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Mahmud Pasha Angelovic

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Mahmud Pasha Angelovic

Mahmud Angelovic
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
Monarch Mehmed II
Preceded by Ishak Pasha
Succeeded by Gedik Ahmed Pasha
In office
Monarch Mehmed II
Preceded by Zaganos Pasha
Succeeded by Rum Mehmed Pasha
Personal details
Born 1420
Novo Brdo, Serbian Despotate
(modern disputed Kosovo/Serbia[a])
Died 1474
Nationality Ottoman
Spouse(s) daughter of Sultan Mehmed II
Ethnicity Serbian or Croatian
Nickname(s) Adni

Mahmud Pasha (Croatian/Serbian: Mahmud-paša Anđelović, Cyrillic: Махмуд-паша Анђеловић, Turkish: Veli Mahmud Paşa; 1420–1474) was the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1456 to 1466 and again from 1472 to 1474, who also wrote Persian and Turkish poems under the pseudonym Adni.[1][2]

He was a member of the Byzantine Angelos family and was raised a Christian, but was later abducted as a child by the Sultan according to the devşirme system and raised as a Muslim in Edirne. A capable soldier, he was married to a daughter of Sultan Mehmed II. After distinguishing himself at the Siege of Belgrade (1456), he was raised to the position of Grand Vizier as a reward, succeeding Zagan Pasha. Throughout his tenure, he led armies or accompanied Mehmed II on his own campaigns.

Origin and early life

After the Ottoman conquest of Thessaly in 1394, the ruling Angeloi[3] Philanthropenoi family took refuge. The grandchildren of either Alexios or Manuel were Mahmud Pasha and his brother Mihailo Anđelović. He may have also been related to the noblemen Alessio and Peter Spani through Alexios III Angelos, who was possibly their ancestor. [4] Although the contemporary Byzantine sources and Ibn Kemal calls him Serbian, some late Ottoman sources call him Croatian.[b]

He was born in 1420, in the village of Novo Brdo, in the Serbian Despotate within an Ottoman Empire (present-day Kosovo[a]). He was abducted[5] in 1427, during an Ottoman invasion of the Serbia[6] by the Ottoman Turks (devşirme, an Ottoman practice), and was sent together with two other boys to Edirne.[7] According to Laonikos Chalkokondyles he was captured by the horsemen of Sultan Murad II, while traveling with his mother from Novo Brdo to Smederevo.[3] He was raised a Muslim according to the practice.[6] His brother Michael Angelovic stayed in Serbia, but he would also quickly rose up in the Ottoman bureaucracy. Their mother moved to Constantinople, while remaining a Christian, she was favored and awarded by land property by the Sultan.[8]


A capable soldier, he was married to a daughter of Sultan Mehmed II. After distinguishing himself at the Siege of Belgrade (1456), he was raised to the position of Grand Vizier as a reward, succeeding Zagan Pasha.[9] Throughout his tenure he led armies or accompanied Mehmed II on his own campaigns.[10]

In 1458, the Serbian Despot Lazar Branković died. Mahmud's brother Mihailo became member of a collective regency, but he was soon deposed by the anti-Ottoman and pro-Hungarian faction in the Serbian court. In reaction, Mahmud attacked and seized Smederevo Fortress, although the citadel held out, and seized some additional strongholds in its vicinity. Threatened by a possible Hungarian intervention however he was forced to withdraw south and join the forces of Sultan Mehmed II at Skopje.[11] In 1461, he accompanied Mehmed in his campaign against the Empire of Trebizond, the last surviving fragment of the Byzantine Empire. Mahmud negotiated the surrender of the city of Trebizond with its treasurer, the scholar George Amiroutzes, who was also his cousin.[12]

In 1463 Mahmud led the invasion and conquest of the Ottoman vassal state of Bosnia, even though a peace treaty between Bosnia and the Ottomans had just been renewed. He captured the Bosnian king, Stephen Tomašević, at Ključ, and obtained from him the cession of the country to the Empire.[11]

Angelović accompanied Mehmed II when he attacked Albania Veneta in the summer of 1467. Skanderbeg who was Venetian ally then, retreated to the mountains while Angelović pursued him but failed to find him because Skanderbeg succeeded to flee to the coast.[13] According to Tursun Beg and Ibn Kemal, Angelović swam over Bojana, attacked Venetian controlled Scutari and plundered the surrounding area.[14]

Mahmud was dismissed in 1468 due to the machinations of his successor, Rum Mehmed Pasha, ostensibly due to irregularities regarding the resettlement of the Karamanids in Constantinople following Karaman's conquest earlier in that year.[15] He was reinstated in 1472, but his relations with the Sultan were now strained. He was dismissed and executed in 1474, allegedly because of Mehmed's son, prince Mustafa. Mahmud had been at loggerheads with Mustafa after divorcing his second wife for spending a night in the same house as Mustafa during Mahmud's absence on campaign in 1473. Mustafa's death later in 1474 was even attributed by later accounts to poisoning by Mahmud.[16]


  1. ^ Status of Kosovo: Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. The latter unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, while Serbia claims it as part of its own sovereign territory. Republic of Kosovo (ROK) is recognized by 102 UN member states (52.8%).
  2. ^ The ethnicity of Mahmud-Pasha is disputed.[3] Based primarily on one source which says that Mahmut pasha was captured as a child while he was going from Novo Brdo to Smederevo, most modern historians accept the Serbian city of Novo Brdo (now in Kosovo) as Mahmud Pasha's place of origin.[3] The contemporary Ecthesis Chronica and Historia Patriarchia says he was from Serbia[3] Ibn Kemal is the only Ottoman source that explicitly say that he was "from the mines of Serbia" (Novo Brdo).[3] Gabriel Piterberg claim that he was from the Byzanto-Serbian noble house of Angelovic.[17] Some Ottoman authors give other information: The 16th-century biographer Asik Celebi says that Mahmud was from Kruševac.[3]
    Some Ottoman historians like Ata, Sureyya and Osmanzade Taib, claim he was Croat (Hrovati) in origin.[3] This information about Croat origin is reinforced by a letter written by Mahmud-Pasha to Republic of Ragusa in 1467, where he signed himself as 'Abogović Hrvat' (Abogović the Croat).[3] Three points make the latter assumption implausible: It is contradicted by all Byzantine sources,[3] It would imply he was born Catholic - strange given his relations to Byzantine Orthodox Christians,[3] and his geographical origin in Serbia - both of his possible birthplaces were in the Serbian/Orthodox world, far from Catholic influence.[3] There was some considerable confusion over the terms "Croat" and "Serb" in these times, which suggest that "Croat" in this case would mean someone from the wider South Slavic area.[3]
    Modern sources indicating ethnic Serb origin:[3][17][18][19]
    Modern souces indicating ethnic Croat origin:[5][3][20][18]



Political offices
Preceded by
Zaganos Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
Succeeded by
Rum Mehmed Pasha
Preceded by
Ishak Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
Succeeded by
Gedik Ahmed Pasha
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