Mahidevran Sultan

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Mahidevran Sultan
Spouse Suleiman the Magnificent
Issue Şehzade Mustafa
Raziye Sultan[citation needed]
Father Idar of Kabardia or Abdullah Recai
Mother Nazan Hatun (wife of Idar)
Born c. 1500
Albania or Caucasus
Died 3 February 1580 (aged 79–80)
Bursa, Ottoman Empire
Burial Muradiye Complex, Bursa
Religion Islam

Mahidevran Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: ماه دوران سلطان‎, c. 1500[1] – 3 February 1580, birth name Malhurub Baharay or Rosne Pravane, other names Gülbahar, Gülbehar, Gülfrem, Gülden) was a wife of Suleiman the Magnificent[2][3] and the mother of Şehzade Mustafa and Raziye Sultan[citation needed].


Mahidevran’s name (Turkish pronunciation: [ˌmaːhidevˈɾan], Ottoman Turkish: ماه دوران‎) means "one who is always beautiful", "one whose beauty never fades" or "beauty of the times". Another meaning of her name is "Moon of Fortune."[4] It was Suleiman who named her Gülbahar (Turkish pronunciation: [ɟylbaˈhaɾ]), with gül meaning 'rose' and bahar meaning 'spring' in Turkish and Persian.

Origins and early life[edit]

Little is known of Mahidevran’s early life. Her ethnical background is a matter of controversy. She was either an Albanian or Circassian,[3][4] Theories of her origins are:

  • According to one source, she was originally named Rosne Pranvere and the daughter of Abdullah Recai, a wealthy Albanian musician.[5] Turkish drama Muhteşem Yüzyıl, also follows this view.[6]

She had three sisters Fatma Şahıdevran, Akile Rühşah and Belkıs Hüsnümah Hatun and a brother, Mustafa Pasha. She also had three half brothers, Mirza Temruk Bey, Mirza Kambulat Bey and Mirza Şelegot Bey. She was also related to Şemsiruhsar Hatun, Alime Sultan, Mahfiruz Hatice Sultan and Hümaşah Sultan the wives of Sultans Murad III, Mehmed III, Ahmed I and Ibrahim, through her brother, Mustafa Pasha.

Life with Suleiman[edit]

When Selim I died in 1520, Suleiman moved to Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, along with his family to ascend the throne. Between 1512 and 1525 she bore her husband five children, Şehzade Mustafa in 1515 and Raziye Sultan in 1524[citation needed]. In 1521 Suleiman lost his two other sons, nine-year-old Mahmud and the toddler Murad, Mustafa became the eldest of his princely generation.[4] In the Istanbul harem, Mahidevran Sultan had a very influential rival, Hürrem Sultan, who soon proved to be Suleiman’s favorite consort (first Haseki Sultan) as well as his legal wife.[4]

Hürrem gave birth to her first son Mehmed in 1521 (who died in 1543) and then Selim (future Sultan Selim II) in 1524, destroying Mahidevran’s status of being the mother of the sultan’s only son.[19] The rivalry between the two women was partially suppressed by Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, Suleiman’s mother,[20] but after her death in 1534, as a result of the bitter rivalry a fight between the two women broke out, with Mahidevran beating Hürrem. This angered Suleiman, who subsequently sent Mahidevran to live with her son.[4]

Foreign observers of the Ottomans, especially the ambassadors of the Venetian Republic followed Ottoman dynastic politics closely.[4] Their comments about Mahidevran glimpses of the vital role played by a prince's mother and of her necessary devotion to this welfare.[4] Pietro Bragadin, ambassador in the early years of Suleiman's reign, reported that while both were still resident in the imperial palace in Istanbul, Mustafa was his mother's "whole joy".[4]

Mustafa's provincial posts[edit]

According to Turkish tradition, all princes were expected to work as provincial governors (Sanjak-bey) as a part of their training. Mustafa was sent to Manisa in 1533, in the formal ceremony and Mahidevran accompanied him.[4] Describing his court at Kara Amid (Diyarbakır) near the Safavid border, Bassano wrote around 1540 that the prince had "a most wonderful and glorious court, no less than that of his father" and that "his mother, who was with him, instructs him in how to make himself loved by the people."[4] At some point Mustafa returned to Manisa, and in 1542 he moved to Amasya.[4] By 1546 three more of Suleiman's sons were in the field, and the competition for the succession began among the four princes, although the sultan would live for another twenty years.[4] The ambassador Bernado Navagero, in a 1553 report, described Mahidevran's efforts to protect her son: "Mustafa has with him his mother, who exercises great diligence to guard him from poisoning and reminds him everyday [sic?] that he has nothing else but this to avoid, and it is said that he has boundless respect and reverence for her."[4]

Mustafa was an immensely popular prince. When he was only nine, that Venetian ambassador had reported that "he has extraordinary talent, he will be warrior, is much loved by the Janissaries, and performs great feats."[4] In 1553, when Mustafa was thirty eight years old, Navagero wrote, "It is impossible to describe how much he is loved and desired by all as successor to the throne."[4] Towards the end of Suleiman’s long reign, the rivalry between his sons became evident. Furthermore, both Hürrem Sultan and the grand vizier Rüstem Pasha turned him against Mustafa and Mustafa was accused of causing unrest. During the campaign against Safavid Persia in 1553, Suleiman ordered the execution of Mustafa.[21] According to a source he was executed that very year on charges of planning to dethrone his father; his guilt for the treason of which he was accused has since been neither proven nor disproven.[4]

Up until the very end of her son's life, Mahidevran endeavored to protect Mustafa from his political rivals, and most probably maintained a network of informants in order to do so.[4] The ambassador Trevisano related in 1554 that on the day Mustafa was executed, Mahidevran had sent a messenger warning him of his father's plans to kill him. Mustafa unfortunately ignored the message; according to Trevisano, he had consistently refused to heed the warnings of his friends and even his mother.[4]

Later years and death[edit]

The tomb of "Mahidevran" is located inside the Türbe of Şehzade Mustafa in Muradiye Complex, Bursa.

