Mehmed iii tomb at the hagia sophiaMehmed III was the Ottoman Empire’s last prince to be appointed governor and who participated himself in battlegrounds. He captured Eger and won the Battle of Keresztes against Austrians.

Great-grandson of Suleiman the Magnificent, he executed confidence and bravery, setting up a precedent in Ottoman history.

In this article, we will discuss his leadership style and glory, so keep on reading to learn everything there is to know about this legendary sultan.

Who Was Mehmed III?

Sultan Mehmed III was the 13th Ottoman and the 72nd overall caliph of Islam who ascended to the throne in 1595 following his father Murad III’s death. Most importantly, he was the great-grandson of Suleiman the Magnificent. Moreover, having been taught by the great teacher, Sadeddin Efendi, he was also very confident and smart. This made him one of the most admired rulers and leaders of the Ottomans.

– Parents and Grandparents of Mehmed III

His father was Sehzade Murad (Murad III) who was the son of Sehzade Selim (Selim II) and his mother was Safiye Sultan, an Alabanian.

It must be noted that Selim II was the son of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hürrem Sultan. Suleiman the Magnificent, upon hearing about Prince Mehmed, named him Mehmed the Conqueror after his great grandfather Sultan Mehmed II.

– Education and Governorship of Mehmed II

Sultan Mehmed III was taught by the greatest teachers and he served as the governor of Manisa which earned him great leadership qualities at a very young age. Furthermore, he was the last prince to serve as a governor. After him, no prince ever left the palace to serve as one. The governorship experience made him even smarter, as he would lead his army on battlegrounds earning him a remarkable repute.


The name of Mehmed III wife is nowhere to be found. However, the name of two important consorts can be found in history.

It is believed that Mehmed III had three consorts; one of them died during the outbreak of the plague in 1597. The other two were Halime and Handan Sultan.

So it is argued that through them, Sultan Mehmed had eight sons and four daughters as a whole.


Sultan Mehmed 3 is believed to be a pious man who prayed five times daily as per the religious obligations of Muslims. He respected the religious leaders of his community and valued scholars.

He laid the foundation of a religious school in Medina and built the Yeni Mosque that is today in Istanbul.

Among his hobbies were hunting and reciting poetry. He wrote poems to show his devotion to the Almighty.

Death of Mehmed III

In 1603, Mehmed III was laid to rest at the age of only 37. Some believe the execution of his son Prince Mahmud had a severe impact on his health as he stopped eating and drinking afterward. Others think he fell victim to the plague or stroke. He was buried at Hagia Sophia Mosque and Ahmed I followed him as the new sultan.

Now that we know his full personal history, let’s see what happened in his political life and how he came into power.

Ascend to Power: A Violent Start

After Murad III’s death, he took over the seat of the Sultanate. In Ottoman history, Mehmed the Third is also notoriously remembered for executing his nineteen brothers and half-brothers. He employed his deaf-mute servants for the task who strangled his brothers leaving Mehmed III with no competition for the throne.

– Immediate Bureaucratic Struggles in Constantinople After His Ascension

The power struggle started between two of his viziers, Sinan Pasha and Farhad Pasha. This led to the weakening of the administrative machinery as Janissaries, the great combatants of the Ottoman Army, who started creating problems.

Having support from his mother, Sinan Pasha was safeguarded from Mehmed III’s disapproval. Sinan became Grand Vizier after Ferhad Pasha was sacked for his defeat in Wallachia.

Austro-Hungarian War and Mehmed 3

The major event during his reign was the war between Austrians and the Ottomans. In the war, Mehmed 3 participated himself in person and he was the first caliph to do this after Suleiman I. The reason for this decision was motivated by the advice of his teacher Sadeddin Efendi after the brutal defeat of the Ottomans at Wallachia.

– Before the Astro-Hungarian War: Major Blow at Wallachia

Austrians took control of Esztergom and Visegrad in 1595 due to the failure of Mehmed Pasha, Sinan’s son. However, Sinan Pasha occupied Wallachia but he did not establish security. Therefore, upon being attacked by Michael I, Voivode of Wallachia, Ottomans lost both Wallachia and a considerable number of Turkish Akinji (Raider) troops earning historic disrepute for Sinan and Mehmed Pasha.

