Another one confined to the Cage is set free to rein.
Ahmet was nearly thirty when he became sultan having spent the last sixteen years confined to the Cage in either Topkapi or Edirne Palaces. Whilst he was girded with the sword of Osman in Edirne, within a few weeks he moved his court back to Topkapi and re-established Istanbul as the location of the court.
He built several structures in and around Topkapi Palace that survive to this day most notably the magnificent street fountain outside the Imperial Gate. He also re-populated the harem whose numbers had declined during the previous century. The names of fourteen of his concubines are known which is more than for any other sultan up to that time. He fathered fifty-two children: twenty-two boys and thirty girls; of whom thirty-four died in infancy. Two of sons would eventually take the throne as future sultans: Mustafa III born in 1717 and Abdul Hamit I born in 1725.
During the first thirteen years of his reign Ahmet appointed twelve different grand viziers before giving the role to Nevsehirli Ibrahim Pasa in 1717, Ibrahim held the job for the remainder of Ahmet’s reign and managed to bring peace to the empire. He even sought to broaden contact with western Europe by sending ambassadors to Paris, Vienna, Moscow and Poland – the first ever Turkish ambassadors. The ambassador who went to Paris returned with drawings of Fontainebleau and was commissioned by Ibrahim to build a similar palace for Ahmet on the upper reaches of the Golden Horn. This palace, called Sa’adabad had gardens modelled on those of Versailles where thousands of trees were planted. A stream was diverted to create a canal three-quarters of a mile in length, flowing through pools and over cascades, alongside which were over two hundred villas and pavilions built by the sultan’s courtiers. No trace of Sa’adabad remains today but it was only one example of Ahmet’s love of gardens. His reign is known as the Lale Devri (Tulip Period) in Turkish as he instigated an annual celebration in honour of the blossoming of the tulip and he himself is sometimes referred to as the Tulip King. He built other palaces on the shores of the Bosphorus and his whole life became one long round of ‘fetes’ or parties held in different palaces.
Of course all this conspicuous expenditure had to be paid for and to do so taxes, increasingly punitive, were levied. At the end of September 1730 the populace finally revolted, Ibrahim Pasa and two of his colleagues were killed and within a couple of days Ahmet agreed to abdicate in favour of his nephew Mahmut the son of Mustafa II. Ahmet took Mahmut’s place in the Cage alongside his own six surviving sons and the new sultan’s brother.