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1536: Pargali Ibrahim Pasha, Suleiman the Magnificent’s friend and grand vizier

March 15th, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1536,* the Ottoman Empire’s mightiest Grand Vizier was strangled at the order of the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Say what you will about the Grand Vizier, the man knew how to enjoy the fruits of his transitory power. This, his Istanbul palace, is today the Museum of Islamic and Turkish Arts. (cc) image from docman

An Albanian [update: and/or Greek] Christian, Ibrahim Pasha — not to be confused with several other historical figures of that name, notably an Egyptian general — found his way into the Ottoman slave quarters and became a boyhood friend of the young Suleiman.

Thereafter the two would rise together: as Sultan, Suleiman rapidly promoted his trusted friend, and even married a sister to him.

So absolute was Ibrahim’s power that Italian diplomats** called him “Ibrahim the Magnificent”. At the Ottomans’ acme, his word was law as surely as his distinguished master’s. Ibrahim’s achievements in war, diplomacy, and as a patron of the arts attested his worthiness of the honors.

Unfortunately, he may have taken those honorifics a little too much to heart.

We do not know the precise cause of Ibrahim Pasha’s fall: only that it was precipitous. Two months after returning from a campaign against the Safavids that reconquered Baghdad, he was put to death, reputedly spurning an opportunity to flee and loyally submitting himself to the Sultan’s punishment. Much as this smacks of poetic amplification, Ibrahim’s last meal was said to be taken dining alone with Suleiman.

It’s impossible that in 13 years as Grand Vizier, this Islamic convert and upstart slave had not won himself powerful enemies — but he lived in Suleiman’s favor, and was destroyed when that favor reversed. One theory of Ibrahim’s fall has it that his self-awarded titles started getting a little bit, er, “magnificent” and Suleiman jealously snuffed out any potential for actual political rivalry. Another looks towards the Ukrainian slave girl who was taking over Suleiman’s harem — Roxelana, who would ruthlessly destroy all the political obstacles to her son’s eventual succession.

Between those two, or other palace machinations, or factors yet un-guessed, Suleiman was induced to destroy his boyhood companion and right-hand man. And in the thirty years the sultan had to outlive his vizier, who knows what pangs conscience held in store.

Dear Lord! Shower me with your grace
Whether there is any remedy other than You I do not know.
Help me, forgive my sins,
Please, help me, forgive my sins.

poetry by Suleiman the Magnificent, writing as “Muhibbi”

* There are some other March 1536 dates out there, but the Ides seems like the strongest.

** Very tight with the Ottomans.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,History,Ottoman Empire,Politicians,Power,Slaves,Strangled,Treason,Turkey,Volunteers,Wrongful Executions

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68 thoughts on “1536: Pargali Ibrahim Pasha, Suleiman the Magnificent’s friend and grand vizier”

  1. amber says:

    Ibrahim pasha will always be in history..

  2. Nemo says:

    Recent historical research has proved that Ibrahim was actually married to Iskender Cheleby’s granddaughter and apparently fictitiously. Hatice was about 10 years elder.
    In the film Hurrem’s importance is exaggerated. She was very jealous of the intimacy between Suleiman and Ibrahim but she had little to do with Ibrahim’s death. It’s strongly suggested that the actual reason was personal – Alvise Gritti was deeply involved indeed

  3. not everything is greek says:

    Someone changed ?brahim’s ethnicity from Albanian to Greek . He was indeed Albanian or Arvanid.

  4. aina says:

    did sah sultan loved ibrahim or not? and what is the meaning of HATICE?

    thank you

  5. aina says:

    can any one tell me that was sah sultan the younger sister of suleman or not. explain plz

  6. wahaj says:

    It was amazing to read all the comments and know love about Ibrahim pasha .
    I will not say just his wish has came true which was “he wanted to be known after his death as a great worrier and a powerful person in the world” .ibrahim pasha will be alive forever in the history with sultan sulaiman. Sometimes I assume that what if Ibrahim would not be get killed and Mustafa would be next sultan how history would be then .but I got know that do not underestimate the power of women. How empires got in falls just because of some selfish women like hurrem sultan.

