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Three Mustafas (1402-1430)


John R. Melville-Jones,

University of Western Australia


    The name of Mustafa is a common one in the Islamic world, so it is not surprising that it was borne by many members of the Ottoman ruling family. The present study will examine six of these Ottoman Mustafas, all active in the period 1402-1430, and will concentrate on three of them, who claimed to be descendants of Othman, and may have been the same person.

        Two of the six may be dismissed briefly because they are of minor importance, and had nothing to do with the main theme of the present study, which is concerned with the nature and validity of the attempts made by the Byzantines and the Venetians to destabilize the Turkish Sultans Mehmed I and Murad II during the period 1415-1430. The first of these two is a Mustafa, otherwise known as ‘Bürklüdje Mustafa’, who is mentioned by Doukas[1] as the leader of a syncretistic movement which aimed to unite the Christian and Muslim religions, and was appropriately punished by Mehmed I by being crucified on the back of a camel. Then there is the almost equally unfortunate Mustafa to whom Mehmed gave the emirate of Aydın (in the neighborhood of Smyrna), and who was defeated and killed by Djunaid, its hereditary ruler, in the campaign of 1421[2].

        A third Mustafa is of rather more significance in the context of relations between Europe and Asia. When Mehmed I died in 1421, four of his five sons were still alive. The eldest, who became Murad II, quickly established himself in power, and before long the two youngest sons of his father, Yusuf and Mahmud, were put to death. The remaining son, however, ‘Young’ (Kücük) Mustafa, sometimes referred to as Mustaphopoulos (a Greek diminutive form of his name), survived for a while. Murad succeeded in having him killed early in 1423, when he was only fourteen years of age. The story is as follows[3].

        At the end of September 1422 Mustaphopoulos came to Constantinople. The city had been besieged by Murad for two and a half months, and his arrival, three and half weeks after the Turkish forces had raised the siege and departed, cannot have been a coincidence[4]. It was, however, ill timed. On the morning after his arrival he was

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received in the imperial palace, but around the middle of the day the emperor Manuel II suffered a stroke that partially paralyzed him, a hemiplegia, and whatever negotiations between them that might have been proposed did not take place. Mustaphopoulos stayed in Constantinople for a few days, then left the city and traveled to Selymbria. After spending a short time there he returned to Constantinople, then left again and moved to Prousa. We may imagine an appeal to the Byzantines, a refusal, and an attempt to find a base where he might gather support. Support, however, was not forthcoming. During the winter that followed Murad moved from Adrianople into Asia and caught up with his young brother, who was betrayed by his associates and put to death.

        The brief appearance of this young Mustafa should be seen in the context of Byzantine diplomacy at this time. After Mehmed’s death in May 1421 there had been a sharp division of opinion among the leaders of the Byzantines. The reigning emperor Manuel had managed to win the respect and trust, insofar as that was possible, of Murad’s predecessor Mehmed I and hoped to achieve a similar relationship with his son. On the other hand Manuel’s son John (the later John VIII) wished to adopt a more aggressive policy, and favored an arrangement, which would leave Murad Anatolia, and give another Mustafa (yet to be discussed) control of the Turkish possessions in Europe. Manuel’s negotiations with Mustaphopoulos may have been intended to avoid this dangerous and provocative approach, and achieve an alternative policy of the kind that he had already been pursuing.

        It is now time to consider the three remaining Mustafas, who are of much greater importance in the history of the time. They will be discussed separately, but it is likely that they were the same person. The only study so far published which attempts to deal with all three of them is the series of articles by C.J. Heywood which has appeared in the new edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam[5]; Balfour and Barker[6] have also paid some attention to the question in recent years.

        The first Mustafa was a son of Bayazid I (and therefore an uncle of the ‘Young’ Mustafa mentioned above and of the future sultan Murad II). Doukas[7] says that four of Bayazid’s sons fought with their father at the battle of Ankara in 1402, and that ‘he also

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had at home two other sons, Mustafa and Orchan.’ This suggests that Mustafa was the fifth of Bayazid’s six sons[8]. The Ottoman sources, on the other hand, are not in agreement. Some call him Bayazid’s eldest son, some his youngest, and some say that he fought at the battle of Ankara in command of a contingent of Turkish troops and was taken prisoner there. No Turkish writer says that he was killed in the battle. According to one account he was taken prisoner and later released, according to another he disappeared, while Timur’s men put thirty of his namesakes to death while they were searching for him. We may call him Mustafa I for the purpose of this study.

      From 1413 onwards we hear of the appearance and activities of a man who claimed to be this Mustafa. He is mentioned in Byzantine, Ragusan, Venetian and Turkish sources. The Byzantine and Turkish sources are divided on the genuineness of his claim. He will be referred to as Mustafa II.

        The earliest surviving evidence for the existence of Mustafa II is found in a letter that was sent from Ragusa in Dalmatia to Sigismund of Hungary, the city’s overlord, on November 28, 1413. The letter includes the news that it had been learned in Ragusa that in Turkey a brother of Mehmed had recently engaged in insurrection with some success. In view of later reports, and of the fact that Mehmed’s other brothers were certainly dead by this time, this brother can hardly have been anyone but Mustafa[9].

        The surviving records provide us with no further evidence for his activities for over a year. Then on January 15, 1415 the Senate of Venice received the news that the Venetian galley that had sailed to Trebizond in July of the previous year under the command of Marco Bembo had taken on board at Two Forts (Duo Castra) a man who was acting on behalf of Mustafa[10].

        The identification of ‘Two Forts’ is not easy. No place on the coast between Trebizond and the Bosporos is known to have borne this name. It would be useful if its location could be established with certainty, because Venetian galleys sailed to a tightly controlled schedule, and if the place at which Mustafa’s agent boarded the ship was a long way from the usual commercial route, this would indicate prior planning, or an emergency of considerable significance. It is not possible to prove anything of this kind, but it may be tentatively suggested that Duo Castra is a bungled rendering of Leontokastro or Leokastro[11], the name of the promontory with a Genoese castle on it which projects north-eastwards from Trebizond and provides some shelter to the commercial harbor to the south. This would not have required a diversion from the usual route. If it were the right answer, however, it would suggest that Mustafa’s agent

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boarded the galley just after it had begun its return journey from Trebizond, at a point where he was less likely to be noticed than if he had gone on board in a more regular way.

      The first plan of the Turkish agent had been to reach Constantinople, and to seek support from Manuel II. At that time, however, Manuel was unavailable because he had departed for Thessaloniki and the Morea. The Venetian Bailo of Constantinople had therefore given permission for the Turk to continue to be carried on board Bembo’s galley, and he had now reached Venice. He brought with him a letter to the Venetian government and sought an opportunity to place before it a weighty proposal. By a vote of 76 to 8 (with two abstaining), it was decided that this was a matter that should be discussed by a meeting of the full Senate rather than by a committee.

