Mustafa i mosqueMustafa I was the 15th sultan of the Ottomans and ascended to the throne twice after succeeding his brother Ahmed 1. The first part of his reign lasted from 1617 to 1618, and the second time was from 1622 to 1623.

During the first part of his reign, he was referred to as “Deli Mustafa” (Mad Mustafa) and was called “Veli Mustafa” (Saint Mustafa) during the second half.

In this article, we will discuss the entire life of Mustafa so read on to learn more about his time as a monarch.

Who Was Mustafa I

Mustafa the first was the 15th Ottoman sultan and he was born in the Manisa Palace on June 24, 1591. His father was Mehmed III and his mother was Halime Sultan. Moreover, his father was of Turkish origin while his mother was an Azbekhian lady.

Naturally, Mustafa1 was also proclaimed as a child of Turkish origin as he was also the younger brother of Ahmed I (1603–17).

Early Life

Mustafa I spent the entirety of his life in a prison room of the old Palace. The reason that he lived such a life at the beginning was that before 1603, the ruling sultan would have to carry out the execution of his brothers in order to rule the empire.

Mustafa’s father Mehmed III, had executed nineteen of his brothers as well.

– Ahmed I Sparing Young Mustafa’s Life

When Ahmed I took over the throne, it was expected of him to carry on with the same gruesome tradition which his father had followed. However, he diverged from this path and spared young Mustafa’s life.

By that time, Mustafa was twelve years of age and already living in golden captivity or Kafes. He resided in the old palace with his mother and grandmother Safiye Sultan.

– Why Was Mustafa’s Life Spared?

Mustafa’s life was spared for two main reasons. Firstly, he was spared to live by his brother who was believed to disregard his rule under the influence of his favorite consort Kosem Sultan. Also, it was believed that due to Mustafa’s psychological issues, Ahmed never saw him as a threat to succession. Also, since Ahmed had birthed no sons, executing Mustafa would be the end of the entire Ottoman dynasty.

Character of Mustafa I: What He Was Like

Mustafa had a very neurotic or eccentric character mainly because of living in fear of execution for fourteen years. As we mentioned, he seemed to have psychological issues which worsened when his brother Ahmed caged him by building a wall in front of his chambers.

His Ascension to the Turkish Throne

When Ahmed died in 1617, he had birthed several sons of his own (Osman II and Mehmed IV). However, since he had spared his brothers’ lives, several princes were waiting in line to claim the throne. All of the princes resided in Topkapi palace waiting for their ascension, which was quite a difficult ordeal.

– Decision of Court To Give Him Power

Since there were multiple claims to the Turkish throne, the decision was left upon the court to declare their new Sultan. A faction led by the grand vizier Sofu Mehmed Pasha and Seyhulislam Esad Efendi decided to enthrone Mustafa and declare him as their new Sultan.

– Opposition from Eunuch Mustafa

Eunuch Mustafa Agha was the Chief of the empire and he vehemently opposed the idea of Sultana Mustafa on the throne. He made a strong case, pointing out things like Mustafa’s mental condition making him unfit to rule such a great dynasty. Unfortunately, he was ruled out by many other supporters.

– Rise To The Throne

Thus, history was made when for the first time, instead of an heir, the brother of the preceding Sultan was declared as the Sovereign of the mighty Ottoman empire. Mustafa the first, rose to the throne in 1617 and began his rule as a sultan.

The “Deli” or “Mad”

During his rule, Mustafa1 was suffering from a disturbed psychological state as we mentioned before. Every subject of the crown initially believed that he was like that due to living in fear of execution in the palace and thus would be cured with social interactions.

Many doctors treated Mustafa but his condition only worsened; he was often seen talking to imaginary people at some point, and was also seen throwing coins to fish and birds. What completely convinced the viziers that something was off, was when during a court meeting, Sultana Mustafa yanked their beards and tossed off their turbans as part of a fit.

– Views of the Supporters on His Condition

Many supporters of Mustafa were already ruling on his behalf. Hence, they would often cover up his episodes with religion and Sufism. They claimed Mustafa was a mystical and spiritual being like his brother and father, who could perform wonders. In reality, however, they wanted to rule through Mustafa.

– Views of the Opposition n His Condition

Many opposers of Mustafa, including the Chief black eunuch, were never in favor of Mustafa’s sultanate. They spread the word that mustafa1 was not fit to rule since he was mentally unstable, that he threw pearls at fishes, talked to himself, and many other instances of “mad” behavior.

When their rumors failed to ring alarm bells, the Chief started the rumor that Sultana Mustafa wanted to have the sehzades executed which immediately caught the attention of several.

