Köprülüzade Fazıl Ahmed Paşa

Osmanlı Devlet Adamı, Osmanlı Sadrazamı

03 Kasım, 1676

Statesman, grand vizier and the conqueror of Crete (B. 1635, Vezirköprü – D. 3rd  November 1676, Kemerburgaz). He is the oldest son of the Ottoman grand vizier Köprülü Mehmet Pasha. He took a good education after having gone to Istanbul with his father when he was seven years old. He learned Arabic, Persian, fiqh (Islamic law) and kalam (Islamic philosophy). He worked as the assistant of Karaçelebizade Abdülaziz Efendi, who was one of the leading savants of this age, and therefore he was surrounded by professors. He worked as the governor general of Damascus with his vizier degree. He was assigned as the district governorate of the grand vizier (the functionary acting for the grand vizier who went to an expedition with the army) fifty days before the death of his father. Upon the testament of Mehmed Pasha, the Sultan Mehmed IV gave without hesitation the seal of grand vizierate to Fazıl Ahmet Pasha who was twenty six years old (30th October 1661). The sultan was only twenty years old at that time.

Fazıl Ahmed Paşa spent the first one or two years of his grand vizierate by dealing with the interior affairs of the emperorship. Upon the problems showing up in Transylvania during this time, he went to the Expedition of Austria that was also called the expedition of Nové Zámky. He captured the fortress of Nové Zámky on the river of Nitra after a siege of thirty seven days (24th September 1663). After that, he captured almost thirty castles, notably Novigrad, and he returned to Belgrade to spend the winter. He came again into action in May 1664 and he captured the fortress of Yenikale (Serinwar) near Nagykanizsa after a siege of twenty days and he made it destroyed. He moved forward to Yanıkkale (Györ) that was one of the most important fortress between Vienna and Buda. The Austrian Emperor, who thought that Vienna could be lost if Yanıkkale would be captured, sent an army lead by Marshal Klont Montecuccoli against the Turks. The pitched battle that started near the village of Szent-Gotthârd on 1st August 1664 has worn down both of the parties. However, the emperor, who learned that Fazıl Ahmed Pasha had empowered his army, accepted to sign the Treaty of Vasvar (10th August 1664). With this treaty, the emperor was legitimizing the conquests of the last expedition,  and promising not to get involved with the affairs or Transylvania and he was accepting to pay a war indemnity of 200.000 florins to the Ottoman Empire.

The Venetians, who knew that the Turks would press on Crete and would like to capture the Fortress of Heraklion after the Treaty of Vasvar, made a peace offer to Mehmed IV. However, this peace offer was rejected because the Venetians failed to leave the castle that they were protecting for twenty one years. Upon that, Fazıl Ahmed Pasha went on the road to capture Crete on 15th May 1666. Fazıl Ahmed Pasha, who arrived at Chania with 167 pieces of ships on 3rd November, started to besiege the Fortress of Heraklion in the morning of 26th May 1667 after a period of preparation of six months. The Venetians, who were resolute about not giving the castle to Turks no matter what happens, succeeded to resist during two and a half year with the support of other European states. In the end, the Venetians, who understood that the capture of the fortress was just a matter of time, decided to give the possession of the castle. The morning of 27th September 1669, the 93 keys of Heraklion were presented to Fazıl Ahmed Pasha in two silver trays. The grand vizier, who spent also the winter of 1669-70 in Crete and who personally supervised the reparation of a large part of the damages occurred, left the administration of Crete to the vizier Ankebut Ahmed Pasha and left this place on the first days of May 1670.

Ahmed Pasha dealt with internal and external problems for a while after the problem of Crete had resulted. He didn’t lean towards the request of renewing the capitulations probably because of the attitude of the French during the wars of Austria and Crete. He gave a cold welcome to the ambassador Mar­quis de Nointel when he arrived in Istanbul after Müteferrika Süleyman Ağa was accredited to Paris in 1672 as an ambassador and the agreement could be only realized one year after his arrival… The sultan, deciding to take an action against the king of Poland, who continuously placed a strain on the Kazakh Commander Doroshenko of Ukraine, which joined the Empire Ottoman at its own request towards the middle of the year 1672, went on the road from Edirne by taking with him Fazıl Ahmed Pasha. Kamianets-Podilskyi gave its possession after a siege lasting eight days in this expedition that was referred as the Expedition of Poland (27th August 1672).

While the astonishment of this event still continued, the units directed by the governor of Aleppo Kaplan Pasha, the Crimean Khan Selim Giray and Doroshenko entered into Poland by running the blockade of the famous commander-in-chief of the king Jan Sobieski and they captured many large and small fortresses. The king consented to make a peace treaty with very severe conditions. Upon the fact that this agreement signed in Buchach on 18th October 1672 was not approved by the National Assembly of the Poland and that Sobieski captured some of the fortresses after the Turkish army went back, the army went to the Second Expedition of Poland. The fact that the Governor General of Silistra Sarı Hüseyin Pasha was defeated in the pitched battle made in front of the Khotyn Castle, provided that Sobieski ascended the throne of Poland. Fazıl Ahmet Pasha moved back to Dobruja and waited till the winter passed. Sobieski, who knew that the Turks would attack in the middle of the year 1674, made a peace offer to the Sultan; however the agreement was not signed.

Mehmed IV and Grand Vizier Fazıl Ahmed Pasha returned to Edirne on 21st November 1674. The conflicts in Poland were directed by the Commander-in-chief Vizier Şişman İbrahim Pasha after this time. İbrahim Pasha, who had captured forty eight castles from the Polish, tried to capture Lvov, which was the center of Galicia, but he couldn’t be successful. Podolia and Ukraine stayed under the control of the Ottoman Empire with the Zorawno Agreement signed with Poland (26th October 1676).

Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha became ill on the road while going to Edirne with the sultans in October 1676. Since his illness became worse, it was deemed suitable for him to rest in the farm of Karabiber in Kemerburgaz. He deceased there in the night connecting 2nd November to 3rd November after working as a grand vizier for more than fifteen years. His corpse was brought to Istanbul and buried to the ground in the mausoleum of his father in Divanyolu. Fazıl Ahmed Pasha, who was an intelligent, intellectual, modest person, was also known with his addiction to drink. Since he had no children, the race of Köprülü proceeded with his brother Fazıl Mustafa Pasha, who became the grand vizier in 1689.

Köprülüzâde Ahmed Pasha, who stayed in the position of grand vizier (prime ministry) during more than fifteen years without interruption, spent nine years of this duration on front lines and was generally successful in wars. He was regarded by native and foreigner historians as moderate, tolerant, patient, determined, foreseeing, as a protector of science and scientists, art and artists, as softhearted, religionist, righteous, enemy of the corruption, intelligent, generous, mindful about mutual advisement and most commonly as his epithet indicates, a “virtuous” person.

Fazıl Ahmed Pasha was a grand vizier who put signature to some innovations during his duty of grand vizier. Within this context, he realized innovations in the military and economical field. He founded a library in Istanbul Çemberlitaş. He prohibited giving presents to the Palace and to statesmen in important days. He decreased the expenses inside the palace and made a contribution to the economy. 


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