Bey Ibrahim of Szekszárd castle was murdered by his Hungarian adolescent pages on 21 July 1559


Sipahi riders, the landowners of the Ottoman Empire

We know about this crime from the letter of Captain Horváth Márk of Szigetvár Castle that was addressed to Palatine Nádasdy Tamás, written on 25 July 1559. He wrote that 20 of Kurd Ibrahim Bey’s 30 Christian young servants killed the bey, then climbed the walls and escaped. Ten of them went to Szigetvár Castle and they told the case to Horváth Márk.

The Ottoman sources mention only the month of Bey’s death, namely that he died „in Pecsuj, in the year 966 in the month of Sevvál” (7 July 1559-4 August). The bey and the ten other servants were buried. Presumably, those were the youngsters who didn’t want to take part in the murder and their mates killed them, too. The properties of the bey were seized for the Sultan.

At first glance, one would think that the Bey was murdered by his personal servants who may have been sexually abused by him. It could be true but there is more behind the scenes. According to Szibler Gábor, there were mere financial reasons behind the crime. The Sultan’s Council gave an order to have the case investigated in 1560.

We can read in the letter sent to the Sanjak Bey of Mohács that all the properties of the late Kurd Ibrahim Bey had to be seized by the Sultan as he had no children or heirs. At least, the Ottoman officials sensed that something was wrong and didn’t accept the heirs who had been appointed by Ibrahim.

Previously, Kurd Ibrahim Bey had promised to give his houses, mills, vineyards, and manors to his Kapudji Basi called Mehmed who was, in fact, of Hungarian origin. A certain Voivode called Dzsáfer had also been named as his heir. In the promise of the rich inheritance, Mehmed and Dzsáfár conspired with some of the Hungarian inner servants of Bey Ibrahim and they killed him.

The letter mentioned that the houses of the bey stood in a quite dangerous zone, close to the frontier. These buildings were as large as to house 400 people so they had to be seized for the Sultan. (My note: the term „house” was used for fortified places or even for small palisade forts of the Borderland system of castles.)

The castles in Ottoman hands in Hungary

The report went on and mention how the Janissaries of Szekszárd had ventured out of the castle and how they were terrorizing the peasants. As it would be very difficult to make order among them, it would be advisable to place them in the above-mentioned houses. This order has been issued so. Also, it was ordered that the murderers of Ibrahim Bey, namely Dzsáfer and Mehmed should be brought before the Khadi (judge), and the Bey of Mohács should carry out the lawful investigation. If they were found guilty by the religious law, the Bey of Mohács should do what the law says. He should not allow anyone might act against religious law.

Everything happened as the above-mentioned letter had said. Mehmed Bey of Mohács could get more information as well, let us go into the details.

It was Emin Bajezid the official of the Mukátaa Office of Tolna who seized the properties of Kurd Ibrahim Bey and handed them to the treasury of Buda. The Mukátaa Office was in charge of managing taxes and fees coming from various income sources which usually had been rented from the Sultan.

He listed that the value of the late Ibrahim’s horses was 10,500 Akche (21,000 silver Denarius). Kurd Ibrahim had owed some money to a certain Mehmed so  9,300 Akche of this amount had to be paid to him. Then, the value of the stored grain was listed (16,553 Akche) and further income related to various grains was 13,533 Akche and 3,000 Akche. However, only 1,856 Akche was paid to the treasury from this.

They found grain in Szekszárd that cost 1,800 Akche and the Office got 9,400 Akche for smaller estates. The slaves were sold for 5,256 Akche. It was revealed that Kurd Ibrahim Bey had made an 84,324 Akche-debt which had to be paid first. To make things more difficult, it was found out that the Bey stole the Treasury’s income that he had collected from the village of Naszály in Nógrád County when he had been a Bey there. Thus, he owed 500 gold Forints to the Treasury but he had many debtors who got only half of their money back. It was suggested to pay them equally as much as they could and further measures were taken to clean up the mess.

Szekszárd (Photo: Thaler Tamas)

According to the letter of Horváth Márk, we come to know that Ibrahim Bey indeed was a Sanjak Bey in Nógrád county but he became a „mazul”, meaning he lost his reputation in the Ottoman Empire. Yet, he seemed to have regained it as he was appointed to Szekszárd as a Sanjak Bey in 1554.

As he had no children, he named his friends (of Hungarian origin) as his heirs. Apparently, they could not wait for the natural death of their benefactor and killed him. Were his friends actually renegade Hungarians who had helped him in his fraud and theft? Perhaps it was the Pasha of Buda who had him assassinated because Ibrahim became a pain in their neck?

We know nothing more about the punishment of the criminals but the case offers to give us a glimpse behind the scenes. We can also see how many Hungarian renegades and slaves were serving the Ottoman officers. As for Szekszárd Castle, we can see Dur Ali Bey, a new Sanjak Bey there on 6 November 1559.

an Ottoman dagger

Sources: Szibler Gábor and Szerecz Miklós

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