Sultan Yahya

Yahya (1585–1649) was the third son of Ottoman Sultan Murad III. His mother Elena was a princess from the Byzantine Komnenós dynasty of Trebizond, a surviving branch of the Byzantine imperial family of the same name from Constantinople. When his brother, Mehmet, became Sultan, he followed the Ottoman custom of executing all of his brothers (potential rival claimants to the Ottoman throne). Yahya’s mother was concerned that this could also eventually happen to him after the death of his father, so he was smuggled out of the empire, first to Greece, and then to present-day Bulgaria. He was then supposedly baptized at an Orthodox Christian monastery, where he lived for the next eight years of his life.

Eventually, Yahya’s two older brothers died, but in 1603, since Yahya had escaped the country to avoid fratricide, his nephew Ahmed I (the fourth-born) became Ottoman sultan. Yahya believed that as the next oldest son of Murat III, he was next in line to be Ottoman Sultan and felt cheated out of his rightful destiny. He would dedicate the rest of his life to gaining the Ottoman throne. However, the standard Ottoman practice at the time for determining the succession was not birth order of sons; instead the Ottoman laws of succession to the throne stated that after the death of their father, the Ottoman princes would fight among themselves until one emerged triumphant.

From 1603 on, Yahya made frequent trips to northern and western Europe to gain support for his claim to the throne (visiting Florence, Madrid, Rome, Kraków, Antwerp, Prague, and other cities). Between 1614 and 1617, he schemed with Serbian Orthodox Christian bishops in Kosovo and Western Roman Catholic bishops and leaders as part of his strategy to gain the Ottoman throne. A few years later, with the assistance of Russian and Ukrainian cossacks, he led a fleet of 130 ships and unsuccessfully attacked Istanbul. He died in 1649 on the Montenegrin coast, where he was involved in a rebellion organized by the Roman Catholic bishops of Skodra-and-Bar.

He married in 1629 the Albanian Princess Anna Katharina a descendant of Skanderbeg and had three Children:

List of unrecognized heirs of the Ottoman dynasty