Mehmed III Biography

(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1595-1603))

Birthday: May 26, 1566 (Gemini)

Born In: Manisa, Turkey

Sultan Mehmed III, the son of Ottoman Sultan Murad III, reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1595 to 1603. After being circumcised in a grand ceremony at age 16, Mehmed was sent to Manisa to serve as a governor, thus becoming the last şehzade (prince) to be sent to a sanjak as a governor. Mehmed had executed all 19 of his brothers soon after becoming the Sultan, thus recording a gruesome instance of fratricide. He led the Ottoman army in the Long Turkish War, or the Ottoman-Austrian War, which had already begun in 1593. The Ottoman army eventually won the war at the decisive Battle of Keresztes. He also countered the Jelali rebellions successfully. Mehmed’s reign also witnessed the arrival of a convoy of gifts from Queen Elizabeth I, though eventually, the English-Ottoman relationship did not grow significantly. He had three consorts and had fathered at least 8 sons and 10 daughters.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Mehmed bin Murad

Died At Age: 37


Spouse/Ex-: Handan Sultan

father: Murad III

mother: Safiye Sultan

siblings: Amriye Sultan, Ayşe Sultan, Count Alexander of Montenegro, Fahriye Sultan, Fatma Sultan (daughter of Murad III), Hatice Sultan, Hümaşah Sultan, mehmed iii şehzade cihangir, mehmed iii şehzade süleyman, mehmed iii şehzade yahya, Mihriban Sultan, Mihrimah Sultan (daughter of Murad III), Rukiye Sultan, Şehzade Abdullah, Şehzade Abdurrahman, Şehzade Alaüddin, Şehzade Alemşah, Şehzade Ali, Şehzade Davud, Şehzade Hasan, Şehzade Hüseyin, Şehzade İshak, Şehzade Mustafa, Şehzade Ömer, Şehzade Osman, Şehzade Selim, Şehzade Yakup, Şehzade Yusuf

children: Ahmed I, Ayşe Sultan, Beyhan Sultan, Hatice Sultan, Mustafa I, Şah Sultan, Şehzade Mahmud, Şehzade Selim

Born Country: Turkey

Leaders Emperors & Kings

Died on: December 22, 1603

place of death: İstanbul, Turkey

Childhood & Early Life

Sultan Mehmed III was born on May 26, 1566, at the Manisa Palace in Manisa, or Magnesia, in the Ottoman Empire, to Murad III, who later ruled the Ottoman Empire, and Safiye Sultan, who was an Albanian from the Dukagjin highlands.

His great-grandfather, the then-ruler of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman I, or Suleiman the Magnificent, learned that he had a great-grandson shortly before his death in the Szigetvar campaign. Suleiman I named him after his great-grandfather, Sultan Mehmed II, or Mehmed the Conqueror.

Mehmed spent most of his childhood in the palace with his parents. Ibrahim Efendi was his first tutor.

Mehmed’s grandfather, Selim II, took over as the new Sultan after Suleiman I’s death. Selim II passed away when Mehmed was 8. Mehmed’s father, Murad III, took over as the new Sultan in 1574.

Mehmed III was circumcised in a grand ceremony on May 29, 1582, at age 16. Following this, he was sent to Manisa as a governor. He was the last şehzade who was sent to a sanjak as a governor. All future princes after him stayed in the palace.

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Mehmed began his reign as the Sultan at age 28, after Murad III passed away in 1595. Soon after he took over as the new Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed III got all his 19 brothers executed. His brothers were strangled by royal assassins, most of whom were deaf or mute.

Mehmed III also found himself in the middle of the Long Turkish War, or the Ottoman-Austrian War, which had begun in 1593. Back then, Austria had allied with the Danubian principalities of Boğdan (Moldavia), Eflak (Wallachia), and Erdel (Transylvania).

Meanwhile, the feud between his two main dignitaries, Serdar Ferhad Pasha and Koca Sinan Pasha, became increasingly difficult to handle. Mehmed III removed Serdar Ferhad Pasha from his post as the Grand Vizier on July 7, 1595, as a direct result of Ferhad Pasha’s failure in Wallachia, and put Koca Sinan Pasha in his place.