        On the 18th of January two men appeared before the Senate. The record of the meeting describes one of them as a Turk and the other as a Greek. It is not clear whether they had both come from Trebizond or not. It may be suggested that the Greek had accompanied Mustafa’s Turkish agent from the beginning of the journey as an interpreter, but had not been mentioned previously because his status was that of a companion or assistant rather than of an ambassador. Alternatively, he may have been a Byzantine resident at Venice who could understand enough Turkish to transmit the message brought by the other. On behalf of Mustafa they asked for a galley to take them to Greece, where they claimed that they would be able to whip up support against Mehmed. The Senate’s reply took the form of a polite refusal. It stressed the good relations that the city of Venice had previously enjoyed with Murad I and Bayazid, and pointed out that an embassy was at the time on its way to Mehmed, bearing messages of good will that were intended to encourage a continuance of these good relations[12].

      After this meeting between Mustafa’s agent and the Senate, a motion was proposed that the Venetian Bailo at Constantinople should be instructed to inform the Sultan of the request which had been made on behalf of Mustafa, and of the reply which had been given. This motion was passed with a small majority, but it was then immediately amended, and the Bailo was given more flexibility: he was to be informed of what had happened, and then allowed to decide whether to inform Mehmed, and defend the actions of the Venetians, if he considered it necessary.

        Two days later, on January 20th, the emissaries of Mustafa returned with further requests. They first asked for a general assurance that if Mustafa were successful in winning power, the Senate of Venice would treat him as a friend and ally. An assurance was given that in that event the Senate would indeed treat him with friendship, as it had treated previous sultans. The second and third requests were that Mustafa’s ambassadors should be allowed to travel to Segnia and on to Wallachia, and that they should be given a letter of recommendation to take with them to the first of these places. Neither of these requests was granted. The ambassadors were reminded that Venice and Segnia were not on good terms at that time, and that in any case Segnia was subject to the overlordship of the King of Hungary. They were then offered transportation to any area under Turkish

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control in which they might expect support, and which was accessible to Venetian vessels, or to Theologo and Palatia[13].

        We hear no more of these representatives of Mustafa, but Mustafa himself is mentioned again in the Ragusan correspondence with Sigismund, this time in a letter of June 28, 1415. News had been received from Ragusan merchants in Constantinople (and confirmed by a Genoese cog which had arrived on the 15th of that month) that the sultan was in the area around Prousa, engaged in warfare against the ruler of Karaman, and that his brother Muscat (sic) was in Trebizond, and had had some success there[14]. It is not clear whether the success had been of a military nature, or merely a matter of gaining support, but the fact that the message was received in Ragusa shows that by this time the existence of this challenger for the sultanate was generally known. Soon afterwards, Mustafa had moved into Europe, as we learn from another letter to Sigismund from Ragusa, and had been joined by two disaffected Turkish leaders, with whom, and with the assistance of the Voivode Mircea, he was conducting raids into Bulgaria.

        Within a very short period Mustafa was again the subject of debate in Venice. In the following year a Byzantine delegation to the Council of Constance reached the city. Its leader Nicholas Eudaimonoiannes appeared before the Senate and spoke on several matters, such as the relationship between King Sigismund and Venice, and the activities of the Turks in the areas of Negropont and the Morea. His final message was that the Emperor Manuel had been engaged in negotiations with Mustafa the brother of the sultan, and with the Despot of Serbia and the ruler of Karaman, and that Manuel wished to know if the Venetians were willing to support a joint movement against the Turks with the assistance of these three leaders. The ambassador had with him copies of letters addressed to the three of them, as evidence of the terms in which the negotiations were being conducted. The Venetian response, delivered on the February 8, was a typically cautious one, promising only that if the Byzantines and the three leaders mentioned and King Sigismund were all to mount an offensive against the Turks, they would be ready to assist them[15].

        There seems to have been no further progress with the negotiations for a joint movement against the Turks, but later that year, as we learn from correspondence dated

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October 12, 1416 between Ragusa and Sigismund, Mustafa was still in Wallachia, and continuing to conduct raids into Bulgarian territory, taking advantage of an attack by Karaman which penetrated as far as the neighborhood of Prousa[16]. There is no evidence to suggest that the Venetians played any part in this movement from one place to another, unless they quietly provided ships at some stage; it must, however, have been with the connivance, if not the actual assistance, of the Byzantines. This is confirmed by the last Ragusan document which mentions Mustafa, a letter of December 25, 1416; this informs Sigismund that the Turks were not keeping an army in the Balkans at that time, since ‘their ruler is occupied at Thessaloniki with besieging his brother, who was in Wallachia, to whom the emperor at Constantinople is showing favor.’[17]

        It is at this point that an association is first recorded between Mustafa and Djunaid. The latter was of distinguished lineage, a member of the family that had ruled the emirate of Aydın in the area around Smyrna for several generations[18]. But he had fallen out with Mehmed, who had transferred him to Rumelia, the part of Europe under Turkish control, and made him governor of Nikopolis on the Danube, an appointment that implied recognition of his talents combined with a degree of mistrust that made it necessary to uproot him from his own territory. At some time in 1416 Mustafa made Djunaid his official second-in-command and began seeking to seize power. At that time Karaman was on the attack, and had won territory in Anatolia as far as (but not including) Prousa. The religious unrest that centered on ‘Bürklüdje’ Mustafa was also perhaps a minor contributing factor. It is possible that the attempt by the Turks to bring together a large fleet, which led the Venetians to attack them and defeat them in the waters off Gallipoli on May 29, 1416, was the first stage of a plan to attack Mustafa II in Wallachia by sending a force there via the Bosporos and the Danube.

        The Venetians knew what was happening. This is clear from the commission of Dolfin Venier, issued to him on the 2nd of April 1416 when he was sent as an ambassador to the Sultan. He was instructed that if he did not succeed in making a treaty, he was to inform himself of any ways in which the Turks might be damaged, both on land and on sea, ‘... and particularly by means of Karaman, Mustafa and the Vlach (i.e. Mircea), and if it will be useful to send any secret messengers to them to induce them to damage and attack Chirici (Mehmed I), we leave you and the Captain (i.e. Pietro Loredan, Captain of the Gulf, who was in charge of a fleet of Venetian galleys) at liberty to do so.’[19]

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        Doukas[20] gives more information than any other writer about the events that followed. Mustafa and Djunaid marched towards Thessaloniki, were defeated near the city and sought refuge within it. The date of the battle may be approximately established from the letters sent from Ragusa to Sigismund at this time that have already been mentioned. On October 12, 1416 it was known that Mustafa was in Wallachia and ravaging Bulgaria, but no more; on December 25 news had arrived that he was in Thessaloniki and being besieged by Mehmet. Doukas gives us further information. After Mustafa and Djunaid had been received inside the city, Mehmed sought to have them handed over, but Demetrios Leontarios Laskaris, the Byzantine official who was administering Thessaloniki in the name of Manuel’s son the young Despot Andronikos, deflected the request with diplomatic courtesy by referring it to his master Manuel in Constantinople.

