Was the relationship between Murat IV and his mother Kosem Sultan really bad? Did Kosem Sultan intervene a lot when her son assumed absolute power?
What was the relationship between Ottoman emperor Murat IV and his mother Kosem Sultan?
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Murad IV and his mother Kosem Sultan maintained a working relationship throughout his reign. Even after he started to exert his authority from around 1628 (when he was 16 years old), he still sought her advice and she was trusted enough to effectively act as regent during his frequent absences while campaigning.
At the same time, she was frustrated at her diminished influence and was only sometimes able to successfully intervene in her son's decision-making.
Kösem Sultan, mother of Murad IV (reigned 1623-40) ruled as his regent for nine years during his minority until he sidelined her in 1632, forcing her into the background. Despite this, she retained some influence over her son and did continue to advise him. For example, Murad
ordered the execution of Kara Celebi zade Abdul Aziz Efendi, one of the greatest scholars of the time, because as kadi of Istanbul he was held responsible for a shortage of butter in the city. Only the last-minute intercession of the queen mother saved him.
Source: History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Volume 1, Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1280-1808
Murad IV also wanted to execute his younger brother Ibrahim, who later succeeded him as Sultan, but the intervention of the sons' mother saved him. He also took her advice to execute the Chief Mufti, Ahizade, in 1634.
Murad was an active and energetic sultan who was frequently away campaigning. During these times, he
trusted her to look after his interests during his absences from the capital
Source: Leslie Pierce, The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire
Nonetheless, her influence was limited and Murad
was vigilant in monitoring the boundaries of his mother's authority.
For Kosem Sultan, her reduced influence as her son grew older and exercised more control was a source of frustration, but she was resigned to it. Pierce notes that
In one letter to the grand vezir, Kosem indicates that she is very troubled about Murad's health. we can sense her frustration at her inability to exercise direct influence on important decisions:
How much her concern for Murad's health was due to the feelings of a mother for her son as opposed to her fear as to what might happen to her should her son die is open to debate (especially given her role in her other son's death - see below). In short,
The few indications of the relationship between Murad and his mother suggest a modus vivendi in which each respected the other's formal role.
Kösem Sultan was a survivor (until she overplayed her hand in 1651 when trying to depose her grandson Mehmed IV) and a pragmatist who, despite being ambitious and manipulative, knew when to stay in the background. She also evidently possessed great persuasive skills, having previously saved the life of a brother-in-law during the reign of her husband Ahmed I (reigned 1603-17). When Murad IV died, she regained her former position of influence as her younger son Ibrahim was mentally unstable - until, that is, she plotted to remove him (1647), whereupon she was banished only to later agree to the execution of Ibrahim when he was finally overthrown (1648).