Line of succession to the former Ottoman throne

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The Ottoman Dynasty had unusual succession practices compared to other monarchies.[1] Those succession practices changed over time, and ultimately the sultanate was abolished in 1922. Later, the House of Osman (Turkish: Osmanoğlu Ailesi) continued the latest succession practice for the head of the family.

Succession practices

From the fourteenth through the late sixteenth centuries, the Ottomans practiced open succession – something historian Donald Quataert has described as "survival of the fittest, not eldest, son." During their father's lifetime, all adult sons of the reigning sultan obtained provincial governorships. Accompanied and mentored by their mothers, they would gather supporters while ostensibly following a Ghazi ethos. Upon the death of the reigning sultan, his sons would fight amongst themselves until one emerged triumphant. A prince's proximity to Constantinople improved his chances of succession, simply because he would hear of his father's death and declare himself Sultan first. A sultan could thus hint at his preferred successor by giving a favourite son a closer governorship. Bayezid II, for instance, had to fight his brother Cem Sultan in the 1480s for the right to rule.

Occasionally, the half-brothers would begin the struggle even before the death of their father. Under Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566), strife between his sons Mustafa and Selim caused such internal turmoil that Suleiman ordered the deaths of both Mustafa and another son, Bayezid, leaving Selim the sole heir.

During the reigns of Suleiman and Selim II, the Haseki Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: حسکي سلطان) or chief consort rose to greater prominence. Gaining power within the Imperial Harem, the favourite was able to manoeuvre to ensure the succession for one of her sons. This led to a short period of effective primogeniture. However, unlike the earlier period, when the sultan had already defeated his brothers and potential rivals for the throne in battle, these sultans had the problem of many half-brothers who could act as the focus for rival factions. Thus, to prevent attempts at seizing the throne, reigning sultans practiced fratricide upon accession, starting with Murat I in 1362.[2] Both Murad III and his son Mehmed III had their half-brothers murdered. The killing of all the new sultan's brothers and half-brothers (which were usually quite numerous) was traditionally done by manual strangling with a silk cord. As the centuries passed, the ritual killing was gradually replaced by lifetime solitary confinement in the "Golden Cage" or kafes, a room in the harem from where the sultan's brothers could never escape, unless perchance they became heir presumptive. Some had already become mentally unstable by the time they were asked to reign.

Mehmed III was the last sultan to have previously held a provincial governorship. Sons now remained within the harem until the death of their father. This not only denied them the ability to form powerful factions capable of usurping their father, but also denied them the opportunity to have children while their father remained alive. Thus, when Mehmet's son came to the throne as Ahmed I, he had no children of his own. Moreover, as a minor, there was no evidence he could have children. This had the potential to create a crisis of succession and led to a gradual end to fratricide. Ahmed had some of his brothers killed, but not Mustafa (later Mustafa I). Similarly, Osman II allowed his half-brothers Murad and Ibrahim to live. This led to a shift in the 17th century from a system of primogeniture to one based on agnatic seniority, in which the eldest male within the dynasty succeeded, also to guarantee adult sultans and prevent both fratricides as well as the sultanate of women. Thus, Mustafa succeeded his brother Ahmed; Suleiman II and Ahmed II succeeded their brother Mehmed IV before being succeeded in turn by Mehmed's son Mustafa II. Agnatic seniority explains why from the 17th century onwards a deceased sultan was rarely succeeded by his own son, but usually by an uncle or brother. It also meant that potential rulers had to wait a long time in the kafes before ascending the throne, hence the old age of certain sultans upon their enthronement.[3] Although attempts were made in the 19th century to replace agnatic seniority with primogeniture, they were unsuccessful, and seniority was retained until the abolition of the sultanate in 1922.[4]

