Köprülü Mehmed Paşa

Osmanlı Sadrazamı

31 Ekim, 1661
Enderun (special school in the Ottoman palace)

Ottoman Grand Vizier (B. 1583 ?, Albania/Berat – D. 31st October 1661, Edirne). He was the oldest Köprülü that was brought to important places in the history of Istanbul by being picked from the village Köprülü of Macedonia and he was the father of Fazıl Ahmed Pasha. He was educated in Enderun (special school in the Ottoman palace) after having been brought to Istanbul and he was firstly assigned to the intermediary works of the palace. A short while after he was assigned to the Hazîne-i Âmire (the place where money affairs were managed) in the period of Murad IV, he was sent to one of the cavalry troop in the provinces. He married Ayşe Hanım in Köprü (Vezirköprü) in Amasya in that period. He was known with the appellation “Köprülü” because he was there. When Hüsrev Pasha was assigned as the grand vizier (Prime Minister), he became his treasurer. After the killing of Hüsrev Pasha, he worked as the district governor of Amasya a short while and he returned to Istanbul. He worked as a cavalryman and agha carrying a gun in the Ministry of Armory. He participated in the expedition of Bagdad when he was the Sanjak governor of Çorum (1683). He became the rikâb-ı hümâ­yun (district governor of the grand vizier), chamberlain of the gate keepers (steward) and manager of the barn (director of the barns of the palace) during the grand vizierate (prime ministry) of Kemankeş Kara Mus­tafa Pasha. After that, he was assigned again as the district governor of Amasya. During this time, Sultanzâde Mehmet Pasha, who was the grand vizier (prime minister), gave him the degree of vizierate and he was sent to the governorship of Trabzon. He became the attorney (lieutenant governor) of Damascus in 1547. He was assigned to suppress the revolt of Varvar Ali Pasha as the governor general of Karaman. He was defeated and taken prisoner by Ali Pasha in the region of Çankırı. However, he was saved by İpşir Mustafa Pasha. He was sent against Katırcıoğlu Mehmet the following year and he prevented a possible war by convincing him to apologize.

Köprülü Mehmet Pasha went to the village Köprü and lived there for a while. The state of Tripoli was given to him upon the assignment of İpşir Mustafa Pasha as grand vizierate. However, he returned back to the village Köprü since his duty was taken away from him even before going there. Thereby, Mimar Kasım Ağa, who was the chamberlain of Valide Turhan Sultan and who was his compatriot, nominated Köprülü to the chair of grand vizierate and he opened him the road for the grand vizierate because he was appointed to the vizierate of the dome (officer who directed the state affairs in the name of the sultan). On 5th September 1657, he was assigned to the grand vizierate instead of Boynueğri Mehmet Pasha. However, Köprülü accepted the seal by bringing forward some conditions and by obtaining some authorizations from Valide Turhan Sultan and to the Sultan Meh­met IV.

As the first job, Köprülü Mehmet Pasha interfered in the disorder created because of religious discussions in all the Ottoman lands and he either sent the instigators of those events into exile or he punished them with other means. He removed the tyrant cavalrymen who conspired in Istanbul and he provided the safety of the Çanakkale Strait by taking back Bozcaada and Limnos that were captured by the Venetians. The prince of Transylvania Rakoczy György II didn’t listen to the decree that invited him to obedience and he attacked Poland. However, he was defeated by the Crimean forces and he was obliged to return back. Köprülü Mehmet Pasha went to an expedition against the prince of Transylvania in June 1658. The Ottoman army went to Janjevo by passing from Belgrade and has taken this important city. However, it was not possible to catch Rakoczy…

Köprülü has transferred Abaza Hasan Pasha from Diyarbakır to the governorship of Aleppo because of the disorder he caused in Anatolia. Abaza neither went to Aleppo, nor participated in the expedition of Transylvania. The fact that many high-ranking officers, who were escaping from Köprülü since they were afraid of him, went next to Abaza played a role in that. After that, Abaza and his entourage thought that they could easily discharge the Grand Vizier Köprülü from his position and they put pressure on him. However, they couldn’t achieve it. 

