Kösem Sultan

Kösem Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: كوسم سلطان;[a] c. 1589[1] – 2 September 1651[2]), also known as Mahpeyker Sultan[3][4] (Persian: ماه پيكر;[b] lit.'Visage of the Moon'), was the chief consort and legal wife of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I, valide sultan as the mother of sultans Murad IV and Ibrahim, and büyük ("elder") valide of Sultan Mehmed IV since 1649. She was one of the most powerful and influential woman in Ottoman history, as well as a central and prominent figure during the period known as the Sultanate of Women.[5]

Kösem Sultan
Nāʾib-i Salṭanat
Umm al-Muʾminīn
Ṣāḥibet al-Maḳām
Kösem portrait (cropped).jpg
Portrait attributed to Hans Ludwig Graf von Kuefstein after an original, c. 1650–1699
Valide sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Tenure10 September 1623 – 2 September 1651
Haseki sultan of the Ottoman Empire
(Imperial Consort)
Tenure26 November 1605 – 22 November 1617
Regent of the Ottoman Empire
First tenure10 September 1623 – 18 May 1632
MonarchMurad IV
Second tenure8 August 1648 – 2 September 1651
MonarchMehmed IV
Bornc. 1589[1]
Tinos, Republic of Venice (now Greece)
Died2 September 1651(1651-09-02) (aged 61–62)
Topkapı Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Turkey)
(m. 1605; died 1617)
Turkish: Kösem Sultan
Ottoman Turkish: كوسم سلطان
HouseOttoman (by marriage)
ReligionSunni Islam, previously Greek Orthodox Christian

Born in Tinos, Republic of Venice to a Greek Orthodox priest, she was kidnapped and sold as a slave in Bosnia before being sent to the Imperial Harem in Constantinople, the Ottoman capital. There she rose to prominence, becoming the favorite of Sultan Ahmed I, who later married her and made her his legal wife. Over time, her influence over the sultan grew, and she became his most trusted advisor. Historians credit her with persuading Ahmed to spare the life of his younger half-brother, Mustafa, thus putting an end to the centuries-old practice of fratricide in the Ottoman Empire. After Ahmed died in 1617, she was instrumental in the enthronement of Mustafa I. Upon Osman II's ascension, she was briefly banished to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı).

As a courtier to Ahmed I, Mustafa I, Osman II, Murad IV, Ibrahim and Mehmed IV, Kösem amassed immense notoriety and affection among her subjects, wielding unparalleled political power and influencing the empire's foreign and domestic policy. Her early years as regent were marked by turbulence and instability, which began when the Safavid Empire annexed much of Iraq and captured Baghdad in 1624, dragging the Ottomans into a 16-year conflict with the Safavids that sparked a series of rebellions, incursions, revolts, and independence movements across the Ottoman Empire. During escalating tensions between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice in the 1640s, she and her allies were blamed for pressuring Ibrahim to launch a naval assault on the Venetian-controlled island of Crete. She had to contend with a Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles, which culminated in the naval Battle of Focchies in 1649, as well as merchant uprisings sparked by a financial crisis in the years that followed.

Her life was not without controversy, as some historians questioned her intents and motivations for espousing the Janissaries' cause during her 28 years of power. Some also claimed that she had accumulated a great fortune through illegitimate means. She did, however, put the money she acquired from her lands and income to good use, undertaking charitable works and construction projects as tangible manifestations of the dynasty's concern for its subjects. That is why, in the aftermath of her brutal assassination which provoked rioting and the execution of hundreds of men in Constantinople,[6] she was referred to by the names: "Vālide-i Muazzama" (magnificent mother), "Vālide-i Maḳtūle" (murdered mother), and "Vālide-i Şehīde" (martyred mother).[7]


Map of Tinos (Tine) by Giacomo Franco, 1597

Kösem was of Greek descent,[1][8] the daughter of a Greek Orthodox priest on the Aegean isle of Tinos whose maiden name was Anastasia.[9][10][11]

In 1604, at the age of 14 or 15, she was kidnapped by Ottoman raiders and bought as a slave in Bosnia by the beylerbey (governor-general) of the Bosnia Eyalet.[12] Her beauty and intelligence were noticed by the kizler agha of Sultan Ahmed I's court,[13] who despatched her to Constantinople to join a cohort of other slave girls to be trained in the Imperial Harem as an imperial court lady.[14][15]

Upon her arrival at the Imperial Harem, she was taught religion, theology, mathematics, embroidery, singing, music and literature.[16] According to sources, she was tall, slender, and appealing due to the whiteness of her complexion and the deep brown of her eyes.[17] Ahmed was captivated by her beauty and intelligence, and in 1605, she became his leading haseki and legal wife. According to the Italian traveler Pietro Della Valle, upon her conversion to Islam, her name was changed to Mahpeyker,[18] and later by Ahmed to Kösem,[15] meaning "leader of the herd", implying her political intelligence and leadership, but it might also mean "hairless", in allusion to her smooth and hairless skin.

Kösem rose to prominence early in Ahmed's reign as part of a series of changes to the hierarchy of the Imperial Harem. Safiye Sultan, Ahmed's once-powerful grandmother and manager of the harem, was deprived of power and banished to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı) in January 1604, and Handan Sultan, Ahmed's mother and valide sultan, died in November of the following year. These two vacancies allowed her to rise to the top of the Imperial Harem hierarchy.[4]

Haseki sultanEdit

Portrait of Ahmed I (by John Young, 1815)

As haseki sultan to Ahmed, he favored her above all his concubines, lavishing on her the finest jewels from his hoard.[19] Her stipend consisted of 1,000 aspers a day.[20] In the early years of their marriage, she bore Ahmed 4 daughters: Ayşe Sultan, Fatma Sultan, Hanzade Sultan and Gevherhan Sultan. As the mother of several princesses, she had the right to arrange their political marriages. One of her daughters, Ayşe Sultan, was married to Nasuh Pasha in 1612 at the age of seven.[4] That same year, Gevherhan Sultan was married to Öküz Kara Mehmed Pasha at the age of five.[21] Venetian ambassador Simon Contarini, the bailo between 1609 and 1612, mentions Kösem in his report in 1612 and portrays her as:

"[A woman] of beauty and shrewdness, and furthermore ... of many talents, she sings excellently, whence she continues to be extremely well loved by the king ... Not that she is respected by all, but she is listened to in some matters and is the favorite of the king, who wants her beside him continually."[4]

George Sandys, an English traveller who was visiting Constantinople in the early 1610s, recorded Kösem's name as "Casek Cadoun" (haseki kadın) and believed that she was "a witch beyond beauty." He claimed that the sultan had a "passionate" love for Kösem, emphasizing that this was the result of witchcraft. Sandys goes on to characterize her as a woman with "a delicate and at the same time shy nature."[22]

Efforts in the abolition of fratricideEdit

Kösem's interest in succession did not pass unnoticed by contemporary observers after the birth of her firstborn son Murad in 1612, and it is possible that the significant modifications in the pattern of succession to the throne from a system of primogeniture to one based on agnatic seniority owed something to her efforts. Since fratricide was a common practice, she feared that if the throne went to one of the sultan's sons, it would go to the eldest, Osman, whose mother, Mahfiruz Hatun, may have been regarded by Kösem as a rival intent on lobbying in favor of her own son. She feared that Mahfriuz would compel Osman to execute her sons—Murad, Süleyman, Kasım and Ibrahim—if he succeeded his father, so she made efforts to keep her half-brother-in-law Mustafa safe from execution.[23]

Simon Contarini reported in the same year that Kösem "lobbied to spare Mustafa the fate of fratricide with the ulterior goal of saving her own son from the same fate."[24] Thus, by letting the brother of the sultan live, the "queen" was trying to make sure that Mustafa, if he happens to become sultan, would spare the life of her sons. Contarini does not mention the name Kösem but talks about a "queen" (regina).[25] Moreover, Kösem was able to use her close alliance with Mustafa Agha, the Agha of the Janissaries, and his client Nasuh Pasha (her son-in-law) to wield influence over the sultan.[26]

Contarini also reported that the sultan ordered a woman to be beaten for having irritated Kösem, which may have been Mahfiruz herself.[27] The latter would later be banished to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı), probably in the mid-1610s.[27] After that incident, Kösem and her stepson Osman grew fond of each other. She used to let him join her in carriage rides, where he showed himself to the crowd when she made excursions into Constantinople. The reports of the Venetian bailos note that on these excursions, Osman enjoyed throwing handful of coins to the passers-by who flocked to see the young prince, while his stepmother Kösem remained concealed behind a curtain. Eventually Ahmed interfered with this relationship between Osman and Kösem; the Venetian ambassador Bertuccio Valier reported in 1616 that the sultan did not allow the two eldest princes (Osman and Mehmed) to converse with Kösem.[24] His motive perhaps, as Valier speculated, was fear that the princes' security was threatened by Kösem's well-known ambitions for her own sons, and to prevent rumors about a grownup prince's indecency in socializing with a woman who was neither his mother nor his sister.[27]

The Grand Vizier Nasuh Pasha, Kösem's son-in-law as the spouse of her daughter, Ayşe Sultan, was executed on the orders of Ahmed in 1614, Kösem herself tried to stop her husband from taking such action, but to no avail.[28] Thus, she lost an important ally in the government. From that point on, she probably concentrated her efforts on keeping Mustafa alive.[29]

Kösem's influence over the sultan increased in the following years, and it is said that she acted as one of his advisers.[4] Reporting in 1616 claims that Kösem was the most valuable ally to be had in Constantinople because of her sway over the sultan, Valier claims that her pro-Venetian policy and contributions to Venice's good standing must be appropriately rewarded.[30] The bailos also noted that Ahmed was deeply devoted to Kösem.[31] However, she refrained from involving herself constantly in serious issues as the sultan refused to be overshadowed by his wife. According to Valier in 1616:

"Her circumspection was presumably intended at averting the sultan's displeasure, who was keen to avoid seeming ruled by a woman, as his father had been. She can do what she wishes with the King and possesses his heart absolutely, nor is anything ever denied to her."