List of heirs since 1922

The Ottoman dynasty was expelled from Turkey in 1924 and most members took on the surname Osmanoğlu, meaning "son of Osman."[5] The female members of the dynasty were allowed to return after 1951,[5] and the male members after 1973.[6] Below is a list of people who would have been heirs to the Ottoman throne following the abolition of the sultanate on 1 November 1922.[6] These people have not necessarily made any claim to the throne; for example, Ertuğrul Osman said "Democracy works well in Turkey."[7]

Current line of succession

According to genealogies of the House of Osman, there would hypothetically be 24 princes now in the line of succession after Dündar Aliosman, if the sultanate had not been abolished.[10][11][12] They are listed as follows; the succession law used is agnatic seniority, with the succession passing to eldest male dynast.[13]

[16] [19]

Line of succession in November 1922

  • Simple silver crown.svg Mahmud II (1785-1839; 30th Sultan and 23rd Ottoman Caliph: 1808-1839)
    • Simple silver crown.svg Abdülmecid I (1823-1861; 31st Sultan and 24th Ottoman Caliph: 1839-1861)
      • Simple silver crown.svg Murad V (1840-1904; 33rd Sultan and 26th Ottoman Caliph: 1876)
      • Simple silver crown.svg Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918; 34th Sultan and 27th Ottoman Caliph: 1876-1909)
        • (2) Şehzade Mehmed Selim Efendi (born 11 January 1870)
          • (23) Şehzade Mehmed Abdülkarim Efendi (born 27 June 1906))[16]
        • (6) Şehzade Mehmed Abdülkadir Efendi (born 16 January 1878)
          • (25) Şehzade Mehmed Orhan Efendi (born 11 July 1909)[8][20]
          • (32) Şehzade Necib Ertuğrul Efendi (born 1914 (or 27 March 1915))[16][20]
          • (34) Şehzade Alaeddin Kadir Efendi (born 2 January 1917)[20]
        • (7) Şehzade Mehmed Ahmed Nuri Efendi (born 12 February 1878)[20]
        • (9) Şehzade Mehmed Burhaneddin Efendi (born 19 December 1885)[16]
          • (27) Şehzade Mehmed Fakhreddin Efendi (born 14 November 1911)[20]
          • (28) Şehzade Ertuğrul Osman Efendi (born 18 August 1912)[7]
        • (12) Şehzade Abdur Rahim Hayri Efendi (born 15 August 1894)[20]
        • (16) Şehzade Ahmed Nureddin Efendi (born 22 June 1901)[20]
        • (22) Şehzade Mehmed Abid Efendi (born 17 September 1905)
      • Simple silver crown.svg Mehmed V (1844-1918; 35th Sultan and 28th Ottoman Caliph: 1909-1918)
        • (3) Şehzade Mehmed Ziayeddin Efendi (born 26 August 1873)
          • (26) Şehzade Mehmed Nazim Efendi (born 26 October 1910)[20]
          • (30) Şehzade Ömer Fawzi Efendi (born 13 November 1912)[20]
        • (10) Şehzade Ömer Hilmi Efendi (born 2 March 1888)
          • (31) Şehzade Mahmud Namik Efendi (born 1913 (or 25 February 1914))[16][20]
      • Şehzade Mehmed Burhaneddin Efendi (1849-1876)[16]
        • (5) Şehzade Ibrahim Tewfik Efendi (born 25 September 1874)[20]
          • (36) Şehzade Burhaneddin Cem Efendi (born 1920)[16]
      • Şehzade Selim Süleyman Efendi (1860-1909)[20]
        • (13) Şehzade Mehmed Abdul-Halim Efendi (born 28 September 1894)[20]
        • (20) Şehzade Damad Mehmed Cerifeddin Efendi (born 19 May 1904)[20]
      • Simple gold crown.svg Mehmed VI (born 2 February 1861)[6]
        • (29) Şehzade Mehmed Ertuğrul Efendi (born 10 September 1912)[20]
    • Simple silver crown.svg Abdülaziz I (1830-1876; 32nd Sultan and 25th Ottoman Caliph: 1861-1876)
      • Şehzade Yusef Izzeddin Efendi (1857-1916)[20]
        • (24) Şehzade Mehmed Nizameddin Efendi (born 18 December 1908)[20]
      • (1) Devletlû Najabatlu Veli Ahd-i Saltanat Şehzade-i Javanbahd Abdülmecid . (born 29 May 1868)
        • (15) Şehzade Ömer Faruk Efendi (born 29 February 1898)[20]
      • Şehzade Mehmed Şevket Efendi (1872-1899)[16]
        • (11) Şehzade Mehmed Celaleddin Efendi (born 1890 (or 1 March 1891))[16][20]
          • (33) Şehzade Mahmud Hushameddin Efendi (born 25 August 1916)[20]
          • (35) Şehzade Süleyman Sadeddin Efendi (born 20 November 1917)[16][20]
      • (4) Prince Şehzade Mehmed Seyfeddin Efendi (born 22 September 1874)[20]
        • (17) Şehzade Mehmed Abdulaziz Efendi (born 26 September 1901)[6]
        • (18) Şehzade Mahmud Shavkat Efendi (born 30 July 1903)[20]
        • (21) Şehzade Ahmed Davut Efendi (born 2 December 1904)[20]

