Nurbanu Sultan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nurbanu Sultan
Born c. 1525
Páros, Cyclades Islands, Republic of Venice
Died 7 December 1583 (aged 58)
Resting place
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Ethnicity Italian
Known for Valide Sultan
Religion Islam, previously Catholic or Jewish
Spouse(s) Selim II
Children Esmehan Sultan
Murad III
Şah Sultan
Fatma Sultan
Parents Nicolò Venier and Violanta Baffo or Joseph Nassi

Nurbanu Sultan (full style Haseki Afife Nûr-Banû Vâlide Sultân Aliyyetü'ş-Şân Hazretleri; Ottoman Turkish: نور بانو سلطان; c. 1525 – 7 December 1583) was the favourite consort and later wife of Sultan Selim II of the Ottoman Empire, mother of Sultan Murad III, and de facto co-ruler as the Valide Sultan for nine years from 1574 until 1583. She was either a Venetian of noble birth or a Spanish Jew.[1] Her birth name may have been Cecilia or Olivia Venier-Baffo,[2] or Rachel Marie Nassi.[3]

Some theories about her biography[edit]

Currently, there exist three living theories about the ethnic roots of Nurbanu:

Cecilia or Olivia[edit]

According to Venetian records, Cecilia or Olivia was presumably the natural daughter of Nicolò Venier, a Lord of Páros, by Violanta Baffo. She was the niece of the Doge of Venice, Sebastiano Venier. She was captured when the Turks conquered the Cyclades island of Páros, where she was born, during the 1537 war, abducted from there and taken to the royal harem of Ottoman Prince Selim II in Istanbul, where she was renamed Nurbanu.

Rachel Marie Nassi[edit]

According to Ottoman records, Rachel Marie was the sister of Joseph Nassi, who was in a very close relationship with Nurbanu's husband. Being a Jewish, she gave priorities to the Jewish people of Istanbul and Manisa.

Time as consort[edit]

Burial of Nurbanu Sultan

Nurbanu became the most favored consort of Ottoman Sultan Selim II, who was put on the throne in 1566, and the mother of Ottoman Sultan Murad III. When Selim II died in 1574, she concealed his death and hid his corpse in an icebox until her son Murad arrived at Istanbul from the Province of Manisa, where Murad was the governor. Twelve days later, upon Murad's accession to the Ottoman throne as Murad III, Nurbanu acquired the title of valide sultan (queen mother).

Foreign politics[edit]

After Nurbanu became the valide sultan to her son Murad III, she effectively managed the government together with the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, who acted as co-regent with the sultan during the Sultanate of Women. Her intermediary to the world outside the harem was her "kira", Esther Handali. "Kira" was so popular means of communication with the outside world when Nûr-Banû was the Valide Sultan that the two women were said to have been lovers. She corresponded with the queen Catherine de' Medici of France. During her nine years of regency (1574–1583), her politics were so pro-Venetian that she was hated by the Republic of Genoa. Some have even suggested that she was poisoned by a Genoese agent. In any case, she died at the palace in the Yenikapı Quarter, Istanbul on 7 December 1583. Moreover, it has been said that Nurbanu was related to Safiye Sultan, who was born Sofia Baffo, married Murad III, and consequently became the next valide sultan of the Ottoman Empire when her own son Mehmed III acceded to the throne. On the other hand, the Ottoman records claim that the Republic of Venice became highly dependent on the Ottoman Empire during the regency of Nurbanu because her policies were allegedly extremely pro-Jewish.

Charitable establishments and philanthrophy[edit]

During her nine years of regency, Nurbanu ordered the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan to build the Atik Valide Mosque and its surrounding külliye at the district of Üsküdar in Istanbul, where previously a "Jewish bath" was located. The construction of the külliye was completed and put in commission at the end of 1583, just before the demise of Nurbanu on 7 December 1583. She was buried at the mausoleum of her husband Selim II located inside the Hagia Sophia (then a mosque) at Sultanahmet in Istanbul, Turkey.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Stanford J. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, Volume 1. page 178
  2. ^ Valeria Heuberger, Geneviève Humbert, Geneviève Humbert-Knitel, Elisabeth Vyslonzil, Cultures in Colors, page 68. ISBN 3-631-36808-9, 2001
  3. ^ Godfrey Goodwin, The Private World of Ottoman Women, Saqi Book, ISBN 0-86356-745-2, ISBN 3-631-36808-9, 2001. page 128,


  • Goodwin, Jason, Lords of the Horizons, (1998) - page 160
  • A.D. Alderson, The Structure of the Ottoman Dynasty. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1956.
  • Almanach de Gotha: annuaire généalogique, diplomatique et statistique, Justes Perthes, Gotha, 1880-1944.
  • Burke's Royal Families of the World, Volume II: Africa & The Middle East, Burke's Peerage Ltd., London, 1980.
  • Yılmaz Öztuna, Devletler ve Hanedanlar, Turkiye 1074-1990, Ankara, 1989.
  • Osman Selâheddin Osmanoğlu, Osmanli Devleti'nin Kuruluşunun 700. Yılında Osmanlı Hanedanı, Islâm Tarih, Sanat ve Kültür Araştırma Vakfı (ISAR), Istanbul, 1999.
  • Emine Fuat Tugay, Three Centuries: Family Chronicles of Turkey and Egypt, Oxford, 1963.

External links[edit]

Ottoman royalty
Preceded by
Hürrem Sultan
Haseki Sultan
18 April 1558 – 15 December 1574
Succeeded by
Safiye Sultan
Preceded by
Ayşe Hafsa Sultan
Valide Sultan
15 December 1574 – 7 December 1583
Succeeded by
Safiye Sultan