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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

History's Most Insane Rulers, Part 3: Ibrahim I -- The Sultan Who Loved Fur and Drowned His Harem

00:00 50:46
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Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim (1616-1648) believed he was the sort of ruler that came out of legend, so he ordered a massive tax to fund the decoration of his palace in sable fur. He also preferred full-figured women and commissioned his advisers to find for him the largest woman in his realm. Such a woman was found; she weighted over three hundred pounds, an enormous size in the seventeenth century. How did somebody like this become sultan? Because he was born a prisoner.

Ibrahim spent the first two decades of his life in “The Cage,” a harem quarter of the palace designed to imprison Ottoman princes and prevent them from scheming to capture the sultanate. Ibrahim never left the palace grounds until he became sultan himself in his twenties. In both periods of his life the fear of political assassination relentlessly haunted him. Paranoia and seclusion damaged his sanity, which broke completely when he ascended the throne. As a narcissistic hedonist who put his own pleasure before the needs of the empire, the harm that Ibrahim caused in his eight-year reign drained state coffers, alienated the military and political classes, led to a disastrous war with the rival Republic of Venice, and nearly brought down the House of Osman, the dynasty that had ruled the Ottoman Empire for over three hundred years.
May 21, 2020
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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