Contarini further notes that Kösem "restrains herself with great wisdom from speaking [to the sultan] too frequently of serious matters and affairs of state."[4] Throughout her career as haseki sultan, she was accused of trying to save her own position and influence throughout her long career "rather than that of the sultan or of the dynasty".[32]

Ahmed's reign is noteworthy for marking the first breach in the Ottoman tradition of royal fratricide; henceforth Ottoman sultans would no longer systematically execute their brothers upon accession to the throne.[33]

Death of Ahmed IEdit

On Ahmed's early death from typhus and gastric bleeding on 22 November 1617, Kösem was the head of a faction that supported Mustafa's accession to the throne.[34] Through her bribery and influence, Kösem successfully manoeuvred to place Ahmed's half-brother Mustafa on the throne. She probably feared for her sons' life, should their older half-brother, Osman, become sultan and have them executed. Therefore, it is more likely that she preferred Mustafa to become sultan as he would not see her sons as a threat.[35]

Reign of Mustafa IEdit

Mustafa proved feeble and incompetent, as he was the second sultan (after Ahmed I) to ascend to the throne without any prior experience in governing. He had spent his entire life in the harem, learning only what the eunuchs and women could teach him, and constantly fearing execution at the hands of the ruling sultans, with several palace officials, particularly the Chief Black Eunuch Mustafa Agha, nourishing these fears to control him. Eventually, the Chief Black Eunuch Mustafa Agha spread stories that he was insane and secured his deposition on 26 February 1618, just 96 days after ascending to the throne, and was replaced by Osman, the eldest son of Ahmed and his deceased mother Mahfiruz Hatun.[36]

Osman's first act as sultan was to eliminate power from Mustafa's supporters, as well as those who had secured his accession and planned to rule over him. As a result, Kösem and her entourage were banished to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı).[37]

Retirement at the Old PalaceEdit

During Osman II's reign and Mustafa I's second reign, Kösem and her 8 children settled at the Old Palace.[36]

Due to the emergence of seniority as the principle of succession, which meant that a prince's mother might mark time in the Old Palace between the death of her sultan and the accession of her son, Kösem was able to maintain her haseki status and daily stipend of 1,000 aspers during her retirement there; still, after the end of Kösem's tenure as haseki, the position lost its prominence.[38] During her retirement, she had the opportunity to meet Safiye Sultan.[32]

Reign of Osman IIEdit

In 1619, Osman acted against Ottoman conventions by paying his stepmother Kösem a three-day visit at the Old Palace, during which he took part in her festivities, thus manifesting his special fondness for her.[39] He had also given Kösem the income of eight villages in the north-west of Athens as a present, which she had incorporated into her waqf, which provided services to pilgrims traveling from Damascus to Mecca.[40] Kösem may have cultivated this relationship with the intent that she could use her influence to persuade him to spare her sons. Indeed, when as Osman departed on the Polish campaign of 1621, he executed only Mehmed, the eldest of his younger brothers, who was not one of Kösem's sons.[27] His uncle Mustafa remained alive, as did Osman's younger brothers, protected by Kösem. Even if their relation was cultivated, though, it did not yield consequential results for the young sultan, whose most exceptional weakness was the lack of a valide sultan to lobby in his favour.[24] He did, however, felt uneasy with Kösem's involvement in state issues.[36][41]

In May 1622, sensing that Osman might as well execute Mustafa and his younger brothers, the eunuch corps and the palace soldiery planned a counter-coup, backed by Mustafa's mother, Halime Sultan, and Kösem, who wanted her own children to ascend to the throne. They stormed into the harem and freed Mustafa from the Kafes.[42] As for Osman, aged only seventeen, he was imprisoned in Yedikule, then forthwith strangled by members of the Janissary corps on 20 May 1622, largely through the efforts of Halime.[36]

Second reign of Mustafa IEdit

In place of the reform-minded Osman, the weak and incompetent Mustafa was restored once again to the throne with the support of Kösem. While power initially went to Kösem and his mother, the Janissaries and others who had accomplished the revolt now reacted violently to the assassination of the Osman: They killed all those whom they considered responsible while at the same time attempting to protect the remaining sons of Ahmed against the inevitable efforts of Halime to eliminate them to protect the reign of her son.

In an effort to build her own position, Kösem secured the appointment as grand vizier of the Albanian Mere Hüseyin Pasha, who successfully presented himself as a kind of reformer, promising to move rapidly against the assassins. But Hüseyin Pasha only used the situation for his own advantage, extorting widely under the pretext of punishing those responsible for Osman's regicide and raiding the state treasury for his own profit.[43]

During the closing months of Mustafa's second reign, he ordered the execution of everyone involved in Osman's regicide, including Kösem's sons. But before his orders could be carried out, both Kösem and the eunuch corps intervened and deposed him once more. Mustafa would later spend the remainder of his life in the Kafes.[44] Kösem eventually reached an agreement with the viziers to install her son Murad as sultan.[36][41]

Valide sultanEdit

Reign of Murad IVEdit

Oil painting depicting Murad IV in his young age (anonymous, c. 17th century)

Kösem entered the Topkapı Palace with a grandiose ceremonial procession, in front of which a thousand dervishes were marching with prayers to celebrate her forthcoming.[45] She was once again thrust into the political arena when her son ascended to the throne on 10 September 1623 as Murad IV. Since her son was a minor, she was appointed not only as a valide sultan but also as an official regent (naib-i-sultanat), from her son's ascension on 10 September 1623 until 18 May 1632.[36]

In 1623, the Ottoman court sent a letter to the Republic of Venice, formally announcing Murad IV's succession to the throne. In the letter, Kösem was addressed as valide sultan: "Her Majesty the Sultana Valide [...] for the late Sultan Ahmed, whom Allah took with him, was a very important person and he loved her so much that he honored her by marrying her." The letter further indicates that Kösem would rule in her son's name: "We have great hope and faith in the valide sultan, who - among all women enjoying the position - is distinguished by maturity and virtue of character."[46]

Shortly after Murad's enthronement in 1623, a Venetian ambassadorial message remarked on Kösem's political experience:

"[A]ll power and authority [is with] the mother, a woman completely different from that of Sultan Mustafa, in the prime of life and of lofty mind and spirit, [who] often took part in the government during the reign of her husband."[47]

Roe, the English envoy, wrote a month before the Venetian despatch, predicting that the new sultan would be "gouemed by his mother, who gouemed his father, a man of spirit and witt."[47]

After Murad's accession, all of his brothers were confined in the Kafes, which was the part of the Imperial Harem where possible successors to the throne were kept under a form of house-arrest and constant surveillance by the palace eunuchs.[48][49]

As regent, Kösem effectively ran the empire through her son, Murad, attending and arranging divan (cabinet) sessions from behind a curtain. She was in charge of appointing political figures and overseeing the state's administration, which allowed her to establish connections with statesmen, judges, and other court figures.[16] She would meet with foreign ambassadors from other countries to discuss international treaties. The leading viziers wrote their letters directly to her, in response, Kösem used her kira to compose letters to the viziers.[50] In 1623, Kemankeş Kara Ali Pasha was appointed grand vizier.

Kösem seemed to have distinct expectations about her role when she first became regent. According to the Turkish historian Özlem Kumrular:

"It is clear from the request made by the grand vizier that during this period Kösem wanted to be with her underage son in the audience hall and listen to any requests made by dignitaries. She wanted to accompany the sultan and at the same time hold the power in her own hands. The grand vizier stated in a very gentlemanly way that this desire was not in accordance with the law (kanûn): 'My Lord and Ruler, what you are doing is against the law. Please don't even articulate it. After all, I am your faithful servant and I do not wish to be separated from you.'"

The Grand Vizier Ali Pasha's worst blunder was permitting the Safavid Shah Abbas to capture Baghdad and Erivan in 1624, and then hiding the news from Murad, who was twelve years old at the time, and his mother, Kösem. Already displeased, she immediately deposed and had the grand vizier strangled with the support of the Chief Black Eunuch Mustafa Agha. The post of grand vizier would later be filled by Çerkes Mehmed Pasha.[42]

Foreign and domestic policyEdit

Foreign enemies and powerful local notables regarded Kösem's rise as a golden opportunity to undermine the Ottoman state's power and authority.[51] During the early years of Murad's sultanate, Kösem had to deal with the loss of Baghdad and Erivan during the Ottoman–Safavid War, the rebellion of tribes in Lebanon, the Abaza rebellion in northern Anatolia, the wavering allegiances of governors in Egypt and other provinces, the assertion of independence by the Barbary states, a revolt of Tatars in Crimea, and raids by marauding Cossacks to the coasts of the Black Sea.[52][53]

Cossack incursions were common in the Ottoman Empire throughout the early 17th century, disrupting the security of the Black Sea and forcing the Ottomans to consider reinforcing the Bosphorus, especially after the most recent Cossack incursion in 1624.[54] On behalf of her son, Kösem ordered the construction of two fortresses near the mouth of the Bosphorus, one in Anadolukavağı and the other in Rumelikavağı. The fortresses were erected in a single year.[55]

Throughout her regency, Kösem ably restored the state's finances after a period of severe inflation.[56] She also helped stabilize the government by melting down much of the palace gold and silver to pay the Janissaries.[57][58] When the grand vizier, who was campaigning against the Safavids to recapture Baghdad, ran out of food for the army, he turned to Kösem for assistance. In one letter, she responded to the grand vizier's request and wrote: "You say that attention must be paid to provisions for the campaign. If it were up to me, it would have been taken care of long ago. There is no shortcoming on either my or my son's part." In another, she sends good news: "You wrote about the provisions. If I were able to, I would procure and dispatch them immediately. I am doing everything I can, my son likewise. God willing, it is intended that this Friday ten million aspers will be forwarded to Üsküdar, if all goes well. The rest of the provisions have been loaded onto ships." Bayram Pasha, the governor of Egypt and Kösem's son-in-law, wrote directly to the her on a number of issues, and she communicated the contents of the governor's letters to the Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha along with her own comments on these matters. Among the problems discussed cussed were delays in the provision of gunpowder, the troublesome situation in the Yemen, and shortfalls in the province's revenue (in 1625 Egypt sent only half of its normal revenue because of the ravages of a plague known in Egyptian annals as "the plague of Bayram Pasha"). The extensive cooperation between Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha and Kösem is suggested by her frank comment to the former: "You really give me a headache. But I give you an awful headache too. How many times have I asked myself. 'I wonder if he's getting sick of me'? 'But what else can we do?"[59]

In 1625, Murad, who was already critical of his mother's foreign policy, vocally objected her proposed truce between the Ottoman Empire and Spain. According to a Venetian dispatch of 1625, "the Imperialists and Spaniards declared that the matter was progressing favorably, being actively assisted by the Sultan's mother."[60] A year later, the Venetian ambassador reported that the sultan, "with a prudence beyond his years", was opposed to the truce, as were most leading statesmen except the admiral Recep Pasha and Bayram Pasha, governor of Egypt, and noted that the Spanish "base their hopes on these two and the Sultan's mother and sister."[61] The ambassador was probably aware of the fact that Recep Pasha was married to Gevherhan Sultan and Bayram Pasha to Hanzade Sultan, both of whom were Kösem's daughters. Nevertheless, the treaty was called back on the sultan's orders.[62] In addition to her correspondence with King Philip IV of Spain, Kösem also corresponded directly with Nur Jahan, the chief wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir[63][64] and King Gustav II of Sweden.[65]

