Selim I of the Ottoman Empire

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Selim Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, I

Lithuanian: Selimas I Rūstusis, Osmanų Sultonas, Russian: Сели́м I Гро́зный, Oсманский султан
Birthplace: Амасия
Death: September 21, 1520 (49)
Одрин, Turkey (Sirpence)
Immediate Family:

Son of Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire and Ayşe Gülbahar Hatun
Husband of Ayşe Hafsa Sultan
Father of Suleiman the Magnificent; Hatice Sultan; Beyhan Sultan; Hafsa Sultan; Fatma Sultan and 5 others
Brother of Seldžuka Sultan; Ahmet Osmanoğlu; Alemşah Osmanoğlu and Korkut Osmanoğlu
Half brother of Şehzade Korkut; Fatma Sultan; Ayşe Sultan; Prince Damad Sultan Abdu'llah Khan; Şehzade Abdullah and 10 others

Managed by: Henn Sarv
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About Selim I of the Ottoman Empire

Selim I (Ottoman Turkish: سليم اوّل, Modern Turkish: I.Selim), also known as "the Excellent," "the Brave" or the best translation "the Stern", Yavuz in Turkish, the long name is Yavuz Sultan Selim; (October 10, 1465/1466/1470 – September 22, 1520) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1520.[1] He was also the first Ottoman Sultan to assume the title of Caliph of Islam.

Selim carried the empire to the leadership of the Sunni branch of Islam by his conquest of the Middle East. He represents a sudden change in the expansion policy of the empire, which was working mostly against the West and the Beyliks before his reign.[2] On the eve of his death in 1520, the Ottoman empire spanned almost 1 billion acres (trebling during Selim's reign).


Born in Amasya, Selim dethroned his father Bayezid II (1481–1512) in 1512. Bayezid's death followed immediately thereafter.[3] Like his grandfather Mehmed II (1451–81), Selim put his brothers and nephews to death upon his accession in order to eliminate potential pretenders to the throne. This fratricidal policy was motivated by bouts of civil strife that had been sparked by the antagonism between Selim's father Beyazid and his uncle Cem, and between Selim himself and his brother Ahmed.

He married Valide Sultan (1520) Hafsa Hatun Sultan, (Turkish: Ayşe Hafsa Sultan ), who died in 1534, mother of Suleiman I. Selim's mother was Ayşe Hatun, from Dulkadir. Selim was described as being tall, having very broad shoulders and a long mustache. He was skilled in politics and was said to be fond of fighting.[4]

Conquest of the Middle East

For Selim, one of the first challenges as the Sultan was the conflict between his empire and the powerful Safavid Empire of Persia. Shah Ismail had a Kurdish[5] and Azeri[6] ancestry and was patron of Shia Islam in the region, a situation which was a threat against the Sunni rulers of the Ottoman Empire. Selim had to eliminate the risk of a westward attack from Iran to Anatolia while he was attacking the Mamluks of Egypt. Therefore, Selim assembled his army and marched to Iran in 1514 and delivered a devastating blow to Safavids and Shah Ismail at the Battle of Chaldiran, a battle of historical significance. The Ottoman army thereafter paraded in the capital of the Safavid Empire, Tabriz.[7]

Then, Selim attacked and destroyed the Mamluk Sultanate first at the Battle of Marj Dabiq and then at the Battle of Ridanieh, which led to the annexation of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. He also extended Ottoman power to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Rather than style himself the Hakim ul Haremeyn, or The Ruler of The Two Holy Shrines, he accepted the more pious title Khadim ul Haremeyn, or The Servant of The Two Holy Shrines.[3][8]

After the conquest of Egypt and the Holy Cities in 1517, Selim induced Al-Mutawakkil III (1509–17), the last in the line of Abbasid caliphs who resided in Cairo since 1261 as nominal rulers legitimizing the de facto rule of the Mamluk sultans over the Mamluk Sultanate [9], to formally surrender the title of Caliph and its emblems, the sword and the mantle of Muhammad.[2] These are kept in the Topkapi Palace Museum at Istanbul, Turkey.


After his return from his Egyptian campaign, Selim began to prepare for an expedition which is believed to be against Rhodes. This campaign was cut short when he was overwhelmed by sickness and subsequently died in the ninth year of his reign. He was about fifty-five years of age. It is said that Selim succumbed to sirpence, a skin infection which he developed during his long campaigns on horseback. (Sirpence was an anthrax infection sometimes seen among leatherworkers and others who worked with livestock). Some historians claim that he was poisoned by the doctor tending to his infection[1] and some historians claim that the disease he suffered from was skin cancer. He died at Corlu, Tekirdağ.