        The reception of Mustafa into Thessaloniki is also described, in rather different terms, by Symeon of Thessaloniki in the Logos Historikos, which has already been mentioned. It is not certain whether Symeon took up his appointment as Archbishop before the end of 1416, and it is therefore not clear whether he is writing of events that he observed in person. The relevant sentences are as follows:


‘But Demetrios, ever watchful [...] awakened one of that man’s family, an infidel against an infidel, that Mustafa who passed from the East to Wallachia, and there set out with an army into the area of Thrace and Macedonia and greatly disturbed Sultan. The latter therefore also at once gathered a very large army, and marched after him and followed close behind him, giving him no opportunity to consolidate his forces and capture any places and gain power, but intending rather to catch him while he was still weak and overpower him and finally destroy him. But he did not succeed in his hopes, simply because of us alone, the Orthodox, and through Christ alone, who acted to prevent him from crushing us, in spite of his insolent attack upon us. And so the martyr’s city became a refuge for Mustafa, and within an hour of his being within the gates, Sultan with his forces had encircled the city seeking Mustafa. And this was a marvel to us, whose strength had failed, but we were now aided through the agency of our foes by the All-powerful, since Almighty God had stirred up our enemies against our enemies. So our guardian Demetrios showed us by his deeds, by receiving that fugitive into his city, how in more than mortal fashion beyond our expectations he prevails over our enemies, overturning their plans, and grants us liberty proceeding from God. Almost everyone knows the benefits which accrued to us from this; and for how long we enjoyed peace, and what cities and other places came into the hands of our emperors, are things known to most people, during the time when the best of rulers bearing an honored name, the offspring of Manuel the lover of wisdom and lover of Christ, was dwelling in the city of the

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Thessalonians and ordering the conduct of affairs successfully by divine grace through the prayers of Demetrios.’[21]


      This passage adds nothing to the account of Doukas, except that it may clarify one point. The despot Andronikos, who had been appointed as the nominal ruler of Thessaloniki and the territories under its control in 1408 after the death of John VII, under the tutelage of Demetrios Laskaris Leontares, had by this time passed his sixteenth birthday. Symeon’s words imply that he was now ruling on his own, although this cannot be certainly established from the form of words that he uses. It is unfortunate that we do not know whether Symeon reached Thessaloniki in time to see this Mustafa, because if he did, his description of the later Mustafa (‘Mustafa 3’ for the purpose of this study) as the ‘second Mustafa’, implying that he may not have been the same as the Mustafa who entered Thessaloniki at the end of 1416, and was removed to Lemnos soon after, might imply that he believed that they were not the same person. It may also be noted that he calls Mustafa ‘one of that man’s family’, which suggests that Mustafa’s claim to be a son of Bayazid was accepted at Thessaloniki.

      When we consider that this Mustafa made his first appearance at Trebizond, that he would not have found it easy to make his way from Asia to Wallachia without the connivance of the Byzantines, and that when confronted with a powerful army he at once made for Thessaloniki, it seems highly likely that the episode was orchestrated or at least encouraged by Manuel. No doubt more was also known about it in Venice than is now recoverable from the surviving records.

      A comfortable and pragmatic arrangement of mutual convenience was now devised. Mehmed demanded the surrender of Mustafa and Djunaid, but this was refused. Manuel, however, agreed to enter into an undertaking of a kind that was possible only between men who, within limits, trusted each other. The fugitives were to be interned by the Byzantines. They were not to be released in Mehmed’s lifetime. Mehmed agreed to pay an annual maintenance allowance for their custody. We cannot be sure how long it took to make these arrangements.

      Mustafa and Djunaid were probably held on the island of Lemnos for five years. The written sources mention other places: Monemvasia/Epidauros, Mistra, Imbros, ‘Stalimene’ (Mytilene) and, in the case of Djunaid, Constantinople. It is possible that the Peloponnesian locations are to be explained by their being sent there first in the company of John (VIII) Palaiologos, who made a journey there at the end of 1416. At all events, the two of them ceased to play any part in events until 1421. But after the death of Mehmed they were released.

      It is not clear whether this was Manuel’s decision, or whether it was an action which was forced upon him by his son John, who wished to adopt a more aggressive stance towards the new Turkish ruler, and support a claimant who could rule the Turkish possessions in Europe with Byzantine support.

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        Doukas[22] gives a lengthy and detailed account of the events that followed. Mustafa was transported by a fleet of Byzantine ships from Lemnos to Gallipoli, was proclaimed sultan at Andrinople, and with Djunaid at his side had a brief success in Europe, defeating the Turkish commander Bayazid Pasha who was sent against him; but to the disappointment of the Byzantines he did not hand over Gallipoli to them, even though he had previously promised to do so. At the end of the year he crossed over into Asia and marched towards Prousa to do battle with Murad. But when their forces met at Lopadion, Murad bribed Djunaid to defect, and Mustafa, who seems to have had little skill in warfare when deprived of the other’s assistance, fled back to Europe. Murad followed him, crossing the straits with the help of Genoese ships from New Phokaia, and regained Gallipoli without difficulty. Mustafa, who had now lost all the support that he had formerly been able to find in Turkish Europe, fled in the direction of Wallachia.

        At this point different versions and interpretations of events begin to emerge. According to one version Mustafa was caught and executed. The alleged method of execution, ‘by the noose’, which is recorded by Doukas and Chalkokondyles[23], seems to imply hanging rather than garotting. If this is so, since hanging was a form of execution carried out on common criminals, it may have been intended to reinforce the official Turkish claim that he was an impostor rather than a genuine son of Bayazid. Doukas, our best source for events up to this time, who believed in the genuineness of his claim, accepted the official story that he had been put to death.

        The end of Mustafa’s campaign took place in the spring of 1422. It was after this that Murad besieged Constantinople. There can be no doubt that this was in retaliation for the release of Mustafa.[24] Byzantine support for the alternative Ottoman ruler, the young Mustaphopoulos, who has already been mentioned, brought the siege to an end[25]. After Mustaphopoulos had been put to death, Murad refrained from attacking Constantinople again.

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        A passage in the Logos Historikos of Symeon of Thessaloniki alludes to these events[26]:


‘You all know what followed the death of that unholy sultan [i.e. Mehmed I], the victory of Mustafa, the laziness with which our own people reacted to it, the passage of the godless Murad to the West with the aid of the Genoese, and its dreadful consequences, the blockading of the Queen of Cities, of our own city, and of others ruled by the emperors, the massing of a dreadful army of the godless against the sacred city of Constantine, the siege engines, the machines, the assault and attack of our most ungodly enemies upon it, and their frenzy, which was greater than any that had ever existed in the past, when if the Everlasting Virgin Mother of the Word of God, who on other occasions, and so often and so continually, came to the aid of that city which so loved Christ, had not supported it, it would have been destroyed (as was expected even by many of its inhabitants), and everything belonging to its religion together with it.’


        Such were the events of 1421 and 1422. For nearly two years nothing is heard of any rivals to Murad. Then in 1424 the names of a certain Djunaid and of a Mustafa, perhaps the same Mustafa, occur in our documents again. The first to be found is that of Djunaid, who in Venetian documents of June 28 (a day on which there was a flurry of letters to the Aegean) and July 16 in the same year was reported to be negotiating with the Venetians for transportation to Thessaloniki, which by that time was in their hands, after it had been ceded to them by the Despot Andronikos in the hope that they would be able to keep the city from falling into the hands of the Turks[27]. Djunaid claimed to have with him someone who was described both as a grandson of Murad I and a son of Mustafa. The ‘son of Mustafa’ was said to have been about seventeen years of age, so he could not have been Mustafa himself, misdescribed as the result of confusion between Mustafa and his father Bayazid. It is more likely that there was confusion between earlier Turkish rulers, and that instead of ‘grandson of the elder Murad’ we should read ‘grandson of Bayazid’.[28] At this time no mention of Mustafa himself is to be found. In

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the following year, however, both Djunaid and Mustafa are mentioned in the commission given on April 2nd to Fantin Michiel, Captain General of the Sea. Mustafa, it is clear, was then to be found in Thessaloniki, while Djunaid was still in his emirate in the neighborhood of Smyrna. Since the relationship between Mustafa (if this was the same Mustafa) and Djunaid is hardly likely to have been a cordial one after the battle of Lopadion, we may legitimately suspect that the ‘son of Mustafa’ was not a genuine son, but someone whom Djunaid, who was not a descendant of Othman, was using as a means of winning support for himself.

