Why were fratricides legal and traditional since Sultan Mehmet II of Ottoman Empire?
自奥斯曼帝国苏丹穆罕默德二世(Sultan Mehmet II)以来，兄弟会为什么是合法和传统的？
Answered by: John Oparinde,Reads articles and books about the Ottomans
In the Ottoman Empire, every male born into the House of Osman through the patrilineal line had a claim to the throne. Therefore, if an Ottoman prince (shezade) had enough support, he could legitimately overthrow the reigning Sultan.
This also meant that the empire could fall into civil war if the Sultan died and was survived by multiple sons, each with an equal claim. That is exactly what happened during the Ottoman Interregnum, the civil war that divided the empire after the death of Bayezid I (r. 1389–1402). It lasted roughly from 1402 to 1413.
Portrait depicting Bayezid I being held captive by the Central Asian warlord Timur, who defeated and captured the Sultan at the Battle of Ankara. Bayezid would die in captivity, sparking a civil war between his sons.
The fratricide policy was meant as a solution to this problem. When a new Sultan ascended to the throne, he would have his brothers executed—if he hadn’t killed them already—in order to preserve the empire’s stability. With potential rival claimants dead, there was far less chance that the Sultan would be deposed or that there would be a civil war.
Although Mehmed II (r. 1451–1481) put the practice into law, it had origins far earlier than his time. The first sultan to kill his brothers after ascending the throne may have been Murad I (r. 1362–1389). The poet Ahmedi, writing in about 1400, tells of how Murad’s brothers “became enemies to him” and were thus “all destroyed by his sword.”
The practice of a sultan or shezade killing his brothers would continue to remain a factor in Ottoman successions. Immediately after the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, at which Murad died, his son Bayezid would have his brother Yakub strangled in his tent. Bayezid’s sons would fight and kill each other during the Interregnum. The final winner of the civil war, Mehmed I (r. 1413–1421), won after defeating and executing his brother, Musa.
16th century European engraving of Musa and Suleiman, two of the rival princes who fought each other during the Ottoman Interregnum. This civil war brought instability and division to the empire, which the Ottomans wished to avoid.
The Ottomans wanted their empire to remain indivisible. There would be no division into appanages that the Mongol Empire experienced after Genghis Khan. And there would definitely be no complex series of dynastic civil wars we would see in the War of the Roses. So to maintain one stable empire under only one sultan, the fratricide policy emerged.