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Line of succession to the former Ottoman throne

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Line of succession to the former Ottoman throne

The Ottoman Dynasty had unusual succession practices compared to other monarchies.[1] Those succession practices changed over time, and ultimately the sultanate was abolished in 1922.

Succession practices

In the early period (from the 14th through the late 16th centuries), the Ottomans practiced open succession, or what historian Donald Quataert has described as "survival of the fittest, not eldest, son." During their father's lifetime, all of the adult sons of the reigning sultan would hold provincial governorships. Accompanied and mentored by their mothers, they would gather supporters while ostensibly following a Ghazw ethos. Upon the death of their father, the sons would fight among themselves until one emerged triumphant. How remote a province the son governed was of great significance. The closer the region that a particular son was in charge of the better the chances were of that son succeeding, simply because he would be told of the news of his father's death and be able to get to Constantinople first and declare himself Sultan. Thus a father could hint at whom he preferred by giving his favourite son a closer governorship. Bayezid II, for instance had to fight his brother Cem Sultan in the 1480s for the right to rule. Occasionally, the half-brothers would even begin the struggle before the death of their father. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566), strife among his sons Selim and Mustafa caused enough internal turmoil that Suleiman ordered the death of Mustafa, leaving Selim II the sole heir.

With Suleiman and Selim, the favourite concubine (haseki) of the Sultan achieved new prominence. Gaining power within the harem, the favourite was able to manoeuvre to ensure the succession for one of her sons. This led to a short period of effective primogeniture. However, unlike the earlier period, when the sultan had already defeated his brothers (and potential rivals for the throne) in battle, these sultans had the problem of many half-brothers who could act as the focus for factions that could threaten the sultan. Thus, to prevent attempts upon his throne, the sultan practiced fratricide upon ascending the throne. The practice of fratricide, first employed by Mehmed II, soon became widespread.[2] Both Murad III and his son Mehmed III had their half-brothers murdered. The killing of all the new sultan's brothers and half-brothers (which were usually quite numerous) was traditionally done by manual strangling with a silk cord. As the centuries passed, the ritual killing was gradually replaced by lifetime solitary confinement in the kafes ("Golden Cage"), a room in the Imperial Harem from where the sultan's brothers could never escape, unless perchance they became next in line to the throne. Some had already become mentally unstable by the time they were asked to reign.

Mehmed III, however, was the last sultan to have previously held a provincial governorship. Sons now remained within the imperial harem until the death of their father. This denied them not only the ability to form powerful factions capable of usurping their father, but also denied them the opportunity to have children while their father remained alive. Thus when Mehmet's son came to the throne as Ahmed I, he had no children of his own. Moreover, as a minor, there was no evidence he could have children. This had the potential to create a crisis of succession and led to a gradual end to fratricide. Ahmed had some of his brothers killed, but not Mustafa (later Mustafa I). Similarly, Osman II allowed his half-brothers Murad and Ibrahim to live. This led to a shift in the 17th century from a system of primogeniture to one based on agnatic seniority, in which the eldest male within the dynasty succeeded, also to guarantee adult sultans and prevent both fratricides as well as the sultanate of women. Thus, Mustafa succeeded his brother Ahmed; Suleiman II and Ahmed II succeeded their brother Mehmed IV before being succeeded in turn by Mehmed's son Mustafa II. Agnatic seniority explains why from the 17th century onwards a deceased sultan was rarely succeeded by his own son, but usually by an uncle or brother. It also meant that potential rulers had to wait a long time in the kafes before ascending the throne, hence the old age of certain sultans upon their enthronement.[3] Although attempts were made in the 19th century to replace agnatic seniority with primogeniture, they were unsuccessful, and seniority was retained until the abolition of the sultanate in 1922.[4]