        In the end, however, Djunaid never left Asia. By the middle of 1425 he had been put to death by an army, which Murad, who had finally lost patience with him, sent to his emirate to get rid of him. There is no evidence that he made any contact before his death with the Mustafa who was active in Thessaloniki. We can sketch the outline of the latter person’s activities for the next four or five years with the help of the Venetian records and of the Logos Historikos of Symeon of Thessaloniki. The first news of this Mustafa is to be found in the commission of the Captain General of the Sea, Fantin Michiel, which was issued on April 2nd 1425[29]. Fantin Michiel was instructed to make use of him in the following terms:


‘And since our Rectors of Thessaloniki have written to our government that there has arrived in Thessaloniki a certain Mustafa the Turk, who is said to be the son of a certain Bayazid, if you find that this is true, on account of the information which you have from our aforesaid Rectors, and you see that he has a following of other Turks of the region, you and our Rectors should with those means and ways which seem useful to you, by means of the favor of the said Mustafa, provide for the damage and ruin of the Turk in those parts as seems best to you.’


      A month later, however, after Fantin Michiel had gone on his way, the Senate of Venice received a further communication from Thessaloniki on this subject. The letter has not survived, but on May 5 a reply was sent to the Rectors of the city:


‘You our Duke and Captain of Thessaloniki have written to us that you have made a certain promise to Mustafa the Turk who is at present in Thessaloniki, in the event that a treaty is arrived at with Murad Bey, and on this account we, with our Council of the Pregadi and additional members, are writing to you, Captain General of the

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Sea, that notwithstanding our instructions in the matter of Mustafa, in the event that you arrive at a treaty with Murad Bey, you should effectively observe the promise made by you, Duke and Captain, to Mustafa. And although we are certain that you will have discussed with Mustafa the gaining from him of those things which are useful for our government, still, if you have not done this, you should discuss with Mustafa the gaining, both in the territory of Thessaloniki and in Greece, in Turkey and in the territory of Amorea and Albania in the event that he is left as master of those things, those lands and those places which you see as being useful and convenient for our government.’[30]


        There is a difference in the tone of these two documents. In the first, the Senate appears to be doubtful of the legitimacy of Mustafa’s claim to be a son of Bayazid, but in the second, although his claim is not mentioned, it seems that more confidence was felt in his ability to succeed. It would be wrong to place too much weight on this, but it may be suggested that the letter which had been received from Thessaloniki spoke of him in such terms that the Senate now felt more confidence in accepting that he might be genuinely worthy of becoming sultan, and wished to keep him as an ally for the future, even if some temporary easing in the tensions which existed between them and Murad were to take place.

        There must have been a considerable lack of unanimity at Venice concerning the correct treatment of this Mustafa, based on the reasonable fear that support for him would give the Turks grounds for retaliatory action. This is shown by a proposal, which was put forward on the next day, May the 6th[31]. It was unsuccessful, but the tone of it shows that many members of the Senate were anxious to avoid being seen to support him openly in any way, although they wished to retain him as a possible ally in the future:


‘When yesterday it was decided in this Council to write to our Captain General of the Sea and to our Rectors that since the aforesaid Rectors have made certain promises to Mustafa son of Bayazid, our Captain and Rectors should observe the promises, and since such promises are most prejudicial to the negotiating of a treaty with Murad Bey and to our city of Thessaloniki, it is proposed that the order should now be revoked, and that the Captain should be ordered that in negotiating a treaty with Murad Bey he should follow the form of his commission, and in the event that he reaches a treaty with Murad Bey in accordance with the contents of his commission, he should with those appropriate and kindly words which seem good to his prudence, encourage Mustafa, saying that we will keep him in our places and will treat him honorably and in a friendly way so that he will have no cause for complaint, and may be assured that in any event we will always be most ready to make him comfortable and arrange for the exaltation of his person.’


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        The next reference to Mustafa which survives is found in a lengthy Venetian document which was created two months later, on July 7, 1425, in reply to an embassy from the Byzantine inhabitants of Thessaloniki which had come to present a long list of requests to the Senate[32]. The second of these requests (and the fact that the matter was raised so early shows that it was considered to be of great importance) concerned the fortifying of the site of Kassandreia, a small town at the northern extremity of the western peninsula of Chalkidike which was separated from the mainland by a canal which in effect turned the peninsula into an island. Kassandreia had recently been occupied by the Turks. The request was expressed in the following terms:


‘Also that Kassandreia should be fortified, since it is of great importance to the city of Thessaloniki for its existence, reminding your Signoria that from that place we have animals, every kind of timber, grain and wine and honey and resin and other things, and if this happens in the way that it should be done, it will be a reason for the Turk to accede more quickly to the agreement, reminding your Signoria also that if the Lord Mustafa wishes to take over this place, it is easy for him to take his people and fortify himself on that island, which will be the salvation of our city.’


      The Senate in its reply agreed to this proposal (in fact, Kassandreia had already been captured from the Turks by the Venetian fleet), without making any mention of Mustafa. It is easy to see why the suggestion that Mustafa might be located at Kassandreia (or on the Kassandreia or Pallene peninsula) was made. If he was there, he might be of use to the Venetians. At the same time, the risk of having him and his men in the city of Thessaloniki would be removed, and again, if the Ottomans tried to attack him, he would be in a location outside the city.

        Then, late in July 1425, the news reached Venice from unofficial sources that Kassandreia had been seized by a Venetian fleet. It is easy to see why this news should have been greeted with joy. The canal not only allowed its possessors to control both shores of the Pallene peninsula very easily, but it made it possible for Turkish vessels to exercise a great deal of control over shipping moving in the Thermaic Gulf, and so to make the provision of supplies for Thessaloniki much more difficult. It also provided a haven for shipping in foul weather. In the absence of any formal notification, the Senate decided on July 23 to send instructions to the Captain General of the Sea (Secreta 9, 24 verso-25 recto). If the news of the capture of Kassandreia was true, he was to secure and fortify it, and in addition:


‘[...] and if you have fortified Kassandreia, and have not achieved a treaty with the Turk, and it seems to you and our Rectors of Thessaloniki to be more useful for the safety of our city of Thessaloniki that Mustafa should betake himself to that place, for his greater convenience and so that the Turks who wish to obey him may more easily congregate there, we leave it to your discretion and that of our aforesaid Rectors to make determinations and deliberate about this, as seems best and most

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useful to you and them. [...].  And since it may happen that if you have not arrived at a treaty with the Turk, it may be necessary for Mustafa to have a subvention from us, so that he can bring some of the nobles and others into his service, if you see that Mustafa may prosper with a subvention from us, or that it may be useful for us to give him support because of what might happen, we leave you the freedom to assist Mustafa from the moneys sent to you for paying our galleys of Venice for three months, aiding Mustafa from the money for the third pay, taking care to put us in a position of advantage with Mustafa, in the event that he manages to do damage, to the best of your ability.’


