Ottoman sultan (B. 1389?, Bursa – D. May 26th, 1421, Edirne). In some of the inscriptions he was known as Gıyaseddin and Arab, in Byzantine sources as kinişçi (wrestler). In Turkish sources and land registries he was known as Sultan Çelebi. He was the second or third son of Sultan Yıldırım Bayezid. His mother was Devlet Hatun b. Abdullah. He completed his education in Bursa Palace. Later he was assigned to the Governorship (Sanjak) of Amasya by his father and he learned the state affairs during his governorship.
Çelebi Mehmed, who had a white face, black eyes, thick beard, open forehead, beetle-brows, wide shoulders, middle sized, long arms and friendly attitude, didn’t resemble his father or his brothers. He was reasonable, calm, patient and faithful to his word, strong-willed, gentle, solemn and serious. As an administrator he was known as just and compassionate and he protected scholars and artists. He had a character that inspired confidence to friends and foes. He was brave, chivalrous and challenging. It was said that he participated in a total of 20 battles. His primary objective was to re-capture the lands his father had once taken over, to make the state gain its former power. Therefore, he fought a lot at home and in Anatolia and tried to remain friendly to Christian countries. When his achievements are considered, Çelebi Sultan Mehmed can be regarded as the second founder of the Ottoman Empire.
Çelebi Mehmed, who commanded the reserve forces of his father’s army in the Battle of Ankara (1402), withdrew to Bolu first when he noticed that the battle was about to be lost and then he captured Amasya by defeating Kara Devletşah, who was disliked by the public. After this first achievement of him, he battled against the lords of Canik, Tokat and Niksar. By the year of 1403, with the battle called Rumiye-i Sugra, he had the provinces of Tokat and Amasya completely under his domination. Çelebi Mehmed, who had an increasing number of forces and court, attracted the attention of Timur, who was in Western Anatolia at the time. Timur summoned him, however since he engaged in combat with the forces of Yahya Bey the nephew of Isfendiyar Bey and Savaoglu Ali Bey near Çorum while he was on his way, he desisting from visiting Timur and sent an ambassador. He was relieved when Timur accepted his excuse and granted him sovereignty of the places he held. As a symbol of sovereignty a crown, a belt and a cardigan were sent by Timur.
Thus, by accepting Timur’s supreme sovereignty he had coins minted jointly. After Timur left Anatolia, Mehmed managed to take Bursa from his brother Isa Çelebi and made this the capital city. In the upcoming days he managed to protect Bursa from his brothers’ (Emir Süleyman and Isa) attempts of recapturing it. As a result of these achievements, Ottoman forces, that had started to scatter until that time, began to come together again around Mehmed Çelebi and he formed a force of 10,000 men. Neither Isa Celebi nor other princes could have been successful against Çelebi Mehmed any longer. As a matter of fact, Isa Çelebi, despite forming an alliance with Saruhanoglu Hızırshah Bey, was defeated by Çelebi Mehmed and this led to the end of Hızırshah Bey as well. In the meantime, while struggles between the Anatolian Beyliks continued, an arm from Anatolia reached out to Rumelia and created turmoil there too.
Mehmed Çelebi, having learnt a lesson from especially the events that he experienced after 1416, saw that it was too early to establish a central government and decided to pursue a reconciling policy for a while. But still, before he died, he had managed to gather the crumbling Ottoman Principality (Beylik) under one flag again. Çelebi Mehmed first fought against his brothers to ensure the unity of Anatolia. Eliminating Süleyman Çelebi in 1410 and Musa Çelebi in 1413 he provided the unity of Anatolia. When he became unrivalled for the Ottoman throne, his first attempt was to subjugate the principalities around the Ottomans. He made an expedition on Karaman in 1414 and captured Bey (Ruler) of Karamans. He released him after having him swear and say “I do no harm to Muslims any more”. He dominated Çandar Beyliği. In 1415 he made his first sea battle against the Venetians. Yet, due to the immaturity of the Ottoman navy the battle was lost. Mehmed I, launching raids over Europe between 1416 and 1417, won great victories and in 1419 Danube River was crossed once more. In 1420, the Voivode of Wallachia was slain in a battle and his brother was put in his place. The Çandar Beyliği was added to the Ottoman territory.
In the period called Interregnum (Depression), famous mystic and philosopher Sheikh Bedreddin, upon accepting the proposal of Musa Çelebi, became a kazasker (T.N. judge of the army) in Edirne for two years. While he held that position, he established relations with high society. Then being accused for committing a crime or treason he and his family were exiled to İznik. While he was on exile, his former disciples Börklüce Mustafa and Torlak Kemal prepared revolts against Mehmed Çelebi in separate places (Aydın and Manisa). Sheikh Bedreddin revolted with his disciples in three separate places. Börklüce Mustafa was slain while fighting against Bayezid Pasha in Karaburun. Torlak Kemal was captured in Manisa and was executed by hanging. Sultan Mehmed had Sheikh Bedreddin, whom he assumed as the leader of the rebellion, executed by his own fatwa before Bedreddin reached Edirne. Sheikh Bedreddin was hung in the bazaar of Serez and was buried there (1420).
Çelebi Mehmed decorated Bursa and Edirne, the capitals of his beylik, with mosques. The mosque on the Filibe way in Edirne, which is known as the Ulu Mosque, was built by him. In Bursa, the Bursa Mosque, which has a pool and was yet uncompleted in the era of Murat I, and Yeşil İmaret Mosque were the buildings he had built. In this külliye there is an imaret and also a school. According to the historian Hammer; Hereke, Gebze, Kartal and Pendik were registered in the endowment of this mosque as the provinces, of which the revenues were to be collected. Mehmed Çelebi was the first among the Ottoman sultans who prepared Surre Alayı. He protected the scholars and brought them to his palace and had them write works. Arabshah from Syria, Fazlullah Kadi of Gebze, etymologist Muhyiddin, Kara Yakup, Sarı Yakup were among those scholars. His sheikh, who was renowned with his work “Harnâme”, was one of the famous poets of that period.
It was determined that Sultan Çelebi Mehmed had two wives. He had six sons and seven daughters from the marriages that he made with Kumru Hatun, who had been a cariye once, and Emine Hatun, the daughter of Süli Bey of Dulkadirids. Those sons were Küçük Mustafa, Murat, Mahmut, Yusuf, Ahmet, Kasım. Kasım and Ahmet passed away while their father was still alive. Yusuf and Mahmut were too young when their father died. One of the other princes, Murat, became the sultan after his father’s death and Mustafa was slain after losing the struggle for throne against his brother. The rebellion of that brother caused Küçük Yusuf and Mahmut to be killed later. The names of five of his seven daughters were ascertained as Selçuk, Hafsa, Sultan, Ayşe and Hatice. According to a rumor, Sultan Mehmed died at the age of 39 in Edirne during a hunting party, according to another rumor he died by having a stroke. He was buried in Yeşil Tomb next to the Yeşil Mosque, which is one of the most beautiful examples of Turkish architecture and which was built by him in Bursa.