Köprülü came to Edirne and participated in the standing meetings (the urgent meeting in which everybody stood up, except for the sultan) in the presence of the Sultan. It was decided to take a fatwa from the shaykh al-islam and to send a force directed by the Governor General of Diyarbakır Murtaza Pasha against Jelalis. In this while, Abaza Hasan Pasha organized a murder attempt for Köprülü, however, he couldn’t succeed it. Abaza firstly went to Antep to spend the winter but he couldn’t stay there because of the pressure and the shortage of supplies and went to Aleppo. He was caught by virtue of a disposition, even though he had pashas opponent to Köprülü Mehmet Pasha, with him. All of them were put to death with the command of Köprülü (16-17 February 1659). In this way, Köprülü removed his important opponents and gained the total control of the government. Besides, he heavily punished the Yerli Kulu organization in Damascus that promoted the rebellion and sent Janissary troops there. After that, he started the inspection of Jelali and gun in Anatolia. Thousands of people were sentenced to death and approximately 80.000 guns were collected from the community during the inspection. In addition to many people among soldiers punished as a result of this inspection, many people of science such as lecturers and kadis were also sentenced to the same punishment.

Upon the supply of security and silence in Anatolia, Köprülü Mehmet Pasha went on a visit to Bursa together with the Sultan (July 1659). The requests of the Austrian messenger coming to Bursa for the reassignment of Rakoczy as the prince of Transylvania was not accepted. After that, Kaptan-ı Derya Köse Ali Pasha was appointed as the commander-in-chief in order to conquer Austria. Venice, by taking advantage of the occupation of the Ottoman Empire with affairs of Transylvania and Wallachia, landed troops in front of Hanya with an armada of 120 crafts. However, Venetians had to leave the island after a while. During this while, Köprülü was sick and tired by virtue of his advanced age. Therefore, as his successor, he suggested his son Fâzıl Ahmed Pasha, who was assigned as the governor general of Aleppo, to the Sultan. Mehmet IV accepted this suggestion. However, Köprülü Mehmet Pasha deceased on 1st October 1661 when he was in Edirne with the Sultan. His corpse was brought to Istanbul and was buried in the mosque complex that he had constructed in Çemberlitaş.

Köprülü Mehmet Pasha showed a great wisdom in the creation of the political and military discipline throughout his grand vizierate duty during more than five years. His aim in accepting the grand vizierate duty under some conditions was to save the state from its troublesome situation. Even though thirteen grand viziers passed during the eight years until the grand vizierate of Köprülü, a strong grand vizier was not found. Köprülü suppressed the important people of the state who might be his competitors and he even didn’t hesitate to keep clear of his competitors. Silâhdar Fındıklılı Mehmet Aga described him as “cold-blooded”. Especially the historian Naîma saw him as a great statesman who extricated the state and who provided welfare and peace. Köprülü Mehmet Pasha, who disciplined the Janissary during his grand vizierate, took the action against the lawlessness in the distribution of ulufe (the salary given once in every three months to the members of the corps of Kapikulu and Janissary) and he created an intelligence community under his direction at the very beginnings of his grand vizierate in order to empower his government. He created a subsidy named “oarsmen subsidy” in order to prevent the unjust treatment of oarsmen in ships. He found  the visits of mevalis (scientist with high degrees) and lecturers in the Exhibition Room every Friday after the meeting of the Divan as unnecessary and he removed these visits. He also decreased the number of the viziers of the dome.

Besides, Köprülü Mehmet Pasha showed a great respect to Turhan Valide Sultan and had a strong influence on the Sultan Meh­met IV. The ones who told about him always put forward his actions and said that he was experienced in state government, and that he had a smart and severe character. Together with his sons, relatives and sons-in-law who would carry on the duty of grand vizierate after him, Köprülü was the founder of the Köprülü family who took the forefront in the in state government starting from the second half of the XVII Century.

The multitude of the charity works done in the time of Köprülü also took attention. The public works that he made done in various places were communal works that could be counted as follows: bridges, mosques, bathhouses, masjids, schools, windmills, public houses, water fountains, mills, waterways. Besides, he also had foundations. He dedicated his villages, from which he had an income, such as Limni, Köprü, Osman­cık, Merzifon, Akhisar, Bilecik and other places in order to fetch these foundations with all their incomes. Some parts of mosque complex that he started the installation in Istanbul were completed by his son afterwards. In addition to many works, his name was also given to the university founded in Tokat. 


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