List of sultans of the Ottoman Empire

Sultan of Ottoman Empire
Osmanlı padişahı
Sultan Mehmed VI of the Ottoman Empire.jpg
Last to reign
Mehmed VI
4 July 1918 – 1 November 1922
Style His Imperial Majesty
First monarch Osman I (c. 1299–1323/4)
Last monarch Mehmed VI (1918–1922)
Formation c. 1299
Abolition 1 November 1922
Residence Palaces in Istanbul:
Appointer Hereditary
Ottoman Imperial Standard
Ottoman Empire in 1683, at the height of its territorial expansion in Europe.

The sultans of the Ottoman Empire (Turkish: Osmanlı padişahları), who were all members of the Ottoman dynasty (House of Osman), ruled over the transcontinental empire from its perceived inception in 1299 to its dissolution in 1922. At its height, the Ottoman Empire spanned an area from Hungary in the north to Yemen in the south, and from Algeria in the west to Iraq in the east. Administered at first from the city of Söğüt since before 1280 and then from the city of Bursa since 1323 or 1324, the empire's capital was moved to Adrianople (now known as Edirne in English) in 1363 following its conquest by Murad I, and then to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in 1453 following its conquest by Mehmed II.[1]

Family tree

The Ottoman Empire's early years have been the subject of varying narratives due to the difficulty of discerning fact from legend. The empire came into existence at the end of the thirteenth century, and its first ruler (and the namesake of the Empire) was Osman I. According to later, often unreliable Ottoman tradition, Osman was a descendant of the Kayı tribe of the Oghuz Turks.[2] The eponymous Ottoman dynasty he founded endured for six centuries through the reigns of 36 sultans. The Ottoman Empire disappeared as a result of the defeat of the Central Powers with whom it had allied itself during World War I. The partitioning of the Empire by the victorious Allies and the ensuing Turkish War of Independence led to the abolition of the sultanate in 1922 and the birth of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1922.[3]


The sultan was also referred to as the Padishah (Ottoman Turkish: پادشاه‎, romanized: pâdişâh, French: Padichah). In Ottoman usage the word "Padisha" was usually used except "sultan" was used when he was directly named.[4] In several European languages, he was referred to as the Grand Turk, as the ruler of the Turks,[5] or simply the "Great Lord" (il Gran Signore, le grand seigneur) especially in the 16th century.

Names of the sultan in languages used by ethnic minorities:[4]

  • Arabic: In some documents "Padishah" was replaced by "malik" ("king")[4]
  • Bulgarian: In earlier periods Bulgarian people called him the "tsar". The translation of the Ottoman Constitution of 1876 instead used direct translations of "sultan" (Sultan) and "padishah" (Padišax)[4]
  • Greek: In earlier periods the Greeks used the Byzantine Empire-style name "basileus". The translation of the Ottoman Constitution of 1876 instead used a direct transliterations of "sultan" (Σουλτάνος Soultanos) and "padishah" (ΠΑΔΙΣΑΧ padisach).[4]
  • Judaeo-Spanish: Especially in older documents, El Rey ("the king") was used. In addition some Ladino documents used sultan (in Hebrew characters: שולטן and סולטן).[4]

State organisation of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was an absolute monarchy during much of its existence. By the second half of the fifteenth century, the sultan sat at the apex of a hierarchical system and acted in political, military, judicial, social, and religious capacities under a variety of titles.[a] He was theoretically responsible only to God and God's law (the Islamic شریعتşeriat, known in Arabic as شريعة sharia), of which he was the chief executor. His heavenly mandate was reflected in Islamic titles such as "shadow of God on Earth" (ظل الله في العالمẓıll Allāh fī'l-ʿalem) and "caliph of the face of the earth" (خلیفه روی زمینḪalife-i rū-yi zemīn).[6] All offices were filled by his authority, and every law was issued by him in the form of a decree called firman (فرمان‎). He was the supreme military commander and had the official title to all land.[7] Osman (died 1323/4) son of Ertuğrul was the first ruler of the Ottoman state, which during his reign constituted a small principality (beylik) in the region of Bithynia on the frontier of the Byzantine Empire.