List of heirs since 1922

The Ottoman dynasty was expelled from Turkey in 1924.[5] The female members of the dynasty were allowed to return after 1951,[5] and the male members after 1973.[6] Below is a list of people who would have been heirs to the Ottoman throne following the abolition of the sultanate on 1 November 1922.[6] These people have not necessarily made any claim to the throne; for example Ertuğrul Osman said “Democracy works well in Turkey.”[7]


Current line of succession

According to genealogies of the House of Ottoman, there would hypothetically be twenty-five Princes now in the line of succession after Bayezid Osman, if the sultanate had not been abolished.[10][11][12] They are listed as follows; the succession law used is agnatic seniority, with the succession passing to eldest male dynast.[13]

  1. Prince Şehzade Dündar Aliosman Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1930) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][14][15][12][11]
  2. Prince Şehzade Harun Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1932) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][14][15][12][11]
  3. Prince Şehzade Cengiz Nazim Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1939) (descendant of Mehmed V)[13][10][14][15][12][11]
  4. Prince Şehzade Osman Selaheddin Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1940) (descendant of Murad V through Ahmed IV and Ali I)[13][10][14][15][12][11]
  5. Prince Şehzade Ömer Abdülmecid Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1941) (descendant of Mehmed V through Ömer Hilmi and Mahmud Namık)[10][15][12][11]
  6. Prince Şehzade Mehmed Selim Orhan Efendi Hazretleri (1943) Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  7. Prince Şehzade Mehmed Ziyaeddin Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1947) (descendant of Mehmed V)[14][10][15][12][11]
  8. Prince Şehzade Roland Selim Kadir Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1949) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  9. Prince Şehzade Selim Djem Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1955) (descendant of Abdülmecid I)[13][10][15][12][11]
  10. Prince Şehzade Orhan İbrahim Süleyman Saadeddin Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1959) (descendant of Abdülaziz I)[13][10][15][12][11]
  11. Prince Şehzade Orhan Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1963) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  12. Prince Şehzade Eric Mehmed Ziyaeddin Nazim Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1966) (descendant of Mehmed V)[10][15][12][11]
  13. Prince Şehzade Orhan Murad Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1972) (descendant of Murad V through Ahmed IV and Ali I)[13][14][10][15][12][11]
  14. Prince Şehzade Francis Mahmud Namık Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1975) (descendant of Mehmed V through Ömer Hilmi and Mahmud Namık)[10][15][12][11]
  15. Prince Şehzade René Osman Abdul Kadir Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1975) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  16. Prince Şehzade Daniel Adrian Hamid Kadir Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1977) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  17. Prince Şehzade Abdulhamid Kayıhan Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1979) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  18. Prince Şehzade Selim Süleyman Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1979) (descendant of Murad V through Ahmed IV and Ali I)[13][10][15][12][11]
  19. Prince Şehzade Nazım Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1985) (descendant of Mehmed V)[10][15][12][11]
  20. Prince Şehzade Yavuz Selim Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 1989) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[13][10][15][12][11]
  21. Prince Şehzade Turan Cem Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 2004) (descendant of Murad V through Ahmed IV and Ali I)[10][15][12][11]
  22. Prince Şehzade Tamer Nihad Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 2006) (descendant of Murad V through Ahmed IV and Ali I)[10][15][12][11]
  23. Prince Şehzade Muhammed Harun Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 2007) (descendant of Abdul Hamid II)[10][12][11]
  24. Prince Şehzade Batu Bayezid Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 2008) (descendant of Murad V through Ahmed IV and Ali I)[10][15][12][11]
  25. Prince Şehzade Ziya Reşad Osmanoğlu Efendi Hazretleri (b. 2012) (descendant of Mehmed V through Ömer Hilmi and Mahmud Namık)[16]

Excluded from the Imperial House in 1931

Expelled from the Imperial House of Osman by the last Caliph, Abdülmecid II, in 1931.

*(Şehzade) Prens Mahmud Şevket (Efendi Hazretleri) (1903, Istanbul - 1973, France)

See also

References

Bibliography

External links

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