Gülnuş Sultan

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Gülnuş Sultan
Haseki Sultan
Valide Sultan
Portrait of Rabia Gülnuş.jpg
Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Tenure6 February 1695 – 6 November 1715
PredecessorAşub Sultan
SuccessorSaliha Sultan
Haseki Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
(Imperial Consort)
Tenure4 August 1683 – 8 November 1687
PredecessorTurhan Hatice Sultan
(among others)
SuccessorRabia Sultan
BornEvmania Voria
c. 1642
Rethymno, Crete, Republic of Venice
Died6 November 1715(1715-11-06) (aged 72–73)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
SpouseMehmed IV
IssueMustafa II
Ahmed III
Hatice Sultan
Gülsüm Sultan
Fatma Sultan
ReligionIslam, formerly Greek Orthodox

Gülnuş Sultan[b] (Ottoman Turkish: کلنوش سلطان‎; 1642[1] – 6 November 1715) was Haseki Sultan of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV and Valide Sultan to their sons Mustafa II and Ahmed III.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Gülnuş Sultan was born in 1642[4] in the town of Rethymno, Crete, when the island was under Venetian rule; she was originally named Evmania Voria and she was an ethnic Greek, the daughter of a Greek Orthodox priest.[5][a] She was captured by the Ottomans during the invasion of Crete in 1645.[5]

Time as consort[edit]

The Ottoman army invaded the island during the Cretan War (1645–1669); she was captured as a very young girl when the Ottomans conquered Rethymno in 1645,[5] taken as slave and was sent to Constantinople. She was renamed Mahpare (meaning "a slice of the moon") and was given a thoroughly Turkish and Muslim education in the harem department of Topkapi Palace and soon attracted the attention of the Sultan, Mehmed IV. He was famous for his hunting expeditions in the Balkans and used to take her, his favourite,[6] to these expeditions. They had two sons both of whom became the future Sultans, Mustafa II (born 1664; died 1703) and Ahmed III (born 1673; died 1736). Ahmed was born in Dobruca during one of the hunting expeditions of Mehmed IV. Her rivalry with Gülbeyaz, an odalisque of Mehmed IV led to a tragic end. Sultan Mehmed had been deeply enamored of her, but after Gülbeyaz entered his harem, his affections began to shift, Gülnuş, still in love with the sultan became madly jealous. One day, as Gülbeyaz was sitting on a rock and watching the sea, Gülnuş slightly pushed her off the cliff and drowned the young odalisque,[7][8][9][10] or according to others she ordered Gülbeyaz's strangulation in the Kandilli Palace. Some writers stress the fact that Gülnuş was a ruthless person claiming that she attempted to have her husband's brothers Suleiman II and Ahmed II strangled after she gave birth to her firstborn Mustafa, but that Mother Turhan Hatice Sultan had hindered these attempted murders.[11]

She accompanied Mehmed, Turhan Sultan, Prince Mustafa and Mehmed's sisters, together with a large entourage, in processions marking the Polish war in 1672 and 1673. In 1683, she joined a similar large entourage in a procession marking the siege of Vienna. Gülnus also established networks of support within the imperial court. She allied with Yusuf Agha, the chief eunuch of the imperial harem at that time. He addition, was the administrator of the pious foundation that she founded in 1680 and provided income for a hospital and public kitchens in Mecca. Moreover, Gülnus's chamberlain, Mehter Osman Agha, was an apprentice and protégé of Yusuf Agha.[12]

Gülnus also enjoyed close relations with Feyzullah Efendi, who served as tutor to her son Mustafa. These relations still remained even after the disastrous collapse of the siege of Vienna in 1683 as a result of which his influence at the court fell sharply. Thus, in an incident dating to 1686, when he let his horse gaze in the royal garden, it was decided that he had to be punished. Gülnus intervened to save him and he was assigned a new post. In 1672, Amcazade Hüseyin, nephew of Koprülü Mehmed Pasha, met Mehmed and Gülnus on the way to the Polish war. He later joined her household serving therein for an extended period and became her chief billeting officer in 1682. She also played a role in determining the careers of various statesmen, including the grand vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha. After the failure after the siege of Vienna in 1683, he was stripped of his office and executed, after a considerable lobbying effort of Gülnus and the court eunuchs. She also had influence during the vizierate of Fazil Ahmed Pasha, which rose after Kara Mustafa Pasha's execution.[13]

As Valide Sultan[edit]

First reign[edit]

She became Valide in 1695 when her older son Mustafa II became the Sultan. She held the position during the reign of two sons. When Mustafa II was dethroned in 1703 the populace blamed Gülnuş, for his preference for Edirne over Constantinople as a place of residence and for the general confusion of life in the capital.

