Ninth Padishah of Ottoman Empire and poet (B. 10th October 1470, Amasya – D. 21/ 22 September 1520, Çorlu/Tekirdağ). He was also known as Selim I. His father was Sultan Bayezid II and his mother was Gülbahar Hatun. It is claimed that his mother was the daughter of Alaüddevle Bozkurt Bey, the ruler of the Dulkadirids. Selim I was the father of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman. He was a unique emperor. He was described as a tough, strong and single-minded, dynamic and nimble person. There is more than one source about his physical appearance, but most historians say that he was a tall man with big and black eyes, he had an Ottoman nose called “Enf-i Osman”, he had no beard but had a long handlebar moustache on his round, florid face, his legs were short but his upper body was long. In Selimnâmes (T.N. his biographies), it was mentioned that he was tough but also a kindly and sensual person, that he cried over his brother Ahmed’s death was an example for his emotionality.
He received a very good education since he was a şehzade (T.N. prince), and then he devoted himself in state affairs and national affairs. He always walked among his people in tebdil-i kıyafet (T.N. in disguise) to see how the land laid. He spent his childhood right beside his grandfather, Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and took lessons from the most prestigious scholars of the era, such as Halimi Çelebi, Amasyalı Sheik Hamdullah. Upon his father’s accession to the throne, he was appointed as the Trabzon Sanjack (T.N. District) Governor and improved his experience in administrative regulations. Selimnâme, written on his name, state that he was reading a lot since his youth; Paola Giovio wrote that he had read about Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. In other sources it is written that he was interested in literature and books of government. Sources praising his poetry express how he specialized in Turkish, Arabic and Persian poems and indicate that he had a Persian “Divan” (T.N. poetry book). His interest in poetry provided him a precious social environment.
Prince Selim wanted to set things right for he was not happy about state of affairs. When he found out that his father appointed Prince Ahmed as his heir, he requested his assignment to a Sanjak of Rumelia. Having been rejected, he went to Caffa and marched towards Edirne with the cavalries he took from his father-in-law, Crimean Khan. He met his father, Bayezid II and rumor has it that he made his father assign him to the Sanjak of Vidin and Nicosia (Niğbolu) and he got his father’ promise that he was not going to appoint any of his sons as heir as long as he had a good health. However, statesmen who supported Prince Ahmed put pressure on the Padishah and he was defeated by his father in Çorlu, thus he returned to Crimea.
When Ahmet was tasked with suppressing the Şahkulu Rebellion in Anatolia, he didn’t assist Hadım Ali Pasha and left the battlefield. In contrast to Ahmed’s attitude, Selim impressed the statesmen with his steadfastness and courage and gained prestige among them, which helped him to succeed to crown the following year. Prince Selim dethroned his father on April 24th, 1512 and became the Sultan. In his reign of eight year four months and twenty eight days, he brought many victorious to Ottoman Empire.
As soon as he came to the throne, he determined his targets. First of all, he marched towards his nephew Alâeddin, who took over Bursa upon Prince Ahmed’s encouragement and forced him to flee to Malatya. Having brought other princes and possible heirs to their knees, he shifted his attention to foreign affairs. He renewed peace treaties with Walachia, Principality of Moldavia, Hungary, Venice, Russia and Egypt. His purpose was to pay off old scores with the Safavids.
Sultan Selim who focused on the Safavids decided to march on Shah İsmail and moved towards to Iran with a huge army. Sultan Selim, empowering his army with Akkoyunlu tribes, also took supports of Iran’s old enemies, Uzbeks, Akkoyunlu, Sultan of Egypt and Georgian Bey of Meskhetian. Ottoman Forces under the leadership of Sultan Selim crushed Shah İsmail’s army at the Battle of Chaldiran on 23rd August 1514. Shah İsmail fled from the battlefield leaving everything behind to save his life. Victorious Ottoman Army advanced until Tabriz.
The fact that Ottoman rule had reached to Mosul troubled Kansu Gani, the Sultan of Egypt, who wanted to protect his commercial benefits and influence in the Middle East region.
Yavuz Sultan Selim, who added forces from Istanbul to his army, took Malatya and marched towards south whereas the Egyptian forces were moving towards north, thus two army met at Dabiq (Mercidabık) near northern part of Aleppo (Halep). Mamelukes were severely defeated at the Battle of Marj Dabiq on August 24th, 1516. With this victory, heving killed Kansu Gavir, the Ottomans took control of Aleppo, Hama, Homs (Humus), Damascus. Yavuz Sultan Selim stayed at Damascus for two months, where he had entered on 27th September 1516.
