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Ahdnama of Fatih Sultan Mehmet – The Protection of Bosnian Christians

Ahdnama of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet

Welcome to the world of Mehmed Fetihler Sultani, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, a prominent figure in Turkish history and the ruler of the Ottoman Empire from 1451 to 1481. His legacy is one of military conquests, cultural achievements, and religious tolerance. The Ahdnama of Fatih Sultan Mehmet: Exploring the Oldest Human Rights Declaration!

Historical Context of the Ahdnama

As we delve into the life of this great leader, we will explore the significance of his firman, or decree, which granted protection to the Bosnian Franciscans after the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia in 1463. This firman serves as a testament to Mehmed II’s visionary leadership and his commitment to upholding the principles of tolerance and coexistence. In this article, we will delve into the historical context of the firman and its impact on the protection of the Franciscans in Bosnia.

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Sultan Mehmed II’s Assurance of Protection

The decree granted by Sultan Mehmed II provided the Franciscans with unprecedented freedoms and protections under his rule. During a pivotal historical encounter, Friar Anđeo Zvizdović from the Monastery in Fojnica received the oath directly from the Sultan at the camp of  Milodraž on May 28, 1463. Consequently, this moment marked a significant milestone in the history of religious tolerance. The terms of the Ahdname of Milodraž were clear and unequivocal:

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The Ahdnama of Fatih Sultan Mehmet – This Ahdnama, which brings independence and tolerance to the ones who are from another religion!

Historic document of the Ahdnama of Fatih Sultan Mehme

Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II’s message to Bosnian Christians

(Mehmet – son of Murat Khan, The victorious)

The command of the honorable, sublime Sultan’s sign and shining seal of the conqueror of the world is as follows:

“I, Sultan Mehmet Khan inform the world that the ones who possess this imperial edict, the Bosnian Franciscans, have got into my good graces, so I command:

Let nobody bother or disturb those who are mentioned, nor their churches. Let them dwell in peace in my empire. And let those who have become refugees live and be safe. Let them return and let them settle down their monasteries without fear in all the countries of my empire.

Neither my royal highness, nor my viziers or employees, nor my servants, nor any of the citizens of my empire shall insult or disturb them. Let nobody attack, insult or endanger neither their life or their property or the property of their church. Even if they bring somebody from abroad into my country, they are allowed to do so.

As I have graciously issued this imperial edict, I hereby take my great oath: In the name of the Creator of the earth and heaven (Allah), the one who feeds all creatures, and in the name of the seven Mustafas and our great Messenger (Muhammad PbuH), and in the name of the sword I have, nobody shall do contrary to what has been written, as long as they are obedient and faithful to my command.”

This Ahdnama of the Firman Today

The original edict, preserved in the Franciscan monastery of Fojnica, stands as one of the oldest surviving documents affirming religious freedom. In 1971, the global community acknowledged its significance when the United Nations published translations of the document in all official U.N. languages. In 1463, Fatih Sultan Mehmet announced the Ahdnama, known as the oldest Human Rights Declaration in history.326 years before 1789 French Revolution, 485 years before 1948 International Human Rights Declaration.

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