Suleyman I.

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Suleyman I. , known in German as Suleiman the Magnificent (سليمان / Süleymān , called "the Magnificent" and, in later Ottoman historiography,قانونی / Ḳānūnī  / 'the legislator'; * November 6, 1494 , April 27, 1495 or May 1496 in Trabzon ; † September 7, 1566 before Szigetvár ) ruled from 1520 to 1566 as the tenth sultan of the Ottoman Empire and is considered one of the most important Ottoman rulers. During the reign of Sultan Suleiman I for more than forty years, the geographical expansion and power of the empire reached their climax.

Tughra of Suleiman I the Magnificent, svg
سليمان شاه بن سليم شاه خان مظفّر دائما
Süleymān-şāh b. Selīm-şāh Ḫān muẓaffer dāʾimā 


Suleiman I was born the son of Selim I and his wife Hafsa Sultan in Trabzon. In the sources, the year 1494 and 1495 are given as the year of birth, and both April 27 and November 6 are the birthdays. As early as 1509 he was appointed governor of Kaffa , four years later (1513) that of Manisa (Magnesia).

After the death of his father on September 21, 1520, Suleiman inherited his sultanate. Suleiman was certainly not prepared for his father's death, but the conditions for the change of power were not bad: his three brothers Murad, Mahmud and Abdullah had been killed by their father Selim in 1514, leaving Suleiman as the only heir. However, it has also been alleged that these princes were not killed until Suleiman's reign.

Suleiman learned the trade of goldsmith. According to the tradition of the House of Osman, every ruler had to learn a trade. He spoke several languages: two Turkish (Ottoman and Chagatai -Turkish), Arabic and Persian .

One of Suleiman's closest confidants was Ibrahim Pascha , a polyglot Epirote ( Greek ) who was well versed in both the fine arts and diplomacy . His favorite court poet was the famous Hayâlî (1500? -1557). Roxelane (Hürrem) became Suleiman's fourth concubine as early as 1520 ; later he came under their influence.

Foreign policy

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire; Suleiman's conquests in pink

Suleiman's historical fame is based above all on the fact that he led the Ottoman Empire to the height of its power, not least by enlarging the national territory, and making it an important player in European and Middle Eastern politics. During his reign he led 13 major campaigns (ten in Europe, three in Asia), and there were several sea wars in the Mediterranean.

He undertook his first campaign a year after the accession to the throne against Hungary . The pretext for this was the Hungarian refusal to pay the tribute that is otherwise customary in the event of a change of rule. In the course of this campaign he conquered several cities and fortresses in southern Hungary, including Schabatz , Semlin and Belgrade .

In 1522 he attacked the island of Rhodes , which surrendered on December 25, 1522 after a six-month siege and was incorporated into Suleiman's empire. The defending knights of the Order of St. John were given free withdrawal and settled in Malta in 1530 (where they were besieged again by Suleiman in 1565 , this time unsuccessfully). Then in April 1526 he moved against Hungary again with 100,000 men and 300 cannons (see Topçu ). On August 29th he won the battle of Mohács , whereupon Pest and Buda (Ofen) opened the gates to the victor on September 10th . Hungary was divided between the Ottoman and, to a lesser extent, the Habsburg empire , which subsequently led to the development of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy .

After suppressing an uprising in Asia Minor , he undertook a third campaign to Hungary in 1529 in favor of Johann Zápolya , the Ban of Transylvania , who had been elected king by a party , took oven on September 8 and invaded with 120,000 men on September 27 to Vienna . However , he gave up this first Turkish siege of Vienna after losing 40,000 men on October 14th. Now Suleiman turned against Persia . In the Ottoman-Safavid War from 1532 to 1555 he sent an army under Grand Vizier Ibrahim to Asia in autumn 1533 , where the fortresses Erciş , Ahlat and Van fell and on July 13, 1534 he took the Persian capital Tabriz . Even Baghdad was occupied on the 4th of December of that year and organized the conquered country from there.

Meanwhile, Suleiman's fleet under Khair ad-Din Barbarossa had taken Koroni from the Spaniards in 1533 and subjected Tunis in 1534 , which was lost again in 1535 by Charles V's Tunis campaign ( Third and Fourth Italian War (1535-1544) ). With the victory in the naval battle of Preveza against the Holy League in 1538, the Ottoman fleet secured dominance in the Mediterranean until 1571. In 1541 Suleiman subdued more than half of Hungary, and Zápolya's son had to be content with Transylvania.

In 1547 a five-year armistice was signed with the Habsburgs and the Holy Roman Empire , according to which Suleiman was paid an annual tribute of 50,000 ducats . Thereupon he undertook a two-year war against Persia and renewed the war in Hungary in 1551, where a peace agreement was not reached until 1562.

Sultan Selim II upon the arrival of Suleiman's I body near Belgrade
(miniature from the Nüzhet el-Esrar )
Book of poems (divan) with love songs by Sultan Suleiman I.

Already over 70 years old, Suleiman set out on another military campaign against Hungary in 1566, but died during the siege of Szigetvár on September 5, 1566. His son Selim II succeeded him to the throne .