Serial marriages of a royal princess occurred frequently in the Ottoman dynasty in the century after Suleiman the Magnificent, allowing the Imperial family to establish a network of alliances with the most powerful of the pashas. Kösem, in particular, used her daughters to help maintain herself in power for nearly half a century. As she wrote to the Grand Vizier Ahmet Pasha in 1626, a few months before he became her daughter Ayşe Sultan's third husband:

"Greeting and prayers to his excellency the Pasha. I am informed of everything you said in your letter. People simply aren't aware of all the things that are going to get said over a handful of money. What's to be done? Perhaps [something can be done] after the holiday, God willing. As for you, whenever you're ready let me know, and I'll act accordingly. We'll take care of you right away. The princess is ready. I'll do just the same as I did when I sent out my Fatma Sultan. Just write us when you want, and I'll arrange things accordingly. May God bless [the marriage]."[66]

Rejecting the state's offer of marriage into the Imperial family was tantamount to treason, so statesmen could not decline a proposed match.[67] Kösem also matched numerous other women in the Imperial household with men of significant standing that would be beneficial to her rule.[4] Additionally, not only did the marriages Kösem facilitated allow her to build extensive networks, but she also strategically allied herself with the Janissaries.[68]

Kösem Sultan's letter to the Grand Vizier Hüsrev Pasha, 1627.

This letter, dated 1627, shows Kösem's troubled resignation to this turn of affairs, as she acknowledges that the empire will now be run without her tutelage. Two troublesome matters alluded to in the letter are the security of Yemen, which would break free of Ottoman control in 1636, and the chronic budgetary problem of meeting salary payments, especially to the Janissaries, the frequently unruly Ottoman infantry.[69] The letter also indicates that she was concerned about Murad's health and expresses her frustration with her lack of direct control over important decisions; she wrote to the Grand Vizier Damat Pasha:

"Greeting and prayers to his excellency the Pasha. And now, how are you and how are your affairs? Are you fine? May you enjoy good health and well-being. Should you ask after us, thanks to God (may his name be exalted) at present we are devoting body and soul and occupying ourselves night and day with the tranquility of Muhammad's community. And now it is declared: Letters have come from Egypt—apparently to you too—which describe the situation there. Something absolutely must be done about Yemen—it's the gate to Mecca. You must do whatever you can. You'll talk to my son about this. I tell you, my mind is completely distraught over this [the Yemen situation].... It is going to cause you great difficulty, but you will earn God's mercy through service to the community of Muhammad. How are you getting along with salary payments? Is there much left? With the grace of God, you will take care of that obligation and then take up the Yemen situation. My son leaves in the morning and comes back at night, I never see him. He won't stay out of the cold, he's going to get sick again. I tell you, this grieving over the child is destroying me. Talk to him, when you get a chance. He must take care of himself. What can I do—he won't listen. He's just gotten out of a sickbed, and he's walking around in the cold. All this has destroyed my peace of mind. All I wish is for him to stay alive. At least try to do something about Yemen. May God help us with this situation we are in.... You two know what's best."[70]

Another letter expresses the similar worry that the young sultan be counseled and chastised by the Grand Vizier Hüsrev Pasha, if not by Kösem herself. It also implies that Kösem was getting information about events outside the palace from Murad rather than directly:

"I heard from my son that he had written you and warned you that [your steward] is not a man of good intentions. Is it true that he is giving you a bad name? To a degree, it is a pasha's own men who cause his bad reputation. May God give them the reward they deserve. I'm not referring to anything specific. A friend is one who tells a person his faults to his face. I wouldn't wish ill on any of you. May God protect us all from evil. I wish you would listen to me and have them stop practicing the javelin in the Hippodrome. Why can't they go play in Langa? My son loves it, I lose my mind over it. Whoever says it's good for him is lying. Caution him about it, but not right away. What can I do? My words are bitter to him now. Just let him stay alive, he is vital to all of us. I have so many troubles I can't begin to write them all. You must give him as much advice as you can—if he doesn't listen to one thing, he'll listen to another."

In the following year, Murad moved to break Kösem's damad ties with Admiral Hüseyin Pasha, the spouse of her daughter Fatima. Murad had the marriage dissolved after becoming enraged by his mother's excessive support for the Pasha. Hüseyin Pasha had benefited from the protection of both the Chief Black Eunuch Mustafa Agha and Kösem. Murad's move against the otherwise successful admiral may have stemmed from his wish to break free from the influence of his inner palace advisers and exercise authority over the government's most influential officers. Kösem is said to have tried to satisfy her son with a gift of ornately dressed horses and a banquet of ten thousand aspers. Murad was compulsively trying to keep his mother away from politics, and it is clear from his actions that he was disturbed by his mother's great influence.[71]


In 1632, Kösem's 9-year term of office came to an end as a result of her son Murad's decision to remove her from the political scene after he decided not to allow any power to interfere in his administration of the empire, and ordered his mother to cut off her contacts with his statesmen, threatening her with exclusion and exile from the capital if she did not comply; this was probably a response to the May 1632 uprising in Constantinople when the Janissaries stormed the palace and killed the Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha, among others. Murad feared suffering the same fate as his elder half-brother, Osman II, and decided to assert his power.[52] That is why, as soon as he took power under his own control, he sought to replace his mother's loyal men.[72][73] He later tried to quell the corruption that had grown during the reigns of previous sultans, and that had not been checked while his mother was ruling through proxy.[52] His absolute rule started in 1632, when he took the authority and repressed all the tyrants, and re-established the supremacy of sultan.

Despite being removed from the seat of power, Kösem continued to run some governmental affairs on behalf of the sultan, whom he had trusted her to look after his interests during his absences from the capital,[71] as well as keeping direct correspondence with him and the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha. During the Ottoman–Safavid War:

"...he trusted her to look after his interests during his absences from the capital, nonetheless, Murad was vigilant in monitoring the boundaries of his mother's authority."[74]

In 1634, during Murad's departure on a royal advance through the area near Bursa, Kösem moved quickly to safeguard him from a threat of sedition. Murad's execution of the kadi of Iznik for a minor offense sparked such outrage among Constantinople's religious hierarchy. When Kösem learned about the accusations against Shaykh al-Islām Ahizade Hüseyin Efendi, who was allegedly plotting to overthrow the sultan, she promptly sent word to Murad to return to the capital as soon as possible.[75] Ahizade Hüseyin Efendi was strangled before proof of his innocence could reach the sultan. This was the first execution of a Shaykh al-Islām in the history of the Ottoman state.[76]

By 1635, the Anatolian countryside lay devastated by the Abaza rebellion and state oppression, resulting in a massive influx of refugees. Murad responded by ordering refugees to return to their destroyed homes or be executed, but relented at the insistence of his mother.[77]

Angelo Alessandri, secretary to Venetian envoy Pietro Foscarini, characterizes her as follows in 1637:

"...this lady, of Greek origin, is now about forty-five years old, very beautiful and has delicate features. A person with a good heart, interesting amusements and pleasures, virtuous, wise and reasonable. Majestic, with wide horizons."[78]

In 1638, following the recapture of Baghdad from the Safavids, Kösem was a key figure in the celebrations surrounding her son Murad's triumphal return to Constantinople. She retraced her path after processing out of Constantinople to welcome Murad in İzmit, two days' journey from the city, while the sultan returned by sea. She rode in a carriage draped with gold fabric, its wheels studded, and spokes fully coated in gold, preceded by viziers and high-ranking religious authorities on gorgeously caparisoned horses. Twelve additional carriages followed her carriage, most likely transporting members of the Imperial Harem.[79]

Kösem's principal effort in protecting the dynasty appears to have been dissuading the sultan from executing all his brothers toward the end of his reign. The princes Bayezid (her stepson) and Süleyman (her biological son) were executed during the celebrations over the victory at Erivan (1635) and Kasım, the heir apparent to the Ottoman throne, was executed during the Baghdad campaign in 1638.[80] One source states that Mustafa was also executed by the orders of Murad on 20 January 1639.[81]

Reign of IbrahimEdit

Left: The death of Murad IV, Kösem Sultan can be seen at his bedside. Right: By displaying Murad IV's corpse in front of Ibrahim, Kösem Sultan assures him of his death. (Both engraved by Paul Rycaut, 1694)

One of Kösem's two last surviving sons, Ibrahim, lived in terror of being the next of his brothers to be executed by Murad's order. On his deathbed, Murad told his mother how much he disdained his brother Ibrahim, and how it would be better for the dynasty to end rather than continue with insane royal seed.[82] Ibrahim's life was only saved by the intercession of his mother Kösem, who argued that he was 'too mad to be a threat", thus she saved the Ottoman dynasty from annihilation.[13]

After Murad's death in 1640, Ibrahim was left the sole surviving prince of the dynasty. Upon being asked by the Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha to assume the sultanate, Ibrahim suspected Murad was still alive and plotting to trap him. It took the combined persuasion of Kösem and the Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha to make Ibrahim accept the throne. For instance, Kösem ordered his brother's corpse to be displayed before him, and she even threatened Ibrahim that he may face 'strangulation, not inauguration' if he had refused to be crowned sultan.[41]

When Alvise Contarini arrived in Constantinople, sent by the Venetian government on the occasion of Ibrahim's accession, he gave letters of congratulation addressed to Kösem to the Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha for delivery. The latter, Kösem's rival for control of the weak Ibrahim, did not forward the letters, "as if scorning them", reported Contarini, "and told me that the queen mothers of the Ottomans are slaves of the Grand Signor like all others, not partners or heads of government, like those in Christian countries."[83]

With the accession of the emotionally disturbed Ibrahim, Kösem was once again politically active as the sultan's principal advisor. However, she enjoyed a less compatible relationship with the powerful Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha than she had with the grand viziers of Murad's early reign. Now entering her fourth decade of political involvement, Kösem was a shrewd and experienced politician. But no doubt that the grand vizier also expected to exercise untrammeled power. The competition between the two was reported by the Venetian ambassador Alvise Contarini:

"In the present government, to the extent that this son's capabilities are less, she is held in greater esteem [than at the end of Murad's reign]. And thus, with her commanding affairs within the palace and the grand vizier [commanding] those outside, it happens quite often that these two rulers come up against each other and in doing so take offense at each other, so that one can say that in appearance they are in accord, but secretly each is trying to bring about the downfall of the other."[59]

A painting of Sultan Ibrahim the Mad, who reigned as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640 until his deposition in 1648

Ibrahim's impotency was assessed psychologically, and a number of hodjas were summoned by his mother treat him, but none succeeded. In a desperate attempt, Kösem invited the alleged sorcerer Cinci Hoca (Jinji Hojā) to the palace after informing her that he had inherited certain 'magic formulas.'[84] After curing Ibrahim's sexual impotence by offering him a cocktail of aphrodisiacs, pornography and seductive females, the sultan rewarded him with a chief justiceship, the second highest ulama position.[85] His appointment to this prestigious position was one of numerous examples of the overturning of authority and procedure at court.[86]

Kösem took it upon herself to remedy this by finding beautiful concubines for Ibrahim's harem, which were supplied to her from the slave market by a confidant named Pezevenk, or the Pimp.[87] Ibrahim was encouraged by his mother to distract himself with his concubines, which allowed her to gain power and rule in his name. Bobovi, a royal page from Poland who served in the palace from 1638 until 1657, wrote, "It is almost always from among the Sultan Valide's slaves that the sultan chooses his mistresses. For it is only she who has the interest of the loves of her son at her heart. She always searches for beautiful girls to be presented to him."[88] Historians accused Kösem of encouraging Ibrahim's desire in reproduction by diverting him with concubines so that she might "take over the country". But, at least initially, her motivation was to ensure the dynasty's survival.[89]

Cretan WarEdit

The Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha and Kösem continued to direct the affairs of government throughout the first four years of Ibrahim's reign. The rivalry between her and the grand vizier grew stronger as time went on, and early in 1644, Kösem allied herself with Cinci Hoca, and together, they persuaded Ibrahim to have Kara Mustafa Pasha executed.[90][91] From that point on, she concentrated her efforts on increasing the service pay of the Janissaries.[92] The treasury, however, ran out of money in 1645 when it came time to pay the Jannisaries their salaries. Kösem tried to get financial assistance from Cinci Hoca, the sultan's chief treasurer, but he declined. She later explained this situation to the Janissaries, writing to them: "I want to distribute your service pay but Cinci Hoca does not allow me", causing the Janissaries to consider Cinci Hoca as an enemy, eventually murdering him.[93]

Due to the financial shortfall in the Imperial treasury, Kösem and her allies urged Ibrahim to launch a naval assault on the Venetian-controlled island of Crete, Venice's largest and richest overseas possession. The campaign, however, was largely unsuccessful, and the venture further drained the Ottoman treasury.[94]

Palace feudEdit

Şivekar Sultan, a former slave of Kösem, was an Armenian from the Bosphorus village of Arnavutkoy, who is said to have weighed nearly 330 pounds.[95] According to Rycaut, Ibrahim became so infatuated with his new love that he couldn't deny her anything, which led to her downfall because she incurred the wrath of Kösem: "By these particulars the Queen Mother becoming jealous, one day inviting her to Dinner, caused her to be Strangled, and persuaded Ibrahim that she died suddenly of a violent Sickness, at which the poor Man was greatly afflicted.' She then informed the distraught Ibrahim that Şivekar Sultan 'had died suddenly of a powerful illness."[96] However, other sources suggest that Şivekar Sultan was instead exiled to Egypt or Chios after Ibrahim's death in 1648.[97] This was a clear sign that Kösem, like others, despised Ibrahim's concubines' excessive influence over political matters. It is also known that she had a strict policy for the eunuchs in the harem, which denied them any influence in the state's running. Moreover, she relocated the female lovers of these eunuchs out of the harem; some of them were manumitted, and the rest were sent to the slave market and sold.[98]

According to a source, when Ibrahim allegedly tried to rape a concubine, the concubine spurned him and threatened to stab him with a dagger if he persisted. Their struggle was overheard by Kösem, who reprimanded Ibrahim and allowed the woman to escape the Imperial Harem.[41]

Meanwhile, Ibrahim's favorites had grown envious of Kösem, motivating her son to rebel against her. Thus, Ibrahim rejected his mother's authority entirely. As a result, Kösem withdrew from the harem to live in a summer house outside Topkapı Palace,[99] and later to a house in an Imperial garden in Eyüp.[13]

After Kösem's departure and in another assault on palace protocol, Ibrahim began humiliating her daughters and his sisters Ayşe, Fatma, and Hanzade, as well as his niece Kaya, subordinating them to his concubines, whom he gave their land and jewels. He also forced his sisters and niece to work as maids for his wife Hümaşah Sultan. This infuriated Kösem, who turned against Ibrahim.[100]

Deposition of IbrahimEdit

Portrait of Mahpeyker Kösem Sultan, c. 19th century

Ibrahim's behaviour sparked talks of deposing the sultan. In September 1647, the Grand Vizier Salih Pasha and Shaykh al-Islām Abdürrahim Efendi plotted to depose the sultan. The Shaykh al-Islām deferred to Kösem in the matter of her son's deposition, aware that she needed to be consulted before any final decision was made. They informed her that all of the statesmen were in favor of Ibrahim's deposition and that they were prepared to swear allegiance to Ibrahim's son, Mehmed, the eldest prince. Kösem, on the other hand, hesitated, either out of maternal instinct or fear of losing her own political power.[101] She instead begged the coconspirators to consider leaving her son in possession of the throne under the guardianship of the grand vizier.[102]

Not long ago, Ibrahim was made aware of the attempt to topple him. As a response, the Grand Vizier Salih Pasha was executed and Kösem, whom he suspected of being part of the conspiracy, was exiled to the Iskender Çelebi garden in Florya. Initially, Ibrahim planned to have his mother exiled to the island of Rhodes, but this indignity was resisted by one of his hasekis.[86] According to Naima:

"[T]he valide sultan would sometimes speak affectionately, giving counsel to the... padishah. But because he paid no attention to her, she became reluctant to talk with him, and for a long while resided in the gardens near Topkapi. During this time the padishah became angry as a result of some rumors and sent Ahmed Pasha to exile the valide sultan to the garden of Iskender (thereby breaking the hearts of all, great and small.)"[103]

By 1647, between heavy taxes, the bungled wars, and with a Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles bringing the Ottoman capital to the brink of starvation, discontent boiled over.[104] In 1648, the Janissaries and members of the ulama revolted against Ibrahim. Ibrahim then lost his temper and fled into the arms of his mother, whom he had reluctantly allowed back into the harem, begging her to protect him.[105] The chronicler Kâtip Çelebi reports that Kösem attended a conference with leading viziers, clergy and others assembled there about the impending action, at the entrance of the harem. She was draped from head to foot in black silk, while a black eunuch waved a large fan beside her. The Agha of the Janissaries addressed her:

"Gracious mistress, the folly and madness of the Padishah have put the world in danger; the infidels have taken forty castles on the frontiers of Bosnia and are blockading the Dardanelles with eighty ships while the Padishah thinks only of pleasure, debauch and selling offices. The pipes and trumpets and flutes from the palace are drowning the sound of the call to prayer from the minarets of Aya Sofya."[106]

Kösem, on the other hand, goes on to blame the viziers and clergy of leading Ibrahim astray throughout his eight-year reign, and revealing their hypocrisy in plotting to overthrow him in favor of his son:

"For all this time [i.e. since the accession of Sultan Ibrahim eight years before, in 1640] you have acquiesced in whatever my son has requested and have served as [unwitting] guides [through your passive attitudes] in the perpetration of all manner of wrong. Not once did you offer your good council or support. Now your foremost concern is to dethrone the sultan and seat in his place a mere stripling. What sort of ill-conceived policy is this?"[107]

Kösem's resistance had another purpose, it enabled for the practice of important political arguments. Emphasizing the need of dynasty allegiance, she asked the clergy: "Wasn't every single one of you raised up through the benevolence of the Ottoman dynasty?" They replied with a holy law imperative: "a mentally ill person cannot lead the ummah (the community of Muslim believers.)" The ulama used a tactic at one point in the debate: they addressed Kösem as umm al-mu'minin, "mother of the [Muslim] believers." This honorific title, given to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad by Qur'anic revelation, gave her an identity that allowed her to extend her maternal function as guardian beyond her son and the dynasty to the empire.[108] Hanifezade, an Ottoman judge, appealed to her not as a mother but as a stateswoman:

"Oh, royal lady, we have come hither, fully relying on your grace, and on your compassionate solicitude for the servants of God. You are not only the mother of the sultan; you are the mother also of all true believers. Put an end to this state of trouble; the sooner the better. The enemy has the upper hand in battle. At home, the traffic in places and ranks has no bounds. The Padishah, absorbed in satisfying his passions, removes himself farther and farther from the path of laws. The call to prayers from the minarets of the Mosque of Aya Sofia is drowned in the noise of fifes, and flutes, and cymbals from the palace. No one can speak counsel without danger to the speaker: you have yourself proved it. The markets are plundered. The innocent are put to death. Favorite slaves govern the world."[102]

Kösem made one more effort, and said, "All this is the doing of wicked ministers. They shall be removed; and only good and wise men shall be set in their stead." "What will that avail?" replied Hanifezade, "Has not the Sultan put to death good and gallant men who served him, such as were Mustafa Pasha and Yusuf Pasha, the conqueror of Canea?" "But how," urged Kösem, "is it possible to place a child of seven years upon the throne?" Hanefizade answered: "In the opinion of our wise men of the law, a madman ought not to reign, whatever be his age; but rather let a child, that is gifted with reason, be upon the throne. If the sovereign be a rational being, though an infant, a wise Vizier may restore order to the world; but a grown-up Sultan, who is without sense, ruins all things by murder, by abomination, by corruption, and prodigality." "So be it, then," said Kösem; "I will fetch my grandson, Mehmed, and place the turban on his head." She agreed to surrender when they promised not to murder Ibrahim, but merely put him back in the Kafes. Kösem was by this point anxious to get rid of her son, whose disastrous administration had undone the restorative work done by his elder brother, writing to the Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha: "In the end he will leave neither you nor me alive. We will lose control of the government. The whole society is in ruins. Have him removed from the throne immediately."[109][110]

During the closing months of Ibrahim's reign, Kösem was thrust back into the position of dynasty protector when the Agha of the Janissaries, who were going to demand the resignation of the unpopular Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha, warned her to take great care to safeguard the princes' safety. On 8 August 1648, Ibrahim was dethroned, seized and imprisoned in Topkapı Palace.[111]

