The Cage or Kafes was the suite of rooms of the Harem where possible successors to the throne were kept incarcerated. The practice was adopted by Ahmet I as an alternative to the fratricide that had been institutionalized in the Ottoman Empire since the rule of Beyazit II. After the death of their father, the younger princes would be kept under house arrest along with deaf mutes and a harem of concubines, while their eldest brother acceded to the throne. They remained here until such time as they were called upon to take power themselves. The concubines never left the Cage unless they became pregnant, in which case they were immediately drowned. The decline of the Ottoman Empire has been attributed in part to the institution of the Cage, as sultans who spent any length of time there emerged crazed, avaricious and debauched. The most infamous victim was “İbrahim the Mad”.

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