She of course had more freedom of movement and contacts than the kadıns. Quite often she accompanied her son. She visited her daughters in their palaces, took part in the wedding of her daughter Fatma Sultan at the side of her son, visited her daughter Hatice Sultan in company of the sultan, after she had given birth to a daughter. She looked at parades, visited Eyüb, received the Grand vizier and the Şeyhüislam and accepted invitations by the Grand vizier and the Bostancıbaşı (with her son). She had hass (private domains) and a Kethüda (steward) who administered them for her. Mustafa kept close contacts with his mother, he honored her demonstratively whenever there was an occasion, he sent her information, asked for her well being and received many, many horses as gifts from her. He even prohibited that anybody should stay in a house in Çorlu, between Constantinople and Edirne, in which his mother had spent a night.[16]

Second reign[edit]

She did have some political importance. In 1703, she was asked to confirm and approve of the succession of her other son, Ahmed III, to the throne, which she also did. Ahmed III thought it prudent to keep her out of sight until the feeling against her had died down. And, so on her return from Edirne, she went to the Old Palace for a time.

She is also attributed to having advised her son to the war with Russia in 1711. In 1709, king Charles XII of Sweden settled in Bender within the Ottoman Empire during his war with Russia. He wished the sultan to declare war against Russia and form an alliance with Sweden. The sultan was rumoured to listen to the advice of his mother, who had a large influence over him. Charles sent Stanislaw Poniatowski and Thomas Funck as his messengers.[17] They bribed a convert named Goin, formerly a Frenchman, who worked as a doctor in the palace. Goin arranged a meeting with the personal slave of the Valide, a Jewish woman, who they gave a personal letter to the Valide.[17] They were also introduced to the Hungarian eunuch Horwath, who became their propaganda person in the harem. The Valide became intrigued by Charles, took an interest in his cause, and even corresponded with him in Bender.[17] On 9 February 1711, Turkey declared war against Russia, as the sultan had been advised to by his mother, who convinced him that Charles was a man worth taking a risk for.


Among Gülnuş's projects was a complex of buildings which included a mosque, soup kitchen, school, fountain and tomb, built in Üsküdar. She also sponsored the transformation of a church in Galata into a mosque and building of five fountains with which clean water was finally made available to the area. She also made endowments in Edirne, Chios, Mecca, Medina, Kastamonu, and Menemen. After the reconquest of the island of Chios in 1695, a church was converted into a mosque in her name. She also constructed a fountain next to the mosque in Chios.[18]


Interior of the dome of the Yeni Valide Mosque (Emetullah Râbi'a Gülnûş Sultan Mosque) in Üsküdar, Istanbul.

Gülnuş Sultan died on 6 November 1715 in Istanbul during the reign of her son Ahmed III just before the start of the era of prosperity and peace called the Tulip (Lâle) Era by the Turkish historians. She is buried at a tomb that is open to sky, that is near the mosque she bequeathed to be built at Üsküdar on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, called the Yeni Valide Mosque.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Sakaoglu, however, she belonged to a Venetian family called Verzini which had settled the town.[20]
  1. ^ She is either called Rabia Gül-Nuş, Emetullah Gül-Nuş or Mah-Pāra Ummatullāh Rābi'ā Gül-Nush (in full).[21]
  2. References[edit]

