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File:File:Pargali Ibrahim Pasha.jpg
Engraving of Ibrahim Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire

In office
27 June 1523 – 14 March 1536
Monarch Süleyman I
Preceded by Piri Mehmed Pasha
Succeeded by Ayas Mehmed Pasha
Ottoman Governor of Egypt

In office
Preceded by Güzelce Kasım Pasha
Succeeded by Güzelce Kasım Pasha
Personal details
Born 1493
Parga, Republic of Venice
Died March 15, 1536(1536-03-15)
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Nationality Ottoman
Spouse(s) Princess Hatice Sultan
Religion Christian, converted to Islam
Ethnicity Greek

Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha (Turkish pronunciation: [paɾɡaˈlɯ ibɾaːˈhim paˈʃa];[Is the stress correct?] 1493, Parga – 15 March 1536), also known as Frenk Ibrahim Pasha ("the Westerner"), Makbul Ibrahim Pasha ("the Favorite"), which later changed into Maktul Ibrahim Pasha ("the Executed") after his execution in the Topkapı Palace, was the first grand vizier in the Ottoman Empire appointed by sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. In 1523, he replaced Piri Mehmed Pasha, who had been appointed in 1518 by Süleyman's father, the preceding sultan Selim I, and remained in office for 13 years. He attained a level of authority and influence rivaled by only a handful of other grand viziers of the Empire, but in 1536, he was executed by the Sultan and his property was confiscated by the state.


Ibrahim was a Greek born to Christian parents, in Parga, Epirus, modern Greece, then part of the Republic of Venice.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

He was the son of a sailor in Parga and as a child he was carried off by pirates and sold as a slave to the Manisa Palace in western Anatolia, where Ottoman crown princes (şehzade) were being educated. There, he was befriended by crown prince Suleiman, who was of the same age. Ibrahim received his education at the Ottoman court and became a polyglot and polymath. Upon Suleiman's accession to the Ottoman throne in 1520, he was awarded various posts, the first being the Falconer of the Sultan. Ibrahim proved his skills in numerous diplomatic encounters and military campaigns, and was so rapidly promoted that at one point he begged Suleiman not to promote him too rapidly, for fear of arousing the jealousy and enmity of the other viziers, who expected some of those titles for themselves. Pleased with Ibrahim's display of modesty, Suleiman purportedly swore that he would never be put to death during his reign. After being appointed grand vizier, Ibrahim Pasha continued to receive other additional appointments and titles from the sultan (such as the title of Serasker), and his power in the Ottoman Empire became almost as absolute as his master's.

After his rival Hain Ahmed Pasha, the governor of Egypt, declared himself independent of the Ottoman Empire and was executed in 1624, Ibrahim Pasha traveled south to Egypt in 1525 and reformed the Egyptian provincial civil and military administration system. He promulgated an edict, the Kanunkame, outlining his system.[7][8]

Although he married Süleyman's sister, Hatice Sultan, and was as such a bridegroom to the Ottoman dynasty (Damat), this title is not frequently used by historians in association with him, possibly in order not to confuse him with other grand viziers who were namesakes (Damat Ibrahim Pasha and Nevşehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha). He is usually referred to as "Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha" or "Frenk (the European) Ibrahim Pasha" due to his tastes and manners. Yet another name given to him by his contemporaries was the purposefully oxymoronic "Makbul Maktul" (favorite and killed) Ibrahim Pasha.

Ibrahim Pasha Palace in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, now the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

His palace, which still stands on Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, has been converted into the modern-day Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

Draft of the 1536 Treaty negotiated between French ambassador Jean de La Forêt and Ibrahim Pasha, a few days before his execution, expanding to the whole Ottoman Empire the privileges received by France in Egypt from the Mamluks before 1518.

