|6th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire |
|First reign||26 May 1421 - August 1444|
|Second reign||September 1446 - 3 February 1451|
|Born||16 June 1404|
Amasya, Ottoman Sultanate
|Died||3 February 1451 (aged 46)|
Edirne, Ottoman Sultanate
|Mother||Emine Hatun or ?ehzade Hatun|
Murad II's reign was a period of important economic development. Trade increased and Ottoman cities expanded considerably. In 1432, the traveller Bertrandon de la Broquière noted that Ottoman annual revenue had risen to 2,500,000 ducats, and that if Murad II had used all available resources he could easily have invaded Europe.
Murad was born in June 1404 (or 1403) to Sultan Mehmed I. The identity of his mother is disputed. According to 15th century historian ?ükrullah, Murad's mother was a concubine. Hüseyin Hüsâmeddin Yasar, an early 20th century historian, wrote in his work Amasya Tarihi, that his mother was ?ehzade Hatun, daughter of Divitdar Ahmed Pasha. According to historians ?smail Hami Dani?mend, and Heath W. Lowry, his mother was Emine Hatun, daughter of ?aban Suli Bey, ruler of the Dulkadirids.
He spent his early childhood in Amasya. In 1410, Murad came along with his father to the Ottoman capital, Edirne. After his father ascended to the Ottoman throne, he made Murad governor of the Amasya Sanjak. Murad remained at Amasya until the death of Mehmed I in 1421. He was solemnly recognized as sultan of the Ottoman Sultanate at sixteen years of age, girded with the sabre of Osman at Bursa, and the troops and officers of the state willingly paid homage to him as their sovereign.
Murad's reign was troubled by insurrection early on. The Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II, released the 'pretender' Mustafa Çelebi (known as Düzmece Mustafa) from confinement and acknowledged him as the legitimate heir to the throne of Bayezid I (1389-1402). The Byzantine Emperor had first secured a stipulation that Mustafa should, if successful, repay him for his liberation by giving up a large number of important cities. The pretender was landed by the Byzantine galleys in the European dominion of the sultan and for a time made rapid progress. Many Turkish soldiers joined him, and he defeated and killed the veteran general Beyazid Pasha, whom Murad had sent to fight him. Mustafa defeated Murad's army and declared himself Sultan of Adrianople (modern Edirne). He then crossed the Dardanelles to Asia with a large army but Murad out-manoeuvered Mustafa. Mustafa's force passed over in large numbers to Murad II. Mustafa took refuge in the city of Gallipoli, but the sultan, who was greatly aided by a Genoese commander named Adorno, besieged him there and stormed the place. Mustafa was taken and put to death by the sultan, who then turned his arms against the Roman emperor and declared his resolution to punish the Palaiologos for their unprovoked enmity by the capture of Constantinople.
Murad II then formed a new army called Azap in 1421 and marched through the Byzantine Empire and laid siege to Constantinople. While Murad was besieging the city, the Byzantines, in league with some independent Turkish Anatolian states, sent the sultan's younger brother Küçük Mustafa (who was only 13 years old) to rebel against the sultan and besiege Bursa. Murad had to abandon the siege of Constantinople in order to deal with his rebellious brother. He caught Prince Mustafa and executed him. The Anatolian states that had been constantly plotting against him — Aydinids, Germiyanids, Menteshe and Teke — were annexed and henceforth became part of the Ottoman Sultanate.
Murad II then declared war against Venice, the Karamanid Emirate, Serbia and Hungary. The Karamanids were defeated in 1428 and Venice withdrew in 1432 following the defeat at the second Siege of Thessalonica in 1430. In the 1430s Murad captured vast territories in the Balkans and succeeded in annexing Serbia in 1439. In 1441 the Holy Roman Empire and Poland joined the Serbian-Hungarian coalition. Murad II won the Battle of Varna in 1444 against John Hunyadi.
In 1448 he defeated the Christian coalition at the Second Battle of Kosovo (the first one took place in 1389). When the Balkan front was secured, Murad II turned east to defeat Timur's son, Shah Rokh, and the emirates of Karamanid and Çorum-Amasya. In 1450 Murad II led his army into Albania and unsuccessfully besieged the Castle of Kruje in an effort to defeat the resistance led by Skanderbeg. In the winter of 1450–1451, Murad II fell ill, and died in Edirne. He was succeeded by his son Mehmed II (1451–1481).
When Murad ascended to the throne, he sought to regain the lost Ottoman territories that had reverted to autonomy following his grandfather Bayezid I's defeat at the Battle of Ankara in 1402 at the hands of Timur. He needed the support of both the public and the nobles "who would enable him to exercise his rule", and utilized the old and potent Islamic trope of Ghazi King.
In order to gain popular, international support for his conquests, Murad II modeled himself after the legendary Ghazi kings of old. The Ottomans already presented themselves as ghazis, painting their origins as rising from the ghazas of Osman, the founder of the dynasty. For them, ghaza was the noble championing of Islam and justice against non-Muslims and Muslims alike, if they were cruel; for example, Bayezid I labeled Timur Lang, also a Muslim, an apostate prior to the Battle of Ankara because of the violence his troops had committed upon innocent civilians and because "all you do is to break promises and vows, shed blood, and violate the honor of women." Murad II only had to capitalize on this dynastic inheritance of doing ghaza, which he did by actively crafting the public image of Ghazi Sultan.
After his accession, there was a flurry of translating and compiling activity where old Persian, Arab, and Anatolian epics were translated into Turkish so Murad II could uncover the ghazi king legends. He drew from the noble behavior of the nameless Caliphs in the Battalname, an epic about a fictional Arab warrior who fought against the Byzantines, and modelled his actions on theirs. He was careful to embody the simplicity, piety, and noble sense of justice that was part of the Ghazi King persona.
For example, the Caliph in Battalname saw the battle turning in his enemy's favor, and got down from his horse and prayed, after which the battle ended in a victory for him. In the Battle of Varna in 1444, Murad II saw the Hungarians gaining the upper hand, and he got down from his horse and prayed just like the Caliph, and soon after, the tide turned in the Ottoman's favor and the Hungarian king Wladyslaw was killed. Similarly, the Caliph in the epic roused his warriors by saying "Those of you who die will be martyrs. Those of you who kill will be ghazis"; before the Battle of Varna, Murad II repeated these words to his army, saying "Those of us who kill will be ghazis; those of us who die will be martyrs." In another instance, since the Ghazi King is meant to be a just and fair, when Murad took Thessalonica in the Balkans, he took care to keep the troops in check and prevented widespread looting. Finally, just as the fictional Caliph's ghazas were immortalized in Battalname, Murad II's battles and victories were also compiled and given the title "The Ghazas of Sultan Murad" (Gazavat- i Sultan Murad).
Murad II successfully painted himself as a simple soldier who did not partake in royal excesses, and as a noble ghazi sultan who sought to consolidate Muslim power against non-Muslims such as the Venetians and Hungarians. Through this self-presentation, he got the support of the Muslim population of not only the Ottoman territories, for both himself and his extensive, expensive campaigns, but also the greater Muslim populations in the Dar-al-Islam - such as the Mamluks and the Muslim Delhi Sultanates of India. Murad II was basically presenting himself not only as "a ghazi king who fights caffres [nonmuslims], but also serves as protector and master of lesser ghazis."
Murad II had four known wives:
Murad II is portrayed by ?lker Kurt in 2012 film Fetih 1453, by Vahram Papazian in the Albanian movie The Great Warrior Skanderbeg in 1953, and by Tolga Tekin in the 2020 Netflix series Rise of Empires: Ottoman.
Media related to Murad II at Wikimedia Commons