Pasha, Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa

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Pasha was born near Marinca, the son of a cavalry officer with good family connections named Derwish Beg, Urudj Beg or Hasan Beg. At some point, probably as a teenager, he was taken as a foster child or protégé of the Köprülü family, the head of which was probably his father's commanding officer. He was educated with the birth son of the family, Fazil Ahmed, which was unusual for boys of his status, and he held various offices in the family household, culminating in the position of messenger between his father and the sultan, Mehmed IV.

He became attached to the sultan's court, was made governor-general of Silistria, then governor of Diyarbakr. His father had become grand vizier (prime minister) in 1656, and when he died, Fazil Ahmed succeeded him in 1661. Kara Mustafa was then appointed grand admiral of the fleet and deputy grand vizier and a confidant of the sultan. He married his foster sister, then divorced her to marry the sultan's daughter. He became grand vizier himself when his foster brother died in 1676. As grand vizier he decided to extend the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire further into central Europe by capturing Vienna. He failed, and as a reward he was beheaded in 1683. As grand vizier he was notorious for his xenophobia against Europeans and Christians, punitive taxation to pay for the wars and personal greed.


Freely, John. The Lost Messiah: In Search of Sabbatai Sevi. (London: Viking, 2001)
Davis, Peter. "Not a Nice Man: The Search for Kara Mustafa Pasa." [Includes portraits]. Available at:
Olnon, Merlijn. "'A Most Agreeable and Pleasant Creature?': Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasa and the Dutch in the Levant (1668-1682)," In: Fleet, Kate, and van den Boogert, H., editors, The Ottoman Capitulations: Text and Context. (Rome: l'Institut per l'Oriente, 2002). Also available at: http://www.let.leidenuniv.n1/tcimo/tulp/Research/mo.htm


Arab, Middle Eastern
17th Century
Rulers, Nobles, Chiefs, Presidents, Prime Ministers
Military and Defense
Anti-social or Disruptive Behavior, Adhd
Murdered, Assassinated
School-age Years, Adolescence
Priest, Religious, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Patron, Apprentice Master or Owner
Adoptive/Foster Family Included Birth Child(ren)
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