Our series continues with the captive prince who spent his formative years locked away alone except for the mutes who served them, and barren women who formed his harem. Not exactly good training to rule an empire.
Ibrahim was twenty four years old when he became sultan having been confined for all his life save his first two years, initially in the Old Palace and then in the Cage in Topkapi Palace. The Cage was a two-storey building hidden within the public area of Topkapi, originally surrounded by high walls which were demolished some time in the mid- eighteenth century. The captive princes kept in the Cage were alone except for the mutes who served them, and barren women who formed their harem. Not exactly good training to rule an empire. In fact Ibrahim had spent his life in terror of sudden death, to the point where he refused to come out when news of Murat’s death was first brought to him and only emerged when his mother arranged for Murat’s corpse to be brought and displayed in front of the door of the Cage.
When Ibrahim ascended the throne it was thought he could be impotent and the Ottoman dynasty would end with him. His mother decided to address this issue by acquiring beautiful slave girls to tempt him, and plying him with aphrodisiacs. All fears were put to rest when Ibrahim’s first son was born in January 1642. He went on to sire a total of eighteen children, nine boys and nine girls, in just over seven years. Indeed he embraced a libidinous lifestyle to the point where he rarely left the harem and his orgies became the stuff of legend.
He did have building work carried out in Topkapi which survives to this day, most notably the Kiosk of Circumcisions, a handsomely tiled pavilion. Otherwise he ignored his empire and, predictably, in dissolved into chaos until August 1648 when he was deposed and his son Mehmet acended the throne. Initially Ibrahim was confined in a small room in the Palace but, after nine days during which it is said his constant weeping could be heard, he was strangled and then interred beside his Uncle Mustafa I in Haghia Sophia. Ibrahim is always referred to as Ibrahim the Mad in English or Deli Ibrahim in Turkish.