MURAD IV (1611-1640) was the son of Sultan Ahmed I., and succeeded his uncle Mustafa I. in 1623. For the first nine years of his reign his youth prevented him from taking more than an observer's part in affairs. But the lessons thus learnt were sufficiently striking to mould his whole character and policy. The minority of the sultan gave full play to the anarchic elements in the state; the soldiery, spahis and janissaries, conscious of their power and reckless through impunity, rose in revolt whenever the whim seized them, demanding privileges and the heads of those who displeased them, not sparing even the sultan's favourites. In 1631 the spahis of Asia Minor rose in revolt, in protest against the deposition of the grand vizier Khosrev: their representatives crowded to Constantinople, stoned the new grand vizier, Hafiz, in the court of the palace, and pursued the sultan himself into the inner apartments, clamouring for seventeen heads of his advisers and favourites, on penalty of his own deposition. Hafiz was surrendered, a voluntary martyr; other ministers were deposed; Mustafa Pasha, aga of the janissaries, was saved by his own troops. But Mura-d was now beginning to assert himself. Khosrev was executed in Asia Minor by his orders; a plot of the spahis to depose him was frustrated by the loyalty of Koes Mahommed, aga of the janissaries, and of the spahi Rum Mahommed (Mahommed the Greek); and on the 2gth of May 1632, by a successful personal appeal to the loyalty of the janissaries, Murad crushed the rebels, whom he surrounded in the Hippodrome. At the age of twenty he found himself possessed of effective autocratic power.
His severity has remained legendary. Death was the penalty for the least offence, and no past services as Koes Mahommed was to find to his cost were admitted in extenuation. The use of tobacco, coffee, opium and wine were forbidden on pain of death; eighteen persons are said to have been put to death in a single day for infringing this rule. During his whole reign, indeed, supposed offenders against the sultan's authority were done to death, singly or in thousands. The tale of his victims is said to have exceeded 100,000.
But if he was the most cruel, Murad was also one of the most manly, of the later sultans. He was of gigantic strength, which he maintained by constant physical exercises. He was also fond of hunting, and for this reason usually lived at Adrianople. He broke through the alleged tradition, bequeathed by Suleiman the Magnificent to his successors, that the sultan should not command the troops in person, and took command in the Persian war which led to the capture of Bagdad (1638) and the conclusion of an honourable peace (May 7, 1639). Early in 1640 he died, barely twenty-nine years of age. The cause of his death was acute gout brought on by excessive drinking. In spite of his drunkenness, however, Murad was a bigoted Sunni, and the main cause of his campaign against Persia was his desire to extirpate the Shia heresy. In the intervals of his campaignings and cruelties the sultan would amuse his entourage by exhibiting feats of strength, or compose verses, some of which were published under the pseudonym of Muradi.
See, for details of the lives of the above, J. von Hammer-Purgstall, Geschichte des osmanischen Retches (Pest, 1840), where further authorities are cited.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)