Büyük valideEdit

Reign of Mehmed IVEdit

The same day, Kösem rushed to the divan and presented her seven-year-old grandson, Mehmed, with the words: "Here he is!, see what you can do with him!" When a group of government authorities insisted that the palace send the sultan's seven-year-old son to be enthroned at the Blue Mosque to receive the Janissaries' and sipahis' oath of allegiance, Kösem refused and demanded that they instead come to the palace. Her rejection was based on the fact that no sultan had ever been enthroned in a mosque before. Her purpose was undoubtedly in part to compel the situation to occur so that she could have some influence over the outcome.[112][113]

Ten days after Ibrahim's dethronement, the newly placed Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha petitioned the Shaykh al-Islām Abdürrahim Efendi for a fatwā sanctioning Ibrahim's execution. It was granted, with the message: "If there are two caliphs, kill one of them." Kösem articulated the fact that only she could make the final decision whether the sultan lived or died, she exclaimed: "They said my son Ibrahim was not suitable for the sultanate. I said 'depose him.' They said his presence is harmful, I said 'let him be removed', then I said 'let him be executed.' If anyone is under my protection, it is my son."[114]

The extent to which Kösem was involved in Ibrahim's execution has always been a source of debate. Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, an Austrian historian, finds in her favor and believes that she was motivated by concern for the state to the extent that she was involved.[13] Nevertheless, she was forced to give her consent to Ibrahim's execution.[115] As officials watched from a palace window, Ibrahim was strangled on 18 August 1648. His death was the second regicide in the history of the Ottoman Empire.[116]

It was an abiding Ottoman custorn that upon the accession of a new sultan, the mother of the old sultan would retire to the OId Palace and give up her office.[51] Kösem herself requested to resign from politics, but her request was denied by the political and religious leaders who removed Ibrahim, forcing her to reconsider her decision and continue her career as Mehmed's regent because she had more expertise and knowledge of the state's governing than Mehmed's twenty-one-year-old mother, Turhan Sultan. According to Abdülaziz Efendi, then the chief justice of Rumeli and a central figure in the dynastic upheavals of the time, it was considered prudent to appoint the more experienced female regent in contravention of tradition:

"It being an ancient custom that upon the accession of a new sultan the mother of the previous sultan remove to the Old Palace and thus give up her honored office, the elder valide requested permission to retire to a life of seclusion. But because the loving mother of the [new] sultan was still young and truly ignorant of the state of the world, it was thought that if she were in control of government, there would result the possibility of harm to the welfare of the state. Therefore, the elder valide was reappointed for a while longer to the duty of training and guardianship, and it was considered appropriate to re-new the assignment of crown lands to the valide sultan."[117]

Thus, Kösem was reinstated as regent by Mehmed's council, and was entrusted with Mehmed's training and guardianship.[13]

Rivalry with Turhan SultanEdit

Left: Engraving of Sultan Mehmed IV in his young age (c. mid-17th century) Right: Engraving of Turhan Sultan as valide sultan (c. 19th century)

Turhan Sultan, Mehmed's mother, was presented to Kösem as a gift from Kör Süleyman Pasha, the Khan of Crimea, when she was around 12 years old, and it was presumably Kösem who offered Turhan to Ibrahim as a concubine.[118][119] The post of valide sultan and regent should have gone to her with Mehmed's ascent, but she was overlooked due to her youth and inexperience by leading statesmen. Turhan must have also resented the lower stipend of 2000 aspers she received, in contrast to Kösem's 3000 asper allotment. As a consequence, she began to exert what she saw to be her rightful authority.[120] According to Rycaut: "The two queens were exasperated highly against each other, one to maintain the authority of her son and the other her own."[121] In 1649, Kösem promoted herself to the non-existent rank of büyük ("elder") valide to outrank herself from Turhan Sultan.[122]

Mehmed, the Ottoman Empire's child sultan, was at its helm. Historians have recorded that Kösem would usually sit in the palace lodge with her grandson, handing down decisions. She would also usually sit beside the sultan, concealed behind a curtain, if the sultan's presence was needed at the divan.[123] In one instance, she scolded a vizier in an abrasive tone: "Have I made you vizier to spend your time in gardens and vineyards: Devote yourself to the affairs of the empire and let me hear no more of your deportments!"[124]

Battle of Focchies aftermathEdit

The naval Battle of Focchies was fought on 15 May 1649 between the Ottomans and the Venetians, with the Knights of Malta combining with hired Dutch and English ships, commanded by Giacomo Riva, resulting in a Venetian victory (engraving by Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, 17th century)

Kösem and the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha had grown enmity toward each other since Mehmed's accession to the throne. The grand vizier appears to have regarded himself as regent as well as "temporary ruler." According to Naima, the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha was misled by "certain would-be doctors of religion" who quoted legal texts to the effect that the guardian of a minor sultan was entitled to exercise sovereignty prerogatives; as a result, he despised Kösem's absolute authority and control over the government, as Naima noted on the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha's futile hope that he, rather than the sultan's grandmother, would act as regent to the young Mehmed. He once bragged: "The soldiers of this exalted state respect only the honor of inherited nobility."[125]

According to the French historian Alphonse de Lamartine, in May 1649, following the defeat of the Ottomans in the Battle of Focchies, Kösem entered the divan on foot, in agreement with the aghas, to discuss the fleet and army disasters. She presided over the divan from behind a curtain whilst sitting on the sultan's throne, alongside the sultan himself. The Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha expressed disappointment for the difficult circumstances, but in a speech, Mehmed told the grand vizier, "Go, you are not worthy of being grand vizier; give back the seal of the State. And you," he added, handing the seal to Kara Murat Pasha, the Agha of the Janissaries, "take it; I will see what you can do." Then, the grand judge Abdülaziz Efendi, an ally of the former Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha, turned to the sultan and asked, "My dear, who taught you that, at your age?" This insolence directed at Kösem made her anger boil over and broke her silence and cited the former grand vizier's shortcomings, including his alleged plans to assassinate her:

"When certain imperial commands have been issued, they have said [to the sultan], 'my dear, who taught you to say these things?' Such patronizing behavior towards sultans is impermissible! And what if the sultan is instructed? It is the voice of the world that taught him. [The children] themselves know our misfortunes and speak out against your iniquities, in spite of all the treasures you have extorted and lavished you have obtained. You want to kill me, but you haven't done so yet. I know, because my position [bothers] you. Thanks to God, I have lived through four reigns and I have governed myself for a long while. The world will be neither reformed nor destroyed by my death. Sometimes they want to [kill] me, [and] sometimes they want to enslave [the sultan]; but the time has come to choose between [yourselves] and him."[117][36][126]

In Naima's words, Abdülaziz Efendi "drowned in the sea of mortification."[127] Kösem gave the newly placed Grand Vizier Murat Pasha orders to have Sofu Mehmed Pasha and his allies executed. Abdülaziz Efendi managed to get away from the ordeal by fleeing.[36][128]

According to Finkel, Kösem "continued to be the ruling personality... tutoring him [Kara Murat Pasha] in the decisions handed down."[129]

Financial quandariesEdit

An Ottoman miniature painting of Kösem Sultan, 1650

In 1650, new protests by Constantinople's merchants erupted. The empire's treasury was once again empty, and traders were obliged to accept faulty coins in exchange for good ones in order to pay the Janissaries. They retaliated by closing their shops, taking to the streets, and rising in revolt, demanding the dismissal of Grand Vizier Murat Pasha, the former commander of the Janissary corps, as well as the execution of Janissary commanders. A large gathering of 15,000 artisans and merchants marched to Shaykh al-Islām Abdülaziz Efendi's residence. They wept and ripped their garments, lamenting the fact that their protests had gone unheard, that they had been subjected to harmful innovations such as monthly heavy taxes, and that they feared debtors' prison.[130] The Shaykh al-Islām sympathized with their plight and intended to convey news to the sultan to "cancel evil innovations," but he was encircled and forced to accompany them to the palace. To give them credibility, they put the reluctant Shaykh al-Islām in the forefront on horseback.[131] The Hippodrome was packed with a throng of 20,000 men. They entered the Hagia Sophia compound with the hope of meeting the sultan in the historic house of worship, but were instead allowed to enter the palace. They marched as far as the Gate of Felicity, passing through its grounds, to voice their grievances.[132] Kösem arrived in an uproar, angrily asking, "Why did you not turn back these people, instead bringing them to the palace?" The Shaykh al-Islām claimed, "We did not bring them, they brought us."[133]

When the sultan heard the merchants' protests, he inquired as to what was causing the uproar. Mehmed advised the Shaykh al-Islām to come back the next day when they submitted their grievances to him, but they responded, "We will not take a step backward until we receive what we deserve."[134] The sultan, relying on the advice of his grandmother, then requested to meet Grand Vizier Murat Pasha, but Melek Ahmed Pasha preferred that he return his seal of office rather than appear in front of him. Kösem stated that the room where they were meeting was claustrophobic, so she stepped outside to the great pool and gave Melek Ahmed Pasha, the spouse of her granddaughter Kaya Sultan, the seal of office.[135][136]

On 5 August 1650, Melek Ahmed Pasha was appointed grand vizier, but his term was cut short a year later due to his incompetence in dealing with a violent uprising of Constantinople's merchants. The Shaykh al-Islām Abdülaziz Efendi persuaded Kösem that the grand vizier's seal, which signified his dismissal, had to be brought to her. Kösem proposed that former Grand Vizier Kara Murat Pasha replace Melek Ahmed Pasha, but an elderly Siyavuş Pasha, who was favored by Turhan Sultan, was appointed instead without her consent.[137][51]

Palace coupEdit

Dervish Abdullah Efendi, a late 17th century author, claims that the Chief Black Eunuch Uzun ("Tall") Süleyman Agha deliberately turned both Kösem and her daughter-in-law, Turhan, against each other: "A black eunuch called Uzun Süleyman [said to Kösem], "My lady, the Junior Mother [Turhan] covets your wealth. You should guard yourself well, because she is determined to kill you one night. I have experienced your kindness previously, and for this reason, I have told you", and he began to cry. When [Kösem] asked, "What is the remedy for this?" this black hypocrite answered, "We have all agreed to depose Sultan Mehmed and enthrone [Prince] Süleyman. They are both your [grandsons]. This treachery must be stopped immediately." He then went to Turhan and, similarly weeping, told her, "Soon they are going to kill all your black eunuchs and imprison you, for I have learned that the Senior Mother's eunuchs have agreed to depose Sultan Mehmed and enthrone [Prince] Süleyman."[138][139]

