Aimée du Buc de Rivéry
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|Aimée du Buc de Rivéry|
|Born||Aimée du Buc de Rivéry
4 December 1768
Le Robert, Martinique
Aimée du Buc de Rivéry (4 December 1768 – ?) was a French heiress, a cousin of Empress Josephine,[dubious ] who went missing at sea at the age of eleven. There is a legend that she was captured by Barbary pirates, sold as a harem concubine, and was the same person as Nakşidil Sultan, a Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of the Ottoman Empire, though there is no evidence of this.
She was born the daughter of wealthy French plantation owners in Pointe Royale, south-west of Robert on the Caribbean island of Martinique. After being sent to a convent school in France, she was returning home in July or August 1788 when the ship she was on vanished at sea. It is thought that the ship was attacked and taken by Barbary pirates. It has been suggested that she was enslaved and eventually sent to Constantinople as a gift to the Ottoman Sultan by the Bey of Algiers.
As Nakşidil Sultan
(This story is the legend of Aimee in the Ottoman palace harem and is not rooted in historical fact)
Aimée became the wife of the sultan, taking the name of Nakşidil. She introduced French ideas to the Ottoman people, especially the sultan, and her French-style reforms may have led to his death at the hands of the Janissaries and the Ulema, which were against the liberalization of the empire. During the rule of Abdul Hamid I, Aimée taught him French; and for the first time, a permanent ambassador was sent from Constantinople to Paris. Selim started a French newspaper and let Nakşidil decorate the palace in rococo style, which was popular in France at that time. Aimee bore a son named Mahmud II, who became sultan after his father's death.
The assassins, aided by the Ulema, also sought to kill Mahmud, but Nakşidil saved her son by concealing him inside a furnace. Thus Mahmud became the next Sultan, accomplishing significant reforms in the empire that were, for the most part, attributed to the influence of his mother.
Although Aimée accepted Islam as part of the harem etiquette, as well as the religion of her husband, she always remained a Roman Catholic in her heart. Her last wish was for a priest to perform the last rites. Her son did not deny her this: as Aimée lay dying, a priest passed for the first time through the Seraglio, to perform the Holy Sacrament before her death.
Controversy over identity
The history of Aimée du Buc de Rivéry is difficult to trace, particularly after she reportedly became part of the royal harem. Numerous novels state she was the mother of Mahmud II in the royal harem. According to the Ottoman Chronicles, the mother of Mahmud II was known by the Turkish name Nakşidil (Nakshidil) and died in 1817; all the women of the sultan were given Turkish names when they entered the harem.
Whatever the case, the woman who was valide sultan during this period was very western and French-influenced; she was said to have given the sultan French lessons, sending an embassy to Paris, and reforming the harem by giving the women permission to go on picnics and boat travels along the coasts outside the palace.
She also was not, as is often stated, the 13th wife of Abdülhamid and recorded mother of Mahmud II. According to a Turkish historian, though "Sultan Mahmud II's mother Nakşidil Sultan, whose life has been the subject of 174 historical novels in the world as well as the film 'The Favorite' ... was believed to be Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, the cousin of Napoleon's wife Josephine ... she [actually] came from a family that had its origins in the Caucasus region. Dr. Fikret Saraçoğlu has found in the archives of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul documents pertaining to her death and funeral." Robert Vine wrote: "The myth of two cousins from a Carribean [sic?] island becoming respectively the wife of the French Emperor and the mother of the Ottoman Sultan has an obvious romantic attraction - but by the same token, is highly improbable, unless provided with solid factual proof".
Aimée's story, somewhat fictionalized, was told in the 1989 movie Intimate Power (a.k.a. The Favorite), in which she was portrayed by Amber O'Shea, and which also starred F. Murray Abraham. It was based on the novel "Sultana" by Prince Michael of Greece.
"The Veiled Empress: An Unacademic Biography" by Benjamin A. Morton (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1923)
- Maurizio Costanza, La Mezzaluna sul filo - La riforma ottomana di Mahmûd II, Marcianum Press, Venezia, 2010 (appendix.1)
- "The Palace of Tears" by Alev Lytle Croutier (Delecorte Press, 2000)
- "The Veiled Sultan" by March Cost (pen name of Margaret Mackie Morrison) (NY: Vanguard Press, 1969)
- "A Distant Shore" by Susannah James (Signet, 1981), ISBN 0-451-11264-4
- "Sultana" by Prince Michael of Greece (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), ISBN 0-06-015166-8
- "Seraglio" by Janet Wallach (NY: Nan A. Talese, 2003), ISBN 978-0-385-49046-7 (0-385-49046-1)
- "Valide" by Barbara Chase-Riboud
- "The Janissary Tree" by Jason Goodwin (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux div. of Macmillan, 2006), ISBN 0-374-17860-7/978-0374178604; not just about her, but she is a major character in this and four subsequent novels in the Yashim investigator series.
- "The French Odalisque" by Sean Graham (London: Orbach and Chambers, 2009) ISBN 0-85514-502-1 ISBN 978-0-85514-502-6
- "Si la Martinique m'était contée à travers l'histoire des chevaliers du Buc de la Normandie à la Martinique... en passant par la Turquie" by Y.B. du Buc de Mannetot, member of the family Du Buc (NY: du Buc, histoire coloniale et patrimoine antillais, 2008)
- Two Empresses from Martinique- Part I
- Two Empresses from Martinique - Part II
- The Veiled Empress' tomb
- An excerpt from Seraglio, a novel about the Empress
- Historic Sites of Martinique
- La légende de la sultane Validé