Ottoman Court positions
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2006)|
The Ottoman Court was an elaborate society of royalty and nobility. Beneath the ruling nobles however, existed a grand hierarchy of people, effectively slaves, who were the Sultan's to command as he pleased.
Şeyhülislam: The Şeyhülislam (the Ottoman rendering of the Arabic شيخ الإسلام) of the Ottoman Sultan was the supreme religious authority in the Ottoman Empire. This man who instructed the Sultan himself in affairs of the Qu'ran.
Kızlar Ağası: The Kızlar Ağası was the chief Black Eunuch of the Ottoman Seraglio. The title literally means "Chief of the Girls," and he was charged with the protection and maintenance of the harem women.
Kapı Ağası: Whereas the Kızlar Ağası was responsible for guarding the virtue of the odalisques, the Kapı Ağası was a chamberlain to the ladies. His name means "Lord of the Door," and he was the chief of the White Eunuchs, acting as a chief servant and procurer.
Bostancı-başı: The Bostancı-başı of the Ottoman Court was his Chief Executioner. The title directly translates as "Head Gardener" (Bostancı=Gardener, başı=head), and it was his job to quite literally "prune" the court of its dead weight and its bad apples.
Valide Sultan: The Valide Sultan was the mother of the reigning Sultan, and the most powerful woman in the Harem, not to mention the Empire. She was the absolute authority in the seraglio, and she, with the help of the Kapı Ağa and the Kızlar Ağası, often her confidantes, or even men she herself had chosen upon her accession, had a finger in every aspect of harem life.
Kadın: Among the women of the Imperial Harem, the Kadın is the woman (or women) who have given the Sultan a child, preferably a son. Their position as the possible mother of a future Sultan gives them much influence and power in the harem.
Ikbal: Beneath the Kadın was the Ikbal, the harem member with whom the Sultan had slept at least once. These women need not necessarily have given a child to the Sultan, but simply need to have taken his fancy. Many of these women were referred to as Gözde (meaning "Favorite"), or "in the Eye," having done just that: caught the eye of the Sultan.
Cariye: These were the women who served the Valide Sultan, Ikbal's, Kadin's and the Sultans children. They could be promoted to Kalfas which meant they were free and earned wages, otherwise they were the property of the Sultan and would reside in the Harem. Such women were free to go after 9 years of service.