Murad IV (Ottoman Turkish: مراد رابع Murād-i rābi‘) (June 16, 1612 February 9, 1640) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623 to 1640, known both for restoring the authority of the state and for the brutality of his methods. Murad IV was the son of Sultan Ahmed I (1603–17) and the Greek Kadinefendi Kösem Sultan. Brought to power by a palace conspiracy in 1623, he succeeded his mad uncle Mustafa I (1617–18, 1622–23). He was only eleven when he took the throne.
Murad IV was for a long time under the control of his relatives and during his early years as Sultan, his mother, Kösem Sultan, essentially ruled through him. The Empire fell into anarchy; the Persians
almost immediately, Northern Anatolia
erupted in revolts, and in 1631 the Janissaries
stormed the palace and killed the Grand Vizier, among others. Murad IV feared suffering the fate of his elder brother, Osman II
(1618–22), and decided to assert his power.
Absolute Rule and Imperial Policies
Murad IV tried to quell the corruption that had grown during the reigns of previous Sultans, and that had not been checked while his mother was ruling through proxy. He addressed this corruption with several policy changes, such as limiting wasteful spending.
Murad IV also banned alcohol, tobacco, and coffee in Istanbul. He ordered execution for breaking this ban. He would patrol the streets and taverns of İstanbul in civilian clothes at night, policing the enforcement of his command. If, while patrolling the streets, he saw a subject using tobacco or alcohol, he would kill the person on the spot with his mace. Towards the end of his reign, Murad's became a homicidal maniac, killing random people. Dimitrie Cantemir of Moldavia (1678-1723) wrote: "Very often at midnight he stole out of the women's quarters through the private gate of the palace with his drawn sword, and running through the streets barefooted with only a loose gown around him, like a madman, killed whoever came his way."
Militarily, Murad IV's reign is most notable for a war against Persia
in which Ottoman forces conquered Azerbaijan
, occupied Tabriz
, and, in the last great feat of Imperial Ottoman arms, captured Baghdad
in 1638. The sultan had a famous quote about the fall of Baghdad, "Bağdat'ı almaya çalışmak, Bağdat'ın kendinden daha mı güzeldi ne"
(I guess trying to capture Baghdad was better than Baghdad itself).
Murad IV himself commanded the invasion of Mesopotamia and proved to be an outstanding field commander. He was the last Ottoman Sultan to command an army on the battlefield. During his campaign to Iran, he annihilated all rebels in Anatolia and restored the order of the state. As a result, many local places were given his name by their residents so as to show their gratitude.
Before his death, Murad IV signed a peace treaty with the Persian Safavid dynasty in 1639. After his return to İstanbul, he ordered respected statesmen of the Empire to prepare a new economic and political project to return to the Empire the old successful days. However, his illness and relatively early death prevented him from implementing his ideas for the Empire.
Murad IV was a huge, tall man and one of the most feared warriors of his time. He was the last Warrior Sultan who led campaigns in front of his army and fought on the battlefield. His physical strength was phenomenal, which is described in detail on the books of Evliya Çelebi
. He was especially known for his exceptional strength in wrestling - capable of fighting several opponents at the same time. His favorite weapon was a huge mace
, weighing 60 kilograms (132 lbs), which he wielded effortlessly with a single hand. Among his other favourite weapons are a longbow
and a large two-handed broadsword
weighing more than 50 kilograms (110 lbs). His weapons are today displayed at the Topkapı Palace Museum
in Istanbul, and are intact and well preserved.
Murad IV, who had outlawed alcohol, died at the age of 27 from cirrhosis
of the liver in 1640. On his deathbed he ordered the execution of his brother, Ibrahim
(1640–48), which would have meant the end of the Ottoman line, but the order was not carried out. Murad possibly gave this order because he thought that Ibrahim, who was mentally ill, was not capable of being a good emperor.