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Mehmed II, Ottoman sultans came to regard themselves as the successors of the Roman Empire, hence their occasional use of the titles caesar (قیصرqayser) of Rûm, and emperor,[6][8][9] as well as the caliph of Islam.[b] Newly enthroned Ottoman rulers were girded with the Sword of Osman, an important ceremony that served as the equivalent of European monarchs' coronation.[10] A non-girded sultan was not eligible to have his children included in the line of succession.[11]

Although absolute in theory and in principle, the sultan's powers were limited in practice. Political decisions had to take into account the opinions and attitudes of important members of the dynasty, the bureaucratic and military establishments, as well as religious leaders.[7] Beginning in the last decades of the sixteenth century, the role of the Ottoman sultans in the government of the empire began to decrease, in a period known as the Transformation of the Ottoman Empire. Despite being barred from inheriting the throne,[12] women of the imperial harem—especially the reigning sultan's mother, known as the valide sultan—also played an important behind-the-scenes political role, effectively ruling the empire during the period known as the Sultanate of Women.[13]

Constitutionalism was established during the reign Abdul Hamid II, who thus became the empire's last absolute ruler and its reluctant first constitutional monarch.[14] Although Abdul Hamid II abolished the parliament and the constitution to return to personal rule in 1878, he was again forced in 1908 to reinstall constitutionalism and was deposed. Since 2021, the head of the House of Osman has been Harun Osman, a great-grandson of Abdul Hamid II.[15]

List sultans

The table below lists Ottoman sultans, as well as the last Ottoman caliph, in chronological order. Continuingly, the tughras were the calligraphic seals or signatures used by Ottoman sultans. They were displayed on all official documents as well as on coins, and were far more important in identifying a sultan than his portrait. The "Notes" column contains information on each sultan's parentage and fate. For earlier rulers, there is usually a time gap between the moment a sultan's reign ended and the moment his successor was enthroned. This is because the Ottomans in that era practiced what historian Quataert has described as "survival of the fittest, not eldest, son": when a sultan died, his sons had to fight each other for the throne until a victor emerged. Because of the infighting and numerous fratricides that occurred, a sultan's death date therefore did not always coincide with the accession date of his successor.[16] In 1617, the law of succession changed from survival of the fittest to a system based on agnatic seniority (اکبریتekberiyet), whereby the throne went to the oldest male of the family. This in turn explains why from the 17th century onwards a deceased sultan was rarely succeeded by his own son, but usually by an uncle or brother.[17] Agnatic seniority was retained until the abolition of the sultanate, despite unsuccessful attempts in the 19th century to replace it with primogeniture.[18] Note that pretenders and co-claimants during the Ottoman Interregnum are also listed here, but they are not included in the formal numbering of sultans.

Sultan Portrait Reigned from Reigned until Time in office Tughra Notes
Rise of the Ottoman Empire
(1299 – 1453)
1 Osman I
ĠĀZĪ (the Warrior)
Osman Gazi2.jpg c. 1299 c. 1326[19] 27 years, 0 days
  • Son of Ertuğrul Bey[20] and an unknown woman.[21]
  • Reigned until his death.
2 Orhan
ĠĀZĪ (the Warrior)
Orhan Gazi.jpg c. 1326[22] 1362 36 years, 0 days Tughra of Orhan
3 Murad I
SULTÂN-I ÂZAM (the Most Exalted Sultan)
(the Devotee of God)
ŞEHÎD (the Martyr) [24][b]
Murat Hüdavendigar.jpg 1362 15 June 1389 27 years, 165 days Tughra of Murad I
4 Bayezid I
SULTÂN-I RÛM (Sultan of Rome)
YILDIRIM (Thunderbolt)
Baiazeth. P. IIII.jpg 15 June 1389 20 July 1402 13 years, 35 days Tughra of Bayezid I
Ottoman Interregnum[d]
(20 July 14025 July 1413)
İsa Çelebi
The Co-Sultan of Anatolia
İsa Çelebi.jpg 1403–1405
(Sultan of the Western Anatolian Territory)
1406 3 years, 0 days
Emir (Amir)
Süleyman Çelebi

The First Sultan of Rumelia
Arolsen Klebeband 01 449 4.jpg 20 July 1402 17 February 1411[27] 8 years, 212 days Suleyman Celebi Tughra.png
Musa Çelebi
The Second Sultan of Rumelia
Musa Çelebi-cropped.jpg 18 February 1411 5 July 1413[29] 2 years, 0 days
Mehmed Çelebi
The Sultan of Anatolia
Çelebi Mehmet.jpg 1403–1406
(Sultan of the Eastern Anatolian Territory)