        The official report of the capture of Kassandreia arrived a little later. A synopsis of a letter from the Captain General of the Sea announcing the good news is preserved in the chronicle of Antonio Morosini:[33]


‘On the morning of Sunday August 5 1425 there arrived at Venice an armed barca sent from Zara by our Rectors, the Count there being the noble Misier Fantin da Pesaro, coming with a letter from our Captain General of the Gulf, Misier Fantin Michiel, which had come from Romania to the Dogal Signoria. The contents of this were that he had been with his fleet of cogs and galleys at the island of Kassandreia near our place of Thessaloniki, and at first he attacked it and had to make a great effort there, but finally he captured it by force, and took a large number of Turks, more than 150, and many more of them were killed in addition, and also wounded, and there were captured 10 Turks with 4 Turkish married women and others of high rank, together with a cousin of Barak the Turk, and with him also the Grand Balabam, and another very important young Turk, and the last mentioned had wanted to ransom himself for 10,000 ducats in gold, and these were all men of high rank, but our Captain had given them all to the Turkish lord Mustafa, whom we have with us, of whom it is said that he is waiting to take on the rule over the Turkish empire, and this present was received by him with much gratitude, since in receiving them from our Captain he was accepting a very considerable benevolence. And so he became very friendly towards him and at once sent a message offering to do whatever the Dogal Signoria of Venice wished, and putting all that he commanded at their disposal of his own free will.’


        Shortly afterwards, on September 3, 1425, another letter which was sent from Venice to the rectors of Thessaloniki[34] shows that this Mustafa, who was now inside the city instead of at Kassandreia, had engaged in a badly planned expedition (we may call him Mustafa 3, although it is likely that he was the same person as Mustafa 2). The Captain of Thessaloniki was reprimanded for having allowed the expedition to take place, and for participating in it:


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‘Being informed by a letter of our Captain General of the Sea, included in which he sent to us a copy of a letter of yours written to the Captain relating the danger in which Mustafa, and you, Captain, were of falling into the hands of the Turks, and the capture of our stipendiaries and also of the Turks belonging to Mustafa, we felt and still feel no little displeasure, considering the danger in which our city of Thessaloniki would have lain if you, Captain, had been captured. And therefore we are writing and commanding to your fidelity, together with our Council of Pregadi and Zonta that on no account is any of you in future to go outside the city of Thessaloniki to attack the Turks, in order not to place our city in danger, and you are not to allow the stipendiaries and citizens to go out against the Turks, and also you should make Mustafa realize that he should have the good sense not to go out against his enemies with so little preparation, and put his person into such great danger. And in order that a similar unsuitable occasion should not arise in future, you are to arrange that the gates of the city should stay closed so that no one can go out without your knowledge and approval, for the security and benefit of our city.’


        The most vivid account of Mustafa’s activities, which reveals a great deal about his personality, is given in a letter written towards the end of the following year[35]. On December 8, 1426, with a postscript added on December 16, the duke of Thessaloniki wrote another letter to his counterpart in Crete. Much of the letter is concerned with relating, with some exasperation, and in a more lively narrative style than usual, what Mustafa had been doing:


‘Concerning our affairs and those of Mustafa, I inform you first that on September 17 Mustafa and his men, on the excuse of wishing to go hunting, went outside the city, and when it became late, led on by his eagerness, he went with them to attack an encampment of a thousand horse which was located about eight miles from Thessaloniki. And to be brief, guided by good luck and some scouts, and not by his own good judgement, he penetrated as far as the tents of the camp, and killed a subassi of that nation called Saraza, a man of great importance with Murad. Seeing that he had been successful, he began to beat drums and cymbals, as is their custom. On hearing the noise, other men of that race, who were in different parts of the area, because they were surprised at this unusual activity at that time of the night, rose up in arms and came towards the noise. They put Mustafa to flight, and captured almost all his foot soldiers. Two days later, the Turks came and put nine of these Turks to death, and brought the corpses of another 24 to display before our eyes. I also inform you that on the 17th day of the month of October, while 3 Turks had gone out with some asapi, 80 horsemen altogether, to find food, because there was then a very great lack of it in the city, they found their way barred, as they were driving their booty of animals along, by a certain Bazarli, the captain of the siege of Thessaloniki, with 100 of his horsemen. And with God as their leader, and the blessed Mark the

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evangelist, our protector, and St Demetrius, the guardian of this place, our men turned on him, raging like wild boars, and killed him and many others, and brought back their booty with six live prisoners. After this, since the countyside was free because of the death of that dog Bazarli, who was the scourge of this place, our men went out more often, and so did Mustafa, and they brought back much booty, and put the city in a situation of being well provided with meat. Meanwhile, since the Turks had come and set an ambush around the galleys, and had captured fifteen poor persons who were collecting herbs, Mustafa went out as soon as he could with his men and others, and pursued the enemy and rescued all our men; and he also captured someone called Becimbrain, a long-standing enemy of this place, both in time of peace and in war, and when this man was seen and recognized, all the citizens together with one voice asked that the robber be put to death. When I heard this I demanded that he be handed over to me, but Mustafa, inflated by his success and more than a little elevated in his high opinion of himself, completely refused to hand him over; on the contrary, when a few days later he went hunting, he took the robber with him, and I have never heard of anything madder than that, and he did it against my express advice. Finally, a few days ago, when Mustafa and the asapi with him had consumed what they had captured, he sought permission to go out to seek further booty, particularly to get some grain, and because I saw the benefit for him and the asapi, although I am not the one who holds the keys of the city, I was willing for him to go, because, to tell the truth, we were giving him nothing to live on, as we had failed to do up to that time, because we were in need ourselves, and it was reasonable he should provide for himself by means of an expedition, but I warned him to take good care of himself, because the final result is not always of the same kind as the beginning. And I said that because he was telling me that he was going in search of grain, it was for that reason that I was encouraging his expedition, for the benefit of Thessaloniki, because of the grain, otherwise for my part I would never agree to it. He replied that he was going for grain only, and off he went. He had with him, with his own men and others, a hundred and seventy horses and that same robber devil, and he went out and went straight away to attack a bazaar in Gynaikokastro, and there he got all the booty that he wanted. And as he was returning, he found on the way a great number of animals, and decided to bring them along, and while he was stopped, because of the animals, because it is a big job to get everything going as it should, some Turks approached who had gathered in the bends of the Vardarius river, and they started nibbling at the tail of Mustafa’s troops, making repeated assaults on them. And at that moment that robber, as it is reported, persuaded Mustafa that if he was allowed to do so, he would speak to these Turks and get them to join him; or as others say, he said, ‘Send me forward so that I may drive the animals.’ Whatever the truth may be, he went, and when he saw that he was near the enemy, he turned his shield towards Mustafa, and urged them all to attack our troops, telling the enemy that our men were weary, and were heavily burdened, and in the end Mustafa was defeated and forced to flee to Thessaloniki, and a hundred of our horsemen were captured. And if all these hundred had been only from among Mustafa’s supporters, I would only laugh at his misfortune, but among them those who were captured there were many good men from the city, asapi, stratioti,

