Turhan Hatice Sultan

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Turhan Hatice Sultan
تورخان خدیجہ سلطان
Turhan Sultan.jpg
19th century painting by L. Secuilin
Naib-i-Sultanat of the Ottoman Empire
Regency2 September 1651 – 1656
PredecessorKösem Sultan
MonarchMehmed IV
Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Tenure2 September 1651 – 4 August 1683
PredecessorKösem Sultan
SuccessorAşub Sultan
Haseki Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
(Imperial Consort)
Tenure2 January 1642 – 12 August 1648
PredecessorAyşe Sultan
SuccessorGülnuş Sultan
Ruthenia (modern day Russia , Ukraine and Belarus)
Died4 August 1683(1683-08-04) (aged 55–56)
Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire
IssueMehmed IV
Atike Sultan
ReligionIslam, previously Eastern Orthodox

Turhan Hatice Sultan (c. 1627 – 4 August 1683; Turhan meaning "of Mercy"), was Haseki Sultan of the Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim (reign 1640–48) and Valide Sultan as the mother of Mehmed IV (reign 1648–87). Turhan Hatice was prominent for the regency of her young son and her building patronage. She and her mother-in-law, Kösem Sultan, are the only two women in Ottoman history to be regarded as official regents and had supreme control over the Ottoman Empire. Turhan Hatice herself was the only one in Ottoman history to equally share the power of running the entire empire with Ottoman Sultan legally, although in fact she transferred her political power to the grand vizier. As a result, Turhan became one of the prominent figures during the era known as Sultanate of Women.

Early life[edit]

Turhan Hatice, whose original name is Nadia, was believed to be of Ruthenian origin (either Russian, Ukrainian, or Belarusian) like Hurrem Sultan.[1] She was captured as a child during a Crimean slave raid in Rus' and sold into slavery in the Ottoman Empire. When she was about 12 years old, Turhan was sent to the Imperial Harem at the Topkapı Palace as a gift, from the Khan of Crimea, to the mother of Sultan Ibrahim, Kösem Sultan.[2][3]

As consort[edit]

It was probably Kösem Sultan who gave Hatice to the Sultan as a concubine. Turhan would bear Ibrahim a son, the future sultan Mehmed IV, on 2 January 1642,[4] as well as a daughter, Atike Sultan.[5]

Yeni Mosque in Eminönü, Istanbul, (Its construction was begun during the regency of Safiye Sultan and completed during the regency of Turhan Hatice Valide Sultan, the mother of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV ).

Turhan Hatice was one of the eight Haseki Sultans of Ibrahim I. However, she was not his legal wife. She was ranked in the Harem as the chief consort of the Sultan, since she was the mother of his eldest son. Turhan was known for her ruthless personality and her love of power and ambition. As a result, her husband repudiated her, especially after his legal marriage to Hümaşah Sultan, which made Turhan furious and her hatred to her husband grew. As a result, Turhan plotted the downfall and subsequently the execution of the Sultan with Valide Kösem Sultan, who admired Turhan's power and ambition, to put her young son, prince Mehmed IV, on the Ottoman throne so Turhan can become Valide Sultan herself. However, Kösem didn't allow Turhan to officially become regent after her husband's execution in 1648, and instead Kösem appointed herself official regent of the empire. Turhan, who was betrayed by Kösem's greed for the title of Valide Sultan and regent even though this title should have belonged to Turhan since she was the mother of the reigning young Sultan, plotted for the execution of her mother-in-law and successfully had Kösem strangled in 1651, achieving the titles that eluded her, and becoming the queen mother of the Ottoman empire.

As Valide Sultan[edit]

Mehmed's accession[edit]

Ibrahim's behaviour sparked talks of deposing the sultan. On August 8, 1648, Ibrahim was dethroned and several days later he was strangled.[6] At the head of the Ottoman Empire stood the child sultan, Mehmed IV. With Mehmed's ascendancy, the position of Valide Sultan ("mother of the reigning sultan") should have gone to Turhan. However, Turhan was overlooked due to her youth and inexperience. Instead, the sultan's grandmother and the previous Valide Sultan, Kösem Sultan, was reinstated to this high position. Kösem Sultan was a Valide (mother) under two sons, thus having the more experience of the two women.[7]

However, Turhan turned out to be too ambitious a woman to lose such a high position without a fight. In her struggle to become Valide Sultan, Turhan was supported by the chief black eunuch in her household and the grand vizier, while Kösem was supported by the Janissary Corps. Although, Kösem's position as Valide was seen as the best for the government, the people resented the influence of the Janissaries on the government.[8]

In this power struggle, Kösem planned to dethrone Mehmed and replace him with another young grandson. According to one historian, this switching had more to do with replacing an ambitious daughter-in-law with one who was more easily controlled. The plan was unsuccessful as it was reported to Turhan by Meleki Hatun, one of Kösem's slaves.[8] Whether Turhan sanctioned it or not, Kösem Sultan was murdered three years after becoming regent for her young grandson.[9]

As regent[edit]

