List of sultans of the Ottoman Empire

Sultan of
the Ottoman Empire
Osmanlı padişahları
Best known office holder
Suleiman I
30 September 1520 – 6 September 1566
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
Pretender(s) Dündar Ali Osman
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 Edirne 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]

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).[4] 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.[5] 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,[4][6][7] 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.[8] A non-girded sultan was not eligible to have his children included in the line of succession.[9]

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.[5] 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,[10] 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.[11]

Constitutionalism was only established during the reign Abdul Hamid II, who thus became the empire's last absolute ruler and its reluctant first constitutional monarch.[12] 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 2017, the head of the House of Osman has been Dündar Ali Osman, a great-grandson of Abdul Hamid II.[13]

List of sultans

The table below lists Ottoman sultans, as well as the last Ottoman caliph, in chronological order. 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.[14] 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.[15] Agnatic seniority was retained until the abolition of the sultanate, despite unsuccessful attempts in the 19th century to replace it with primogeniture.[16]

Sultan Portrait Reigned from Reigned until Tughra Notes
Rise of the Ottoman Empire
(1299 – 1453)
1 Osman I
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Osman Gazi2.jpg c. 1299 c. 1326 [17]
  • Son of Ertuğrul Bey[18] and an unknown woman.[19]
  • Reigned until his death.
2 Orhan
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Orhan Gazi.jpg c. 1326 c. 1362 [20] 1362 Tughra of Orhan
3 Murad I
SULTAN-İ AZAM (The Most Exalted Sultan)
(The devotee of God)
ŞEHÎD (Martyr) [22][b]
Murat Hüdavendigar.jpg 1362 15 June 1389 Tughra of Murad I
4 Bayezid I
SULTAN-İ RÛM (Sultan of the Roman Empire)
YILDIRIM (Lightning)
Bayezid I by Cristofano dell'Altissimo.jpg 15 June 1389 20 July 1402 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)
Emir (Amir)
Süleyman Çelebi

The First Sultan of Rumelia
Arolsen Klebeband 01 449 4.jpg 20 July 1402 17 February 1411[25]
Musa Çelebi
The Second Sultan of Rumelia
Musa Çelebi.jpg 18 February 1411 5 July 1413[27]
Mehmed Çelebi
The Sultan of Anatolia
Çelebi Mehmet.jpg 1403–1406
(Sultan of the Eastern Anatolian Territory)

(The Sultan of Anatolia)
5 July 1413
Sultanate resumed
5 Mehmed I
ÇELEBİ (The Affable)
KİRİŞÇİ (lit. The Bowstring Maker for his support)
Çelebi Mehmet.jpg 5 July 1413 26 May 1421 Tughra of Mehmed I
6 Murad II
KOCA (The Great)
II. Murat.jpg 25 June 1421 1444 Tughra of Murad II
7 Mehmed II
FĀTİḤ (The Conqueror)
Gentile Bellini 003.jpg 1444 1446 Tughra of Mehmed II
  • Son of Murad II and Hüma Hatun.[19]
  • Surrendered the throne to his father after having asked him to return to power, along with rising threats from Janissaries.[31]
(6) Murad II
KOCA (The Great)
II. Murat.jpg 1446 3 February 1451 Tughra of Murad II
  • Second reign;
  • Forced to return to the throne following a Janissary insurgence;[32]
  • Reigned until his death.
Growth of the Ottoman Empire
(1453 – 1550)
(7) Mehmed II
KAYSER-İ RÛM (Caesar of the Roman Empire)
FĀTİḤ (The Conqueror)
Gentile Bellini 003.jpg 3 February 1451 3 May 1481 Tughra of Mehmed II
8 Bayezid II
VELÎ (The Saint)
Beyazid II.jpg 19 May 1481 25 April 1512 Tughra of Bayezid II
9 Selim I
YAVUZ (The Strong)
Hadim'ul Haramain'ish-Sharifain
(Servant of Mecca and Medina)
Yavuz Sultan I. Selim Han.jpg 25 April 1512 21 September 1520 Tughra of Selim I
10 Suleiman I
MUHTEŞEM (The Magnificent)

or KANÛNÎ (The Lawgiver)

