Nilüfer Hatun

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Nilüfer Hātūn
نیلوفر خاتون
Sultan Orhan tomb Bursa Turkey 2013 4.jpg
The tomb of "Nilüfer Hātūn" is located inside the türbe (Mausoleum), of Orhan Gazi in Bursa
Born Holofira
before 1285
Bilecik, Byzantine Empire
Died c. 1383
Bursa, Ottoman Empire
Resting place
Tomb of Orhan, Bursa
Residence Söğüt, Bursa
Ethnicity Greek
Known for Valide Sultan
Religion Orthodox Christian converted to Islam
Spouse(s) Orhan Gazi
Children Murad I
Şehzade Kasim
Parent(s) Porphyrogennetos of Yahisar

Nilüfer Hatun (Ottoman Turkish: نیلوفر خاتون, birth name Holofira, other names Bayalun, Beylun, Beyalun, Bilun, Suyun, Suylun[1]) was a Valide Sultan; the wife of Orhan, the second sultan of the Ottoman Empire. She was mother of the next sultan, Murad I. Her other son was Kasim (died 1346). Some older sources also claim she was mother of Orhan's first son, Suleyman Pasha, which is disputed.[2]


The traditional stories about her origin, traced back to the 15th century, are that she was daughter of the Byzantine ruler (Tekfur[3]) of Bilecik, called Holofira. As some stories go,[4] Orhan's father Osman raided Bilecik at the time of Holofira's wedding arriving there with rich presents and disguised and hidden soldiers. Holofira was among the loot and given to Orhan.

However modern researchers doubt this story, admitting that it may have been based on real events. Doubts are based on various secondary evidence and lack of direct documentary evidence of the time. In particular, her Ottoman name Nilüfer meaning water lily in Persian language suggests that she may have been a Persian concubine.[2]

Other Historians make her a daughter of the Prince of Yarhisar or a Byzantine Princess Helen (Nilüfer), who was of ethnic Greek descent.[5][6][7]

According to a source, in the spring of 1299, the Bilecik magistrate who was to marry the daughter of Yarhisar invited Osman Gazi and his men to his wedding festivity. In the spring the Söğüt people migrated to Dominic plateau until autumn. Osman Gazi asked to leave all his belongings at the Bilecik castle before coming to the wedding. It was the usual practice in those years to entrust the heavy goods of encampment to neighbouring castles. The magistrate accepted gladly. The wedding would be in Chakirpinar, two hours away from Bilecik. On the way to the wedding, the magistrate of Yarhisar was encircled by Osman Gazi's soldiers. They turned back toward Yarhisar. When the people saw their magistrate, they opened the gates and Osman Gazi's soldiers got in. The conquest of the castle did not take long. At the Bilecik castle, one of the bales left by Osman Gazi was opened. A soldier got out of it and informed others. Armed soldiers stepping out of the bales captured everyone in the castle. Bilecik had fallen to the Ottomans. While the guests were waiting for the bride, the horsemen of the Ottomans appeared. There was a big ceremony in Karacahisar. Orhan Gazi would marry Holofira, the daughter of the Yarhisar magistrate. The young bride converted to Islam and became Nilüfer Hatun.[8]

When Orhan Gazi was off on campaign Nilüfer acted as her regent, the only woman in the Ottoman history who was ever given such power. During Murad's reign she was recognized as Valide Hatun, or Queen Mother, the first in Ottoman history to hold this title, and when she died, she was buried along Orhan Gazi and his father Osman Gazi in Bursa. The Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta who visited İznik in the 1330s, was a guest of Nilüfer Hatun, whom he describes as a 'pious and excellent woman.'[9]

Nilüfer Hatun Imareti ("Nilüfer Hatun Soup Kitchen"), a convent annex hospice for dervishes, now housing the Iznik Museum in İznik, Bursa Province, was built by Sultan Murad in 1388 to honor his mother after her death.[10]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Famous Ottoman women. Avea. 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Leslie P. Peirce (1993) "The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire", ISBN 0-19-508677-5.
  3. ^ "tekfur" is corrupted Armenian tagavor for "king", the term traditionally used in the Ottoman Empire for Byzantine and other Christian rulers, cf. Tekfur Palace, see Jane Taylor (1998) "Imperial Istanbul: A Traveller's Guide, Includes Iznik, Bursa and Edirne", ISBN 1-86064-249-7, p. 33
  4. ^ "Diccionario histórico, ó Biografia universal compendiada" (1832) article Holofira
  5. ^ The Fall of Constantinople, Steven Runciman, Cambridge University Press, p.36
  6. ^ The Nature of the Early Ottoman State, Heath W. Lowry, 2003 SUNY Press, p.153
  7. ^ History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Stanford Jay Shaw, Cambridge University Press, p.24
  8. ^ Love Beyond Time, Mehmet Tanberk, iUniverse, p.170
  9. ^ A History of Ottoman Architecture, John Freely, WIT Press, p.58
  10. ^ "Nilüfer Hatun Soup Kitchen"