– During the Astro-Hungarian War: Conquering Eger and Defeating Habsburg Army

In 1596, the Ottomans seized Eger with Sultan Mehmed himself in charge. Following the Ottoman victory, the Habsburg army started approaching. Mehmed III wanted to retreat at first but he was dissuaded by his teacher, Sadeddin Efendi.

He entered the battlefield boosting the morale of his army who finally defeated the Habsburg and Transylvanian forces. His commander Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha became an unprecedented hero.

– Last Victory Against Austrians: Losses After Battle of Keresztes and Siege of Nagykanizsa

After the Habsburg defeat in Keresztes, Ottomans soon lost Gyor to Austrians and they were once again defeated by the Wallachians led by Michael the Brave in Nikopol. After a month-long- long conquest, Ottoman troops led by Tiryaki Hasan Pasha took over Nagykanizsa in 1600 and managed to hold it against a considerably larger invading force in the Siege of Nagykanizsa. This was the final victory against the Austrians.

Jelali Revolts During Final Years of Mehmed III

The Jelali Revolts in Anatolia which took place during the last years of Mehmed III’s reign had a severe impact on the Ottoman kingdom and led to the ill health of the sultan which would prove to be fatal in the long term. Let’s take a look at what happened a bit closer so we understand how that impacted Mehmed 3’s reign in the long run.

– What Jelal Means and Reasons Why the Jelali Revolts Started

The name Jelal comes from Bozoklu Jelal, a cavalry officer who had revolted during the time of Selim I in Anatolia.

Moreover, during the Battle of Keresztes, around 30,000 troops had fled from the battlefield. They were immediately expelled from the army along with those who did not participate in the battle due to multiple other reasons. The discontent among these troops was the motivating force behind the revolt.

– Leader of the Jelali Revolts

Karayazıcı Abdülhalim, a former army official, rose against the sultan. To calm him down, he was offered the governorship of Amasya. However, in 1600, he conquered Urfa and announced himself sovereign.

Word of his actions circulated across Constantinople, and Mehmed ordered the rebels to be punished brutally to eradicate the rumors. Hüseyin Pasha, Karayazıcı Abdülhalim’s Grand Vizier was executed as a consequence.

– Execution of Sehzade Mahmud

Sehzade Mahmud, the sultan’s 16-year-old son, requested that his father designate him as Anatolian commander-in-chief, claiming that he could defeat the Jelali rebellions. Sehzade found himself at the heart of a plot due to his reckless attitude and was executed by Mehmed III in 1603.

– Defeat of Abdülhalim

Baghdad Governor Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha defeated Abdülhalim who retreated to the neighborhood of Samsun. His brother, Deli Hasan, on the other hand, assassinated Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha and destroyed Pasha’s forces. He then marched on to Kütahya, where he conquered the city and set it on fire.

– Aftermath of Jelali Revolts

Iranian Shah Abbas III saw this as an opportunity. By allying with European kingdoms, he breached the Ottoman border. On October 21 of 1603, the Shah invaded Tabriz and slaughtered the city’s inhabitants. As a result of Abbas’ coalition, Nakhchivan and Yerevan fell.

Truce Between Queen Elizabeth I and Mehmed III

Queen Elizabeth I sent gifts for Murad III to establish a strong bond between the two powers. These arrived during the reign of Mehmed III and resulted in friendly relations between the Ottomans and the British during the threat of the Spanish military conquest of Britain.

– Gifts Sent by the Queen

A massive jewel-studded clockwork organ was erected on the slope of the Royal Private Garden as part of these offerings. A ceremonial vehicle was also among the English gifts, along with a letter from the Queen to Mehmed’s mother, Safiye Sultan.


Mehmed iii tomb at the hagia sophia mosqueYou have learned everything there is to know about Mehmed III and his personal and political achievements.

Here is a summary of what you learned:

  • Mehmed III was a great sultan as per sources who challenged one of the strong armies of his time, the Austrians
  • His bravery earned him a reputation and he was different in his approach compared to those who followed him
  • He not only championed this but set up an example through his personal life.
  • The Jelali revolts remain a haunting period of his life as he lost his son to a conspiracy
  • However, he did manage to have a peaceful relationship with Queen Elizabeth I of England who sent him gifts in his honor

Mehmed II is surely among one of the most remembered sultans from Ottoman history.

His short and successful life proves that!

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