What is Farticide?

Killing the brothers or the sons of the brothers to either grab the throne and/or to remove the challengers to one’s rule.

Farticide was extremely prevalent among the Ottomans and Islamic world in general. This culture was also very prevalent among Mughal rulers. Read Adiyogi’s article here.

We will also discuss the below aspects:

  1. Why the culture came up?
  2. How this culture contributed to the growth of the Ottoman empire?
  3. How this culture resulted to destruction of the Ottoman empire?

First, Why this culture came up?

In Hinduism (in India) OR Christianity (in Europe) OR Confucianism (in China), the eldest child (or Son) of a King or Queen ascended the throne. But, ISLAM doesn’t define any such means of succession. After the death of a Sultan who had multiple sons, all his sons scrambled to grab the throne. After a son grabbed the throne, he killed all his brothers and nephews to ensure that there are no challengers to the throne.

In the Ottoman empire, Mehmed II formally legalized the practice of fratricide.

Second, how did the culture resulted to the growth of Ottoman Empire?

During those times, Sultans had many sons from multiple concubines. After the death of a Sultan, all the sons fought to get the throne. The fight ensured that the most ruthless, cruel and merciless one got the throne.

Hence, This system of succession produced many conquerors during the early days of the Ottoman rule. Only ruthless people can be good conquerors. It is seen most (read all) of the early Sultans grabbed the thrones after killing their brothers and/or nephews.

Third, How this culture resulted to final destruction of the Ottoman empire?

This system produced conquerors. But, after the Ottoman empire grew big and could not expand more, it needed rulers who could consolidate the empire by bringing proper administration, rule of law, education system, tax collection system etc. But the product of a fratricidal system cannot have the qualities to consolidate an empire.  This is where the system started to fail.

What happened?

When there was a need to focus on consolidating the empire and stop the conquering spree, the sultans did not. The later sultans were obsessed with conquering Western Europe and keep grabbing land. Looking at geography, terrain and distance it was technically not possible for Ottomans to capture Western Europe.

The Ottomans started to lose in the Battle of Lepanto (1571), Battle of Vienna (1683), Battle of Zenta (1697) and many others. The constant campaigning and battles started draining money from the treasury. It resulted to increase in taxes which resulted to discontent in empire which later turned to anarchy. The Ottoman empire started to decline and around 18th century the Ottoman Empire became the “Sick Man of Europe”.

Same was the case with Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb had the support of the Army due to which he killed all his brothers and became the Emperor. He was obsessed with capturing south India which was not possible due to the distance, terrain and the resoluteness of the Maratha leaders. Instead of falling back and consolidating the empire he kept bleeding money in fighting Marathas which ultimately resulted to the collapse of the Mughal empire.

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