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

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..

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

  1. Ibrahim, a real crual, disgusting monster. I wish he had never existed.

  2. Very hard to find details on Pargali Ibrahim pasha.his grave is non distinct.his assets were confiscated and lost in time.his home has been turned to a museum for arts.
    Nothing to suggest he was an extraordinary man.almost as if his existence was being erased.
    But there exists to this day a mosque in Bulgaria near Hungary that is called Ibrahim pasha mosque
    Sadly this mosque is not open to public and is being run down.
    One needs to research a bit more into this but if it was built by or in recognition of the man then it sheds light on his military prowess and skils

  3. Ibrahim Pasha was a real hero, is a real hero and always will be. In Sha Allah he will be granted paradise :). Good day to all 🙂

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    • No, nothing survived even if he wrote any, but he sure was a generous patron of artists and poets

  5. I also pray for him but can’t understand why he is “a real hero”? I mean the historical person not the fictional movie character

  6. 90% of the film consists of lies. Every decent historian knows Suli and Ibra were ardent lovers to each other (Suli much more). The greater part of Suli’s love poetry is dedicated to Ibrahim and these poems have been edited as a separate volume. Actually Ibrahim was nothing of a great warrior as the film states and his diplomatic successes came from Alvise Gritti, his advisor and lover. The latest researches suggest that Suli killed him because of love jealousy.
    There exist no images of Ibrahim but as the contemporaries described him he was a beautiful, thin, not tall man with no beard, having long beautiful hair, delicate pale face. Loved to wear golden clothes and lots of jewelry.
    He also had a lover someone Jesti Bali so there is no doubt about his homosexual preferences.
    He was married to Muhsine, Iskander’s granddaughter. There are lots of speculations about his children, but there are no actual proofs. For sure in 1527 he was still childless and after his death venetian bailo daniele Barbarigo spoke about him being a eunuch. It’s more suggestible he had no children at all.

  7. I think Ibrahim was the intimate friend of Suleiman, I also think there was a sexual attraction between them to and they were a couple in their youth. After that Suleiman had to procreate kids for the throne, and like every Sultan , he got married, after that he married Ibrahim with his sister… at that time that was normal and very private, but happened…

  8. To all greeks. Even today after years of assimilation the people of Parga speek albanian in Cham language. Yours heroes of greek independence are 70 % albanians ( arvanites is the same, not greeks ) so what is wrong if ibrahim pasha is not greek. Mabye skmething with your ego

  9. Apart from the serial, Ibrahim pasha was a great person in the history of turkey,a honest,peaceful, and a man of action.He had played a great role in moving the state towards its great power it had at the time,whatever is shown in drama ,sultan did a great mistake to release his death order becoz he was such a honest man sultan ever had during his rule.

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  11. Ibrahim Pasha is from Parga /Greece .
    his death was really mysterious and there no real cause of his execution except Suleiman worries ( Ibrahim was real great politician so he could overcome the power of Suleiman as a sultan
    He was married with a woman called Muhsine as First wife and the second was Hatice ( some historians do not not suppose that the second marriage was real )

    • Another contribution of Ibrahim must be the conquest of Basra a useful harbor for the subsequent expansion of the Ottoman Empire to the Persian Gulf all the way to Sumatra by the other great Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. By the way, I’m Greek and I consider the Albanians as good brothers. They helped Greece to become liberated in land and Sea, and especially one of the Mehmed Ali father of Ibrahim Pasha the great general who liberated Egypt from the Sultan’s yoke and conquered Sudan too.
      Pargali Ibrahim Pasha was a brilliant mind and his death is a true mystery. It is so important that there is a miniature painting of his secret body removal from the Seraglio. I sincerely doubt it was an execution because there is a legend his blood had stained the room where Ibrahim slept, and that Suleiman did not allow to whitewash this room. The sexual relation of these two men is incontestable, and matches well with a similar affair Selim I had with the eunuch Grand Vizier Hadim Sinan Pasha who was killed in the battle in front of the gates of Cairo. At the time there were several eunuchs Grand Viziers, but who can prove they were truly eunuchs? .

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