Tulip Blog Ottoman Empire Turkish Holding Tulip

Don't Mess With Tulips In The Ottoman Empire!

Tulip Blog Ottoman Empire Turkish Holding Tulip

Today's #TulipFact: The Ottoman Empire was so serious about Tulips that the Sultan's Head Gardener, enforcing laws intended to protect the flower, was also the Sultan's Chief Executioner.

Before the Dutch, the first true Tulip Fanatics were in the Ottoman Empire. French traveler and botanist, Pierre Belon, wrote with admiration about the Turkish gardeners, saying that there were "no people who delight more to ornament themselves with beautiful flowers, nor who praise them more than the Turks."

Like their counterparts in the Netherlands would later do, Turkish breeders worked hard and developed new and beautiful kinds of Tulips. And again like the Dutch, high prices started to be seen for particular kinds of unusual and rare Tulips. 

Sultan Selim II, known for ordering his Grand Viziers to send him massive quantities of Tulip bulbs, took the empire's Tulips very seriously. He feared speculation and the risk of Tulips getting more and more expensive, and so ordered the Mayor of Istanbul to publish fixed prices for the rarest Tulips.

The written law was that violators would be expelled from the city, but the reality was rarely so merciful. During this time period, the Sultan's head gardener found himself chopping more than just flower heads, to the point where he was also the Sultan's chief executioner!

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