, his children could later be killed by those brothers if claimed power. Either way, being a sultan was certainly not easy. On the one hand, it was the state, the government, the politics and the wars that had to endure, and on the other, family life, which could be very complicated. There was a lot of weighing of emotions. The good Sultan was expected to be strong and firm and righteous and to be a sensitive but strict ruler to his family. This is probably because every major cartel has failed, because of the battle for the throne. The Ottomans put the welfare and integrity of the state above the lives of their descendants, even when they were underage and had no claim at all to occupy the throne. They were driven by the logic that those directly concerned by the government would be killed for the throne, than innocent citizens who would never have the opportunity to rule.


Inside the tomb Sultanahmet or Blue Mosque


The sultans had to carry two personalities (the ruler and the family man) who must have left a mark on each of them. They were also only part of a system without which the mechanism could not function, but they were also interchangeable, causing the power grab and turning the sultans into cruel tyrants who killed many people along the way, including their own brothers. fathers and sons. Their minds sometimes grew so dark that they were convinced that they were doing a good thing for the welfare of the state by killing a member of their family who rebelled or could just do so. However, if viewed on the other hand, they were again only fighting for their own lives and the lives of their children, which the whole system, that is, the law and the notion of an empire with only one leader, forced them.

For the most part, mother and wife sultans were not sympathetic to one another. To achieve power, they did not despise anything, not even the worst, to attack the lives of others. The mothers of the Ottoman princes fought most fiercely to secure their sons and themselves power. They bribed palaces in the palace (gold, jewels …) to trick them or bring them some useful news from their rival, which would be able to blacken them in front of the Sultan. It was important for these women to survive because their survival also meant life for their sons. Each son of their rivals was a threat to their children’s lives. This rivalry is actually imposed by the natural survival instinct that every mother carries within herself to protect her child.


Tomb Selia II, Murat III, Mehmed III, near Aja Sofije


In the beginning of the application of the law, in case the Sultan had more sons after coming of age, he would send them to the many provinces occupied by the Ottoman Empire at that time. After the announcement of the Sultan’s death, the son who would first arrive at the palace would be enthroned. But it was often the case that the most capable son was chosen for the throne, which resulted in a fight with the brothers and even their execution. It would not come to power the oldest heir, but the most capable, the one who somehow eliminated all other aspirants to the throne. The Ottomans therefore legalized the law on the indivisibility of government. Later this defect was abolished. The new Sultan would not kill the brothers but imprison them to rule the empire without interruption. The place where the young princes stayed was called Kafes.

On the other hand, we witness that the Ottomans were also very tolerant, as evidenced by the facts which show that they did not impose their religion, that they were sympathetic to their slaves who made up the political elite of the empire, and that in this way they were women who played major roles in the court and in the empire, they were once slaves. All this was not possible in the western courts and societies.

The Ottomans behaved in a paradoxical manner: killing their sons, brothers, even fathers for the sake of power, and bringing other children through devshirma (a blood tribute). So often the children brought from the occupied countries had the same opportunities and chances that the children of the Sultan had. They were able to attend elite schools (if they were talented) and prosper, some even succeeded in becoming great lords of the empire. All the sons of the Sultan (except the one who came to the throne) lost their right to life and immediately after the death of their father (the Sultan), they were suffocated by silk wicker and their bodies, together with the body of the former Sultan, were removed from the Topkapi Palace.


Tomb Selima II was made before his death, designed by Mimar Sinan and completed in 1577. Inside, there are a total of 42 mezar-sarcophagi, including his wife and mother, Murat III, his daughters and his five sons (all killed by Murad III) and all the male children of Murat III, killed by his son Mehmed III


Thus, the father of Sultan Suleiman Selim I, killed all his other sons and all his brothers. Sultan Suljeman killed his two sons, at the same time their minor sons – their grandchildren. Sultan Selim II participated in the murder of his birth brother. Whereas, after his death, his wife Nurbanu was ordered to kill Selim’s five sons so as not to pose a potential danger to her son Murat III’s reign.

The most serious crime was committed by Mehmed III (1595-1603), the son of Murat III, when he ordered the death sentence against his nineteen brothers. From the castle, along with the Sultan, 19 tabs were taken out, which angered the public, who did not approve of this practice. Their taboos were exposed in front of Topkapi Palace so that the whole capital could see them, none of the brothers was more than 11 years old, which caused a sharp reaction from the population. Sultan Mehmet III made a horror by killing so many brothers, many even younger than his children. One contemporary historian described the event as follows: “Angels in heaven heard the sighs and howls of the inhabitants.”

Tomb Murat III


Residents’ reaction to the event has led to the cessation of the fratricide law, which has since shifted to the “coffee shop” system. More specifically, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, it abandoned this practice, beginning with Sultan Ahmed I. Although there were still cases of fratricide, they were never executed again immediately after the arrival of the new Sultan in power, but only if there was a fear that circles around a prince were plotting about the overthrow of the sultan (they were no longer small and innocent children).

Sultan Ahmed I, who experienced the horrors of executing his uncles, decided not to kill his brother Mustafa, who was later killed by his sons. He also broke the custom of appointing princes as governors. Instead, he closed them down and restricted movement in specially designated rooms in the harem of the court, known as kafes.

Following the application of the Kafes law (apartments within the harem separated by “golden gates” – Cinis Kapi, where the princes reside instead of going to the provinces), the population of the harem increased significantly as the princes and their harems remained in the palace. The princes were forbidden from leaving the cafe and having offspring. Living in constant fear of execution, most of them suffered from mental disorders. When summoned by Suleiman II (1687-1691), he grunted before the Porte dignitaries who had come to escort him out of the café as his entourage: “If I am ordered to die, just tell me, let me do the namaz, and then carry out your order. ” I have been in captivity since I was forty, it is better to die at once than die a little every day. What a horror we suffer with a single breath. ” They struggled to get him out of the cafe and set him on the throne.



Killing a brother, father, son or uncle is certainly a cruel act nowadays, an act of a deranged man, but in times of constant warfare it was justified if the reason were valid. If everyone could accept their brother’s authority, then such a law would never have come to pass, but the throne is the most important place to survive, and many sacrifices are required. Likewise, many people died in the civil wars who had nothing to do with rulers and warring parties, but were forcibly drawn into it. Looking at how important every human life is, the sultans justified the killing of one man (brother) instead of many (in a possible conflict). Many of them were probably rightly most afraid of the future of their sons, so they killed the brothers, so that later, if they came to power, they would not do it to their children. This was, unfortunately, often the case. The desire for power has always made all kinds of people, so unfortunately the Ottoman court was no exception. In the Middle Ages, many atrocities were inconceivable in the West today, incinerated at the stake, cuttings, tortured and executed by cutting off their heads with an ax, later with a guillotine.

Killing children is a means by which one cannot justify the achievement of any goal, even if it is called the State. This is against ethics, any religion, especially Islam. Islam originated in a place where there was a tradition of burying live female children. Islam has eradicated this tradition. That is why enacting any laws that would re-legalize something like that is far from Islam and its principles.

It is difficult to admire the architecture of the turbe (mausoleum), and at the same time not be saddened by that small army of cemeteries of the unmarried sultans with white turbans. These unsuspecting little sultans torn from life with silk braids deserve the rooster of the whole world. A fifth larger than the state, which ruled almost the entire world at the time.


Author: A.M.



Contact Us