After claiming the Caliphate, Selim assumed the title Malik ul-Barreyn, wa Khakan ul-Bahrayn, wa Kasir ul-Jayshayn, wa Khadim ul-Haramayn - that is, King of the Two Lands (continents Europe and Asia), Khagan of the Two Seas (Mediterranian and Indian Seas), Conqueror of the Two Armies (European and Safavid armies), and Servant of the Two Holy Shrines (Mecca and Medina). This title alludes to his dominions in Africa and Asia (namely, Egypt, Anatolia, and much of the Fertile Crescent), his control over the Mediterranean and Black seas, his defeat of both the Mamluk and Safavid armies, and his guardianship of the shrines of Mecca and Medina.


By most accounts, Selim had a fiery temper and full-blooded personality like a hero. He seems to have had high expectations of his subordinates, and executed many of his own viziers (one vizier playfully asked for advance notice of his own execution, so that he could put his affairs in order, to which Selim replied that he had indeed been thinking for a while of having him executed but hadn't found a suitable replacement, but that as soon as he did, he would be happy to oblige).

Accordingly, his court was dynamic, with the rewards as great as the risks. He was possibly very energetic and effective, though sometimes cruel, ruler. His reign was short, but may have prepared the Ottoman empire for its zenith under the achievements of his son.[10] A popular legend has it that Selim had filled the royal treasury to the brink and locked it with his own seal. He decreed that "he who will fill the treasury more than this, may use his seal to lock it." The treasury remained locked with Selim's seal until the collapse of the Empire 400 years later.

Selim was also a distinguished poet who wrote both Turkish and Persian verse under the nickname mahlas Selimi; collections of his Persian poetry are extant today.[10] In one of his poems, he wrote;

A carpet is large enough to accommodate two sufis, but the world is not large enough for two Kings.

– Yavuz Sultan Selim


1.^ a b Yavuz Sultan Selim Biography ( Retrieved on 2007-09-16

2.^ a b The Rise of the Turks and the Ottoman Empire ( Retrieved on 2007-09-16

3.^ a b The Classical Age, 1453-1600 ( Retrieved on 2007-09-16

4.^ Sultan Selim the Excellent (

5.^ Roger M. Savory. "Safavids" in Peter Burke, Irfan Habib, Halil İnalcık:"History of Humanity-Scientific and Cultural Development: From the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century", Taylor & Francis. 1999. Excerpt from pg 259: "From the evidence available at the present time, it is certain that the Safavid family was of indigineous Iranian stock, and not of Turkish ancestry as it is sometimes claimed. It is probable that the family originated in Persian Kurdistan, and later moved to Azerbaijan, where they adopted the Azari form of Turkish spoken there, and eventually settled in the small town of Ardabil sometimes during the eleventh century."

6.^ [1] (

7.^ Morgan, David. Shah Isma'il and the Establishment of Shi'ism (

8.^ Yavuz Sultan Selim Government ( Retrieved on 2007-09-16

9.^ Thompson, J., A History of Egypt, AUC Press 2008, p. 194; Vatikiotis, P.J., The History of Modern Egypt, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992, p.20

10.^ a b Necdet Sakaoğlu, Bu Mülkün Sultanları, pg.127

Selim I (Ottoman Turkish: سليم اوّل, Modern Turkish: I.Selim), nicknamed Yavuz, "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" (October 10, 1465/1466/1470 – September 22, 1520), was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1520.[1][dead link] His reign is notable for the enormous expansion of the Empire, particularly his conquest between 1516 and 1517 of the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, which included all of Sham, Hejaz, Tihamah, and Egypt itself. With the heart of the Arab World now under their control, the Ottomans became the dominant power in the region and in the Islamic world. Upon conquering Egypt, Selim took the title of Caliph of Islam, although Ottoman rulers beginning with Fatih Sultan Mehmed (Mehmed II) had already begun to claim caliphal authority. He was also granted the title of "Khâdim ül Haramain ish Sharifain" (Servant of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina) by the Sharif of Mecca in 1517.

Selim's expansion into the Middle East represented a sudden change in the expansion policy of the empire, which, before his reign, had mostly been at expense of Eastern Europe and other Turkish beyliks in Anatolia.[2] On the eve of his death in 1520, the Ottoman Empire spanned almost 1 billion acres (about 4 million square kilometers), having tripled in size during Selim's reign.

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Selim I of the Ottoman Empire's Timeline

October 10, 1470
November 6, 1494
Trabzon, Trabzon Merkez, Trabzon, Turkey
Edirne, Edirne, Edirne Province, Turkey
Trabzon, Trabzon Merkez, Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon, Trabzon Merkez, Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon, Turkey
Manisa, Manisa, Manisa Province, Turkey
September 21, 1520
Age 49
Одрин, Turkey