Valide sultan

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Valide Sultan of
the Ottoman Empire
BustOfAyseHafsaSultan ManisaTurkey.jpg
A bust of Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, first Valide Sultan
Style Valide Sultanefendi
Residence Topkapı Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace
Yıldız Palace
Formation 1522
First holder Ayşe Hafsa Sultan
Final holder Rahime Perestu Sultan
Abolished 1904

Valide Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: والده سلطان‎) was the title held by the "legal mother" of a ruling Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. 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] Normally, this title was held by the living mother of a reigning sultan. The mothers who died before their sons' accession to the throne were never bestowed with the title of valide sultan. In special cases, there were grandmothers, stepmothers, or even sisters of a reigning sultan who assumed the title valide sultan.


Valide (والده) literally meaning "mother" in Ottoman Turkish. The Turkish pronunciation of the word valide is [vaː.liˈde].

Sultan (سلطان) is a word Arabic origin, originally meaning "authority" or "dominion". By the beginning of the 16th century, this title, carried by both men and women of the Ottoman dynasty, was replacing other titles by which prominent members of the imperial family had been known (notably hatun for women and bey for men). Consequently, the title valide hatun (title for living mother of the reigning Ottoman sultan before 16th century) also turned into valide sultan. This usage underlines the Ottoman conception of sovereign power as family prerogative.

Western tradition knows the Ottoman ruler as "sultan", but the Ottomans themselves used "padişah" (emperor) or "hünkar" to refer to their ruler. The emperor’s formal title consisted of "sultan" together with "khan" (for example, Sultan Suleiman Khan). In formal address, the sultan’s children were also entitled "sultan", with imperial princes (Şehzade) carrying the title before their given name, with imperial princesses carrying it after. Example, Şehzade Sultan Mehmed and Mihrimah Sultan, son and daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent. Like imperial princesses, the living mother and main consort of reigning sultans also carried the title after their given names, for example, Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, Suleiman’s mother and first valide sultan, and Hürrem Sultan, Suleiman’s chief consort and first haseki sultan. The evolving usage of this title reflected power shifts among imperial women, especially between Sultanate of Women, as the position of main consort eroded over the course of 17th century, the main consort lost the title "sultan", which replaced by "kadin", a title related to the earlier "khatun". Henceforth, the mother of the reigning sultan was the only person of non imperial blood to carry the title "sultan".[2]

Role and position[edit]

Valide sultan 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"),[3] 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 son's) and state staff.[1] Valide sultan also traditionally had access to considerable economic resources and often funded major architectural projects. 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.[4]

The Sultanate of Women began with Hürrem Sultan (1502–1558) and was continued by Mihrimah Sultan (1522-1578) and then Nurbanu Sultan (1525–1583), mother of Murad III. The most powerful and well-known of all valide sultans and haseki sultans in the history of the Ottoman Empire were Hürrem Sultan, Mihrimah Sultan, Nurbanu Sultan and Kösem Sultan (1589–1651).

Most 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.[5]

List of Valide Sultans[edit]

The list does not include the complete list of mothers of the Ottoman sultans. Most who held the title of valide sultan were the biological mothers of the reigning sultans. The mothers who died before their sons' accession to throne, never assumed the title of valide sultan, like Hürrem (Khurram), Hatice (Khadija) Muazzez, Emine (Aminā) Mihr-î-Şâh, Râbi'a Sharmi, Tîr-î-Müjgan, Gül-Cemâl, and Gülistan Münire. In special cases, there were grandmothers, stepmothers, or even sisters of the reigning sultans who assumed the title of valide sultan, like Nakş-î-Dil (Naksh-î-Dil), Mahpeyker Kösem, Mihrimah, and Rahîme Piristû (Perestû).

