Valide sultan

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Valide Sultan of
the Ottoman Empire
Former political post
BustOfAyseHafsaSultan ManisaTurkey.jpg
A bust of Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, who was the Valide Sultan from 1520 to 1534.
First officeholder Ayşe Hafsa Sultan
Last officeholder Rahime Perestu Sultan
Style Valide Sultan Efendi
Official residence Topkapı Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace
Yıldız Palace
Office began 1522
Office ended 1904
Current pretender Position abolished

Valide sultan (Ottoman Turkish: والده سلطان, literally "mother sultan") was the title held by the queen mother of a ruling Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.[1] The title was first used in the 16th century for Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, consort of Selim I and mother of Suleiman the Magnificent, superseding the previous title of mehd-i ülya ("cradle of the great").[1] The Turkish pronunciation of the word Valide is [vaː.liˈde].

The position was perhaps the most important position in the Ottoman Empire after the sultan himself. As the mother to the sultan, by Islamic tradition ("A mother's right is God's right"),[2] the valide sultan would have a significant influence on the affairs of the empire. She had great power in the court and her own rooms (always adjacent to her sons) and state staff.[1] In particular during the 17th century, in a period known as the "Sultanate of Women", a series of incompetent or child sultans raised the role of the valide sultan to new heights.[3]

The Sultanate of Women began with Hürrem Sultan (1500–1558; better known as Roxelana) and was continued by Nurbanu Sultan (1525–1583), mother of Murad III. As valide sultan in 1574–1583, Nurbanu was the de facto co-ruler, and managed the government together with the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. The most powerful and well-known of all valide sultans and haseki sultans in the history of the Ottoman Empire were Hürrem Sultan, Nurbanu Sultan and Kösem Sultan (1589–1651).

Harem women who were slaves were never formally married to the sultans. Nevertheless, their children were considered fully legitimate under Islamic law if recognized by the father.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Davis, Fanny (1986). "The Valide". The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918. ISBN 0-313-24811-7. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Peirce, Leslie P., The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-508677-5 (paperback)
  4. ^ Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh, ed. (1980). "The Imperial Family of Turkey". Burke's Royal Families of the World. Volume II: Africa & the Middle East. London: Burke's Peerage. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-85011-029-6.