Thursday, 30 June 2005

Smoking Kills! - Murad IV and his Irritability

Murad IV

We may well have warnings of the risks associated with smoking, on packets of cigarettes nowadays, but in 17th century Turkey things were a bit more serious. Sultan Murad IV was so opposed to his subjects smoking that he issued a decree stating that anyone found smoking would be killed and their corpse left to rot, at the spot where they were executed, even if that was a coffee shop, a street or home. Naturally this was a very effective deterrant.

However, Sultan Murad was not your average guy and many things as well as smoking irritated him to the point of warranting the death penalty. Like his predecessors he was rather mad and also an alcoholic. He could often be seen running through the streets at night, drunk, while simultaneously killing any unfortunate passer-by with his sword (they obviously irritated him by being there...). His favourite sport was to shoot arrows and bullets at the women of his harem and occasionaly ordered that many of them be drowned in front of him.

Murad IV came to power in 1623 after his uncle Mustafa I had been assassinated. during the early years of his reign, Murad was totaly controlled by his mother, Sultana Kosem, who effectively ruled through him. She was so possessive of her son that she would not let him sleep with girls and encouraged him to sleep with boys.
In 1635 Murad had his brother killed and a few years later several others were got rid of too.
In 1640, at the age of 27 he died of cirrhosis of the liver (no surprise really). Ironically, during his reign he had also banned alcohol as well as tobacco! On his deathbed he ordered his brother Ibrahim to be executed but nobody obeyed this order, which would have meant the end of the Ottoman line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this the Murad who is described in the guide to the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul as "Murad the Hunter?" He may have been an alcoholic, whatever that meant then, but he had had over 500 women in his harem and paid them a lot of attention, "The Hunter" appelation has nothing to so with the chase on the hunting filed and everything to do with his eager collection of young women. His numbers were not record one Sultan, conquests were over a thousand,