January 1595. Marco Venier, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, reports to the Doge and Senate on the death of Sultan Murad III – Mehmed III’s father.
The rumour of the Sultan’s death has spread down to the very children; and a riot is expected, accompanied by a sack of shops and houses as usual. I have hidden the Embassy archives, and brought armed men into the house to protect it and to see that it was not set on fire.
The new Sovereign arrived this morning at the hour of salaam. I saw him arrive and disembark at the Kiosk. In the eleven days which have elapsed since the death of the Sultan Murad, several executions have taken place in order to keep the populace in check Inside the serraglio there has been a great uproar, and every night we hear guns fired—a sign that at that moment some one is being thrown into the sea.
As regards the death of Sultan Murad, I must repeat that he was attacked by his old epilepsy while receiving the Capudan in audience. He was carried inside and suffered all night. Next day he began to mend and progressed so favourably that they almost thought him out of danger, when a second fit came on; this kept him for two days and two nights languid, feeble, like one dead. It was followed by a retention of the urine which caused him to call out in pain, and on the top of the other illness carried him to the grave. He refused all medical attendance and all medicine; even when in health his habit of life was strange; and they say, though it is hardly credible, that he eat no bread, but lived on solid meats, thick soups, sheep’s marrow, and other aphrodisiacs, for he lay immersed in lust. His funeral was a sad sight; nineteen unhappy children, strangled as is the law of the land, followed their father to the tomb. He leaves twenty-nine daughters and six wives with child; if males are born they will share the fate of their brothers.