Key political figures who resented Kösem's close alliance with the Janissaries encouraged Turhan to resist the regent's monopoly of power and patronage, and she soon commenced to plot against Kösem. The people of the court and state took sides: The Janissaries rallied with Kösem, whereas most of the harem and palace eunuchs, the Chief Black Eunuch Süleyman Agha, and the Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha, favored Turhan.[13][140] According to Naima, once this came to Kösem's realization, she plotted to dethrone Mehmed and replace him with his younger half-brother, Suleiman. Since she found the latter's mother, Aşub Sultan, to be a more complaisant rival, her idea of switching the child sultan for the other was geared directly towards eliminating Turhan, who despite her tender age was quick in assuming her matriarchal role of authority.[51] Naima further notes that Kösem secretly asked the palace guards to leave the palace gates open so that Janissaries could sneak in and kill Turhan in her chambers. Additionally, she gave two bottles of poisoned sherbet to Üveys Agha, the head helva (sweets) maker in the palace kitchen, to serve to the child sultan. She promised Uveys Agha a promotion if he succeeded in poisoning the sultan. The day before enacting the plan, however, one of Kösem's slaves, Meleki Hatun, betrayed the plot to the Chief Black Eunuch Süleyman Agha, an ally of Turhan.[2][36]

Wojciech Bobowski's book titled 'Saray-ı Enderun' (Life at the Ottoman Court) depicted the organisational structure and daily life of the Ottoman Court with his insight knowledge and observations, being a first-hand source of information for European decision-makers who followed Ottoman domestic politics.[141] He also wrote his observations on the poisoning attempt of Mehmed IV by Kösem in the year 1651:

"A true relation of the designes managed by the old queen, wife of sultan Ahmed, and mother of sultan Murad and sultan Ibrahim, emperours, against her grandchild sultan Mehmed Chan who now reignes, and of the death of the said queen and her complices; written by me Albert Bobovius, then musitian of the seraglo and a spectatour of these things."[142][143]

Süleyman Agha promptly invited the Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha to the palace. The grand vizier purported to join the conspiracy upon his arrival. On his way to the sultan's chambers to sound the alarm, the grand vizier came across Süleyman Agha, who was on his rounds near Kösem's quarters. Süleyman Agha reported to the grand vizier that Kösem was usually in bed at that time, being entertained by 'her Eunuchs, and Favourites, with Musick, Singing, and other unusual delights'.[144]

Süleyman Agha and the sultan's eunuchs went to Kösem's quarters and attempted to force their way in after consultations with the grand vizier. According to a report from 1675, Kösem's entourage initially repulsed them:

"But Süleyman Agha being a stout man drew his Dagger and struck the chief Chamberlain Bash Kapa Oglar on the face, upon which the other Eunuchs who accompanied Süleyman entered furiously with their Daggers, at which the Eunuchs of the Queen flying, she remained alone in the Chamber, where she was committed to the Custody of the [sultans] Eunuchs. The fugitive Eunuchs would immediately have escaped out of the Seraglio, but the Gates were first shut by order of Süleyman Agha, so that they with all other favourites of the said Queen were taken and secured in safe hands."[145]

Süleyman Agha and his accomplices moved so silently and rapidly that most of the palace remained asleep. They also used a shared sign language that assured them that no one could hear voices. Meanwhile, they called out their forces to secure the palace against the Janissaries. The men went to Turhan's quarters and awakened her, informing her of the conspiracy to poison the child sultan, to which she begged Süleyman Agha to protect her son.

A procession from Turhan's quarters along with Süleyman Agha's group marched to the throne room and placed Mehmed on the throne. The guards awakened their sleeping comrades along with 40 of their officers. The officers asked what they could do to show their loyalty, and Süleyman Agha responded:

"Hereat Süleyman Agha said, He that eats the [sultans] bread, should apply himself to the [sultans] service; we suffered the Traitors to destroy Sultan Ibrahim, and now they would also take this out of our hands; To you it belongs, who are His Majesties Principal Servitors, to afford him your utmost assistance. Eiginsi Mustapha Passa, Sword-bearer to the [grand vizier], and chief of the Presence Chamber, a man of a Lions heart and undaunted resolution, understood something formerly of the bad inclinations of the Old Queen [Kösem] toward the [sultan], readily replied, Great Master be not troubled, tomorrow you shall see (God willing) the Heads of your Enemies at your feet."[146]

Kösem was accused of being the instigator in the room, and the sultan's chief ministers urged that she be executed. It was decided to supplicate the sultan for his consent after significant thought and debate. The Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha said the following words to the sultan: "My sultan, the will of god is that you consign your grandmother into the hands of justice, if you would have these mutinies appeased; a little mischief is better than a great one; there is no other remedy; god willing, the end shall be prosperous." The sultan then summoned a mufti, who wrote a sentence, stating that the 'Old Queen' should be strangled "but neither cut with a sword nor bruised with blows", Kösem's death warrant was signed by the trembling hand of the child sultan.[147][42]


Drama in a Harem (by Stanisław Chlebowski, 1870)

On the 16th day of Ramadan, the night of 2 September 1651, the Chief Black Eunuch Süleyman Agha and his armed men, consisting of over 120 armed black and white eunuchs, and anyone else descended on the palace in support of the sultan,[36][148] proceeded to Kösem's quarters, which was guarded by over 300 armed Janissaries and loyal black eunuchs. Süleyman Agha and his men, on the other hand, managed to slain some of the guards en route, while the majority fled.[149] Hearing the commotion, Kösem thought the Janissaries had arrived, so she called out, "Have they come?" "Yes, they have come", Süleyman Agha answered, hoping to deceive her. When Kösem recognized Süleyman Agha's voice, she went mad and began stuffing her precious jewels on her pockets and fleeing down the corridors of the palace, along the Golden Way and through the Court of the Black Eunuchs to the Dome with Closets, probably hoping to get out through the Carriage Gate.[36][150] The gate was locked, so she crept into a small cabinet, hoping that Turhan's eunuchs would go past her and the Janissaries come to her rescue.[151][152] Her chambers' doors were broken down after Süleyman Agha's arrival in a violent hunt for Kösem by his men. The only person they found inside the apartment was an elderly woman who served as Kösem's buffoon. The woman was armed with a pistol, which she pointed at them while they questioned her about the whereabouts of Kösem. The woman replied, 'I am the valide sultan,' but Süleyman Agha cried, 'It is not she' and thrust her aside.[153] The eunuchs searched Kösem's dark chambers but found no one. They brought in torches but still couldn't find her, so Süleyman Agha ordered his men to search more thoroughly.[154]

"La malheureuse Sultane offrit en vain a celui qui l'avait decouverte un mouchoir rempli de sequins," (engraving by Antoine-Laurent Castellan, 1812)

Kösem was betrayed to a halberdier by a piece of her dress protruding from beneath the cabinet door. One of the assailants found her and dragged her out, where she told him, "O brave man, be not cruel unto me", while tossing gold coins on the floor as a distraction, but one of the men did not fall for it and held her down, where they seized her garments, jewelry, bracelets, garters, and other valuables. Both of her earrings, which were two chestnut-sized diamonds cut angularly with a ruby beneath each diamond, were torn apart by an Albanian man called bostanji Ali Agha. Those earrings were given to her by her late husband Ahmed as a present, and their estimated worth was thought to be equivalent to Egypt's annual income.[155][156] A person also informed Rycaut that he had discovered a certain locket, which belonged to Kösem, that was beautifully crafted and engraved with the names of her late sons Murad and Ibrahim.[157]

Kösem was then dragged by her feet to the gateway leading from the Imperial Harem into the Third Court, where Süleyman Agha ordered his men to kill her. They strangled her in a group of four, all of whom were young and inexperienced assassins. They worked tirelessly to strangle her with a piece of cord ripped from the curtains. While the others drew the cord, one assassin climbed on her back and pitched her neck with his hands, but he came to a halt when Kösem bit his left thumb so severely. In retaliation, he struck her on her forehead, perhaps causing her to fall unconscious. Then, assuming she was dead, they screamed out, 'She is dead, she is dead!' and went to notify the sultan and his mother. When they were out of sight, she then unexpectedly lifted herself up, most likely hoping to escape through a secret passageway. When it was discovered that she had gone away, the assassins were summoned again, and she was caught.[158]

Murder of Kösem Sultan (engraving by Paul Rycaut, 1694)

According to Rycaut, the assassins then applied the curtain cord for the second time, while the Ottoman renegade Bobovi, relying on an informant in the harem, stated that Kösem was in fact strangled with her own hair.[159] According to sources, she is said to have struggled so much that blood spurted out of her ears and nose and soiled the murderer's clothes.[153] After she had gasped her last breath, her bleeding body was dragged outside and flaunted before the Janissaries without a rag to cover her,[160] and then moved into a room at the Kuşhâne Kapısı corridor.

The next morning, Kösem's body was taken from Topkapı Palace to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı) where it was washed. Rycaut describes the funeral of Kösem, whom he refers to as the 'Queen', "The Black Eunuchs immediately took up the Corpse, and in a reverent manner laid it stretched forth in the Royal Mosch; which about 400 of the Queens Slaves encompassing round about with howlings and lamentations, tearing the hair from their heads after their barbarous fashion, moved compassion in all the Court."[161] She was buried in the mausoleum of her husband Ahmed I without a ceremony.[162][163] Her slaves were also taken to the Old Palace and eventually married off to suitable Muslims with money taken from her estate. The central treasury confiscated her entire wealth: her vast estates and tax farms in Anatolia and Rumelia and other places, her jewelry, precious stones, and twenty boxes of loaded with gold coins that she had hidden in the Büyük Valide Han near the Grand Bazaar in Constantinople.[164]

The niche at Topkapı Palace where Kösem Sultan's corpse was laid the day before it was transported to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı). The "Maktel-i valide sultan" is located in the Kuşhâne Kapısı corridor.

