Ottoman Dynasty has not only greatly influenced but also dominated the history
of Asia Minor, of the Near and Middle East, of the Balkans, of the regions
bordering the Black Sea, of part of North Africa and of Eastern Europe for
centuries, with a remarkable longevity through an uninterrupted direct line of
Ottoman dynasty (Âl-i Osman) has ruled over its dominions for over six
centuries, possibly from its eponymous founder Osman Bey’s first rise to
chiefdom in the late thirteenth century to 1922. Its rulers, all Sunni Muslims,
also ruled as Caliphs over the Islamic world for over four centuries, from 1517
to 1924. Their multinational empire, which some view as the forerunner of
contemporary federal systems, was a major actor in, and contributor to, the
civilization of the second millennium of our era.
time of the establishment of the Ottoman lineage until the abolition of the
sultanate in 1922, thirty-six rulers reigned in succession, all direct
descendants of the founder of the dynasty, Osman Bey. Under the first fourteen
rulers, for the period of almost three centuries extending from Osman Bey’s
death in 1324 to Ahmed I’s demise in 1617, the succession passed from father to
son. As Ahmed I’s sons were under age at the time of his death, his brother
Mustafa, the eldest of imperial princes, succeeded him, thus initiating a
new practice based on the transfer of authority to the eldest male
representative of the extended blood line. This system of succession remained
in force for another three centuries, until the end of the Empire, in 1922.
From the death of Sultan Mehmed VI Vahideddin in 1926 to this day, it has been
maintained to determine the head of the dynasty (hanedan reisi).
Throughout history, the
Ottoman rulers have carried an impressive number of titles, from the modest Bey
(lord) and Gazi (warrior of the faith) of the earlier period to the more
ambitious Sultan, Hakan, Han, Hünkâr, Padişah (all
variations around the concept of sovereign and emperor), especially after the
conquest of Constantinople in 1453, or to the more religiously minded ones of Halife-i
Müslimin (Caliph of all Muslims), Hadimü’l-Haremeyn (Servant of the
two Holy Places [of Mecca and Medina]), or Emiru’l-Mu’minin (Commander
of the Faithful) following the conquest of Egypt in 1517.
princes of imperial blood are called şehzade (literally son of a shah);
they bear the honorific title of Efendi after their name, and their rank
corresponds to that of Imperial Highness in the west. Their female counterparts,
the imperial princesses, are called sultan, a title which follows their
name (not to be confused with the title of the sovereign, which precedes the
name); they have the rank of Imperial Highness, which they retain after their
of members of the dynasty benefited from a special status deriving from this
union. For the period we are concerned with, the wives of a reigning sultan,
generally limited to the canonical number of four, were given the title of Kadınefendi
and the rank of Majesty. The first of these wives, in chronological order of
marriage, received the title of Başkadınefendi (Head or First Kadınefendi).
The following wives of the sultan, from the fifth downwards, were given the
title of İkbal (Favorite) and the rank of Highness, the position of Baş
İkbal being reserved to the first among them. Those wives whose son
eventually became sultan were confirmed in the highest female status of the
dynasty, that of Valide Sultan (Queen Mother), with corresponding rank
of Imperial Majesty.
consorts, namely the husbands of imperial princesses (Sultan) received
the title of Damad (Son-in-law) or, more precisely, Damad-ı Şehriyari
(Imperial son-in-law), and the rank of Highness, and were forbidden to take
another wife and forced to divorce former ones. Contrary to marriages involving
imperial princes (Şehzade), where the male lineage guaranteed the
preservation of the title throughout generations of male descendants, children
issued from the marriage of an imperial princess with a damad were given
the titles of Beyzade or Sultanzade for men, and of Hanım
Sultan for women, both with the rank of Highness, and with no possibility
to transfer any form of title to their own descendants.
present head of the House of Osman and its representative is the great grandson
of Sultan Abdülmecid: Osman Bayazid Efendi, son of İbrahim Tevfik Efendi, son
of Burhaneddin Efendi, son of Sultan Abdülmecid. In accordance with the system
of succession established by tradition, he succeeded his cousin Ertuğrul Osman
Efendi, son of Mehmed Burhaneddin Efendi, son of Sultan Abdülhamid II, upon
his demise on 23 September 2009.