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janissaries and others, and the loss of them is a very bad thing indeed. But I am not surprised at any of this, because something of this kind always happens at times when prosperity has reached too great a height and fortune has been too favorable, although our situation should not be compared to that of a gambler, who swells with desire to win, but to that of the head of a household, who is protecting its members. May God grant good fortune to this place.’[36]


        The duke’s letter provides us with a very lively character portrait of Mustafa. A few months afterwards, at some time in March 1427, the duke of Crete received another letter from the duke of Thessaloniki[37]. Once more, the amount of grain delivered to Thessaloniki on a cog sent from Crete was less than the bill of lading suggested that it should be, particularly since it had been loaded dry, and had arrived after absorbing some moisture on the voyage. Thessaloniki was declared to be in the greatest danger ‘of changing its status’ (mutandi statum suum) because of the shortage of food, because two galleys had been sent away from there, and because there had been a steady draining away from the city of poor persons, paid soldiers and the Turks who supported Mustafa. If it had not been for the arrival of some Venetian galleys on February 16, the Byzantines would have left the city, and it would not have been possible to mount guard at night or to defend the city against the Turks during the day. There was great opposition to the Venetian administration in the city, and much murmuring against them, even after the arrival of further support in the form of the galleys (et adhuc sunt male multorum animi compositi, quod non parum sussurant contra dictam dominationem nostram, licet galee hic sint), and, to be brief, the general state of affairs in the city was at a very low ebb. Indeed, if the galleys were to leave (and this was likely, because they would soon run out of bread, and their captain was unwilling to divide his fleet, so if they went, all of them would go), it was hard to see how the Venetian administration could continue. The duke of Crete was requested to do anything that he could to help, and specifically to send grain and money to Thessaloniki. Bernabò Loredan’s letter continues as follows:


‘[…] and to show how everything is operating to the disadvantage of this place, in the last few days Balaban, the subassi whom we captured previously at Kassandreia, and Chitirus (Khidr), who was captured at Platamon, and another man called Apocaucus, who was captured at the time of the death of Bazarli, have escaped, and we are very distressed by their escape, because they will give information to the Turks about the condition of this place. Finally, I inform Your Nobility that on the 6th of this month, on the pretext of going round the outskirts of Thessaloniki to locate an enemy ambush, he [Mustafa] went out with 30 men and stayed outside;

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then, when evening came, he vanished, and we do not know where he has gone; we believe that he has gone to seek his fortune.’


        Another letter, which was written from Thessaloniki to the duke of Crete on April 23 1427, mentions Mustafa again,[38] and gives more information about his activities. The letter begins by thanking the duke for sending grain to Thessaloniki (presumably the two ships that were mentioned in the earlier letter from the Captain General), and speaks of the hardships of the winter that had just passed. It then continues:


‘[...] News has reached here that the Hungarians have gathered by the Danube, and that Mustafa, who left here to go to the despot of Serbia (Stefan Lazarevic), came to the notice of Murad, who ordered that Mustafa should be sent to him. But the despot replied that he was by no means willing to hand Mustafa over, because he was of the family of Othman and was of noble blood, as Murad was, and that if this had happened to Murad and he had betaken himself to the despot and had been sought by Mustafa, he would on no account hand Murad over to him; and it was reported by others that Mustafa had been captured, and his head cut off, or he had been hanged, and there are many rumors …’


        Whatever happened to Mustafa, he had certainly not been killed, since he reappeared later in Venice, and then returned to Thessaloniki. It is clear from the refusal of Stefan Lazarevic to hand him over, that the Venetians were not the only ones who realized the potential advantage of supporting a rival claimant to the sultanate.

        In 1429 Mustafa re-emerged, this time at Venice. A Venetian document dated May 6 records a decision to injecting him once more into the affairs of Thessaloniki:[39]


‘Since there is here a Turk who is called Mustafa, son of Bayazid the former leader of the Turks, who promises to be very favorable to our state of Thessaloniki, if he is sent there, and if he is supported by our government, he will be able to do many things against Murad Bey, it is proposed that the College should have freedom to send Mustafa to Thessaloniki by the means that seem best to the College, and it may spend one hundred and fifty ducats of the money of our community on those things and on those expenses that seem good to the College.’


        Four days later, on May 10, instructions were given to the rectors of Thessaloniki on the way in which they should deal with Mustafa when he returned to the city:[40]


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‘Since Mustafa son of the late Bayazid, who is to be transported to Thessaloniki with the galleys of the Gulf, has informed our government that because of the understandings which he has with his friends and relatives who are in the camp of Murad, he is quite certain that many people will come to be obedient to him and to lean towards him, and for that reason it is necessary for him to have favors and assistance from the Régime of Thessaloniki, it is proposed that it should be written to the Duke and Captain of Thessaloniki in this form, namely: ‘We have decided to send to Thessaloniki Mustafa, a son of the late Bayazid the former admiral of the Turks, who according to what he has had said to our government will in a short space of time when he stays there have a great concourse of people coming to him, and from the understandings which he has with his friends and relatives will cause a great decrease in the army of Murad because he will be able to go out of the city against Murad and provide great assistance to the city of Thessaloniki. Therefore we write to you and command you, with our Council of Pregadi and Zonta, that you should receive Mustafa with honor and treat him well, providing expenses for him and for his household and giving him a good report and publicity, so that he may have a large number of people coming to join him, and you should be warned that of those who come to join him, only that number of persons who seem to you to be for the greater safety of the city should be allowed to enter into it. But if people do not come to join him in that space of time which seems reasonable to you, and it seems to you that Mustafa is not useful and is not acting in our interests or in the interests of the city, in that case we leave you at liberty to let that Mustafa depart and go about his business. But if he multiplies his numbers and goes out with his people, and is useful and of assistance to our aforesaid city, you should grant him every favor, help and advice possible to you providing always that this is consistent with the safety of our city of Thessaloniki.’


        An entry in Morosini’s chronicle for May 12, 1429, dealing principally with the sending of a large cog on the voyage of Romania with supplies for the Captain General of the Sea, also mentions Mustafa briefly[41]:


‘[...] and afterwards Mustafa the Turk who came to make an offer to the Signoria was sent into those parts well dressed, and he was given 150 gold ducats so that he could return to Thessaloniki.’


        We come now to the year 1430, which saw the capture of Thessaloniki by the Ottomans on March 29, and the disappearance of the last of these Mustafas from our records. One of the accounts that survives (Marino Sanudo, Vite de’ Dogi: 1007-8) mentions him:


‘On this same day (April 8) news was heard of the loss of the city of Thessaloniki, and that it had been sacked, by means of a letter coming overland and [by sea] from

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Ragusa. Andrea Donato, son of the late Sier Bartolomeo, who was our Duke at Thessaloniki, and Paolo Contarini, ‘il verzolino’, Captain, wrote that on March 13 a very large number of Turks presented themselves before that city, claiming that they desired to speak with Mustafa, who was inside Thessaloniki, and pretending to be men who had fled from their Sultan, and now wished to offer their service to Mustafa. Mustafa went outside the city to speak with them, and led a great number of them along the seaward side, and the others showed signs of following them. But when our men saw this, they went out and attacked them, and cut many of them to pieces.’


