Prince Djem/Cem Historical Profile

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PRINCE DJEM/CEM Historical Profile
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PRINCE DJEM/CEM STATS
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Name: Prince Djem (Cem)
Born: 22 December 1459
Home town:
Died: 25 February 1495 (Capua)
Position: Prince of the Blood
House of: Osman
Nickname: The Pretender
Personality type: Cultured, fond of luxury, sensitive, but rather indolent.
Hobbies: Attending balls, magnificent clothes, womanizing.
Strength(s): Prince Djem was an accomplished poet.
Weakness(es): He was never viewed by foreign courts as a strength to ally with, but rather as a pawn in dealing with his brother, Sultan Bayezid II.
Quirks: Aloof



"What a wonderful place is this city of Nice. A man who stays there can do as he please."
- A couplet composed by Djem while in Nice


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PRINCE DJEM (CEM) BIO
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Prince Djem was born on 22 December 1459 as the second son of Sultan Mehmet II (Mehmet The Conqueror). His older brother was Bayezid, and both brothers ruled over different provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

After the death of Mehmet II, there was a power struggle between the two brothers, to become Sultan. As a result of losing the battle near Yenisehir, and knowing fratricide was in Bayezid's plans and was actually sanctioned by Ottoman law, Prince Djem and his family fled Turkey to Europe. His intention was to gain support from European kingdoms and wage a bid to regain the throne.


He received protection from the Knights of Rhodes in France, and eventually made his way to Italy. Here he was a virtual prisoner, albeit a very well treated one. His brother, who had paid the French court to keep Djem out of Turkey, also paid the Pope 40,000 ducats a year to keep him away. While in Italy he was to become a friend of both Juan and Cesare Borgia. Juan Borgia was fond of imitating him by dressing in similarly exotic Turkish costume, which scandalised many Romans.

WhenCharles VIII invaded Italy he captured Prince Djem on 27 January 1495, and was going to send him back to France and use him as a pawn. Unfortunately, Djem mysteriously died on 25 February 1495. Some believe that his death was the result of poison, but this is very unlikely, and it is difficult to discern any motive that the Borgias would have had for this. It appears that Pope Alexander VI hoped to get Cem, and his annual payment, back. Most historiians believe that Djem died of natural causes.

It took 4 years to have his body returned to Ottoman lands where he was ultimately buried in Bursa.


page logo CONTEMPORARY VOICES
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page logo PRINCE DJEM/CEM QUOTES
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  • A couplet composed by Cem while in Nice: "What a wonderful place is this city of Nice. A man who stays there can do as he please."
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page logo PRINCE DJEM/CEM TRIVIA
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  • In the 1490s a book in Latin was written about Cem's life. It was illustrated by Guillaume Caoursin, vice-chancellor of the Knights Hospitaller. It was published in centres in several countries : Venice, Paris, Bruges, Salamanca, Ulm and London. The many illustrations in this book are the first accurately described representations in Western Europe of costumes and weapons of the Turkish people.
  • Cem's life also served as inspiration for a character in Ivo Andric's book The Damned Yard.
  • Bulgarian novelist, Vera Mutafchieva , inspired by his importance in European politics of XV century wrote a book about Cem Sultan.




page logo ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • John Freely (2004). Jem Sultan. Harper Perennial.
  • Eamon Duffy (2006). Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press.
  • Caroline Finkel (2006). Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923. Basic Books
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