In Ottoman tradition, lalas were the experienced statesmen who were assigned as the tutors of the young princes (Turkish: Şehzade). While still teenagers, the princes were sent to provinces as provincial governors (Turkish: sanjak bey). They were accompanied by their lalas who trained them in statesmanship. The purpose of this practice was to prepare the princes for the future duty of regency. Later when the prince was enthroned as the sultan his lala was usually promoted to be a vizier. Up to the 13th sultan Mehmet III (the end of the 16th century) all sultans enjoyed a period of provincial governorship prior to their reign. However 14th sultan Ahmet I (1603-1617) who was enthroned in early teens without a period of provincial governorship, banned this practice. This meant the decrease in the status of the lala.
Atabeg vs lala
The practice of lala was even older than the Ottoman Empire. During the Seljuk Empire, the experienced statesmen accompanying the princes were called Atabeg or Atabey ( a Turkish composite title meaning ancestor-lord). However Seljuk Empire was highly feudalistic and atabeys frequently used their power for separatist policies whenever they felt a weakness in the central authority. (like Ildeniz in Azerbaijan and Zangids in North Iraq) The Ottoman Empire, on the other hand was more centralist and almost no lala tried to follow a separatist policy.
Some grand viziers of lala background
|Name||Term (as grand vizier)||Tutee|
|Beyazıt Pasha||1413-1421||Mehmet I|
|Çandarlı (2nd) İbrahim Pasha||1498-1499||Beyazıt II|
|Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha||1580||Selim II|
|Tekeli Lala Mehmet Pasha||1595||Mehmet III|
|Sokolluzade Lala Mehmet Pasha||1604-1606||Ahmet I|
- Biography of Abbas I 2012 ISBN 9789643517267.
- Ottoman culture page (Turkish)
- Online ancyclopaedia (Turkish)