        It is impossible to be sure what actually happened, whether Mustafa attempted to betray the city, or whether some action of his was misinterpreted by some of the defenders. We also do not know whether he was killed when the city was captured, or whether he escaped, and decided to live quietly thereafter (which would, perhaps, have been out of character).

        It may be noted that although the Venetians had given him limited support, this did not stop them from being willing to support another claimant who appeared at the same time. On April 4, 1430 the Senate discussed an approach that had been made by a certain Zaffar Bey, who had provided them with evidence that he also was a son of Bayazid. On that date, Thessaloniki had fallen to the Turks, but the news of its loss had not reached Venice. The Senate decided (Misti 57, 207 verso) that he should be sent to Lepanto, where he might be able to attract support against Murad from Turks in the vicinity. The rector at Lepanto was authorized to spend from five to six ducats a month on his maintenance, and was warned at the same time not to allow too many other Turks to enter the city. The policy that was being followed was the same as had been followed in relation to Mustafa. We hear no more of this Zaffar.

        We must now ask the question, ‘Were the Mustafa of 1413-1422 and the Mustafa of 1425-1430 the same person?’ Here we should examine the Logos Historikos of Symeon of Thessaloniki, to see what his opinion was. As has been stated above, there is a difficulty here: we do no know exactly when Symeon came to Thessaloniki, and so we do not know whether he ever saw Mustafa 2 (the one whom he calls ‘the first Mustafa’). Because of this, it seems appropriate to consider his use of this expression, and his use of the term ‘the second Mustafa’ for Mustafa 3, as a cautious avoidance of the expression of any opinion, rather than an indication that they were different persons. He refers to the ‘second Mustafa’ on two occasions[42]:


‘After him [the Ottoman commander Bürak] again two other powerful men attacked us, using siege engines and wicked plots against the city of Demetrios. As a prologue to their wickedness they acted with contempt towards the holy church of the Mother of God at Chortaïtes. And soon afterwards they gained the reward for their plans and their deeds from similar infidels among their fellow countrymen. For you all know that the second Mustafa took refuge in the city, and that after making an expedition

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against them and overcoming their whole army by force, with the help of only a very few of the barbarians and of those in the city, he captured them, cut off their heads, and brought them back with mockery and jeering to the city.

     After only a little time Demetrios also shattered and brought low through the strength of Christ another braggart among the barbarians also, the one named Seratza, and he crushed him with his prayers as he lay before the city with a great army, making boastful threats against it and bragging that he was not like those who had preceded him. And at night Mustafa, with men from the city, went out and killed him in his tent like that Holofernes of old.]


        These passages tell us little except that Mustafa 3 was an energetic and brave fighter, ready to take risks, which is something that was clear already from the correspondence quoted above between the Duke of Thessaloniki and his counterpart in Crete. The final mention of the Mustafa’s in Symeon’s Logos Historikos is more worthy of discussion:[43]


‘And you often find that those who are against us act for us, when there is need, and then you render unto them according to their intention. And this is clear from the first foul Mustafa and again from the second, who at one time were seen to be allied with the city and the faithful under your protection, even against their will, but at another were destroyed, because they showed themselves in sympathy with the cause of the barbarians, and although supported by your people and thought worthy of help, plotted wickedly against them.’


        Here Symeon seems to be making a clear distinction between the first and the second Mustafa, and saying that they both deserved to die, because although they had begun by supporting the Byzantines, they were in fact always sympathetic to the Ottoman cause. The phrase ‘even against their will’ (kai akontes) may perhaps refer to the fact that Mustafa 2 sought refuge in Thessaloniki in 1416, and Mustafa 3 would certainly have preferred to be engaged in more formal anti-Ottoman activities rather than in defending a besieged city.

        Symeon also seems to be accepting the official Ottoman claim that Mustafa 2 had been executed in 1422. If we could rely on his account, there would therefore be no doubt that Mustafa 2 and Mustafa 3 were not the same man. But his words allow room for doubt. In the first place, he seems to be implying that Mustafa 3 had been ‘destroyed’, which should mean that he had died. But as other accounts of the siege quoted above show, this Mustafa was still alive at the moment of the city’s fall in March 1430, whereas Symeon had died in September of the previous year. In addition, the

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Logos Historikos does not mention any event later than 1427, and so was presumably completed in that year.

        Symeon therefore seems to be a less than totally reliable witness in this respect. It is possible to suspect that he never saw Mustafa 2, accepted the rumor of Mustafa’s death in 1422, and had so little contact with Mustafa 3 (for in most circumstances their paths were hardly likely to cross) that this last passage quoted above should be viewed as a rhetorical flourish rather than as a reliable and informed expression of fact.

      The truth is that it will never be possible, on the basis of the existing evidence, to be sure whether Mustafa 2 and Mustafa 3 were the same, and whether they were the same as Mustafa 1, the son of Bayazid who was present at the battle of Ankara. But both these claims are plausible. Mustafa 2 was a genuine claimant to the sultanate, not someone who was looking for a way out of trouble, or seeking a life of ease, and he was certainly able to gain the loyalty of a large number of Ottoman supporters. He must have had a physical appearance and bearing which encouraged others to believe his claims. Mustafa 3 seems to have been a person of the same type, and was also a leader of men, although in the absence of Djunaid his bravery did not compensate for his lack of tactical and strategic skills. On balance, the probability that the two later Mustafas were the same person, and that Symeon’s judgement and the official Ottoman story of the execution of Mustafa 2 should be discounted. And because it would have been so completely in accordance with the policies of Manuel I that a genuine counter-claimant to the sultanate should have been quietly tucked away in Trebizond, like a trump card, to await an appropriate time for him to be brought into play, the probability that they were both genuinely the son of Bayazid is strong.



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[1] Ducas, Historia Turco-Byzantine (1341-1462) (ed. by Vasile Grecu), Bucharest, 1958 [hereafter, Doukas]: XXI, 11-14.

[2] Ibidem: XXVI, 3.

[3] Ibidem: XXVIII, 6-8; for a list of other sources, see Gy. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica: II, 199.

[4] The sequence of events, as cautiously reconstructed and interpreted by John W. Barker, Manuel II Palaeologus (1391-1425). A Study in Late Byzantine Statemanship, New Brunswick, New Jersey 1969: 366-369 after comparison of all the relevant sources, is that after Murad laid siege to Constantinople, Manuel sent money to Asia to Ilyas, the Turk who had the young Mustaphopoulos in his care, and arranged for the lad to move towards Prousa and challenge his brother. When Murad was thus forced to raise the siege and turn his attention to protecting himself, Mustaphopoulos travelled to Constantinople where, if all had gone well for him, he might have been relocated to some place in Byzantine territory where his existence would have had a restraining influence on Murad.

[5] Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition, Leiden-New York 1960-: VII, 710-713 (by C. J. Heywood).

[6] Barker, op. cit.: 40-44, 353-359, 363, 383; D. Balfour, “Politico-Historical Works of Symeon Archbishop of Thessaloniki (1416/17 to 1429)”, Wiener Byzantinische Studien  13 (1979). The latter work contains (39-69) the text of a long address by Symeon, which is referred to here under the abbreviated title of Logos Historikos which was given to it by Balfour. The activities of Mustafa, or the Mustafas, are analysed in relation to Symeon’s account: 114, 128-131, 142-146, 181-187, 268. The Mustafas who are called Mustafa II and Mustafa III in the present study are called the ‘first’ and ‘second’ Mustafas in this work.