EmperorSuleiman.jpg 30 September 1520 6 or 7 September 1566 Tughra of Suleiman I
Transformation of the Ottoman Empire
(1550 – 1700)
11 Selim II
SARI (The Blond)

MEST (the Sot)

II. Selim Han.jpg 29 September 1566 21 December 1574 Tughra of Selim II
12 Murad III Sultan Murad III.jpeg 22 December 1574 16 January 1595 Tughra of Murad III
13 Mehmed III
ADLÎ (The Just)
Sultan Mehmet III of the Ottoman Empire.jpg 27 January 1595 20 or 21 December 1603 Tughra of Mehmed III
14 Ahmed I
BAḪTī (The Fortunate)
Sultan I. Ahmet.jpg 21 December 1603 22 November 1617 Tughra of Ahmed I
15 Mustafa I
DELİ (The Mad)
I Mustafa (cropped).jpg 22 November 1617 26 February 1618 Tughra of Mustafa I
16 Osman II
GENÇ (The Young)
ŞEHÎD (The Martyr)

Osman 2.jpg 26 February 1618 19 May 1622 Tughra of Osman II
(15) Mustafa I
DELİ (The Mad)
I Mustafa (cropped).jpg 20 May 1622 10 September 1623 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.[41]
17 Murad IV
The Conqueror of Baghdad
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)

Murad IV.jpg 10 September 1623 8 or 9 February 1640 Tughra of Murad IV
18 Ibrahim
DELİ (The Mad)
The Conqueror of Crete
Ibrahim I.jpg 9 February 1640 8 August 1648 Tughra of Ibrahim
19 Mehmed IV
AVCI (The Hunter)
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Sultan Mehmed IV (2).jpg 8 August 1648 8 November 1687 Tughra of Mehmed IV
20 Suleiman II
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Süleyman II.jpg 8 November 1687 22 June 1691 Tughra of Suleiman II
21 Ahmed II
ḪĀN ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior Prince)
Ahmet II.jpg 22 June 1691 6 February 1695 Tughra of Ahmed II
22 Mustafa II
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
II. Mustafa.jpg 6 February 1695 22 August 1703 Tughra of Mustafa II
Stagnation and reform of the Ottoman Empire
(1700 – 1827)
23 Ahmed III
Tulip Era Sultan
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
III. Ahmet.jpg 22 August 1703 1 or 2 October 1730 Tughra of Ahmed III
24 Mahmud I
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
KAMBUR (The Hunchback)
Mahmud1.jpg 2 October 1730 13 December 1754 Tughra of Mahmud I
25 Osman III
SOFU (The Devout)
OsmanIII.jpg 13 December 1754 29 or 30 October 1757 Tughra of Osman III
26 Mustafa III
YENİLİKÇİ (The First Innovative)
Mustafa3.jpg 30 October 1757 21 January 1774 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 6 or 7 April 1789 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 Tughra of Selim III
29 Mustafa IV IV. Mustafa.jpg 29 May 1807 28 July 1808 Tughra of Mustafa IV
Modernization of the Ottoman Empire
(1827 – 1908)
30 Mahmud II
İNKILÂPÇI (The Reformer)
ĠĀZĪ (The Warrior)
Mahmud II.jpg 28 July 1808 1 July 1839 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 Tughra of Abdulmejid I
32 Abdülaziz
BAḪTSIZ (The Unfortunate)
ŞEHĪD (The Martyr)
Abdulaziz.jpg 25 June 1861 30 May 1876 Tughra of Abdülaziz
  • Son of Mahmud II and Pertevniyal Sultan;
  • Deposed by his ministers;
  • Found dead (suicide or murder) five days later.[58]
33 Murad V Portrait of Murad V.jpg 30 May 1876 31 August 1876 Tughra of Murad V
34 Abdul Hamid II
Ulû Sultân Abd ūl-Hāmīd Khan

(The Sublime Khan)

Shahzade Abdulhamid (1867).jpg 31 August 1876 27 April 1909 Tughra of Abdul Hamid II
35 Mehmed V
REŞÂD (Rashād)

(The True Path Follower)

Sultan Muhammed Chan V., Kaiser der Osmanen 1915 C. Pietzner.png 27 April 1909 3 July 1918 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 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

See also