(The Sultan of Anatolia)
5 July 1413 10 years, 185 days
Sultanate resumed
5 Mehmed I
ÇELEBİ (The Affable)
KİRİŞÇİ (lit. The Bowstring Maker for his support)
Mehmed I miniature.jpg 5 July 1413 26 May 1421 7 years, 325 days Tughra of Mehmed I
Mustafa Çelebi
The Third Sultan of Rumelia
January 1419 May 1422 3 years, 120 days
6 Murad II
KOCA (The Great)
Ghazavat-ı Sultan (Ghazi Sultan)

II. Murat.jpg 25 June 1421 1444 22 years, 190 days Tughra of Murad II
7 Mehmed II
FĀTİḤ (The Conqueror)
Gentile Bellini 003.jpg 1444 1446 2 years, 0 days Tughra of Mehmed II
  • Son of Murad II and Hüma Hatun.[21]
  • Surrendered the throne to his father after having asked him to return to power, along with rising threats from Janissaries.[33]
(6) Murad II
KOCA (The Great)
II. Murat.jpg 1446 3 February 1451 5 years, 33 days Tughra of Murad II
  • Second reign;
  • Forced to return to the throne following a Janissary insurgence;[34]
  • Reigned until his death.
Growth of the Ottoman Empire
(7) Mehmed II
KĀYSER-Ī RÛM (Caesar of the Roman Empire)
FĀTĪḤ (The Conqueror)
Gentile Bellini 003.jpg 3 February 1451 3 May 1481 30 years, 89 days Tughra of Mehmed II
8 Bayezid II
VELÎ (The Saint)
Beyazid II.jpg 19 May 1481 25 April 1512 30 years, 342 days Tughra of Bayezid II
Cem Sultan Cem-in-italy.jpg 28 May 1481 20 June 1481 23 days Tughra of Cem
  • Son of Mehmed II
  • Acquired the title Cem bin Mehmed Han.[37]
  • Died in exile
9 Selim I
YAVUZ (The Strong)
Hadim'ul Haramain'ish-Sharifain
(Servant of Meccah and Medina)
Yavuz Sultan I. Selim Han.jpg 25 April 1512 21 September 1520 8 years, 149 days Tughra of Selim I
10 Suleiman I
MÛHTEŠEM (The Magnificent)
or KANÛNÎ (The Lawgiver) قانونى
EmperorSuleiman.jpg 30 September 1520 6 September 1566 45 years, 341 days Tughra of Suleiman I
Transformation of the Ottoman Empire
11 Selim II
SARI (The Blond)

Fatih Cyprus (The Conqueror of Cyprus) Sarhoş (The Drunk)

II. Selim Han.jpg 29 September 1566 21 December 1574 8 years, 83 days Tughra of Selim II
12 Murad III
Dindar (The Pious)
Sultan Murad III.jpeg 22 December 1574 16 January 1595 20 years, 25 days Tughra of Murad III
13 Mehmed III
ADLÎ (The Just)
Sultan Mehmet III of the Ottoman Empire.jpg 16 January 1595 22 December 1603 8 years, 340 days Tughra of Mehmed III
14 Ahmed I
BAḪTī (The Fortunate)
Sultan I. Ahmet.jpg 22 December 1603 22 November 1617 13 years, 335 days Tughra of Ahmed I
15 Mustafa I
DELİ (The Mad)
I Mustafa (cropped).jpg 22 November 1617 26 February 1618 96 days Tughra of Mustafa I
16 Osman II
GENÇ (The Young)
ŞEHÎD (The Martyr)

Osman 2.jpg 26 February 1618 19 May 1622 4 years, 82 days Tughra of Osman II
(15) Mustafa I
DELİ (The Mad)
I Mustafa (cropped).jpg 20 May 1622 10 September 1623 1 year, 113 days Tughra of Mustafa I
  • Second reign;
  • Returned to the throne after the assassination of his nephew Osman II;
  • Deposed due to his poor mental health and confined until his death in Istanbul on 20 January 1639.[44]
17 Murad IV
The Conqueror of Baghdad
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)

