Murat spent all his time drinking and carousing and, when drunk, running through the streets of Istanbul with a drawn sword killing anyone who crossed his path.
Murat, a son of Ahmet I, had just celebrated his fourteenth birthday when he became sultan and for the first seven or so years of his reign it would seem the celebrations continued. He drank to excess and enjoyed himself with the members of his harem until, in September 1631, he was almost struck by lightning and vowed to reform. In 1635 he personally led a campaign into Persia against the Safavids and captured the city of Erivan. News of this victory was sent to Istanbul along with instructions that his brothers Beyazit and Süleyman should be executed during the victory celebrations, in the hope that their deaths would pass unnoticed.
In December 1635 Murat led his army in triumph through Istanbul, the first sultan to do so since Süleyman the Magnificent in the previous century – we are not counting the almost accidental victory achieved by Mehmet III in Hungary in 1596.Murat battled his love of alcohol, banning it in the city when he was sober and convinced it was evil; then falling for its temptations yet again. When drunk he was notoriously cruel. The Safavids had retaken Erivan in 1636 and Murat began to plan a major campaign in Persia with the object of reconquering Baghdad. By early 1638 he was ready to leave but, as with his predecessors, the succession was on his mind. He had fathered four sons all of whom had died of natural causes. That left just two males in the Ottoman line, Murat’s brothers Kasim and Ibrahim, both of whom were confined to the Cage. Kasim, being the elder, was the actual heir to the throne unless Murat fathered a son who survived. Kasim was terrified of Murat and, when he presented himself to his brother with good wishes for the forthcoming campaign, he was suitably deferential and humble. Murat accepted his brother’s best wishes and had him strangled later on the same day.
Baghdad surrendered to Murat in December 1638 after a five-week siege and the loss of 100,000 Turks. Murat ordered the slaughter of all survivors in the city and then returned to Istanbul once again leading a triumphant army – albeit numerically somewhat diminished. Whilst Murat had been away the old sultan Mustafa had died of natural causes. Thus Ibrahim was the only remaining prince with a claim to the throne.
After his return from Baghdad Murat spent all his time drinking and carousing and, when drunk, running through the streets of Istanbul with a drawn sword killing anyone who crossed his path. From contemporary accounts it would seem he developed cirrhosis of the liver and early in February 1640 he died after one last banquet.
In his final hours he wanted his brother Ibrahim to be killed so that the Ottoman dynasty would also come to an end, but Ibrahim’s mother saved him – and he became sultan on 9 February 1640.