Campaign Diaries

Suleiman I. arranged the following diaries about his campaigns:

  • Diary of the first Hungarian campaign of Suleiman I (1521)
  • Diary of the second Hungarian campaign of Suleiman I (1526)
  • Diary of Suleiman's fourth campaign to Vienna (1529)
  • Diary of the fifth campaign of Suleiman I against Emperor Charles V (1532)
  • Diary of the sixth campaign of Suleiman I against Transylvania (1533)
  • Diary of the seventh campaign of Suleiman I against Awlona (1537)

Quote: “Overview of the stations of the victorious army […] Sr. Majesty Sulaiman - God the exalted may strengthen his helpers! - […] on which one after the other they went to the oven to keep the cursed Ferdinand away, then besieged the fortress of Vienna, began to fight openly with the German emperor and king, took away some fortresses of the lowly unbelievers and in most of them Areas and stripes looted and robbed. "

Domestic politics and law

Immediately after taking office, Suleiman returned the goods confiscated by his father and started a campaign to punish and discipline the civil servants. In addition, he was active to a considerable extent as a legislator, which earned him his second nickname Kanuni . After the fundamental questions of criminal as well as constitutional law had already been regulated in the code of Mehmed II , the codex that bears Suleiman's name deals primarily with finance , tax and land law , whereby existing customary law was also codified for the first time . Additional provisions should also fill in gaps in the provisions of the Sharia . To this end, he relied on the help of Kazasker Ebussuud Efendi , he in 1545 to the highest Islamic scholars of the Empire, the so-called. Scheichülislam rose, as well as his chancellor Celâlzâde Mustafa Çelebi was born, under whose leadership a powerful Ottoman administration.

In the last years of Suleiman's life there were the first symptoms of crisis. The constant campaigns did not bring the treasury enough income from 1541, so that the collection of special taxes (more and more often in money) became the rule. The state also bought the food for the troops well below the market price, thus causing a food shortage. In addition, the fiefdoms, the state domains, great dignitaries and pious foundations raised ever higher taxes, increasingly in money, so that many farmers left their farms or their leases and formed gangs. The army of the discontented was increased by the number of income-free Koran students. So it was possible that in 1555 the fake prince "Mustafa" could march through Rumelia with 40,000 insurgents .


Suleiman I. has also made a name for himself as a builder. In particular, he had the Süleymaniye named after him built between 1549 and 1557 , one of the most important mosques in Constantinople in terms of art history . Furthermore, during his reign u. a. the Prince Mosque (1548), the Mihrimah Mosque (1566) and the Rustem Pasha Mosque (1561). Suleiman's court architect Mimar Sinan was responsible for each . In addition, the Sultan started a large-scale canal construction project to ensure the water supply to the capital.

Death and historical evaluation

Suleiman I died in 1566 after a 46-year reign, the longest in Ottoman history.

Tomb of Sultan Suleyman in the Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

With him the heyday of Ottoman rule came to an end. He is considered the most important sultan of the Ottomans; in Ottoman tradition on the one hand as a general and warrior, but on the other hand also as a wise lawgiver and statesman. He had numerous magnificent buildings built in Constantinople . Suleiman also wrote poems himself in Persian and Ottoman Turkish under the pseudonym “Muhibbi” (“beloved friend”) .

Nowadays the history of the Ottoman Empire designates it with the ordinal number "I." In particular in European literature one finds a son of Bayezid I with this name, since he was recognized as a sultan by the European vassals of the empire during the time of the Ottoman Interregnum .

Awards and honors

Bas-relief of Suleiman in the US House of Representatives in Washington

In the United States Capitol in the United States House of Representatives , Suleiman I was honored with a relief among 23 people as one of the greatest legislators of all time.

There are also various statues and sculptures in Hungary to mark the Turkish-Hungarian friendship. These include a statue of Suleiman I in the Mohácsi Történelmi Emlékpark (Hungary), a statue of Miklós Zrinyi and Suleiman I in the Park of Turkish-Hungarian Friendship (Szigetvár, Hungary) and a symbolic grave and a statue with the signature of Suleiman I. also in the park of the Turkish-Hungarian friendship.


In Turkey, the film adaptation of Suleiman's life under the title Muhteşem Yüzyıl (German: “The Magnificent Century”) led to demonstrations and controversial discussions. The Turkish Minister of Culture Ertuğrul Günay defended the film against criticism from religious and conservative circles.


Web links

Commons : Suleiman I.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The nicknameقانونی / Ḳānūnī  / 'the lawgiver' only became popular later (especially in the 18th and 19th centuries); see Mehmet İpşirli: Lakap. Osmanlılar'da Lakap. In: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi. Volume 27, TDV Yayını, Ankara 2003, p. 67.
  2. Painting attributed to Titian , approx. 1530. Including the Tughra Süleymans I with unbraided writing: “Süleymān-şāh, son of Ḫāns Selīm-şāh is always victorious”.
  3. Ahmed Tevhid Bey according to Danişmed In: Osmanli Tarihi Kronoloji II.5.
  4. Esin Atıl: Süleymanname. Washington 1986, p. 20
  5. Boris Kálnoky, Szigetvár: Suleyman's heart sought, an entire city found. In: . September 25, 2013, accessed December 30, 2014 .
  6. Mihailo Popovic: From Budapest to Istanbul - The Via Traiana as reflected in travel literature from the 14th to 16th centuries
  7. Sulayman of the legislature .. Diary on his campaign to Vienna in the year .. 1529, edited in the Turkish original texts, with a German translation and with notes by WFA Behrnauer. limited preview in Google Book search
  8. Permissive TV sultan heats Turkish minds In:
predecessor Office successor
Selim I. Sultan and Caliph of the Ottoman Empire
Selim II