Bezmiâlem Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: بزم عالم سلطان; c. 1807 – 2 May 1853; meaning "Ornament of the Universe" in Persian) was the ninth consort of Sultan Mahmud II, and Valide Sultan to their son, Sultan Abdulmejid I of the Ottoman Empire.
|Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire|
|Tenure||2 July 1839 – 2 May 1853|
|Died||2 May 1853 (aged 45–46)|
Beşiktaş Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
(present day Istanbul, Turkey)
(m. 1822; died 1839)
|House||Machabeli (by birth)|
Ottoman (by marriage)
Bezmiâlem Sultan was born in 1807 in Georgia. She belonged to the Machabeli princely family. She had been educated by Esma Sultan, a sister of Mahmud II, and was said to have been buxom and a bath attendant before entering the imperial harem. She had a beautiful face and extraordinary white and beautiful hands. She married Sultan Mahmud in 1822, and was given the title of "Fifth Kadın". On 25 April 1823, she gave birth to her only son, Şehzade Abdulmejid. (later Abdulmejid I) 
As Valide SultanEdit
Bezmiâlem became Valide Sultan, after Abdulmejid I, ascended to the throne in 1839. One source says that Mahmud died of alcoholism, rather than tuberculosis, and she is reported to have convinced Abdulmejid to destroy his father's wine cellars.
She was thirty one and was still young enough to despise and mistrust the elder non statesman who had made himself minister. She was known for her extremely pale complexion and her reddish blonde hair. She was slender, with very good looking fingers. She was very pale. She looked very young when she became the Valide Sultan. She advised her son to allow Koca Hüsrev Mehmed Pasha to incur the odium of seeking terms from Muhammad Ali of Egypt but urged him to resist the Grand Vizier's attempts to advance his nominees to important offices of the state. Abdulmejid duly played for time, awaiting Mustafa Reşid Pasha's return from England before taking any major decisions on policy. She gave a sound counsel. So shrewd was her judgement of men and their motives that she continued to influence the choice of ministers until shortly before her death fourteen years later. She also recommended Reşid to Abdulmejid because she believed he understood what Mahmud had been seeking to achieve in his reform programme.
In 1842, Abdulmejid ordered the pavilion "Kasr-i Dilküşa" (Happy Heart Palace) for her at the Yıldız Palace complex. Charles White reported in 1844 that the revenues of Bezmiâlem came partly as an annuity from the civil list, and partly from real property, "the fruits of gifts and accumulation". He estimated her entirely yearly income at 100, 000 British pounds.
Bezmiâlem was a lady of deep religious conviction, and benevolent nature. She belonged to the Naqshbandi, a major Sunni spiritual order of Sufism. She was a believer, and follower of the Indian Muhammad Jan (died 1850). Muhammad Jan was active as of the 1830s and succeeded in gaining many followers in Istanbul. She also taught the orthodox principles of the Naqshbandi to Abdulmejid.
Influence over AbdulmejidEdit
A considerable influence was exercised over Abdulmejid by Bezmiâlem. Both her dominant position in the harem and her special position with regard to her son are shown by the letters which she wrote to him when he was on a trip in Anatolia in 1850. She tells how his family watched him leave.
At other times that the kadıns, were all asking for him; that she had herself taken the children to the bath; that every one prayed for him. She wanted news of his health. She had passed out the cloth he had sent to the kadıns, and to his sisters and brother. She wrote of the birth of twin sons to one of his ikbals, and finally letters of joy telling of the preparations for his return.
Patroness of architectureEdit
Like other influential Ottoman women, Bezmiâlem was a patron of arts and architecture. In 1845, she commissioned a wooden bridge at the Golden Horn, known as the Cisr-i Cedid (New Bridge), and Valide Bridge. The same year, she commissioned the "Gurebâ-yi Müslimîn" hospital, fountain, and a mosque in Yenibahçe. She also built another "Gurebâ-yi Müslimîn" hospital in Mecca.
Bezmiâlem commissioned Çeşmes (fountains) throughout Istanbul. The first was built in Beşiktaş-Maçka in 1839, just after Abdulmejid ascended the throne. The second was built in 1841 in the Uzunyusuf neighborhood of Silivrikapı. The third known as the "Ülçer Fountain" was built in the Ülçer neighborhood of Sultanahmet in 1843. The same year she built another fountain in Topkapı. In 1846, another fountain was built in the Cihannüma neighbourhood of Beşiktaş. In 1852–3, another fountain was built in Tarabya. Two another were built in Alibeyköyü, and near the Galata Tower known as the "Bereketzade Fountain".
She also repaired the fountain of Abdullah Agha in Silivrikapı in 1841, another fountain in Kasımpaşa also in 1841, and Mehmed the Conqueror's fountain in Topkapı in 1851. She also commissioned three Sebils. Two in Medina; one on the road to the grave of Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib, and another in 1851 near to the above-mentioned one, outside the Damascus Gate, in the vicinity of the so-called Sebil Bahçesi. A third was built in the courtyard of the shrine of Husayn ibn Ali in Karbala.
In 1850, Bezmiâlem founded the Dârülmaârif (Valide School), near the mausoleum of her husband, Sultan Mahmud. It was an institution that prepared civil servants for both government offices, and the demand for Dârülfünun. She also established a lithography printer in this school and donated 546 volumes of valuable writing books to its library. Since 1933, the Istanbul Girls High School continues its education in this school. A primary school was also opened near it. She also founded another school in Beykoz, and another primary school in 1841 in the Akşı neighborhood of Edirnekapı Molla.
Bezmiâlem also founded the Dolmabahçe Mosque near the Dolmabahçe Palace. Garabed Balyan, and his son Nigoğayos Balyan designed the mosque. The mosque consists of a small though lofty dome prayer hall that is preceded by an extensive, truly palatial looking pavilion. The architecture is Neoclassical through and through, with the two minarets designed as Corinthian columns up to their balconies. The construction of the mosque began before her death was completed after her death.
Bezmiâlem Sultan died in the Beşiktaş Palace on 2 May 1853, of Tuberculosis then raging in Istanbul and was buried in the mausoleum of her husband Sultan Mahmud II located on the Divanyolu Street, Istanbul.
Together with Mahmud, Bezmiâlem had one son:
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