Kara Mustafa Pasha

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Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: مرزيفونلى قره مصطفى پاشا‎, Turkish: Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa; "Mustafa Pasha the Courageous of Merzifon"; 1634/1635 – 25 December 1683) was an Ottoman military commander and Grand Vizier, who was a central character in the Ottoman Empire's last attempts at expansion into both Central and Eastern Europe.


Battle of Vienna.Kara Mustapha Baffa.jpg
Kara Mustafa Pasha, Ottoman commander at the Battle of Vienna
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
19 October 1676 – 25 December 1683
MonarchMehmed IV
Preceded byKöprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha
Succeeded byBayburtlu Kara Ibrahim Pasha
Personal details
Born1634 or 1635
Merzifon, Rum Eyalet
Died25 December 1683
Belgrade, Budin Eyalet
RelationsKöprülü Mehmed Pasha (father-in-law)
Köprülüzade Fazıl Ahmed Pasha (brother-in-law)
Köprülüzade Fazıl Mustafa Pasha (brother-in-law)
FamilyKöprülü family
Military service
AllegianceFictitious Ottoman flag 2.svg Ottoman Empire
Branch/serviceFictitious Ottoman flag 4.svg Ottoman Navy
Fictitious Ottoman flag 2.svg Ottoman Army
Years of service1660s–1683
RankGrand Admiral (1666–70)
Commander-in-Chief (1676–83)
Battles/warsPolish–Ottoman War (1672–76)
Russo-Turkish War (1676–81)
Polish–Ottoman War (1683–99)
Great Turkish War (1683–99)

Early life and careerEdit

The Ottoman northern frontier in the seventeenth century, where Kara Mustafa Pasha led his early campaigns.

Born to Albanian parents[1][2] in Merzifon, Mustafa was educated in the household of Köprülü Mehmed Pasha and married into the powerful Köprülü family.[3] In 1659, he became governor of Silistria and subsequently held a number of important posts. Within ten years, he was acting as deputy for his brother-in-law, the grand vizier Köprülüzade Fazıl Ahmed Pasha when absent from the Sultan's court.[3]

He served as a commander of ground troops in a war against Poland, negotiating a settlement with Jan Sobieski in 1676 that added the province of Podolia to the empire. The victory enabled the Ottomans to transform the Cossack regions of the southern Ukraine into a protectorate. When his brother-in-law Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha died that same year, Mustafa succeeded him as grand vizier.[3]

Kara Mustafa led several successful campaigns into Ukraine, attempting to shore up the position of the Cossack state of Right-Bank Ukraine, then an Ottoman vassal. He established Ottoman garrisons in many of Ukraine's cities, and conquered the traditional Cossack capital of Chyhyryn, which had been under Russian occupation.[4]

Battle of ViennaEdit

Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha

In 1683, he launched a campaign northward into Austria in a last effort to expand the Ottoman Empire after more than 150 years of war. By mid-July, his 100,000-man army had besieged Vienna (guarded by 10,000 Habsburg soldiers), following in the footsteps of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1529. By September, he had taken a portion of the walls and appeared to be on his way to victory.

But on 12 September 1683, a Polish army under King Jan Sobieski took advantage of dissent within the Ottoman military command and poor disposition of his troops, winning the Battle of Vienna with a devastating flank attack led by Sobieski's Polish Winged Hussars. The Ottomans retreated into Hungary, much of which was subsequently conquered by the Habsburgs and their Holy League allies.

The defeat cost Mustafa his position, and ultimately, his life. On 25 December 1683, Kara Mustafa was executed in Belgrade at the order of Mehmed IV. He suffered death by strangulation with a silk cord, which was the method of capital punishment inflicted on high-ranking persons in the Ottoman Empire. His last words were, "Am I to die?" and "As God pleases."[3]


Kara Mustafa Pasha's strangulation by a silk cord on 25 December 1683.

The Foundation of Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha was one of the largest foundations ever founded both in Ottoman Empire and Turkey. According to the official records, it was last managed by the descendants of Kara Mustafa Pasha. The last few managers of the foundation were Mustafa Pasha's descendant Ahmed Asım Bey (born 1844), his son Mehmed Nebil Bey (born 1888) (also known as Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu or Merzifonlu Karamustafapaşaoğlu), and his son, the Turkish painter Doğan Yılmaz Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu, better known as Yılmaz Merzifonlu (1928–2010), until 1976. The "Merzifonlu Karamustafaoğlu" family name ended with the marriage of Yılmaz Merzifonlu's only daughter, Abide Tuğçe Mit.[5] Kara Mustafa Pasha's family and descendant tree can be found via Turkey's Directorate General of Foundations.[6]

Kara Mustafa Pasha's legacy in modern Turkey is mixed. Whereas historians describe him either as a capable tactician or reckless commander, Kemal Atatürk held a sympathetic view of the man. It is said that, while attending a lecture at an Ankara institution in 1933, at which a professor spoke disparagingly of Kara Mustafa Pasha, Atatürk spoke up in favour of Kara Mustafa, arguing that marching an army of 173,000 men from Constantinople to Vienna, the "cathedral of Europe", was a colossal undertaking for any commander, and that the only other person who came close to such a feat was Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent himself.

In mediaEdit

In the 2012 Polish and Italian historical drama film September Eleven 1683 about the Battle of Vienna, Kara Mustafa Pasha is portrayed by Italian actor Enrico Lo Verso.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hamilton, Alastair; Groot, Alexander Hendrik de; Boogert, Maurits H. Van Den (1 January 2000). Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century. BRILL. ISBN 9004118543.
  2. ^ Evliya Çelebi (ed. by von Hammer-Purgstall) (1 January 1834). The Travels of Evliya Efendi. p. 156.
  3. ^ a b c d The Siege of Vienna, John Stoye, p. 18.
  4. ^ Kołodziejczyk, Dariusz (2004). "Introduction". The Ottoman Survey Register of Podolia (ca. 1681) Part I: Text, Translation, and Commentary. Harvard University Press. pp. 3–10.
  5. ^ "Son Merzifonlu o filme karşı değil". www.hurriyet.com.tr. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  6. ^ http://www.vgm.gov.tr/ (in Turkish)

Further readingEdit

  • Olnon, Merlijn (2003). "'A Most Agreeable and Pleasant Creature'? Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa in the Correspondence of Justinus Colyer (1668-1682)". Oriente Moderno. 22 (New Series): 649–669.
Political offices
Preceded by
Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
19 October 1676 – 25 December 1683
Succeeded by
Bayburtlu Kara Ibrahim Pasha