[16] [20]

Excluded from the Imperial House

'NOTE:' Eligibility: A male person born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth is not included in the line of succession and passes no rights to their descendants. The subsequent marriage of the parents does not alter this. At the time of accession, the male heir to the throne must be a Muslim. Any Ottoman Prince who has converted from Islam is excluded from the line of succession.

See also


  1. ^ Quataert 2005, p. 90
  2. ^ Quataert 2005, p. 91
  3. ^ Quataert, p. 92
  4. ^ Karateke 2005, p. 37–54
  5. ^ a b Brookes, Douglas (2008). The concubine, the princess, and the teacher: voices from the Ottoman harem. University of Texas Press. pp. 278, 285. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Opfell, Olga (2001). Royalty who wait: the 21 heads of formerly regnant houses of Europe. McFarland. pp. 146, 151. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  7. ^ a b c d Bernstein, Fred. “Ertugrul Osman, Link to Ottoman Dynasty, Dies at 97”, The New York Times (2009-09-24).
  8. ^ a b c Pope, Hugh. "Oldest Ottoman to come home at last", The Independent (1992-07-22).
  9. ^ a b "'Osmanoğulları'na insanlık şehadet edecek'", Zaman (newspaper) (2009-09-27).
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Hayatta Olan Şehzadeler". Foundation of the Ottoman Dynasty. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Osmanlı Hanedanı vakıf çatısı altında toplanıyor". Sabah. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y İbrahim Pazan (15 September 2009). "Osmanoğullarının yeni reisi Osman Bayezid Efendi Hazretleri". Netgazete. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Almanach de Gotha (184th ed.). Almanach de Gotha. 2000. pp. 365, 912–915. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Burke's Royal Families of the World (2 ed.). Burke's Peerage. 1980. p. 247. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Current Living Şehzades". Official Ottoman Family Website. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw "Hanedan-bu-günkü-Osmanoglu-ailesii".  External link in |publisher= (help)
  17. ^ "Descendent of Ottoman Dynasty Cengiz Nazım Efendi dies at 76". Daily Sabah. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "The Imperial House of Osman: Genealogy". The Royal Ark. Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Buyers, Christopher. "The Imperial House of Osman: Genealogy". The Royal Ark. Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. 
  • Peirce, Leslie P. (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press US. ISBN 9780195086775. OCLC 243767445. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  • Quataert, Donald (2005). The Ottoman Empire, 1700–1922 (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521839105. OCLC 59280221. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  • Karateke, Hakan T. (2005). "Who is the Next Ottoman Sultan? Attempts to Change the Rule of Succession during the Nineteenth Century". In Weismann, Itzchak; Zachs, Fruma. Ottoman Reform and Muslim Regeneration: Studies in Honour of Butrus Abu-Manneb. London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 9781850437574. OCLC 60416792. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 

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