After Kösem's murder, the Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha suggested that the Black Standard be brought out and displayed above the main gate of Topkapı Palace (this flag was usually taken out at the start of imperial campaigns against Christian or Shi'i powers.) To implement a general levy of all able-bodied men for public defense, the Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha ordered criers to be sent through the streets of Constantinople, shouting, "Whoever is a Muslim, let him rally around the banner of the religion. Those who do not come are rendered infidels and they are divorced from their [Muslim] wives." The morning following the assassination of Kösem, it was reported that a huge crowd had gathered by the gates of Topkapı Palace, where they blamed the Janissaries for Kösem's murder and swore to avenge it.[165][166] The people of Constantinople spontaneously observed three days of mourning. Beginning the following day, the city's mosques and markets were closed for three days, while in Topkapı Palace, it started a tradition of lighting candles "for her soul" every night, and this tradition continued until the palace was closed.[167]

When the Agha of the Janissaries Şahin Agha mounted his horse, he urged his troops to avenge Kösem's murder, saying, "We only want the Valide's expiation!" "Are you then the heir, the son, or the husband of the Valide?" a voice said in response to these statements. The long silence with which this daring apostrophe was met confirmed that the Janissaries did not agree of their commander's intentions. Şahin Agha would later be abandoned by his followers, after which he and the other rebel leaders were hunted down and executed.[36][168]

Contemporary Ottoman chroniclers did not welcome the news of Kösem's assassination and recorded it as an injustice committed against a woman of great accomplishments and stature, and as a harbinger of greater social disorder.[169] Evliya Çelebi, a famous Ottoman traveler, writer, and admirer of Kösem, described the regicide: "The mother of the world, wife of Sultan Ahmed (I); Murad (IV), and Ibrahim; the Grand Kösem Valide—was strangled by the Chief Black Eunuch Div Süleyman Agha. He did it by twisting her braids around her neck. So that gracious benefactress was martyred. When the Istanbul populace heard of this, they closed the mosques and the bazaars for three days and nights. There was a huge commotion. Several hundred people were put to death, secretly and publicly, and Istanbul was in a tumult."[170] Dervish Abdullah Efendi, a late 17th century author, recalled: "Those black infidel eunuchs martyred the Senior Mother [Kösem], Mother of the Believers"—a term ordinarily reserved for the wives of the Prophet Muhammad—"and plundered most of her jewels."[138] While lauding her charity, Naima also criticizes Kösem for her greed and political interference. With respect to the factors leading up to the political crisis that resulted in her murder, he states, "It was divine wisdom that the respected valide, philanthropic and regal as she was, was martyred for the sake of those unjust oppressions."[171] Clearly, Naima felt some regret over the tragic regicide, but he also blamed it on the corrupt Janissary aghas and officials who enjoyed her patronage. In other words, he might have implicitly supported the decision of Sultan Mehmed IV to order the murder of Kösem and the punishment of her political faction.[172]

Kaya Sultan, Murad IV's daughter and Kösem's paternal granddaughter, condemned the Grand Vizier Siyavuş Pasha's apparent role in her grandmother's assassination:

"You tyrant Siyavuş! You murdered my grandmother, your lord Murad's mother. Aren't you and my kinsmen? [...] By the soul of my grandfather [Sultan Ahmed I] I will curse you, and you will get no pleasure from this seal."[173]

The assassination of this powerful, widely respected, and widely feared woman provoked a political crisis: The first phase involved the execution of Kösem's Janissary supporters. In the second phase, public outrage over the purge prompted Turhan's new administration to dismiss the Grand Vizier Abaza Pasha who had carried out the executions.[174][2]


The Büyük Valide Han was constructed by Kösem Sultan in 1651, this Ottoman building accommodated thousands of traveling merchants for more than 350 years.

While Kösem may not be remembered for the number of charitable structures she endowed, her philanthropic career is notable for the number of charitable acts she undertook. According to the Turkish historian Muzaffer Ozgules, her chief concern was to avoid public censure.[175] Kösem made charities and donations both for people and ruling class in the state; she would leave the palace in disguise every year in the Islamic month of Rajab to personally arrange for the release of imprisoned debtors and other offenders (excluding murderers) by paying their debts or recompense for their crimes;[176] she was well known for seeking out poor orphan girls and endowing them with a mahr, a home and furnishings; and women of all religious persuasions, across both Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire, bequeathed money to provide dowries for poor women, including special funds for noble girls whose families had come down in the world;[177] she did not rely upon her counsel in apportioning these good deeds, as she would seek out the sufferings and misfortunes that had a right to her pity;[36] she paid visits to hospitals, mosques, and schools to boost her popularity;[178] she fed nearly all of Constantinople's starving people at soup kitchens she established; in Egypt, she financed irrigation works from the Nile into Cairo.[179]

According to Naima, "She would free her slave women after two or three years of service, and would arrange marriages with retired officers of the court or suitable persons from outside, giving the women dowries and jewels and several purses of money according to their talents and station, and ensuring that their husbands had suitable positions. She looked after these former slaves by giving them an annual stipend, and on the religious festivals and holy days she would give them purses of money."[27][180] Her pages, who were entrusted with guarding her apartment, only worked for five days a week and were given two days off to rest as a reward.[181]

She had the Friday Çinili Mosque (tr) and a school near it constructed in Üsküdar in 1640 and spent a lot of money on it to make it an architectural masterpiece, as well as allocating a lot of porcelain and porcelain to decorate it. The construction of the modest complex at the edge of Üsküdar was probably one of her attempts to boost the popularity of both her sons at a time when the Ottoman dynasty was on the verge of extinction, with no heir apparent to take the throne; she built fountains in Anadolu Kavağı, Yenikapı, Beşiktaş and Eyüp, and it is known that she had also laid fountains built outside the capital; she repaired and renovated the madrasa of Özdemiroğlu Osman Pasha into a mosque, as well as erecting a grand fountain next to it; she was also the first Ottoman royal woman whose name was given to a conquered city's converted religious structure. Following the capture of Rethymno in Crete in 1646, one of the city's many converted churches was named in her honor: the Valide Sultan Mosque in Ortakapı;[182] she funded the construction of the Büyük Valide Han in Constantinople, which served a variety of purposes, including providing accommodation for foreign traders, storing goods or merchandise, housing artisan workshops, and providing offices from which to conduct business. One of the most curious urban legends surrounding this structure claims that Kösem hid most of her precious jewels in the depths of one of its towers.[183]

As a devout Muslim woman, she established a foundation to meet the needs of pilgrims in need of water, to assist the poor in haram, and to have the Quran read in this place; she set aside cash from a solemn pause indicated in a waqf dated 1640, where many funds were stopped to spend on the needy and the poor who reside on the way to Mecca, as well as numerous funds sent to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem every Hajj season to distribute to the destitute there.[184]


Kösem Sultan's muhallefât record. The Ottoman legal system required that the distribution of the deceased's belongings and goods be documented.

Kösem accumulated a massive fortune through Iltizām (tax farming), owning and leasing commercial buildings, and investing extensively in diverse economic activities.[185] In his memoirs, Karaçelebizade Abdülaziz Efendi, a prominent member of the ulama, described a meeting of the imperial council in which the subject of crown lands held by royal women was being discussed. When it was reported that the Kösem held lands whose annual income was three hundred thousand kuruş, Karaçelebizade protested, "A valide with so much land is unheard of!" Those who disagreed with him, he contended, did so only because of personal enmity toward him or because they were recipients of the valide sultan's largesse. Even such seemingly commendable deeds as charitable acts could be criticized. The historian Şarih ül-Menarzade argued that Kösem's extensive charities were misconceived since they were financed from her immense personal fortune; he viewed the wealth she had accrued as an abuse of the empire's fiscal management, especially harmful at a time when the treasury was in severe straits, the peasantry impoverished, and the soldiers unpaid. A century later, however, the historian Naima defended Kösem from the criticisms of Şarih and others. On the subject of her charities, Naima commented that, had her substantial fortune remained in the general treasury, it might well have been squandered rather than spent for the benefit of the populace, as it was through her efforts.[186]

In keeping with the Ottoman tendency to blame the subordinates of prominent individuals for their faults, critics of Kösem recorded the depredations of her "violent tax collectors", who, in an effort to increase their own take, were responsible for her huge hass income. Naima relayed the comment of the historian Şarih ül-Menarzade, who disapproved of Kösem's power and wealth: "The valide sultan's stewards... collected incalculable amounts of money. The peasants of the Ottoman domains suffered much violence and disaster on account of the excessive taxes, but because of their fear of the stewards, they were unable to inform the valide sultan or anyone else of their situation."[187] Besides the annual taxes that she collected from Lesbos, Euboea, Zile, Menemen, Gaza, Kilis and other places, she operated farms in Cyprus, Rumelia and a few other locations in Anatolia. The port city of Volos was her property.[188]

When the Cretan War broke out in 1645, the Venetian bailo of Constantinople reported that the valide sultan was highly benevolent while also being extremely wealthy.[189]

Upon her death in 1651, her chambers were looted, and it was reported that twenty boxes loaded with gold coins were discovered in the Büyük Valide Han that she had built a year earlier. The cash fortune that were discovered could be transformed into profit. For example, in 1664, the profit on cash investments accounted for nearly two-thirds of the revenue of the endowment established for Safiye Sultan's Karamanlu mosque. In addition to directly endowing funds, the valide sultans are likely to have utilized their funds to acquire the above-mentioned urban assets. In fact, her riches and business transactions were so broad that her many agents might become very wealthy and enjoy popular esteem. When recording in his history the death of Kösem's steward, Koja Behram, Naima commented, "The afore-mentioned Behram Kethiida enjoyed great prestige and distinction and wealth. As the manager of all the affairs of the valide sultan and the pious institutions she had established, and as an extremely trustworthy man, he acquired a great deal of wealth and property. But his children and his grandchildren did not maintain the high stature he had enjoyed, and his wealth and property were squandered."[187] Her wealth was so vast and diffused in so many different enterprises that, according to Naima, it took fifty years for the state treasury to confiscate it all.[190]


Despite her notoriety as a woman who does not know mercy or compassion for the sake of government and power, Kösem was known among the Ottoman state's citizens for her charitable work, which served as a kind of self-cleansing or false reconciliation, but in any case succeeded in stabilizing the mental image that she desired. The chronogram that appears on the gate of the Çinili mosque's courtyard reads:

"Mother of Sultan Ibrahim Khan, her Majesty of the Sultana, the most munificent mother of the sultan: She constructed this divine edifice as an act of charity. Lo, let it be a house of prayer for the servants of God! May they be summoned to God's mercy at the five times [of prayer]! May it be a halting place for worshippers and ascetics! She built a school, fountain, bath and fountain, for which let God grant her favor and benevolence! Philanthropists and those who worship in it, O God, take them into the eternal Paradises! The charitable work of the sultan's mother was completed in [the Islamic year] one thousand fifty [1640-41]."