  7. Mannana says:

    Someone asked here about Gritti – as far as I know he was a rich venetian nobleman and had a love affair with Ibrahim who was Suleiman’s lover as well.
    Some historians claim Ibrahim and Hatice marriage was a fictitious one and some think they were not married at all.

  8. Kashan says:

    to b honest with you i dnt think that Suleiman was really a magnificent. so far at the best of my knowledge the only loyal person that he could have trusted was ibrahim n he always looked for the best interest of the empire and Suleiman killed him just because his wife hurram convinced him? that dsnt make him magnificent at all.

  9. aeiza says:

    QAZI WAS NOT AS PIOUS man as he is showing himself. if he was pious enough then why he didnot punish his son for drinking habits. he was giving punishments cruely even on their petty matters and forgiving his son , then how piouse he was

  10. hamza says:

    Pasha was just grear..

  11. huzaifa says:

    i love ibrahim as awarrior and grad wazir

  12. Muzamal says:

    Ibrhim killed like lion. He was a lion

  13. sajjad ahmed says:

    ibraheem pasha met his fate ofdeath becauseof his vanity making threats killing
    everybody who so ever was able to b close to the king. in so much as tht he also dislike the kazi who was a very piouse person. he also misuse the power deligated by king to him. infact he always thought to behave like a king.

  14. Jadoon says:

    Is any body have picture of Ibrahim Pasha , Hurrem Sultan and Sultan Suleiman ?

  15. Autumn says:

    Nigar Kalfa is a fictional character or she’s the real one?
    Ibrahim Pasha and Nigar really had any relation or its just a fictional stuff??

    1. Misme says:

      Even I have the same question…

  16. ayesha s says:

    I saw a girls grave, named as ‘hanim khatun, daughter of hatice sultan’ inside hurrem’s torbe interestingly!

  17. zaigham malik says:

    Ibrahim basically comes from bargah that’s why he was called bargali.imbrahim was married with khzena sultan and has two children 1boy 1girl.his best friend was matranchi nasohabandi.the main causes of his death was qiroell with hurren and sikandar.but sultan won all his wars because of IBRAHIM PASHA

  18. zaigham malik says:

    Ibrahim pasha was one of the greatest person in world. Hurren was the badest women in world. Sultan decision was very bad of ibrahim death

  19. Naveed Yousufzai says:

    Born 1493
    Parga, Venetian Republic
    Died 1536
    Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
    Allegiance Ottoman Empire
    Rank Grand Vizier
    Pargal? Ibrahim Pasha (Turkish pronunciation: [pa?ga?l? ib?a??him pa??a]) (1493–15 March 1536), also known as Frenk Ibrahim Pasha (the “Westerner”), Makbul Ibrahim Pasha (“the Favorite”), which later changed into Maktul Ibrahim Pasha (“the Executed”) after his execution in the Topkap? Palace, was the first Grand Vizier in the Ottoman Empire appointed by Suleiman the Magnificent. In 1523, he replaced Piri Mehmed Pasha, who had been appointed in 1518 by Süleyman’s father, the preceding sultan Selim I, and remained in office for 13 years. He attained a level of authority and influence rivalled by only a handful of other Grand Viziers of the Empire, but in 1536 he was executed by the Sultan and his property was confiscated by the State.
    Ibrahim was a Greek born to Christian parents, in Parga, Epirus, modern Greece,[1][2][3][4][5][6] then part of the Republic of Venice.
    He was the son of a sailor in Parga and as a child he was carried off by pirates and sold as a slave to the Manisa Palace in western Anatolia, where Ottoman crown princes (?ehzade) were being educated. There, he was befriended by crown prince Suleiman, who was of the same age. Ibrahim received his education at the Ottoman court and became a polyglot and polymath. Upon Suleiman’s accession to the Ottoman throne in 1520, he was awarded various posts, the first being the Falconer of the Sultan. Ibrahim proved his skills in numerous diplomatic encounters and military campaigns, and was so rapidly promoted that at one point he begged Suleiman not to promote him too rapidly, for fear of arousing the jealousy and enmity of the other viziers, who expected some of those titles for themselves. Pleased with Ibrahim’s display of modesty, Suleiman purportedly swore that he would never be put to death during his reign. After being appointed Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha continued to receive other additional appointments and titles from the sultan (such as the title of Serasker), and his power in the Ottoman Empire became almost as absolute as his master’s.

