Halime Sultan

Halime Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: حلیمه سلطان, "the gentle one" or "the patient one") was a consort of Sultan Mehmed III, and the mother of Sultan Mustafa I. The first woman to be Valide Sultan twice and the only to be Valide twice of a same son. She had at least four children with Mehmed: two sons Şehzade Mahmud and Mustafa I, and two daughters Hatice Sultan and Şah Sultan. She was de facto co-ruler as Valide Sultan from 22 November 1617 to 26 February 1618 and from 19 May 1622 to 10 September 1623, because her son was mentally instable. Halime was also one of the prominent figures during the era known as the Sultanate of Women.

Halime Sultan
Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
First tenure22 November 1617 – 26 February 1618
PredecessorHandan Sultan
SuccessorHerself (1622)
Second tenure19 May 1622 – 10 September 1623
PredecessorHerself (1618)
SuccessorKösem Sultan
Bornc. 1570
Abkhazia, Ottoman Empire
Diedafter 1623
Eski Saray , Beyazıt Square, Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Mustafa I Mausoleum, Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul
SpouseMehmed III
IssueŞehzade Mahmud
Hatice Sultan
Şah Sultan
Mustafa I
ReligionSunni Islam , previously Eastern Orthodox

Halime lived in the Ottoman empire as a courtier during the reign of six Sultans: Murad III, Mehmed III, Ahmed I, Mustafa I, Osman II, Murad IV.

Early lifeEdit

Of Georgian or Abkhazian origin,[1][2] Halime Sultan[3] married Mehmed, when he was still a prince and the governor of Saruhan (Manisa) Sanjak. After Sultan Murad III's death in 1595, she came to Istanbul along with Mehmed. In Istanbul, her son Mahmud was very popular with the janissaries. However, Halime never was Haseki Sultan and was not favored by her mother-in-law Safiye Sultan, who favorited Handan Hatun. [4]

She sent a message to a religious seer for she was superstitious, and anxious to know if her son would become the next Sultan, and how much longer her husband would reign. The seer responded, but the message was intercepted by Abdürrezzak Agha, the chief black eunuch of the imperial harem, and who later gave it to Mehmed and Safiye, instead of her.[5] The message said that Mehmed would die within six months without showing whether by death or deposition, and her son will become the next Sultan. Safiye incensed Mehmed, and he had Mahmud executed, who indeed knew nothing of his mother's action.[6]

Mahmud's followers who were supposed to be involved in the matter were thrown into the sea. It was also rumored that she was also executed. However, she was sent to the Eski (old) Palace located at the Beyazıt Square by the end of June.[5] Mehmed died just six months after Mahmud's death. On Friday January 9, Safiye Sultan, along with Şehzade Mustafa were also send to the Eski Palace.[7] Between Mehmed's death and Mustafa's enthronement her stipend consisted of 100 aspers a day.[8]

As Valide SultanEdit

First tenureEdit

When Mustafa ascended the throne in 1617 she became the Valide Sultan and wielded a great power. While she, as a consort of Mehmed, had suffered the same obscurity as Handan Sultan, she was clearly able to command greater status as Valide Sultan than her fellow consort had. This was probably in large measure because she exercised power more directly, acting as regent for her mentally incompetent son as his mental condition unimproved . No one had expected that Mustafa, who suffered from severe emotional problems, would become sultan, and so she had not enjoyed a position of much status within the imperial harem. She received 3,000 aspers although her mother-in-law Safiye Sultan was still alive.[9] Her fellow consort Handan Sultan received only 1,000 aspers as Valide Sultan. Kösem Sultan the Haseki Sultan to Ahmed I his favorite consort and legal wife lost her position in Topkapi Palace and she retired in the Old palace after Mustafa I ascended.

She had a potential ally in Kara Davud Pasha, but during Mustafa's first reign which lasted for only three months, she was unable to exploit her relationship by appointing Davud Pasha vizier. One of the few political alliances the valide was able to forge with her son's sword-bearer, Mustafa Agha, a high ranking inner palace officer, who was brought out of the palace and awarded the prestigious and strategically vital post of governor of Egypt on condition that he would marry the Sultan's wet nurse.[10] Within a few months the pasha was brought back to Istanbul as grand vizier.[11][12][13]

Osman's reignEdit

Later, Mustafa was dethroned and his nephew Osman II ascended the throne due to Mustafa's mental condition. Mustafa was sent back to the kafes. She and her daughter Şah were sent to the Eski Palace.[14] However, she received only 2,000 aspers during her retirement to the Old Palace between her son's two reigns; during the first months of her retirement Safiye was still alive, perhaps a neighbour in the Old Palace, receiving 3,000 aspers a day.[14] Also Kösem Sultan the Haseki Sultan to Ahmed I his favorite consort and his legal wife received 1,000 aspers a day during her retirement in the Old Palace. From her location in the Old Palace, she was a key figure in the deposition and assassination of Osman II and showed that she was no stranger to the art of damat politic.[15] The basic and exceptional weakness from which Osman II suffered was the conspicuous absence of a female power basis in the harem. From 1620 until Osman's death, a governess (daye hatun, lit. wet-nurse) was appointed as a stand-in valide, and she could not counterbalance the contriving of Halime Sultan in the Old Palace.

