Selim II

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Selim II
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Selim II

Selim II (May 28, 1524December 12, 1574) was the sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death. He was a son of Suleiman the Magnificent and his favourite Aleksandra Lisowska (also Hurrem or Roxelana).

He was the first sultan entirely devoid of military virtues and willing to abandon all power to his ministers, provided he were left free to pursue his orgies and debauches. Therefore, he became known as Selim the Drunkard or Selim the Sot. Fortunately for the empire, an able grand vizier, Mehmed Sokollu, was at the head of affairs, and two years after Selim's accession succeeded in concluding at Constantinople an honourable treaty with the emperor Maximilian II, whereby the emperor agreed to pay an annual "present" of 30,000 ducats (February 17, 1568).

Against Russia he was less fortunate, and the first encounter between the Ottoman Empire and her future northern rival gave presage of disaster to come. A plan had been elaborated at Constantinople for uniting the Volga and Don by a canal, and in the summer of 1569 a large force of Janissaries and cavalry were sent to lay siege to Astrakhan and begin the canal works, while an Ottoman fleet besieged Azov. But a sortie of the garrison of Astrakhan drove back the besiegers; 15,000 Russians, under Knes Serebianov, attacked and scattered the workmen and the Tatar force sent for their protection; and, finally, the Ottoman fleet was destroyed by a storm. Early in 1570 the ambassadors of Ivan the Terrible concluded at Constantinople a treaty which restored friendly relations between the Sultan and the tsar.

Expeditions in the Hejaz and Yemen were more successful, but the conquest of Cyprus in 1571, which provided Selim with his favourite vintage, led to the calamitous naval defeat at Lepanto in the same year, the moral importance of which has often been underestimated, and which at least freed the Mediterranean Sea from the corsairs by whom it was infested.

The empire's shattered fleets were soon restored (in just 6 months), and Sokollu was preparing for a fresh attack on Venice, when the sultan's death cut short his plans. Little can be said of this degenerate son of Suleiman, who during the eight years of his reign never girded on the sword of Osman, and preferred the clashing of wine-goblets to the shock of arms, save that with the dissolute tastes of his mother, Aleksandra Lisowska, he had not inherited her ferocity.

Preceded by:
Suleiman the Magnificent
Ottoman Sultan Succeeded by:
Murad III
de:Selim II.

hu:II. Szelim ja:セリム2世

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