Alemdar Mustafa Pasha

Alemdar Mustafa Pasha (also called Bayraktar Mustafa Pasha; died 15 November 1808) was an Ottoman military commander and a Grand Vizier born in Khotyn in then Ottoman territory Ukraine in 1765. He was of Tosk Albanian origin,[1] from the village of Goskovë near Korçë.[2] Both alemdar and bayraktar mean "the standard bearer" and were the names given to the same rank in the Janissary corps. Alemdar Mustafa Pasha is often regarded as one of the pioneering public figures, who recognized the need of a modern army, as he was instrumental in setting up the French military mission in 1796.

مصطفی پاشا

Mustafa bairakdar.jpg
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
29 July 1808 – 15 November 1808
MonarchMustafa IV
Preceded byÇelebi Mustafa Pasha [tr]
Succeeded byÇavuşbaşı Memiş Pasha [tr]
Personal details
Bornc. 1750
Khotyn, Ukraine
Died15 November 1808(1808-11-15) (aged 57–58)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire

Early careerEdit

He was originally the ayan (provincial notable) of Rusçuk, and one of the strongest ayans of his time. The deposition of the reformer Sultan Selim III in 1807, and his replacement with the reactionary Mustafa IV by the Janissaries and other opponents of reform, provoked Alemdar Mustafa Pasha to lead his army of Albanians and Bosnians to Constantinople in an attempt to reinstate Selim III and restore his reforms. After he arrived, Mustafa IV ordered Selim III and Mahmud II killed, succeeding in the former case. Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, seeing Selim III dead, gave fealty to Mahmud II (Selim's cousin), and he was instated the sultan, with Alemdar as his Grand Vizier.

As vizier, Bayraktar purged the soldiers who had rebelled against Selim, removed conservatives from government positions and replaced them with men sympathetic to reform. Bayraktar modernized the army and navy and attempted to reform the Janissaries, but Mahmud, fearing a political backlash of the elite corps, halted such change. Bayraktar's power and influence and his arrogance wielding it caused a rebellion against his position. In November 1808, the Janissaries attacked the Porte and laid siege to the stone powder magazine where he and his personal guard had taken refuge. As the Janissaries were about to break in the powder barrels exploded, killing Bayraktar, his guard, and several hundred Janissaries.

He rose through the Janissary corps. After having been promoted to commandership, he took part in the wars against Austria and Russian Empire.

In 1808, when the Sultan Mustafa IV ascended the throne with the help of the reactionaries who opposed the reform efforts undertook by Selim III, and the deposed Selim III was imprisoned, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha was the governor of the city of Rusçuk (today "Rousse") in Bulgaria.

The assault on Constantinople and fight against the reactionariesEdit

Alemdar Mustafa Pasha had always been a keen supporter of Sultan Selim III. With Mustafa IV on the throne rule and the reactionary rebels commanded by Kabakçı Mustafa in command of the Ottoman capital, Mustafa Pasha gathered a council in Rusçuk and the council decided to take action.

On 21 June 1808, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha and his army of about 15,000 men arrived in Constantinople. They easily took control, and Alemdar Mustafa Pasha ordered the rebels killed or exiled.

When Mustafa IV learned of these events, he decided to have his uncle, Selim III, and his younger brother, Prince Mahmut, killed in order to remain the only member of the imperial family. The executioners arrived first in the room of Selim III in the palace. Selim III, who was playing reed flute and had no weapons, resisted with his flute, but his efforts proved futile and he was strangled. His dead body was brought in front of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, who began weeping, thinking he had failed in all his objectives.

His men warned him that Mustafa IV's men planned to kill Prince Mahmud as well. The executioners had raided the prince's room, but the servants hid the prince on the roof. Alemdar Mustafa and his men arrived and broke down the palace doors. They killed the rebels and eventually saved the prince.

Alemdar Mustafa Pasha declared prince Mahmud the new sultan with the name Mahmud II, and became his grand vizier.

In the service of Sultan Mahmud IIEdit

But differences of opinion soon emerged between the two. First of all, he made an agreement with the rebel representative from Anatolian lands, which was named "Charter of Alliance" (Sened-i Ittifak). Sultan Mahmud thought that his authority was limited by that agreement, and he withdrew his support for the Pasha.

Secondly, he re-established the army of Nizam-ı Cedid under a different name: Sekban-I Cedid Army. the Nizam-ı Cedid Army was a rival of the corps of Janissaries; therefore the Janissaries hated this army. The new name can be explained as an effort not to anger Janissaries. Furthermore, Bayraktar conducted an investigation among the Janissary corps and he fired the men who were not in fact Janissaries but receiving Janissary salaries all the same.


His measures would eventually lay the ground for further reforms in the Ottoman Empire. But meanwhile, the ruling elites were resentful of him. On 15 November 1808, about a thousand Janissaries raided Alemdar Mustafa Pasha's house. Realizing he could not survive the assault, he ignited the gunpowder reserves in the cellar of his house, killing himself and approximately 400 Janissaries in the ensuing explosion. Alemdar Mustafa Pasha was buried in the courtyard of the Zeynep Sultan Mosque in Istanbul.

A street in Istanbul near the Sublime Porte is named after Alemdar Mustafa Pasha. A plaque there states that his father was a Janissary from Ruscuk.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Danişmend (1971), p. 70.
  2. ^ Q.Haxhihasani (1981), Thimi Mitko: Vepra, Academy of Sciences of the P.S.R. of Albania, Instituti i Kulturës Popullore, p. 261, OCLC 17071963, Mustafa Bajraktari, me origjinë prej fshatit Goskovë te Korçës, qeveritar i Rusçukut...
  • Shaw, S. J. and Shaw, E. Z. 1997. History of the Ottoman Empire, Volume 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ortayli, I. İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı (Longest Century of the Empire). Hil Yayinlari (1983)
Political offices
Preceded by
Çelebi Mustafa Pasha [tr]
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
29 July 1808 – 15 November 1808
Succeeded by
Çavuşbaşı Memiş Pasha [tr]