On the diplomatic front, Ibrahim's work with Western Christendom was a complete success. Portraying himself as "the real power behind the Ottoman Empire", Ibrahim used a variety of tactics to negotiate favorable deals with the leaders of the Catholic powers. The Venetian diplomats even referred to him as "Ibrahim the Magnificent", a play on Suleiman's usual sobriquet. In 1533, he convinced Charles V to turn Hungary into an Ottoman vassal state. In 1535, he completed a monumental agreement with Francis I that gave France favorable trade rights within the Ottoman Empire in exchange for joint action against the Habsburgs. This agreement would set the stage for joint Franco-Ottoman naval maneuvers, including the basing of the Ottoman fleet in southern France (in Toulon) during the winter of 1543–1544.

A skilled commander of Suleiman's army, he eventually fell from grace after an imprudence committed during a campaign against the Persian Safavid empire, when he awarded himself a title including the word "Sultan" (in particular, his adoption of the title Serasker Sultan was seen as a grave affront to Suleiman).[9] This incident launched a series of events which culminated in his execution in 1536, thirteen years after his appointment as grand vizier. It has also been suggested by a number of sources that Ibrahim Pasha had been a victim of Hürrem Sultan's (Roxelana, the sultan's wife) intrigues and rising influence on the sovereign, especially in view of Ibrahim's past support for the cause of Şehzade Mustafa, Suleiman I's first son and heir to the throne, who was accused of treason and strangled to death upon an order by his father on 6 October 1553, through a series of plots put in motion by Roxelana (who wanted one of her sons to become the next sultan, instead of Mustafa who was the son of Mahidevran, Suleiman's first haseki.)

Although he had long since converted to Islam, he maintained some ties to his Christian roots, even bringing his Christian parents to live with him in the Ottoman capital.[4]

Since Süleyman had sworn not to take Ibrahim's life during his reign, he acquired a fetva from a local religious leader, which permitted him to take back the oath by building a mosque in Constantinople. Suleiman later regretted Ibrahim's execution, and this is reflected in his poems, in which even after 20 years, he stresses topics of amity and trust between friends and often hints on character traits similar to Ibrahim Pasha's.

See also



  1. Margaret Rich Greer, Walter Mignolo, Maureen Quilligan. Rereading the Black Legend: the discourses of religious and racial difference in the Renaissance empires., University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-226-30722-0, p. 41: "Ibrahim Pasha, his intimate and grand vezir, a Greek from Parga in Epirus"
  2. Willem Frederik Bakker.Studia Byzantina et Neohellenica Neerlandica. BRILL, 1972. ISBN 978-90-04-03552-2 ,p. 312
  3. Roger Bigelow Merriman.Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566. READ BOOKS, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4437-3145-4, p. 76
  4. 4.0 4.1 Walter G. Andrews, Najaat Black, Mehmet Kalpaklı.Ottoman lyric poetry: an anthology. University of Washington Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-295-98595-4, p. 230.
  5. Machiel Kiel. on the Ottoman architecture of the Balkans. Variorum, 1990. ISBN 9780860782766, p. 416.
  6. Ostle, Robin (2008-10-14). Sensibilities of the Islamic Mediterranean: self-expression in a Muslim culture from post-classical times to the present day. I.B. Tauris. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-84511-650-7. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  7. Raymond, André (2001). Cairo: City of History. Translated by Willard Wood (Harvard ed.). Cairo, Egypt; New York: American University in Cairo Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-977-424-660-9. 
  8. Holt, P. M.; Gray, Richard (1975). "Egypt, the Funj and Darfur". In Fage, J.D.; Oliver, Roland. London, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. pp. 14–57. Digital object identifier:10.1017/CHOL9780521204132.003. 
  9. Kinross, 230.

Other sources

  • Fictional accounts of Ibrahim Pasha include Alum Bati's Harem Secrets(2008, Trafford, ISBN 978-1-4251-5750-0) and Mika Waltari's The Wanderer (1949).
  • Kinross, Patrick (1979). The Ottoman centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire. New York: Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-08093-8. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Piri Mehmed Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
27 June 1523 – 14 March 1536
Succeeded by
Ayas Mehmed Pasha
Preceded by
Güzelce Kasım Pasha
Ottoman Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Güzelce Kasım Pasha

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