With the death of her rival, Turhan became the Valide Sultan. As a regent, Turhan wielded great power. She accompanied her son the sultan to important meetings and on several occasions spoke from behind her curtained sitting place. She was deeply loved and respected by her son, the sultan. He considered her as his co-ruler of the empire and gave her great power, regarding her the official empress of the empire. She was the only Valide Sultan in history to equally share the power of running the entire empire with her son, surpassing even Kösem in the fullness of her power. Due to her inexperience, Turhan relied on other members of the government to advise her on political matters. This is evident from her correspondence to the grand viziers.[10]

Turhan’s regency was marred by at least two factors: the war with the Venetians for the island of Crete, and the financial crisis that arose from the high expenses of waging war. Weak grand viziers did not improve the situation. However, in 1656 Köprülü Mehmed Pasha was appointed to the position of grand vizier. His condition upon accepting the post was that he be given greater authority than his predecessors.[11] Thus, Turhan transferred her political power to that of the grand vizier.


By providing the grand vizier with great authority, Turhan limited her own power on the political stage. However, she channeled her energies into other architectural projects.

Her first building project began in 1658. Perhaps in answer to the Venetian threat, the Valide built two fortresses at the entrance to the Dardanelles. The fortresses, one on the European side and the other on the Asian side, can still be seen today. Mehmed the Conqueror and other sultans also built fortresses in the same area.[12]

Turhan also built the Yeni Mosque in Istanbul. The initial construction was started by one of Turhan's predecessors, Safiye Sultan. She had chosen the commercial quarter of the city, Eminonü, as the location of the mosque. This area was inhabited by non-Muslims. By building a new mosque in Eminönü, Safiye wanted to Islamize the area.[13] To build on this site meant that land had to be appropriated from the local non-Muslim residents, an act that had not gone smoothly.[14] In the year 1597, the first stones were laid. At the death of Safiye's son, Mehmed III, the construction of the mosque stopped as she was no longer the Valide. The construction was abandoned for 57 years, but was restarted after the area was devastated by the Great Fire of 1660.[15] Turhan decided to complete what had been started by Safiye Sultan. After its completion in 1665, the complex contained not only the mosque, but also a school, public fountains, a market, and a tomb.[16] The Yeni Mosque was the first imperial mosque built by a woman.[17]

Turhan was the last woman to wield such great power as to act as a regent to a young son.[18] As women were not seen in public in the Ottoman Empire, it was through her patronage of building that Turhan showed herself to her subjects.


Turhan Hatice, Valide Sultan and regent to her young son, Mehmed IV, died in 1683. She was buried in the tomb of the Yeni Mosque. She lies alongside her son and her descendants.[19] She was considered the last of the great valide sultans.[20] Her death marked the end of the period known as the Sultanate of Women.

In popular culture[edit]

In 2015, Turkish historical fiction TV series Muhteşem Yüzyıl: Kösem, Turhan is portrayed by Turkish actress Hande Doğandemir.[21]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Peirce, Leslie P. The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Thys-Senocak, Lucienne. Ottoman Women Builders. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.


  1. ^ Afyoncu; Uğur Demir, Erhan (2015). Turhan Sultan. Istanbul: Yeditepe Yayınevi. p. 27. ISBN 978-605-9787-24-6.
    • Baer, Marc David (2008). Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-19-979783-7.
  2. ^ Thys-Senocak, p. 17
  3. ^ Baer, Marc David (2008). Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-19-979783-7.
  4. ^ Thys-Senocak,p.25
  5. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu mülkün kadın sultanları: Vâlide sultanlar, hâtunlar, hasekiler, kadınefendiler, sultanefendiler. Oğlak Yayıncılık. pp. 260–262.
  6. ^ Thys-Senocak,p.26
  7. ^ Peirce, p.250
  8. ^ a b Peirce, p.252
  9. ^ Kadıoğlu, Muhsin (2016-10-17). THE TURKISH INFLUENCES ON THE MOST FAMOUS EUROPEAN LADIES. Muhsin Kadıoğlu.
  10. ^ Peirce, p.253
  11. ^ Peirce,p.255-256
  12. ^ Thys-Senocak, p.109
  13. ^ Thys-Senocak,p.186
  14. ^ Thys-Senocak,p.189-192
  15. ^ Thys-Senocak,p.195-196
  16. ^ Peirce,p.206
  17. ^ Peirce, p. 206
  18. ^ Peirce,p.258
  19. ^ Peirce,p.207
  20. ^ Peirce, Leslie P. The imperial harem : women and sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. New York. ISBN 0195076737. OCLC 27811454.
  21. ^ "Hande Doğandemir, Tugay Mercan ve Müge Boz, Muhteşem Yüzyıl Kösem kadrosunda!". ranini.tv (in Turkish). Retrieved 2017-11-05.
Ottoman royalty
Preceded by
Ayşe Sultan
Haseki Sultan
2 January 1642 – 12 August 1648
concurrently with Aşub, Muazzez, Hümaşah, Ayşe, Mahıenver, Șivekar, and Leyla Saçbağlı
Succeeded by
Rabia Gülnuş Sultan
Preceded by
Kösem Sultan
Valide Sultan
2 September 1651 – 4 August 1683
Succeeded by
Aşub Sultan
2 September 1651 – 1656

Ruthenian people