Ottoman dynasty

House of Osman
Country Ottoman Empire
Foundedc. 1299
FounderOsman I
Current headDündar Ali Osman
Final ruler
ReligionSunni Islam (Hanafi)

The Ottoman dynasty (Turkish: Osmanlı Hanedanı) was made up of the members of the imperial House of Osman (Ottoman Turkish: خاندان آل عثمانḪānedān-ı Āl-ı ʿOsmān), also known as the Ottomans (Turkish: Osmanlılar). According to Ottoman tradition, the family originated from the Kayı tribe[nb 1] branch of the Oghuz Turks,[2] under Osman I in northwestern Anatolia in the district of Bilecik Söğüt. The Ottoman dynasty, named after Osman I, ruled the Ottoman Empire from c. 1299 to 1922.

During much of the Empire's history, the sultan was the absolute regent, head of state, and head of government, though much of the power often shifted to other officials such as the Grand Vizier. During the First (1876–78) and Second Constitutional Eras (1908–20) of the late Empire, a shift to constitutional monarchy was enacted, with the Grand Vizier taking on a prime ministerial role as head of government and heading an elected General Assembly.

The imperial family was deposed from power and the sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence. The Republic of Turkey was declared the following year. The living members of the dynasty were initially sent into exile as personae non gratae, though some have been allowed to return and live as private citizens in Turkey. In its current form, the family is known as the Osmanoğlu family.

Ottoman Ceremonial Barbering Cape (detail), early 18th century, Turkey. Each day, the Sultan wore a different elaborately embroidered cape for his daily barbering.[citation needed] Public displays of extraordinary splendor were considered essential to the maintenance of Ottoman imperial authority.[citation needed] LACMA textile collection.


The Ottoman dynasty operated under several basic premises: that the Sultan governed the empire’s entire territory, that every male member of the dynastic family was hypothetically eligible to become Sultan, and that only one person at a time could be the Sultan.[3] Such rules were fairly standard for monarchic empires of the time. The certain processes through which men rose to the Sultanate, however, were very specific to the Ottoman Empire. To go into greater detail about these processes, the history of succession between Sultans can be divided into two eras: the period between the reign of Orhan (1323-1362), the first person to inherit the Ottoman sultanate, and the reign of Ahmed I (1603-1617); and the period following Ahmed I’s reign.

The succession process during the first period was dominated by violence and intra-familial conflict, in which the various sons of the deceased Sultan fought until only one remained alive and, thus, inherited the throne. This tradition was known as fratricide in the Ottoman Empire, but may have evolved from tanistry, a similar succession procedure that existed in many Turco-Mongolian dynasties predating the Ottomans.[4] Sons of the Sultan were often given provincial territories to govern until the Sultan’s death, at which point they would each vie for the throne.[5] Each son had to, according to historian H. Erdem Cipa, “demonstrate that his fortune was superior to the fortunes of his rivals,” a demonstration that often took the form of military accomplishment and ruthlessness.[6] This violence was not considered particularly unexpected or unusual. As Cipa has noted, the Ottoman words for “successor” and “conflict” share the same Arabic root,[7] and indeed, all but one of the successions in this roughly 200-year period involved a resolution by combat.[8] Over time, the combat became increasingly prevalent and recognized, especially after a Jannissary uprising negated Murad II’s attempt to abdicate the throne peacefully to his son, Mehmed II, in 1444. During the eventual reign of Mehmed II (1451-1481), fratricide was legalized as an official practice; during the reign of Bayezid II (1481-1512), fratricide between Bayezid II’s sons occurred before Bayezid II himself died;[9] and after the reign of Murad III (1574-1595), successor Mehmed III executed a whopping 19 relatives in order to claim the throne.[10]

During the second period, the tradition of fratricide was replaced by a simpler and less violent procedure. Starting with the succession from Ahmed I to Mustafa I in 1617, the Ottoman throne was inherited by the eldest male family member — not necessarily son — of the Sultan, regardless of how many eligible family members were alive.[11] The change in succession procedure was likely instigated by numerous factors, including fratricide’s decline in popularity among Ottoman elites[12] and Ahmed I’s decision not to kill Mustafa when inheriting the throne from Mehmed III in 1603. With the door opened for a change in policy, a political debate arose between those who supported unrestricted Sultan privilege and those who supported a stronger, centralized law system that would supersede even the Sultan’s power to an extent, and historian Baki Tezcan has argued that the latter faction — with the help of influential grand mufti "Sa’deddinzade Es’ad" — was able to prevail in this instance.[13] The blood-free succession from Ahmed I to Mustafa I in 1617 “provided a reference for the eventual stabilization of the rule of Ottoman succession, the very regulation of which by an outside force was in effect a constitutional check on the dynastic prerogative,” Tezcan has written.[14] The precedent set in 1617 stuck, as the eldest living family member successfully inherited the throne in each of the following 21 successions, with relatively few instances of a son inheriting the throne.[15]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Huis van Osman
azərbaycanca: Osmanlı sülaləsi
беларуская: Дынастыя Асманаў
български: Османски султан
čeština: Osmané
eesti: Osmanid
Esperanto: Otomana dinastio
Frysk: Osmanen
한국어: 오스만 왕조
հայերեն: Օսմաններ
Bahasa Indonesia: Wangsa Utsmaniyah
ქართული: ოსმანები
Latina: Ottomanidae
Bahasa Melayu: Dinasti Uthmaniyah
日本語: オスマン家
norsk nynorsk: Det osmanske dynastiet
polski: Osmanowie
português: Dinastia otomana
русский: Османы
shqip: Osmanët
Simple English: Ottoman Dynasty
slovenčina: Osmanská dynastia
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Osmanska dinastija
українська: Османи