Second tenureEdit

Seeking a counterweight to Janissary influence, Osman II closed their coffee shops and started planning to create a new and more loyal army consisting of Anatolian sekbans. The result was a palace uprising by the Janissaries which was supported by Halime Sultan as she wanted to free her son from his confinement and become the Valide Sultan once again . Later on 18 May 1622 Osman was again dethroned and the rebels, meanwhile, broke into the imperial palace and freed Mustafa from his confinement and acclaimed him as their master. She once again returned from the Old Palace and became the Valide Sultan. Some of the janissaries consulted with her about the appointments to be made and it was in fact her son-in-law, Kara Davud Pasha, who became the grand vizier. The faction committed to the cause of Mustafa and she could not feel secure while Osman II was alive. Their uneasiness was well grounded, since some of the rebels wished to spare Osman, hoping no doubt to make no use of him for their own ends at some future date. Kara Davud Pasha had recourse, therefore to the last extreme measure on 20 May 1622, Osman II was strangled in the prison of Yedikule in Istanbul.[16][17][18]

Murad's enthronementEdit

After Osman's death, the governor general of Erzurum, Abaza Mehmed Pasha, decided to advance to Istanbul to settle the score with the murderers of Osman II. Kara Davud Pasha was chosen as a scapegoat and was executed in an attempt to modify the discontent and preempt the rebellions that were building up in the empire, but to no avail: Mehmed Pasha, despite the offers made by the emissaries from the capital, continued his advance. Faced with an ever-deepening crises, clerics and the new Grand Vizier Kemankeş Kara Ali Pasha petitioned her to agree to the deposition of her son in favour of eleven year old Şehzade Murad, the oldest surviving son of Ahmed I. She concurred, only pleading that her son's life be spared. Accordingly, Mustafa was dethroned and incarcerated again.[1]


She died after 1623 and she was buried in the mausoleum of her son in Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul.[3][19]


Together with Mehmed, Halime had at least four children, two sons and two daughters:



  • Hatice Sultan (1588?, Manisa Palace, Manisa – 1613, Constantinople), married firstly in 1604 to Damat Mirahur Mustafa Pasha, married secondly in 1612 to Sultanzade Mahmud Pasha, son of Cigalazade Sinan Pasha and Saliha Hanimsultan (daughter of Ayşe Hümaşah Sultan, granddaughter of Sultan Suleyman I). She died shortly after this marriage.[22]
  • Şah Sultan (1590?, Manisa Palace, Manisa – after 1623, Constantinople) , married in 1604 (consummated in March 1606) to Kara Davud Pasha, later Grand Vizier. They had a son and a daughter.[22]

In popular cultureEdit

In the 2015 TV series Muhteşem Yüzyıl: Kösem, Halime Sultan is portrayed by Turkish actress Aslıhan Gürbüz.[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Ga ́bor A ́goston, Bruce Alan Masters. New York: Facts on File (January 1, 2009). Günhan Börekçi. "Mustafa I." Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. p. 409. ISBN 978-1-438-11025-7.
  2. ^ M. Sadık Bilge (2005). Osmanlı devleti ve Kafkasya: Osmanlı varlığı döneminde Kafkasya'nın siyasî-askerî tarihi ve idarî taksimâtı, 1454-1829. Eren Yayıncılık.
  3. ^ a b c Börekçi, Günhan. Factions And Favorites At The Courts Of Sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603-17) And His Immediate Predecessors. pp. 65 and n. 96.
  4. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 231.
  5. ^ a b Börekçi, Günhan. İnkırâzın Eşiğinde Bir Hanedan: III. Mehmed, I. Ahmed, I. Mustafa ve 17. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Siyasî Krizi - A Dynasty at the Threshold of Extinction: Mehmed III, Ahmed I, Mustafa I and the 17th-Century Ottoman Political Crisis. p. 78.
  6. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 231-2.
  7. ^ Shaw, Stanford J.; Shaw, Ezel Kural (October 29, 1976). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Volume 1, Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1280-1808. Cambridge University Press. pp. 186. ISBN 978-0-521-29163-7.
  8. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 129.
  9. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 127.
  10. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 145.
  11. ^ Dorothy O. Helly, Susan Reverby (1992). Gendered Domains: Rethinking Public and Private in Women's History : Essays from the Seventh Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Cornell University Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-801-49702-5.
  12. ^ Stern (August 21, 2013). Scented Garden. Routledge. p. 397. ISBN 978-1-136-20632-0.
  13. ^ Anne Walthall (2008). Servants of the Dynasty: Palace Women in World History. University of California Press. pp. 91. ISBN 978-0-520-25444-2.
  14. ^ a b Leslie P. Peirce (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. Oxford University Press. pp. 126–127. ISBN 978-0-195-08677-5.
  15. ^ Gabriel Piterberg (2003). An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play. University of California Press. pp. 14. ISBN 978-0-520-93005-6.
  16. ^ Elli Kohen (2007). History of the Turkish Jews and Sephardim: Memories of a Past Golden Age. University Press of America. p. 211. ISBN 978-0-761-83600-1.
  17. ^ Gabriel Piterberg (2003). An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play. University of California Press. pp. 78. ISBN 978-0-520-93005-6.
  18. ^ A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730. CUP Archive. p. 137.
  19. ^ Haber, Internet (2016-06-02). "Halime Sultan kimdir hayatı bakın nasıl öldü!". www.internethaber.com (in Turkish). Retrieved 2022-01-05.
  20. ^ Baki Tezcan - The Debut of Kosem Sultan’s Political Career (2008)
  21. ^ Günhan Börekçi - Factions and Favorites at the Courts of Sultan Ahmed I and His Immediate Predecessors (2010), p.64
  22. ^ a b Tezcan, Baki. The Debut Of Kösem Sultan's Political Career. p. 357.
  23. ^ In the series she is depicted as the mother of three children, Sehzade Mahmud, Mustafa I and Dilruba Sultan (invented name because, when the series was filmed, the names of Mehmed III's daughters were not known. The name of the corresponding historical princess is now known as Sah Sultan).


Ottoman royalty
Preceded by Valide Sultan
22 November 1617 – 26 February 1618
19 May 1622 – 10 September 1623
Succeeded by