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Volume :7 Issue : 2 1979      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Sultan’s Harem In the Ottoman Empire

Auther : I.Gawahiri

This research is an attempt to study one aspect of the social history of the Ottoman Empire. It deals, first with Sultan’s household, the values and the ideals upon which is it based, and then its evolution into an important institution named the “Harem”. The study deals with the structure of that institution and dicesses its role.

This paper is also an attempt at the re-evaluation of the Sultan’s harem with reference to economic and psychological factors which left their mark The Sultan’s harem in the Ottoman Empire first consisted of slave girls whose function was to give pleasure. However, the evolution of their function and their giving birth to prospective princes,

especially crown princess in. addition to bringing them up led to evil consequences for the Sultan’s household. Those evil consequences extended into public life. This is noticeable through two significant issues.

1) The fierce competition for power within the harem institution.

2) The impact of that competition on the state of affairs within the Ottoman Empire and abroad.

Throughout the era of that institution, especially during the zenith of its authority, the rivalry is traceable to two forces which are visible through the scale of offices in that institution.

It has become clear that to attain, to the status of the mother of. sultan “Sultana Valida” which is the highest station attainable for a member of the harem meant strife with the less influential strata of the harem against the power of the “Sultana Valida”. That, strife usually led to the emergence of a new woman who was more or less capable f wending her way to the status of Sultana Valida. The media and manner of the strife were most awful. The heir to the throne used to waver between the conflicting parties. Furthermore, the future of the Sultandom, and the personality of the new sultan usually united under those circum stances. All that consumed great financial and human energies, and among the victims there were no small number of viziers, commanders, princes, and sultans, let alone the exhaustion and squandering the coun-princes, and sultans, let alone the exhaustion and squandering of the country’s resources.

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