The Dethroning of Mustafa

The rumors of executing sehzades had a deep effect on the state. Apart from this, Mustafa refused to bed any women or sire any heirs, so it meant the end of a dynasty that even the supporters couldn’t wrap their heads around. Thus, Mustafa the first was dethroned within three months of his ascension by the kizlaragasi who were in the palace for their salaries.

– Sultan Osman II: Taking Over The Throne

On February 26, 1618, Sultan Osman II ascended to the throne under the edict that Mustafa had abdicated the throne.

Osman himself declared that his uncle’s ascension to the throne was against the law to grant legitimacy to his reign.

– Dethroning of Osman II

Osman never gained much popularity among his subjects. Hence, after some time of his ascension, he was dethroned by rebels as a result of a great military coup. These rebels supported Mustafa and they broke a hole in his chambers when Mustafa refused to come out. He was carried out through ropes and the people were forced to accept his rule despite his mental state.

The “Veli” or “Saint”

On May 19, 1622, Mustafa the first, became the last Sultan to be enthroned twice after Murad II and Mehmed II. Moreover, this ascension was even more astonishing than the first one. Since Osman II did not see his uncle as a threat, he too had him imprisoned.

The second reign of Mustafa lasted longer than the first one despite him being against it.

Mustafa’s Reign: What Happened While He Was in Power

He only visited the palace when meeting with Osman II, so he otherwise stayed away. When Osman was murdered, his reign continued. His mother, Halime Sultan was the Queen regent. She was smart and helped her son when faced with intrigues or troubles.

– Avenging Osman II

The first command he gave out when Mustafa I ascended the second time was the execution of all those involved in the murder of Osman II. This included many viziers and chiefs with prominent reputations like Hoca Omer Effendi (Chief of rebels), Kizler, Agha Suleiman Agha, Vizier Dilaver Pasha, Kaim Makam Ahmed Pasha, Defterdar Baki Pasha, Bashi Nasu Agha, and Ali Agha (General of the Jannissaris).

– The Epithet “Saint”

After this act and others, like Mustafa greeting everyone when entering the courts, or crying when he couldn’t solve a dilemma, he was namedThe Saint.”

However, his mental condition remained unimproved. Later in his life, he was sometimes seen wandering around the palace screaming for Osman and knocking on doors to take back what was rightfully his nephew’s in the first place: the sultanate.

Deposition of Mustafa

Despite being called ‘Veli,’ Mustafa was dethroned again. What prompted his dethroning was political instability and rebels were rising from many parts of Istanbul to avenge the murder of Osman II. The regime tried many times to end the conflict but it only worsened.

– Queen Halime’s Decision

Many clerics and the new Grand Vizier Kemankes, persuaded Halime Sultan to allow the deposition of her son. The clerics told her that with her son’s mental state, he couldn’t rule effectively. The court would only allow him to continue his reign if he was able to answer questions like, ‘Who are you, ‘Who is your father’ etc. Since Halime was aware of her son’s condition, she agreed.

– Sultan Murad IV

In the meantime, 11-year-old Murad IV (son of Ahmed and Kosem) became the new Sultan of the empire. When he ascended, the request of sparing his uncle was put before him. Dismissing his uncle as a possible threat, Murad spared him the mercy of quick death, and Mustafa1 was returned to his Kafe.

Mustafa I Death

Mustafa was sent back to the old palace Eski with his mother. That’s where he remained until he died in 1629. Once again, he stayed within the Kafe where his mental condition deteriorated vastly.

– Health Problems That Lead To His End

In his last days, he was described as a pale, frail-looking person with dark eyes and giving off dull expressions. His beard was also sparse and his eyes remained hollow.

Furthermore, Mustafa I death was said to be a result of a nervous breakdown. He was 47 years of age when he died and was buried in the old baptistry in the courtyard of Hagia Sophia.


Mustafa i tombIn a nutshell, these are the important points that we discussed in our article about the life of Mustafa I:

  • Mustafa the first was a prince who was spared execution by almost every prince in line for the throne.
  • Being dismissed as a threat, he was often caged due to which his mental state suffered a lot.
  • He ascended twice but each time, he was declared unfit to rule because of his eccentric nature.
  • Finally, he was sent to his cage by the end of the second reign where he resided in the company of women until he died at the age of 47.

Mustafa the first was definitely an iconic figure who took over the Ottoman empire even for a few years. Finally, his issues with mental health and the way people around him reacted to them is also another interesting historic fact about how mental health problems are viewed throughout time in various cultures.

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