Name Maiden Name Origin Became Valide Ceased to be Valide Death Sultan(s)
Ayşe Hafsa Sultan
عائشه حفصه سلطان
Crimean Khanate princess.[6][7][8][9][10] Daughter of Meñli I Giray, Crimean Khan 30 September 1520
son's ascension
19 March 1534 Suleiman the Magnificent (son)
Mihrimah Sultan
مهر ماه سلطان
Ottoman imperial princess. Daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hürrem Sultan 7 September 1566
brother's ascension
15 December 1574
brother's death
then became co-valide until her death
25 January 1578 Selim II (younger brother)
Afife Nurbanu Sultan
نور بانو سلطان
Cecilia Vernier-Baffo[11] or
Rachel Olivia de Nasi[12]
Venetian or
15 December 1574
son's ascension
25 January 1578
full authority as valide sultan
7 December 1583 Murad III (son)
Safiye Sultan
صفیه سلطان
Sofia Baffo Albanian 15 January 1595
son's ascension
22 December 1603
son's death
10 November 1618 Mehmed III (son)
Handan Sultan Helena Greek 22 December 1603
son's ascension
26 November 1605 Ahmed I (son)
Halime Sultan[13]
حلیمہ سلطان
Altunşah Abkhaz 22 November 1617
son's ascension
(first tenure)
26 February 1618
son's deposition
(first tenure)
1623 Mustafa I (son)
19 May 1622
son's reinstatement
(second tenure)
10 September 1623
son's deposition
(second tenure)
Mahpeyker Kösem Sultan Anastasia Greek. Born on Tinos, Republic of Venice 10 September 1623
son's ascension
2 September 1651 Murad IV (son)
Ibrahim (son)
Mehmed IV (grandson)
Turhan Hatice Sultan Nadia Ruthenian 2 September 1651
mother-in-law's death
4 August 1683 Mehmed IV (son)
Saliha Dilaşub Sultan Katarina Serb[14] 8 November 1687
son's ascension
4 December 1689 Suleiman II (son)
Emetullah Rabia Gülnuş Sultan Evmania Voria Greek 6 February 1695
son's ascension
6 November 1715 Mustafa II (son)

Ahmed III (son)

Saliha Sultan Alexandra[15] Greek.[16] Born in Istanbul 20 September 1730
son's ascension
21 September 1739 Mahmud I (son)
Şehsuvar Sultan Maria Serb[17] 13 December 1754
son's ascension
April 1756 Osman III (son)
Mihrişah Sultan Agnes Georgian 7 April 1789
son's ascension
16 October 1805 Selim III (son)
Ayşe Seniyeperver Sultan Sonia Bulgarian 29 May 1807
step-son's ascension
28 Juy 1808
step-son's deposition
11 December 1828 Mustafa IV (step-son)[18]
Nakşidil Sultan Possibly Aimée du Buc de Rivéry[19] French noble. Cousin of Napoleon's wife Josephine 28 July 1808
step-son's ascension
22 August 1817 Mahmud II (step-son)
Bezmiâlem Sultan Suzanne Russian Jewish[20] or Georgian Jewish descent[21] 2 July 1839
son's ascension
2 May 1853 Abdülmecid I (son)
Pertevniyal Sultan Hasna Khater Circassian 25 June 1861
son's ascension
30 May 1876
son's deposition
5 February 1883 Abdülaziz I (son)
Şevkefza Sultan
شوق افزا سلطان
Vilma Georgian. Born in Russian Empire 30 May 1876
son's ascension
31 August 1876
son's deposition
17 September 1889 Murad V (son)
Rahime Perestu Sultan Rahime Gogen Circassian 31 August 1876
step-son's ascension
11 December 1905 Abdul Hamid II (step-son)[22][23]

Exceptional cases[edit]

Normally, living mother of reigning sultan held title Valide Sultan. But in exceptional cases, there were women's who didn't held this title when their sons became Sultan.