    1. ^ Verlag, K.G. Saur – Çıkar, Jutta R. M. (2004). Türkischer biographischer Index. Saur. p. 417. ISBN 3-598-34296-9. Rabia Gülnus; Emetullah Rabia Gülnûş Sultan as wefl (c. 1642 (1052) - 6 November 1715)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
    2. ^ "Sultan II. Mustafa Han". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
    3. ^ "Sultan III. Ahmed Han". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
    4. ^ M. Orhan Bayrak (1998). İstanbul'da gömülü meşhur adamlar: VIII. yüzyıl-1998. Mezarlıklar Vakfı. p. 178.
    5. ^ a b c Baker 1993, p. 146.
    6. ^ Freely, John (2000). Inside the Seraglio: private lives of the sultans in Istanbul. Penguin. p. 163. Mehmet had by now set up his own harem, which he took with him in his peregrinations between Topkapi Sarayi and Edirne Sarayi. His favourite was Rabia Gülnûş Ummetüllah, a Greek girl from Rethymnon.
    7. ^ Narodna biblioteka "Sv. sv. Kiril i Metodiĭ. Orientalski otdel, International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, Research Centre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture (2003). Inventory of Ottoman Turkish documents about Waqf preserved in the Oriental Department at the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library: Registers, Volume 1 of Inventory of Ottoman Turkish Documents about Waqf Preserved in the Oriental Department at the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library, Rumen Kovachev. Narodna biblioteka "Sv. sv. Kiril i Metodiĭ.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
    8. ^ FATEMA MERNISSI (2013). Nasci num Harém. Leya. ISBN 978-9-892-32324-4.
    9. ^ Fatema Mernissi (2011). The harem and the West, New storytellers. Giunti Editore. ISBN 978-8-809-76641-9.
    10. ^ Jennifer Harding (2009). Emotions: a cultural studies reader. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-46930-2.
    11. ^ Necdet Sakaoğlu (2007). Famous Ottoman women. Avea. p. 155. rumor that Gulnus ordered the strangulation of Sultan's favorite concubine Gulbeyaz in Kandilli Palace, as a fact, in his book 'Kadmlar Saltanati'. Some writers stress the fact that Gulnus was a ruthless person claiming that she attempted to have her husband's brothers Suleyman and Ahmed strangled after she gave birth to her firstborn Mustafa, but that Mother Sultan Turhan had hindered these attempted murders.
    12. ^ Gordan & Hain 2017, p. 109-10.
    13. ^ Gordan & Hain 2017, p. 110.
    14. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu mülkün kadın sultanları: Vâlide sultanlar, hâtunlar, hasekiler, kadınefendiler, sultanefendiler. p. 285. ISBN 978-9-753-29623-6..
    15. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu mülkün kadın sultanları: Vâlide sultanlar, hâtunlar, hasekiler, kadınefendiler, sultanefendiler. pp. 266–269. ISBN 978-9-753-29623-6..
    16. ^ Majer, Hans Georg (1992). The Journal of Ottoman Studies XII: The Harem of Mustafa II (1695-1703). p. 441.
    17. ^ a b c Herman Lindquist (in Swedish): Historian om Sverige. Storhet och Fall. (History of Sweden. Greatness and fall) 91-7263-092-2 (2000) Nordstedts förlag, Stockholm
    18. ^ Gordon & Hain 2017, p. 116-7.
    19. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu mülkün kadın sultanları: Vâlide sultanlar, hâtunlar, hasekiler, kadınefendiler, sultanefendiler. pp. 375–6. ISBN 978-9-753-29623-6.
    20. ^ Sakaoglu, Necdet (1999). Bu Mülkün Sultanlari. Oglak. pp. 303, 315. ISBN 975-329-299-6. His mother was harem girl Rabia Gulniş who was of Venetian Verzini family settled in the city of Resmo in Crete.
    21. ^ Uluçay, M. Çağatay (2011). Padişahların kadınları ve kızları. Ötüken. p. 105. ISBN 978-9-754-37840-5.


    • Baker, Anthony E. (1993). The Bosphorus. Redhouse Press. p. 146. ISBN 975-413-062-0.
    • Gordon, Matthew S.; Hain, Kathryn A. (2017). Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-190-62218-3.
    Ottoman royalty
    Preceded by
    Turhan Sultan
    (among others)
    Haseki Sultan
    4 August 1683 – 8 November 1687
    Succeeded by
    Rabia Sultan
    Preceded by
    Aşub Sultan
    Valide Sultan
    6 February 1695 – 6 November 1715
    Succeeded by
    Saliha Sultan