Sultan Selim I the Grim, 1512 - 1520
Sultan Selim 'the grim' took over the sultanate from his father Sultan Bayezid II with the assistance of the Janissaries and after a fierce strife that eliminated his brothers and all other claimants.
Selim stopped Persian expansion to the west in 1514. His conquests against the Shiite Mamluk Sultanate of Syria and Egypt (1516-1517) resulted in an enormous expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans adhered to Sunni Islam and Selim I ordered the persecution of Alevis and Shiites in his dominion.
Selim's territorial conquests made him the most powerful leader in the Muslim world and allowed him to assume guardianship of the pilgrimage routes to Mecca and Medina. The center of the Ottoman Empire thus shifted from the Balkans to the Middle East.
Selim died in the 9th year of his reign, aged 46. He left a powerful country with an effective and potent army to Süleyman, his only son and successor.
Bronze medal n. d. Ø 40,7 mm, 26,83 g. Erüreten 357.
(1st half of the 16th century), unsigned, probably North Italian master.
Obv.: SELYMVS·TVRCARVM·IMPERATOR - bust to the left with turban.
Rev.: MEMPHI·CAPTA·REGIDVS·DE VICTIS - view of the city of Memphis and the pyramids.
The obverse presents a detailed portrait of the Sultan while the reverse is freely designed. The fortress may be inspired by a medal of Gianfrancesco Enzolas, showing the castle in Pesaro. The legend mentions the capture of the city of Memphis, which completed the conquest of Egypt.
See the article from Daniel Fearons "An Italian Medal of Sultan Selim I (the Grim) of Turkey", The Medal, September 1984, p.5-6. [Künker-289]
uniface medal n. d. Ø 49 mm.
(source: G. Hill, NC 1926, pp.289-98, pl.XIV, n.3. - location 1926: Claudius Côte, Lyon.)
SOLTAN SALI - HA_THMAN - bust to the left, with mustache and turban.
Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, 1520 - 1566
* 1494. Süleyman succeeded his father Sultan Selim I in 1520. He was the most eminent of the Ottoman rulers. The Turks named him "The Law Giver". He conquered Belgrade (1521) and expelled the Knights of St. John from Rhodes (1522). In 1526 Süleyman won the battle at Mohács against the Hungarian king Louis II. Louis died on the battlefield, and a major part of Hungary became a vassal state. In 1529 Suleiman besieged Vienna, although in vain. In 1532 Süleymans's second campaign caused Charles V to appear in Austria with a large army but a decisive battle was avoided. The result was a truce with Archduke Ferdinand in 1533. Süleyman waged three major campaigns against Persia (1534-35, 1548-49, 1554-54) and completed the conquest of Irak, his father had began.
Sultan Süleyman employed administrators and statesmen of unusual ability. His fleet dominated the Mediterranean and the Red See, and his architects embellished the cities of the Islamic world. The Byzantine city of Constantinople was transformed into Istanbul, an Osman city, worthy to be the centre of the Turkish and Islamic empire, and the largest European city at the time. Christians were tolerated, but had to pay a poll tax.
Christian states both feared and admired Süleyman. His alliance with Francis I of France against Charles V. was the first alliance between the "infidels" and a major Christian power.
Since 1553, Süleyman's sons and pretenders to the throne troubled his reign. Süleyman died while besieging a fortress in western Hungary in 1566. He is buried in one of his own foundations, the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.
European artists produced several interesting portraits of Süleyman, dating mostly from the 1530s, but the only known "medal" shows a stiff image and is probably an Italian copy of a graphic representation.
When Sultan Mehmed II, Süleyman's great-grandfather, had conquered Constantinople in 1453, he put Italian artists in charge of producing medals showing his faithful portrait. As Islamic art is aniconic, they were intended for strictly private use. His son and successor shared the court's reservations against figural art and therefore sold most of his father's European works of art.
cast medal n. d. Ø 74 mm.
(soarce: G. Hill, NC 1926, pp.289-98, pl.XIV, n.1. - location: Vatican).
Obv.: bust with beard, mustache and turban.
Rev.: later engraving:
TEROR / CHRISTIANORVM
Compare with a
engraving 1526 from the monogramist AA (15x12 cm), Albertina, Vienna.
Look at the painting about 1530-40 from a Venetian after Tizian (TIZIANO), 99x85 cm, KHM Vienna.
• George F. Hill: Medals of Turkish Sultans, NC 1926, pp.287-298 & pl.XIV - online
• J. Raby, in "Studies in the History of Art" (Vol.21): Italian Medals (Washington, 1986)
Khayr Ad-Din Barbarossa, 1546
Khayr Ad-Din, surnamed Barbarossa (ital. Redbeard), was a pirate, who conquered Algeria in 1515. In 1518 he offered homage to the Ottoman sultan Süleyman because he wanted the sultan's support. In 1529 he captured Algiers and made it the great stronghold of Mediterranean piracy. In 1533 he was appointed admiral in chief of the Ottoman Empire. He conquered Tunis the following year, which increasingly troubled the Christian countries on the Mediterranean Sea. Although emperor Charles V captured Tunis and Goletta in 1535, Barbarossa continued his naval war. He defeated Andrea Doria and Charles V's fleet at Preveza in western Greece (1538). In 1540 he destroyed a Christian fleet near Crete, and in 1542 he helped King Francis I to take Nizza from Charles V. Barbarossa remained a prominent personage at the court of Istanbul until his death in 1546.
by Ludwig Neufahrer, about 1535, strike in silver, Ø 27 mm, Habich I/2-1403
Obv.: BARBA - ROSSA Signature "LNE" as monogram
Rev.: Three lines Arabic writing : "KhaYr Ad-Din / Shah from Algier / Sultan"
from the Venetian Agostino Musi (1490-1536),
National Gallery of Art, Washington.
cast medal in silver Ø 33 mm, 13,46 g.
1st half of the 16th century, workshop L. Neufahrer, engraved legends.
Obv.: BARBA - ROSSA - bust of Barbarossa.
Rev.: MAXIMILIAN - IMPERATOR - bust of emperor Maximilian.
Both rulers had nothing to do with each other. An occasion for this medal is unknown.
The size of the portraits is uncoordinated.
Sultan Selim II, 1566-1574
Selim II (with nicknames 'the Blond' and 'the Drukard') followed his father Süleiman, after his older brothers had died. The government was headed by the experienced Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, who served three sultans in succession from 1565-79. Selim II was described as a man of pleasure. His greatest cultural contribution is the construction of the mosque named after him in Erdine, the old Ottoman capital. No major campaigns took place in his reign. Main events were: the truce with Vienna (1568) against tribute payments, the capture of Cyprus (1570/71) and the defeat at Lepanto (1571). He died 50-year-old from a fall, allegedly in a drunken stupor.
Uniface medal 1566
, unsigned. Ø 29,7 mm, 9,81 g.
Bust almost from the front with turban.
Sultan Mehmed II. the Conqueror, 1451-1481