Name Maiden Name and Origin Period[24] Son Note
Mahfiruz Hatice Eudoxia. Serb[17] 26 February 1618 (son's ascension) – 26 October 1620 (her death) Osman II Privy Purse registers no Valide Sultan during Osman's reign. What seems like that Mahfiruz fell into disfavour, was banished from the palace at some point before Osman's accession, and never recovered her status. Banishment in disgrace would explain both Mahfiruz's absence from the palace and her burial in the popular shrine of Eyüb rather than in her husband's tomb. The Venetian ambassador Contarini reported in 1612 that the sultan had had a beating administrated to a woman who had irritated Kösem, perhaps this woman was Mahfiruz[2]
Nükhetsezâ Georgian 29 May 1807 (son's ascension) – 28 July 1808 (son's deposition) Mustafa IV Since Ayşe Seniyeperver was the first consort of the deceased Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid I Khan, Nükhetsezâ was not allowed to be a Valide Sultan
Reconstructed scene of a Valide Sultan and her attendants in her apartments at Topkapı Palace.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Davis, Fanny (1986). "The Valide". The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918. ISBN 0-313-24811-7. 
  2. ^ a b Peirce, Leslie P. (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. ISBN 0-19-507673-7. 
  3. ^ "Muslims can celebrate Mothers Day because honoring your mother comes right after worshipping God.". 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  4. ^ Peirce, Leslie P., The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-508677-5 (paperback)
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Istanbul Tour Guide Top 10: a travel guide and tour as with the best local guide. WanderStories. ISBN 978-9-949-51624-7. Hafsa Sultan was most likely the daughter of Mengli Giray 
  7. ^ Kasaba, Reşat. A moveable empire: Ottoman nomads, migrants, and refugees. University of Washington Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-295-80149-0. Hafsa Sultan, the daughter of the Crimean ruler Mengli Giray Khan. 
  8. ^ Peter G. Bietenholz, Thomas Brian Deutscher (2003). Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation, Volumes 1-3. University of Toronto Press. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-802-08577-1. Suleiman i (Solymannus), known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent, was the son of *Selim i and Hafsa Sultan, the daughter of Mengli Giray 
  9. ^ Halil İnalcık, Cemal Kafadar (1993). Süleymân The Second [i.e. the First] and his time. Isis Press. she was a Tatar, a daughter of the Crimean Khan Mengli Giray 
  10. ^ Carolus Bovillus (2002). Lettres et poèmes de Charles de Bovelles: édition critique, introduction et commentaire du ms. 1134 de la Bibliothèque de l'Université de Paris. Champion. ISBN 978-2-745-30658-6. 
  11. ^ Valeria Heuberger, Geneviève Humbert, Geneviève Humbert-Knitel, Elisabeth Vyslonzil, Cultures in Colors, page 68. ISBN 3-631-36808-9, 2001
  12. ^ Godfrey Goodwin, The Private World of Ottoman Women, Saqi Book, ISBN 0-86356-745-2, ISBN 3-631-36808-9, 2001. page 128,
  13. ^ According to sources, the name of Mustafa I'mother was undetermined, but popularly known with name Halime or Alime
  14. ^ İnal & Arşivi 2005, p. 27, "Siileyman'in annesi Sirp Katrin yani Dilasiip Hatun".
  15. ^ İnal & Arşivi 2005, p. 27, "Mahmutun annesi Aleksandra yani Saliha Sultan".
  16. ^ Meram 1977, p. 347.
  17. ^ a b Meram 1977, p. 355, "İkinci Mustafa'nın (Şehsuvar Sultan) takma adlı câriyesi Sırp kızı Mari'den doğan oğlu Üçüncü Osman", İnal & Arşivi 2005, p. 27, "Osman'in annesi Sirp Mari yani §ehsiivar Sultan"
  18. ^ Yavuz Bahadıroğlu, Resimli Osmanlı Tarihi, Nesil Yayınları (Ottoman History with Illustrations, Nesil Publications), 15th Ed., 2009, page 395, ISBN 978-975-269-299-2
  19. ^ Christine Isom-Verhaaren, Royal French Women in the Ottoman Sultans' Harem: The Political Uses of Fabricated Accounts from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century, Journal of World History, vol. 17, No. 2, 2006
  20. ^ Meram 1977, p. 393, "Bezmiâlem Sultan ... Rus Yahudisin".
  21. ^ Palmer, Alan, The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire, p.106. Barnes & Noble Publishing, 1992. ISBN 1-56619-847-X
  22. ^ Brookes, Douglass Scott, The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher, p.287. University of Texas Press, 2008. ISBN 0-292-71842-X
  23. ^ "Sultan II. Abdülhamid Han". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  24. ^ The period that she had to be a Valide Sultan


External links[edit]