Murad IV.jpg 10 September 1623 8 February 1640 16 years, 151 days Tughra of Murad IV
18 Ibrahim
DELİ (The Mad)
The Conqueror of Crete
Ibrahim I.jpg 9 February 1640 8 August 1648 8 years, 181 days Tughra of Ibrahim
19 Mehmed IV
AVCI (The Hunter)
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Sultan Mehmed IV (2).jpg 8 August 1648 8 November 1687 39 years, 92 days Tughra of Mehmed IV
20 Suleiman II
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Süleyman II.jpg 8 November 1687 22 June 1691 3 years, 226 days Tughra of Suleiman II
21 Ahmed II
ḪĀN ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior Prince)
Ahmet II.jpg 22 June 1691 6 February 1695 3 years, 229 days Tughra of Ahmed II
22 Mustafa II
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
II. Mustafa.jpg 6 February 1695 22 August 1703 8 years, 197 days Tughra of Mustafa II
Stagnation and reform of the Ottoman Empire
23 Ahmed III
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
III. Ahmet.jpg 22 August 1703 1 October 1730 27 years, 40 days Tughra of Ahmed III
24 Mahmud I
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
KAMBUR (The Hunchback)
Mahmud1.jpg 2 October 1730 13 December 1754 24 years, 72 days Tughra of Mahmud I
25 Osman III
SOFU (The Devout)
OsmanIII.jpg 13 December 1754 30 October 1757 2 years, 321 days Tughra of Osman III
26 Mustafa III
YENİLİKÇİ (The First Innovative)
Mustafa3.jpg 30 October 1757 21 January 1774 16 years, 83 days Tughra of Mustafa III
27 Abdul Hamid I
Abd ūl-Hāmīd (The Servant of God)
ISLAHATÇI (The Improver)
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Portrait of Abdülhamid I of the Ottoman Empire.jpg 21 January 1774 7 April 1789 15 years, 76 days Tughra of Abdul Hamid I
28 Selim III
BESTEKÂR (The Composer)
NİZÂMÎ (Regulative - Orderly)
ŞEHÎD (The Martyr)
Joseph Warnia-Zarzecki - Sultan Selim III - Google Art Project.jpg 7 April 1789 29 May 1807 18 years, 52 days Tughra of Selim III
29 Mustafa IV IV. Mustafa.jpg 29 May 1807 28 July 1808 1 year, 60 days Tughra of Mustafa IV
Modernization of the Ottoman Empire
30 Mahmud II
İNKILÂPÇI (The Reformer)
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Mahmud II.jpg 28 July 1808 1 July 1839 30 years, 338 days Tughra of Mahmud II
31 Abdulmejid I
(The Strong Reformist or
The Advocate of Reorganization)

ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Sultan Abdulmecid Pera Museum 3 b.jpg 1 July 1839 25 June 1861 21 years, 359 days Tughra of Abdulmejid I
32 Abdulaziz
BAḪTSIZ (The Unfortunate)
ŞEHĪD (The Martyr)
Abdulaziz.jpg 25 June 1861 30 May 1876 14 years, 340 days Tughra of Abdulaziz
  • Son of Mahmud II and Pertevniyal Sultan;
  • Deposed by his ministers;
  • Found dead (suicide or murder) five days later.[61]
33 Murad V Portrait of Murad V.jpg 30 May 1876 31 August 1876 93 days Tughra of Murad V
34 Abdul Hamid II
Ulû Sultân Abd ūl-Hāmīd Khan

(The Sublime Khan)

Abdul Hamid II in Balmoral Castle in 1867-colored.jpg 31 August 1876 27 April 1909 32 years, 239 days Tughra of Abdul Hamid II
35 Mehmed V
REŞÂD (Rashād)

(The True Path Follower)

Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire cropped.jpg 27 April 1909 3 July 1918 9 years, 67 days Tughra of Mehmed V
36 Mehmed VI
VAHDETTİN (Wāhīd ād-Dīn)

(The Unifier of Dīn (Islam) or The Oneness of Islam)

Sultan Mehmed VI of the Ottoman Empire.jpg 4 July 1918 1 November 1922 4 years, 120 days Tughra of Mehmed VI
Caliph under the Republic
(1 November 1922 – 3 March 1924)
Abdulmejid II Portrait Caliph Abdulmecid II.jpg 18 November 1922 3 March 1924 1 year, 106 days

See also