  20. Naveed Yousuzai says:

    Born 1493
    Parga, Venetian Republic
    Died 1536
    Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
    Allegiance Ottoman Empire
    Rank Grand Vizier
    Pargal? Ibrahim Pasha (Turkish pronunciation: [pa?ga?l? ib?a??him pa??a]) (1493–15 March 1536), also known as Frenk Ibrahim Pasha (the “Westerner”), Makbul Ibrahim Pasha (“the Favorite”), which later changed into Maktul Ibrahim Pasha (“the Executed”) after his execution in the Topkap? Palace, was the first Grand Vizier in the Ottoman Empire appointed by Suleiman the Magnificent. In 1523, he replaced Piri Mehmed Pasha, who had been appointed in 1518 by Süleyman’s father, the preceding sultan Selim I, and remained in office for 13 years. He attained a level of authority and influence rivalled by only a handful of other Grand Viziers of the Empire, but in 1536 he was executed by the Sultan and his property was confiscated by the State.
    Ibrahim was a Greek born to Christian parents, in Parga, Epirus, modern Greece,[1][2][3][4][5][6] then part of the Republic of Venice.
    He was the son of a sailor in Parga and as a child he was carried off by pirates and sold as a slave to the Manisa Palace in western Anatolia, where Ottoman crown princes (?ehzade) were being educated. There, he was befriended by crown prince Suleiman, who was of the same age. Ibrahim received his education at the Ottoman court and became a polyglot and polymath. Upon Suleiman’s accession to the Ottoman throne in 1520, he was awarded various posts, the first being the Falconer of the Sultan. Ibrahim proved his skills in numerous diplomatic encounters and military campaigns, and was so rapidly promoted that at one point he begged Suleiman not to promote him too rapidly, for fear of arousing the jealousy and enmity of the other viziers, who expected some of those titles for themselves. Pleased with Ibrahim’s display of modesty, Suleiman purportedly swore that he would never be put to death during his reign. After being appointed Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha continued to receive other additional appointments and titles from the sultan (such as the title of Serasker), and his power in the Ottoman Empire became almost as absolute as his master’s.

  21. Jawwad Rzza Sultan says:

    Sometimes in life it is too late to mend. This was what Suleman felt long time after Ibrahim’s murder. But those gone to the valley of death never returned and so didn’t Ibrahim. Mustafa, king’s son, too was strangled. Everything got ravished and interesting is the point why; on
    the vile advices of a vindictive lady Khuram. I wonder how the king would have felt without his friend and son having his hands stained with their blood at the time of his death getting himself released of Khuraam’s intoxication. He would have uttered alas!, alas!, alas that’s what my heart says. History has lessons learn from it.

  22. Hamza Bin Saud says:

    Makbul Maktul Pasha, Pargali Ibrahim Pasha was the most intelligent and loyal Pasha in the history of Ottomon Empire, he served selflessly and obeyed every order but he had wish, rather desire to be known for ever like the old Greek warriors, Hercules, Achilles etc. Many times sultan heard Ibrahim exclaiming with himself about his aims and greatness this worried Sultan Suleiman, On campaign against Safavids in Baghdad Sultan came to know that Ibrahim Pasha self pro-claimed a title which was just reserved for sultan himself, so Sultan ordered his execution via strangulation.

  23. Haroon says:

    can you people tell me about gretti? is he man or women coz as per my knoeledge gretti was the businessman of vanice and also the son of king of venice and have good relation with Ibrahim Pasha. (as per history)

  24. syed Ajmal Shah Gillani says:

    It is a tragedy,if the sultan Sulaman could order his death of Ibrahim on conniving of Hurrem…
    A Loyola servant who took a knife for the sultan

    I am sorry to say it was not an Islamic system of goverence .
    Hence the down fall.

  25. Eva says:

    Please, dear frends, present proper sources and main bibliography!