An incident occurring a few months later forced Selim Khan to set a campaign against Egypt. The new Sultan of Mamelukes, Tuman bay II, killed Sultan Selim’s ambassadors. Sultan Selim moved to Egypt with his army, first taking Jerusalem and then Gaza. The Ottomans defeated the Mamelukes again at the Battle of Ridaniya, near Cairo, on 22nd January 1517. With this victory, Ottomans gained control of the whole Egypt. Sultan Selim had stayed in Egypt for seven months and made the Sharif of Mecca give a khutbah in the name of the Sultan and won local tribes’ loyalty. He won himself a name, Hâdimü’l Haremeyn (Servant of Mecca and Medina), which would gave Ottomans a reputation in both Islamic and Christian worlds.
When he returned to Istanbul on 25th July 1518, Sultan Selim brought many captives including Egyptian Abbasid Caliph, el-Mütevekkil (T.N. Al-Mutawakkil). From this date forward, the caliphate past over to the Ottomans and Sultan Selim became the first Ottoman caliph representing leadership of Islamic world. Yavuz Sultan Selim departed for Edirne in 1520 but died of anthrax in Çorlu, where he lodged in September 22. His funeral was brought to Istanbul and he was buried in the garden of Yavuz Selim, built in Fatih and named after him.
During his 8-year-long reign, Yavuz sultan Selim, one of the most famous rulers of the Ottoman dynasty, doubled the lands of the Ottoman and he had expanded the lands of Ottoman to a total of 6.557.000 km2, 1.702.000 km2 of which were in Europe and 1.905.000km2 in Asia continent and 2.905.000 km2 in Africa. During his reign, he lived in peace with the west and set campaigns on Safavids, who was likely to take control of Anatolia, rather. He took Mamelukes under his control in the Middle East, which enabled him to take over Portuguese’s rule over the eastern trade as well as their threat over the holy cities of the Islamic world. Yavuz Selim’s military victories not only prolonged the Ottoman Empire’s life but also opened the way for Islamic conquests of the West under the leadership of Kanuni Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent, his successor.
Yavuz Sultan Selim, who renovated the Ottoman fleet, rebuilt the Golden Horn Shipyard (Haliç Tershanesi), which was built firstly by the Byzantines and later used by his grandfather Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, earned it for the Ottoman Empire and expanded its capacity.
He provided Konya Mevlevi Tekkesi (dervish monastery) water, and had Diyarbakır Fatih Paşa Mosque and Elbistan Ulu Mosque, Muhyiddin İbn Arabiye Mosque, Almshouse and mausoleum in Salihiye, Damascus; Yavuz Sultan Selim Cüzzamhanesi (T.N. a place in which people with leprosy were quarantined) in Istanbul built. In addition, he requested Piri Reis to draw a map of China and India during the Egypt campaign. The map was completed in 1513 and submitted to Selim by Piri Reis himself in Egypt, 1517. During his reign he ordered the construction of İstanbul Sultan Selim Mosque but it wasn’t completed before his death, it was completed by his son, Süleyman I, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
Sultan Selim, who spoke Arabic and Persian very fluently, wrote Persian poems cursively under the nickname Selimî. Those poems are extant today at the Imperial Archives at The Topkapı Palace Museum. He had Turkish poems as well and his Persian Divân (T.N. poetry book) was printed in 1306 in Istanbul and was published in 1904 by Paul Horn in Berlin by the order of Wilhelm II, the German Emperor.
During his eight years of ruling he didn't have any time to rest, he slept four hours a day and spent the rest of the day writing and reading. Sultan Selim has many powerful poems with deep meaning and artistic style.
REFERENCE: Osmanlı (c. 12, 1999), Doç. Dr. Remzi Kılıç / Osmanlı-Özbek Münasebetleri - Yavuz Sultan Selim Devri 1512 – 1520 (Kırgızistan-Türkiye Manas Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi:1, Bişkek-Kırgızistan 2001), Yavuz Ercan / Yavuz Sultan Selim Dönemi (Osmanlı Tarihi 5, Ankara 2002), Nazım Tektaş / Yavuz Sultan Selim (2007), Ord. Prof. İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı / Büyük Osmanlı Tarihi (7. bas., c. I-II, s.233-248), Halil İbrahim İnal / Osmanlı Tarihi (s.176-179, 2007), Ahmet Refik Altınay / Osmanlı Zaferleri (2007), Yılmaz Öztuna / Yavuz Sultan Selim (2011), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Devlet Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 1, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).