During his reign from 1640-1648, Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim I, or Ibrahim the Mad shocked the world with many of his bizarre and ruthless deeds. Born in a family of 8 half brothers, brotherly love was in short supply, especially after the demise of their father, Sultan Ahmed I.
When Sultan Murad IV took over the throne, he banished his half brothers including Ibrahim to live as prisoners in a gilded cage that was located in the imperial harem. There Ibrahim remained for 16 years until Murad's death at age 27. During that time, Ibrahim watched in horror as 3 of his half-brothers were dragged away to be killed on the orders of the Sultan. However, his life was spared because it was thought that Ibrahim was suffering from severe mental health issues.
After ascending the throne as sultan, all was well for a short time until Ibrahim started displaying signs of bizarre behavior as this excerpt explains: "The new Sultan’s habit feeding of fish in the palace pool with coins instead of food was an early worrying sign. As it became clear that Ibrahim was insane, his mother ruled for him. To keep him busy, the sultan was encouraged to spend as much time as possible in the Harem with his nearly 300 concubines."
In one particularly violent incident, he lusted after the Grand Mufti's daughter and when she turned down his offer of marriage, he had her kidnapped and brought to him where he proceeded to have his way with her before returning her to her family.
He was also a spendthrift who pushed his country towards bankruptcy by purchasing expensive perfumes and other gifts for his concubines as well as lavishly decorating the harem in furs.
His strange behavior took on a whole different turn when he developed a fascination for cows as this excerpt explains: "According to one source, he once saw a young cow in a field, and the beast sent him into a frenzy. He had…anatomically correct…models cast in gold, then sent them all across the empire. He demanded anyone who knew a woman “made in just that manner” to send them to Istanbul immediately to satisfy his lust."
His scouts found a 330-pound Armenian woman named Sivekar Sultan who fit the bill and she quickly became the sultan's new favorite. But she was also power drunk and in a move that would eventually cost her life, Sivekar Sultan lied to the sultan about a mysterious traitor who had compromised one of the concubines. In a fit of rage, the deranged sultan order his entire harem of 280 women to be tied in weighted sacks and tossed into the sea!
In the end, it was decided to execute the mad sultan, and his 6-year-old son was put on the throne in his place.
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