  26. drenica says:

    well i think that ibrahim is from albania. in that time parga it was an albanian area which was taken from greece in 1912 and let me say something in that time albanian language wasn’t spoken so much so he didn’t spoke it or better he never learn it and beside this albanian people were very influence in ottoman empire even epirus it was called an kingdom in illyrian empire if you want to say something next time read before the history and than write or talk beside you that are from grecee Skanderbeg was called the prince of epirus and it is shame from you that judge other people even you don’t know anything .

    ibrahim was an empire damat or groom married with hatice sultana he had two children with her and one with an other child with nigar a slave in their palace after thirteen years as grand vizier he was killed by the order of
    sultan suleyman .

  27. Eva says:

    What a nice conversation! I try to find some information about second daughter of Ibrahim Pasa Pargali and met your site… I did n’t fount that what I needed but I smiled several times about some positions here. Theodoros -Ibrahim from Parga what a personality! Dear frends don’t forget that in empires like the Ottoman one and previously the Byzantine the ethnicity was not so important. You can see clearly in the origins of vezirs and pasas and all kind of administration officials (Serbs [like Sokolu Mehmet Vezir, Rustem Paza, itd], Greeks [like Ibrahim Vezir], and others).Theodoros-Ibrahim was a Greek, an Orthodox, from a corner of Epir, Parga, a place originally Greek, later Roman, continuing Byzantine (=The East Roman Christian Empire), Venetian, and than Ottoman presence, belonging to the Greek Republic today. Population there has traces of italian culture that was an occupant power there. All that was meaningless for the 16th Century, a tim of ottoman florescence. Meaningfull was survival in a very complex society.

  28. Chrissy says:

    Ibrahim Pasha is fro Parga it is a picturesque small town on the north-western coast of Greece, in the area called Epirus, thus making his origin a Greek Orthodox
    he had three children, the first one Mustapha, that was named by Souleiman, the baby died then Hadije had two twins a boy and a girl
    It is also said that he had a child with one of the slave girls in the palace that served all the empresses [ sultanes] in greek her name was Nigal Kafa, Hadije found out and had her imprisoned in the basement of her palace until Nigal gave birth, she then notified Nigal that her baby was born dead which devastated Nigal, no one knows if Hadije kept the baby or had it killed, despite the many times that Ibrahim tried to help Nigal escape from the palace Hadije always caught her

  29. Meaghan says:

    You don’t have to speak any particular language to be in any particular ethnic group. Japan for example has an ethnic Korean minority but not all of them, perhaps not even most of them, speak Korean. My boyfriend is of Mexican descent, self-identifies as Hispanic, and his Spanish is pretty sketchy. He wouldn’t know it at all if his dad wasn’t a Spanish teacher, and even his dad (100% Mexican) isn’t fluent.

  30. Sofia S says:

    Pargali Ibrahim spoke 4 languages: Turkish, Greek, Persian and Italian. He could also read in Latin. If he was an ethnic Abanian, why didn’t he speak his native tongue? Anyway, at the time of Pargali’s life, his native Parga was part of the VENECIAN state!

  31. katy says:

    Garbol: what? Gritti? and he was a man lover or woman lover of iBhrabim?

  32. Sara. Ismaili says:

    Ibrahim was an Albanian, because the place where he came from was an albanian territory, better say Cameria territory 😉 But after indipendance Greek took Cameria. Hatice is the best personage in this mess. Hurrem is truly very mean! She is responsable for so many deaths. I want to know how did Hatice died?

  33. Agim says:

    In that time and up to 1912 Parga was an albanian region. Knowing that albanians had many benefit in Otoman Imperatory it might be that Ibrahim Parga was an albanian.

  34. Kristina.K says:

    It is said that Suleiman regretted the decision which I believe it was much influenced by Hurrem Sultan.

    And as for the origins of Ibrahim, yes he was from Parga and Parga today is located in Greece, but Parga is part of a formerly Albanian region Chameria, taken form Albania in the London’s Conference of Ambassadors, 1913. So there you have it!

    Whether his parents were Greek or Albanian we don’t know that for sure but as far as I know his father was Greek and his mother Albanian.