Commander Mehmed Pasha’s cowardice led to the capture of Esztergom and Visegrad by Austrians on August 7, 1595. The Ottoman army saved itself from destruction, since it had retreated in time. Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha, on the other hand, occupied Wallachia, while Bucharest fell.

Soon, Mehmed III decided to launch a campaign in person after being suggested to do so by his teacher Sadeddin Efendi. The Ottoman army that was marching on Eğri (or Eger/Erlau) seized the castle on October 12, 1596.

On October 25, 1596, the Ottoman forces and their enemy army of 150,000 clashed in Hachova (or Mező-Kersztes/Mezo-Keresztes). The army against the Ottomans was a combined allied army of German, Hungarian, Florentine, Polish, Papal, Czech and Slovak forces. The Ottoman army consisted of roughly 100,000 people.

The allies launched an attack on the second day of the war, while the Ottomans retreated. Mehmed III went into his tent and began to pray. Although the grand vizier suggested his withdrawal, he decided not to.

The sultan rode on his horse in his white dress, while Sadeddin Efendi held the rein of the horse. Soon, the Ottomans launched a major attack, killing 20,000 of their enemies, and pushing the rest into the swamp.

The Tatar horsemen killed about 60,000 people who had fled. Thus, the Battle of Keresztes was won by the Ottomans. The leading commanders of the Ottoman army, Cağaloğlu Sinan Pasha and Crimean Khan Fetih I Giray, played huge roles in this win. Following the war, Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia witnessed increased support for the Ottomans.

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In 1601, Archduke Ferdinand II laid a siege of the fortress of Nagykanizsa (or Kanizsa) with around 80,000 soldiers. The severe winter did not let reinforcements arrive for the Ottomans. Tiryaki Hasan Pasha, who was defending the castle with around 9,000 soldiers, made his army believe that reinforcements would arrive soon, by distributing fake letters.

They made the enemy army believe there were no cannons in the castle and then launched major strikes, forcing the enemy to retreat on November 18, 1601.This is considered the final Ottoman win of the Austrian wars. Following this, Mehmed III made Tiryaki Hasan Pasha the Vizier.

Another major event during Mehmed’s reign was the Anatolian Jelali rebellion. In 1600, former Ottoman official Karayazc Abdülhalim captured Urfa and declared himself the next Sultan.

The news of his claim spread to Constantinople. Soon, Mehmed ordered punishment of the rebels and executed Hüseyin Pasha, whom Karayazc Abdülhalim had named his Grand Vizier.

In 1601, after being ousted by Baghdad’s governor, Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha, Abdülhalim fled to Samsun. However, Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha was assassinated by Deli Hasan. Deli also defeated the forces led by Hadm Hüsrev Pasha and proceeded toward Kütahya, eventually seizing it and burning it down.

Mehmed’s reign also witnessed Queen Elizabeth I send a huge convoy of gifts to the Ottoman court in 1599 (meant for Murad III, who had already passed away by then). Nevertheless, the English-Ottoman relationship did not materialize.

In Anatolia, with the marked decline of Ottoman institutions, most significantly, the land-tenure system, there were many revolts by the sipahiyan and the peasants, who had been burdened with taxes. As the Ottomans struggled to counter these revolts, in 1603, a war with Iran broke out.

Personal Life & Family

Mehmed III had three concubines, though none of them held the title of Haseki Sultan, or chief consort. His first consort, Handan Hatun, was of Greek or Bosnian origin.

It is believed, her real name was Helen or Helena. She was the mother and regent of Ahmed I. Handan died on November 1605, in Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, and was buried in the Hagia Sophia Mosque.

Halime Hatun, Mehmed’s second consort, was probably of Georgian or Abkhazian origin. As the mother and regent of Mustafa I, she became the first woman to become the Valide Sultan (regent) of the Ottoman Empire twice and the only lady to be Valide twice of the same son (with two tenures).

Mehmed had a third consort, who died along with her infant son during the plague in 1598. Mehmed also had at least 8 sons and at least 10 daughters.


Mehmed died on December 22, 1603 at age 37. One source claims his death was caused by the frustration and distress due to the death of his son, Şehzade Mahmud.

However, another source claims he died either of plague or due to a stroke. Mehmed was buried in the Hagia Sophia Mosque. His son Ahmed I took over as the new Sultan after his death.

See the events in life of Mehmed III in Chronological Order

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