Mihrimah Sultan

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Mihrimah Sultan
مهر ماه سلطان
İmparator Süleyman’ın Kızı Cameria (Mihrimah Sultan).jpg
Portrait by Cristofano dell'Altissimo titled Cameria Solimani, 16th century
Bornc. 1522 (1522)
Constantinople (Istanbul), Ottoman Empire
Died25 January 1578(1578-01-25) (aged 55–56)
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Rüstem Pasha
(m. 1539; died 1561)
IssueAyşe Hümaşah Sultan
Sultanzade Osman
FatherSuleiman the Magnificent
MotherHurrem Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam

Mihrimah Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: مهر ماه سلطان‎, Turkish pronunciation: [mihɾiˈmah suɫˈtan]) (c. 1522 – 25 January 1578) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife, Hurrem Sultan.[1][2] She was the most powerful imperial princess in Ottoman history and one of the prominent figures during the Sultanate of Women.


Mihrimah[i] Sultan's name means "Light of the Moon" in Persian. To Westerners, she was known as Cameria, which is a variant of "Qamariah", an Arabic version of her name meaning "of the moon". Her portrait by Cristofano dell'Altissimo entitled as Cameria Solimani.

Other Ottoman imperial princesses who also named “Mihrimah” and also Mihrimah Sultan's close relative were:

  • Mihrimah's niece, daughter of Şehzade Bayezid (son of Suleiman the Magnificent; Mihrimah's younger full-brother)
  • Mihrimah's grandniece, daughter of Murad III (son of Selim II; Mihrimah's nephew)


A letter that was written by Mihrimah Sultan to Sigismund II Augustus in 1548

Mihrimah was born in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1522 during the reign of her father, Suleiman the Magnificent. Her mother was Hurrem Sultan, an Orthodox priest's daughter, who was the current Sultan's concubine at the time. In 1533 or 1534, her mother, Hurrem, was freed and became Suleiman's legal wife.[3]

On 26 November 1539 in Istanbul at the age of seventeen, Mihrimah was married to Rüstem, a devshirme from Croatia who rose to become Governor of Diyarbakır and later, Suleiman's Grand Vizier.[4] Her wedding ceremony and the celebration for her younger brother Bayezid's circumcision occurred on the same day.[5] Five years later, her husband was selected by Suleiman to become Grand Vizier. Though the union was unhappy, Mihrimah flourished as a patroness of the arts and continued her travels with her father until her husband's death. Mihrimah Sultan and Rüstem Pasha had two children: Osman and Hümaşah.[6]

Political affairs[edit]

Mihrimah traveled throughout the Ottoman Empire with her father as he surveyed the lands and conquered new ones. In international politics, Hurrem Sultan sent letters to Sigismund II, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the contents of her letters were mirrored in letters written by Mihrimah, and sent by the same courier, who also carried letters from the sultan and her husband Rüstem Pasha the Grand Vizier.[2] Therefore, it is most probable that Hurrem and Mihrimah were well known even among ordinary Ruthenians.[7]

Although there is no proof of Hurrem or Mihrimah's direct involvement in her half-brother Şehzade Mustafa's downfall, Ottoman sources and foreign accounts indicate that it was widely believed that Hurrem, Rüstem and Mihrimah worked first to eliminate Mustafa so as ensure the throne to Hurrem's son and Mihrimah's full-brother, Bayezid.[2] The rivalry ended in a loss for Mustafa when he was executed by his own father's command in 1553 during the campaign against Safavid Persia because of fear of rebellion. Although this stories were not based on first-hand sources,[3] this fear of Mustafa was not unreasonable. Had Mustafa ascended to the throne, all Mihrimah's full-brothers (Selim, Bayezid, and Cihangir) would have likely been executed, according to the fratricide custom of the Ottoman dynasty, which required all brothers of the new sultan be executed to avoid feuds among imperial siblings.[7]