For several years after her son’s execution, Mahidevran lived a troubled life.[4] Mahidevran went to Bursa, where her son was buried and became the last woman to retire to Bursa.[4] Less fortunate than her predecessors and presumably disgraced by her son's execution, she was unable to pay the rent on the house in which she lived, and her servants were taunted and cheated in the local markets.[4] Mahidevran's situation improved towards the end of Suleiman's reign when her debts were paid at the sultan's orders and a house was purchased for her, possibly by Suleiman's sole surviving son, Mustafa's half brother Selim.[4]

Her last years, however, were not in poverty, for Selim II, the new sultan after 1566 as well as her stepson, put her on a salary.[4] Her rehabilitation may have been possible only after the death of her rival, Hürrem, in 1558.[4] Financially secure at last, Mahidevran had enough income to create an endowment for the upkeep of her son's tomb, which was built by Selim.[4] She died in 1580 and was buried in Mustafa's tomb.[19]

Depictions in literature and popular culture[edit]

In the 2003 TV miniseries, Hürrem Sultan, Mahidevran was played by Turkish actress Hatice Aslan. In the 2011-2014 TV series Muhteşem Yüzyıl, Mahidevran Sultan is portrayed by Turkish actress Nur Fettahoğlu.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Ailesinin ağzından Mahidevran’ın hikâyesi". Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. 
  2. ^ Ghada Hashem Talhami (2013). Historical Dictionary of Women in the Middle East and North Africa. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-810-86858-8. Her elevation to this rank opened a period of great hostility between her and the first wife, Mahidevran, the mother of the heir to the throne. 
  3. ^ a b John Freely (2001). Inside the Seraglio: private lives of the sultans in Istanbul. Penguin. The bailo also noted that Mustafa was the 'whole joy' of his mother Mahidevran, who was still Siileyman's birinci kadin, though she had been supplanted as haseki by Roxelana. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Leslie P., Peirce (1993). "Wives and Concubines: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries". The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. 198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016-4314: Oxford University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-19-508677-5. 
  5. ^, pp 204-205. (Rosne Pranvere was the daughter of Abdullah Recai, a wealthy Albanian musician)
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c An interview with Saide Perizat (Turkish)
  8. ^ André Clot, Matthew Reisz (2005). Suleiman the Magnificent. Saqi. ISBN 978-0-863-56510-6. 
  9. ^ Mahidevran’s Circassian descent was mentioned in the Venetian reports discussed below: e.g., "la circassa" (Navagero); "una donna circassa" (Trevisano). By some other accounts, she was of a Montenegrin origin, but it is not proven.
  10. ^ Eugenio Alberi, ed. Relazioni degli ambasciatori veneti al Senato, ser. 3: Relazioni degli stati ottomani, 3 vols (Firenze [Florence: Società editrice fiorentina], 1840–1855), 1: 74–5, 77; 3: 115.
  11. ^ Y. İzzettin Barış, Osmanlı padişahlarının yaşamlarından kesitler, hastalıkları ve ölüm sebepleri, pg.84
  12. ^ Dr Galina I Yermolenko, Roxolana in European Literature, History and Culture, pg.2
  13. ^ Marie Broxup (1996). The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World. Hurst. ISBN 978-1-850-65305-9. According to an Italian source, the first wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was "una donna circassa". 
  14. ^ Mahidevran Hatun is described as follows: Mahidevran Gülbehar binti Mirza Haydar Temruk Bey, Mahidevran binti Haydar Abdullah, Gülbahar binti Abdulmennan Tamrok, Fatma Mahidevran binti Çerkes Haydar Bey, Mahidevran Gülden binti Temrukzade Mirza Haydar, Bosforlu Malhurub Hatun binti Haydar Abdullah, Mahidevran Malhurub binti Bosfor Temrok
  15. ^ Genealogy of the princely family of "Cherkassky" (Part I)
  16. ^ Genealogy of the princely family of "Cherkassky" (Part II)
  17. ^ Genealogy of the princely family of "Cherkassky" (Ottoman Turkish)
  18. ^ Genealogy of the princely family of "Cherkassky" (Turkish)
  19. ^ a b Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire
  20. ^ Selçuk Aksin Somel: Historical Dictionary of the Ottoman Empire, Oxford, 2003, ISBN 0-8108-4332-3, p. 123
  21. ^ Lord Kinross: The Ottoman Centuries, (Trans. by Nilifer Epçeli) Altın Kitaplar, İstanbul, 2008, ISBN 978-975-21-0955-1 p. 233.