  35. KYGB says:

    I dunno Head man.

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting the onslaught of comments from our Albanian readers defending “their” man.

  36. Headsman says:

    Our recent Greek partisan is being disingenuous with these perplexed question marks, as if he’s never heard anyone say such a queer thing what with all the history he reads.

    There’s a running game of national football over this guy’s ethnic identity, a classic Balkan pastime. See, for instance, the rival unsourced comments in this post, which claims him for Greece:

    http://diatribe-column.blogspot.com/2012/04/ibrahim-pasha-pargali-and-other-greeks.html

    It’s been a few years and many hundreds of other entries so I don’t really remember, but I might well have taken the adjective “Albanian” without thinking too much about it from the then-current version of Wikipedia. As we all know, with Wikipedia, the most recent edit wins.

    One can see from that page’s “talk” section (“Ethnicity, or whatever”) that the current entry has been revised to characterize our man as Greek (on the strength of every hit Google books produced when somebody once ran the phrase “Parga ibrahim Pasha greek”), and it remains a matter of tedious ongoing axe-grinding.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Pargal%C4%B1_Ibrahim_Pasha

    I don’t know whether there exists a “real” answer that’s firmly supportable, but it is not of much consequence here. The point in the context of this post is that he was of western [west of Istanbul] Christian stock, and not a Turk or a man born into power.

    The main text of the post has now been updated to reflect agnosticism on this point. Albanians and Greeks can sort the rest out amongst themselves … elsewhere.

  37. stefanos says:

    And please….if you think that im saying silly things , just look what his origin name means Pargalis ( ????????) and where he comes from….

  38. Stefanos says:

    You said he was Albanian …???
    You also dont say anything to support this state…
    As far i know Ibrahim was a greek and he became Vizier in 1523…

    It also common that even the greek languge was very common and helpful for the state . Im a Greek and im not saying this because i am….but at least read some history first….

  39. efi says:

    ibrahim married hatice sultan being her second husband .they hd 3 children one died at a young age the others were twins one girl one boy suleiman liked ibrahim a lot and was very sad about the decision he had made to kill ibrahim hurrem hada very big part in killing him also because ibrahim had named himself king at a war .they killed ibrahim while suleiman was sleeping in a room near by they killed ibrahim while suleiman was sleeping because he had promised that no one could harm ibrahim while he was still alive i personally beleive hurrem was not a good person but then again she was trying to make a better future for her sons.

  40. aura says:

    As dori sa aflu mai multe amanunte despre ”lupta” dintre Hurrem si Ibrahim . Oricum , bravo Hurrem!

  41. Garbol says:

    Accordingly to a Turkish site, Ibrahim had three children, one son and two daughters. His wife Hatice died in 1538, two years after his death. The conditions of his death remain mysterious, because there is a miniature that depicts his coffin carried in secrecy through a back door. The fact he was strangled is also curious as until then deposed Grand Viziers were beheaded. Strangling was reserved for members of the Osman family. His unmarked grave is supposedly located in the cemetery of the Mehlevi tekke in Galata. A rumor claims that his death was decided when Suleiman discovered Ibrahim had a lover, namely Gritti

  42. Jovan says:

    What happened with sultana Hatice after her husband Damat Pargali Ibrahim Pasha has been executed. Does She returned to Suleiman’s court or went to exile as her sister before.

  43. naz says:

    they had two children

  44. Thanos says:

    Ibrahim Pargali Pasha was not an Albanian Christian…He was Greek and he was born in Parga(a city in Epirus of Greece) and so he had the name Pargali(the one from Parga) .His real name was Theodoros.He brought his Greek parents Emmanouhl and Sofia with him and lived in his palace in Constantinople…They had not any children i think

  45. Hissah says:

    Do you have any picture for Ibrahim pasha

  46. Hissah says:

    Would like to know if the Sultan’s sister married to Ibrahim pasha had any children

  47. Novica Mrkovic says:

    i need information if Pargali Ibrahim Pasha had children
    with sultans sister Sultana (Princess) Hatice
    many thanks for informations

  48. Meaghan says:

    Rather like an Ottoman Cardinal Wolsey.

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