Mihrimah also became Suleiman's advisor, his confidant and his closest relative, especially after Suleiman's other relatives and companions died or were exiled one by one, like Mustafa (executed in October 1553), Mahidevran (lost her status in the palace after Mustafa's death and went to Bursa), Cihangir (died in November 1553), Hurrem (died in April 1558), Rüstem (died in July 1561), Bayezid (executed in September 1561), and Gülfem (died in 1561 or 1562). After Hurrem's death, Mihrimah took her mother's place as her father's counselor, urging him to undertake the conquest of Malta and sending him news and forwarding letters for him when he was absent from capital.[2]

Economic power[edit]

Beside her great political intelligence, Mihrimah also had access to considerable economic resources and often funded major architectural projects. She promised to build 400 galleys at her own expense to encourage Suleiman in his campaign against Malta. When her brother ascended to the throne as Selim II, she lent him some 50,000 gold sovereigns to sate his immediate needs.

Mihrimah also sponsored a number of major architectural projects. Her most famous foundations are the two Istanbul-area mosque complexes that bear her name, both designed by her father's chief architect, Mimar Sinan. Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Turkish: Mihrimah Sultan Camii), also known as İskele Mosque (Turkish: Iskele Camii), which is one of Üsküdar's most prominent landmarks and was built between 1546 and 1548. The second mosque is also named as Mihrimah Sultan Mosque at the Edirne Gate, at the western wall of the old city of Istanbul. Its building took place from 1562 to 1565.

Her Kira has sometime been identified[according to whom?] as Strongilah or Esther Handali.


The twin minaret mosque complex in Üsküdar, a prominent landmark, consisted of a mosque, a madrasah, a soup kitchen to feed the poor, a clinic and a primary school. With the exception of the mosque, the primary school, library and madrasah are currently used to serve as an outpatient clinic. The mosque in Edirnekapı consists of a fountain, madrasah and hammam. Unlike its namesake, it features a single minaret.[8][9]

Later life and death[edit]

Mihrimah Sultan was buried next to her father Suleiman the Magnificent inside his türbe at Süleymaniye Mosque

Mihrimah's life was uncertain after Selim's death in 1574. Some say she lost all her power and retired at the Old Palace. However it is most likely that Mihrimah kept her position at Topkapı Palace and continued to share her power with Nurbanu, the new Valide Sultan, until her own death, and was the only Imperial Princess to be ranked with Nurbanu Sultan (Murad's mother) and above Safiye Sultan (Murad's wife) in the royal court.

Mihrimah died in Istanbul on 25 January 1578 during the reign of her nephew Murad III, outliving all of her siblings. She is the only one of Suleiman's children[6] to be buried in his tomb, the Süleymaniye Mosque complex.[8]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Alternate spellings are Mihrumah, Mihr-î-Mâh, Mihrî-a-Mâh or Mehr-î-Mâh.


  1. ^ "The Imperial House of Osman: Genealogy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2006.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Peirce, Leslie P. (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508677-5.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b Yermolenko, Galina (April 2005). "Roxolana: "The Greatest Empresse of the East". DeSales University, Center Valley, Pennsylvania. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[page needed]
  4. ^ Vovchenko, Denis (18 July 2016). Containing Balkan Nationalism: Imperial Russia and Ottoman Christians, 1856-1914. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-061291-7.
  5. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 123.
  6. ^ a b Schull, Edited by Christine Isom-Verhaaren and Kent F. (11 April 2016). Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253019486.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b Yermolenko, Galina I. (1988). Roxolana in European Literature, History and Culture. Ashgate Publishing Limited.[page needed]
  8. ^ a b "Notable life of Mihrimah Sultan". DailySabah. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  9. ^ Uluçay 1992, p. 67.
  10. ^ "Muhteşem Yüzyıl'ın Mihrimah Sultan'ı Pelin Karahan 10 dakikada boşandı - Son Dakika Magazin Haberleri | STAR". Star.com.tr (in Turkish). Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  11. ^ Atamian, Christopher (8 June 2015). "'The Architect's Apprentice,' by Elif Shafak". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  12. ^ "The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak, book review: The domes of". The Independent. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2017.


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