21. Suleiman the Magnificent Had His Own Son Strangled to Death
Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I might have been magnificent, but that magnificence did not extend to being a good father. His elder son and heir apparent, Shehzade Mustafa (1515 – 1553), was, according to contemporary accounts, the kind of son any father would be proud to call his own. From an early age, the young prince had demonstrated his chops as a brave warrior, skilled general, and capable governor. Mustafa was beloved by the army, the scholars, and was popular with the public at large.
However, there was one person who did not like Mustafa: his stepmother, Roxelana. Sultan Suleiman’s favorite concubine and eventual wife, Roxelana wanted the throne for one of her own sons, and so set out to poison Suleiman’s mind against Mustafa. She organized a whispering campaign, and manufactured rumors about Mustafa’s supposed disloyalty. It worked. In 1553, Suleiman summoned Mustafa to his tent, and when the prince entered, the Sultan set his guards upon the prince. After a long struggle, they strangled him to death with a bowstring. Suleiman was succeeded by Roxelana’s son, Selim II, known as the Drunkard. He was one of the Ottoman Dynasty’s worst rulers, and set the empire on the path of decline and eventual collapse.