[7] Doukas: XVI, 12.

[8] Balfour, op. cit.: 114, note 52 cautiously allows for the possibility that he may in fact have been Bayazid’s eldest son. But if he was in fact the Mustafa who was active in Thessaloniki in 1430, twenty-eight years after the battle of Ankara, it is more likely that he was a younger son.

[9] J. Gelcich and L. Thallóczy, Diplomatarium relationum reipublicae ragusanae cum regno Hungariae (= Raguza és magyarórzág összeköttéseinek oklovéltára,), Budapest, 1887, document 154: 234-5.

[10] Archivio di Stato di Venezia [hereafter, ASV], Secreti 6, 31v.

[11] I owe this suggestion to Professor A. A. M. Bryer.

[12] ASV, Secreti 6, 32r.

[13] Ephesos and Miletos. It is not clear why these places were specifically mentioned, but it may be suggested that if at this stage it was already known at Venice that there was a possibility that Mustafa and Djunaid might join forces, the delivering of the ambassadors to that area would have been a means of forwarding their activities.

[14] Gelcich and Thallóczy, Diplomatarium, cit., document 167: 249-250: [...] Quia vero eadem vestra serenitas a nobis requirit continuacionem scire novitatum parcium istarum, quas per alias nostras eidem iam prenotavimus, presentibus solita narramus reverencia eidem celsitudini vestre, quod his diebus prope elapsis habuimus per mercatores nostros de Pera nova, qualiter dominus Turchorum Chrisii est in contratibus Bruse et agit guerram cum Carmiano; et eciam est de novo, quod dominus Muscat frater dicti Chrisii in contratibus Trebusonde prosperat paulatim contra Chrisii predictum fratrem suum [‘Chrisii, Chirixi and other forms of the word which are regularly used in Venetian documents of this period, represent the Turkish nickname of Mehmed I, which was Kürüshdji, ‘Wrestler’].

[15] ASV, Secreti 6, 84v-85r, February 8, 1416.

[16] Gelcich and Thallóczy, op. cit., document 173: 260-262.

[17] Ibidem, document 175: 264-266. Balfour, op. cit.: 135-137 analyses the accounts of Mehmed’s expedition to Wallachia, and cautiously argues that it probably occurred at the end of the winter of 1416-1417 rather than at the beginning. If this is so, it should be regarded as a punitive expedition after a settlement had been reached with the emperor regarding Mustafa, rather than an attempt to campaign directly against him.

[18] See the article by I. Mélkoff in Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition: II, 599-560.

[19] ASV, Secreti 6, 92r-92v: “et specialiter per viam Charamanni, Mustafe et Vlachi et si erit expediens mittere aliquos nuntios secretos ad ipsos ad inducendum illos ad damna et ofensiones Chirici, relinquimus hoc in libertate capitanei et tua.

[20] Doukas: XXII, 3-6.

[21] Ibidem: V, 2. The phrase ‘within an hour of his being within the gates’ is probably rhetorical hyperbole.

[22] Ibidem: XXIV-XXVII.

[23] Ibidem: XXII, 7: ‘They brought him to Murad, who decided to have put him to death by the noose (di’anchonês thanatôsai) in public as a common criminal, so that it would be generally understood, by the majority of the people at any rate, that he was not a son of Bayazid the descendant of Othman, but an impostor falsely put forward by the Emperor Manuel Palaiologos. But the truth of the matter is that he was a son of Bayazid.’ Chalkokondyles: V, 20 : ‘Murad followed him relentlessly, and did not relax his pursuit, sweeping the country where he was likely to be and where it was suspected that he might be hiding. And he found him concealed beneath a bush, took him alive and put him to death with a noose around his neck (anchonêi te ton laimon autou echrêsato). Mustafa died after ruling in Europe for three years.’

[24] See Barker: 359-360 for an analysis of the purpose of the siege; it was not merely a demonstration of force, but a serious attempt to capture the city.

[25] See Ibidem: 366, where it is suggested that this move was due to Manuel II, who was attempting to save the situation after his son John VIII’s mistaken support of Mustafa had turned out to be a mistake.

[26] Symeon, in Balfour, op. cit [hereafter, Symeon]: VI, 1.

[27] ASV, Secreti 8, 158v-160r.

[28] There is no connection between Mustafa himself, or the ‘son of Mustafa’, and a Turkish pretender who is reported to have been in the hands of the Venetian administration of Negropont at that time. This Turk, whose name was Ismael, also claimed to be a descendant of Othman. He was for a short time seen by the Venetians as another possible irritant, to be used for the purpose of destabilising the Turkish régime, but the reports which survive suggest that he was not taken seriously except perhaps as a possible focus of opposition to Murad, and his behaviour made him unsuitable for this purpose; reading between the lines, we may suspect that his claim was inspired by a wish to avoid punishment after he had assaulted someone who subsequently died (Senato, Secreti 8, 132 and 151). A scathing account of him appears in the Diary of Antonio Morosini (Vienna ms. 416A, Venice copy II, 506-7): ‘It is said about that mad Turk whom we picked up at Negropont that those who have believed him up to now are even madder than he is, and we shall get little honour from him, because by telling lies in every place, he has made our folk look more foolish than idiots, and those Turks who know the Venetians say, ‘You believe anything at all without thinking about it.’ They say, ‘This is a man from the countryside, a man of no account, who was a subject of the Lord (the sultan), and travelled to the court of the sultan together with his sons because he could make music and act the buffoon. Then because he was always invited to the house of the sultan he behaved like other adventurers whose claims are believed, and there are plenty of them.’ For discussions of this person, see P. Lemerle, ‘La domination vénitienne à Thessalonique’, Miscellanea Giovanni Galbiati (= Fontes Ambrosiani 27, 1951): 219-225 (especially 222-223), N. Iorga, ‘Sur les deux prétendants Moustafa du XVe siècle’, Revue historique du Sud-est européen 10 (1933): 12-13 and Barker, op. cit.: 374.

[29] ASV, Secreti 9, 5r-8v.

[30] ASV, Secreti 9, 12r.

[31] ASV, Secreti 9, 12v.

[32] ASV, Misti 55, 139r-142v.

[33] Vienna, Nationalbibliothek ms. nos, 6586-7: 425A-B = vol. II: 559-561 in the ms. copy held in the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice [= 8332].

[34] ASV, Misti 55, 161r.

[35] ASV, Candia, Ducali 14, 15v-17r.

[36] This exploit is also mentioned in Symeon’s Logos Historikos (65-66 in Balfour’s edition). Symeon: 65 also informs us that Mustafa had previously killed two other Ottoman commanders.

[37] Non vidi; quoted by Iorga, Notes et extraits pour servir à l’histoire des croisades au XVe siècle, I, Paris, 1899: 446-447, with a reference to ASV, Candia, Ducali 15.

[38] ASV, Candia, Ducali 15; Iorga, op. cit.: 453-454.

[39] ASV, Misti 57, 97v.

[40] ASV, Misti 57, 99v.

[41] Vienna ms.: 500A, Venice copy: II, 964-965.

[42] Symeon: 12, 4-5.

[43] Ibidem: 12, 9.