Among contemporaries: Michel Baudier, a writer, presented her as a woman politician "enjoying authority." Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a merchant and traveler, described her as "a woman very wise and well-versed in state affairs."[191]

Both Alphonse de Lamartine and Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall praised her for her charitable works.[179] Hammer says concerning her: "A magnanimous, high minded queenly woman, of high spirit and noble heart, but with a mania for power. She, the mother of the greatest tyrant Murad IV, and the greatest wastrel, Ibrahim I, the Greek Kosem who was named Moonfigure because of beauty, through the commanding glance of four emperors—her husband, two sons, and her grandson—was revered more in history than Agrippina, Nero's mother, through her kindness, her desire for power and the tragic finish in Osman history of a female Caesar."[51]

In the introduction to the English translation of the novel Histoire d'Osman premier du nom, XIXe empereur des Turcs, et de l'impératrice Aphendina Ashada by Madame de Gomez in 1736, describing the life of Osman II, it states that Kösem was "one of the most active in politics and enterprising women of her time, which she achieved by insidious intrigues from ambitious motives."[192]


Name Birth Death Details
Ayşe Sultan 1605/08 1656/57 Married to Damad Gümülcineli Nasuh Pasha, Damad Karakaş Mehmed Pasha, Damad Hafız Ahmed Pasha, Damad Murtaza Pasha, Damad Ahmed Pasha, Damad Voynuk Ahmed Pasha, Damad Ibşir Mustafa Pasha and Damad Ermeni Süleyman Pasha in 1612, 1620, 1626, 1635, 1639, 1645, 1655 and 1656, respectively. Buried in Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque.[193][4]
Fatma Sultan 1607 1670 Married to Damad Çatalcalı Hasan Pasha, Damad Kara Mustafa Pasha, Damad Sarrac Hasan, Canpoladzade Mustafa Pasha, Damad Hoca Yusuf Pasha, Damad Maksud Pasha, Damad Melek Ahmed Pasha, Damad Kanbur Mustafa Pasha, Damad Közbekçi Yusuf Pasha in 1624, 1628, 1629, 1632, 1636, 1639, 1662, 1663 and 1667, respectively. Buried in Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque.[193][194]
Hanzade Sultan 1608 23 September 1650 Married to Ladikli Bayram Pasha and Nakkaş Mustafa Pasha in 1623 and 1639, respectively. Buried in Ibrahim I Mausoleum, Hagia Sophia Mosque.[194]
Gevherhan Sultan 1609 1660 Married to Öküz Mehmed Pasha and Topal Recep Pasha in 1612 and 1624, respectively. Buried in Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque.[193][194]
Murad IV 27 July 1612 8 February 1640 Ayşe Sultan was his only known consort. Buried in Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, sultan from 20 January 1623 until his death.[193][195]
Şehzade Süleyman 1613 27 July 1635 Buried in Ahmed I Mausoleum, Sultan Ahmed Mosque.[193][4]
Şehzade Kasım 1614 17 February 1638 Buried in Murad III Mausoleum, Hagia Sophia Mosque, heir apparent to the Ottoman throne since 1635.[193][80]
Ibrahim 5 November 1615 18 August 1648 Married to Hümaşah Sultan in 1647, his only legal wife. He had 7 other consorts, including Turhan Sultan. Buried in Mustafa I Mausoleum, Hagia Sophia Mosque, sultan from 9 February 1640 until his deposition on 8 August 1648.[193][195]

In popular cultureEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ottoman Turkish: كوسم سلطان, romanized: Kösem Sulṭān, Turkish pronunciation: [cœˈsɛm suɫˈtan]
  2. ^ Persian: ماه پيكر, romanizedMāh-peyker, Persian pronunciation: [mahpejˈkɛɾ suɫˈtan]


  • Davis, Fanny (1970). The Palace of Topkapi in Istanbul. Scribner. OCLC 636864790.
  • Imber, Colin (2009). The Ottoman Empire. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Kohen, Elli (2006). History of the Turkish Jews and Sephardim: Memories of a Past Golden Age. Maryland: University Press of America.
  • Mansel, Philip (1995). Constantinople: City of the World's Desire, 1453–1924. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0719550769.
  • Peirce, Leslie P. (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195086775.
  • Piterberg, Gabriel (2003). An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play. California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23836-2.
  • Tezcan, Baki (2007). "The Debut of Kösem Sultan's Political Career". Turcica. Éditions Klincksieck. 39–40.
  • Thys-Senocak, Lucienne (2006). Ottoman Women Builders. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Junne, George H. (2016). The Black Eunuchs of the Ottoman Empire: Networks of Power in the Court of the Sultan. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8577-2808-1.


  1. ^ a b c Baysun, M. Cavid, s.v. "Kösem Walide or Kösem Sultan" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam vol. V (1986), Brill, p. 272
  2. ^ a b c Peirce 1993, p. 252.
  3. ^ Douglas Arthur Howard, The official History of Turkey, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-30708-3, p. 195
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peirce 1993, p. 105.
  5. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 105: While Hurrem was the woman of the Ottoman dynasty best known in Europe, it is Kösem who is remembered by the Turks as the most powerful.
  6. ^ Dankoff, Robert (1991). The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman, Melek Ahmed Pasha, (1588-1662 : As Portrayed in Evliya Celeb's Book of Travels). State University of New York Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0791406410.
  7. ^ Necdet Sakaoğlu (2007). Famous Ottoman women. Avea. p. 129.
  8. ^ Finkel, Caroline (2005). Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. New York: Basic Books. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-465-02396-7.
  9. ^ A.H. de Groot (1993). s.v. Murad IV in The Encyclopaedia of Islam vol. VII. Brill. p. 597. ISBN 90-04-07026-5. Kosem [qv] Mahpeyker, a woman of Greek origin (Anastasia, 1585–1651)
  10. ^ Hogan, Christine (2006). The Veiled Lands: A Woman's Journey Into the Heart of the Islamic World. Macmillan Publishers Aus. p. 74. ISBN 9781405037013.
  11. ^ Amila Buturović; İrvin Cemil Schick (2007). Women in the Ottoman Balkans: gender, culture and history. I.B.Tauris. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-84511-505-0. Kösem, who was of Greek origin. Orphaned very young, she found herself at the age of fifteen in the harem of Sultan Ahmed I.
  12. ^ Sakaoglu, Necdet (2008). Bu Mulkun Kadin Sultanlari. Oglak. p. 306. ISBN 978-9753297172.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Fanny, Davis (1970). The Palace of Topkapi in Istanbul. New York, Scribner. p. 227.
  14. ^ Redhouse Turkish/Ottoman-English Dictionary (14th ed.). SEV Matbaacılık ve Yayıncılık A.Ş. 1997. p. 722. ISBN 978-975-8176-11-3.
  15. ^ a b Davis 1970, pp. 227–228: "Kosem was said to have been the daughter of a Greek priest of one of the Aegean islands, probably captured during one of the Ottoman-Venetian maritime campaigns. Her name was Anastasia but was changed after her conversion, no doubt on her admission to the palace, to Mâh-Peyker (Moon-Shaped), and later by Sultan Ahmet to Kosem"
  16. ^ a b Rank, Scott. History's 9 Most Insane Rulers. United States: Recorded Books, Inc. and Blackstone Publishing. pp. 4, Chapter. 4. ISBN 978-1664494176.
  17. ^ Kadınlar Saltanatı III. 14; Samur Devri: 27-28.
  18. ^ Redhouse Turkish/Ottoman-English Dictionary (14th ed.). SEV Matbaacılık ve Yayıncılık A.Ş. 1997. p. 722. ISBN 978-975-8176-11-3.
  19. ^ CROUTIER, Alex (1989). HAREM : The World Behind the Veil. p. 118. ISBN 978-0747504979.
  20. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 129.
  21. ^ Tezcan 2001, p. 337 n. 81.
  22. ^ Relazioni di ambascitori veneti al Senato..., op. cit., s. 22, 649.
  23. ^ Shaw 1977, p. 190.
  24. ^ a b c Piterberg 2003, p. 18.
  25. ^ [L]a Bas Cadin, principalissima favorita del Gran Signore, e madre del secondogenito di Sua Maesta the chiaman ora regina; "BAROZZI and BERCHET, eds., Le relazioni degli stati europei: Turchia, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 132 [FIRPo, ed., Relazioni : Constantinopoli,op. cit., p. 480]
  26. ^ Börekçi, Günhan (2010). "Factions and Favorites at the Courts of Sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603-17) and His Immediate Predecessors": 248. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ a b c d e Peirce 1993, p. 233.
  28. ^ Mehmed bin Mehmed, Tarîh, pp. 40-42; and Tezcan, "Searching for Osman", pp. 97-98, 120-123, 214-215.
  29. ^ DELLA VALLE, Reiss-Beschreibung, op. cit., p. 33; and TEZCAN, "Searching for Osman", op. cit., p. 334, n. 58.
  30. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 224.
  31. ^ Freely, John (2001). Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of the Sultans in Istanbul. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 108. ISBN 978-1784535353.
  32. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 106.
  33. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 99.
  34. ^ Kia 2017, p. 76.
  35. ^ George H. 2016, p. 255.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries, pp. 199-201
  37. ^ Shaw 1977, p. 191.
  38. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 128.
  39. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 311.
  40. ^ Güler, Mustafa, Osmanlı Devleti‟nde Haremeyn Vakıfları, (Istanbul, Tarih ve Tabiat Vakfı, 2002), p. 60
  41. ^ a b c d Mansel 1995, p. 200.
  42. ^ a b c Hathaway, Jane (30 August 2018). The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Harem: From African Slave to Power-Broker. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107108295.
  43. ^ Shaw 1977, p. 193.
  44. ^ Jenkins 2010, p. 149.
  45. ^ Koçu, R.E., Kösem Sultan, c. I, (Istanbul, Doğan, 2002), p.202
  46. ^ Leslie P. Peirce, Kösem Sultan: İktidar Hırs ve Entrika. 2015.
  47. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 235.
  48. ^ Klaus Kreiser: Der osmanische Staat 1300–1922. München 2001, S. 1.
  49. ^ John Freely: Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of Sultans in Istanbul (Tauris Parke Paperbacks) Paperback – December 30, 2016.
  50. ^ History's 9 Most Insane Rulers, Scott Rank. 2016. p. 80
  51. ^ a b c d e Stern, Bernhard (1934). The scented garden : anthropology of the sex life in the Levant. New York: American Ethnological Press. p. 120.
  52. ^ a b c Peirce 1993, p. 223.
  53. ^ Kohen 2006, p. 131.
  54. ^ Victor Ostapchuk, "The Human Landscape of the Ottoman Black Sea in the Face of the Cossack Naval Raids", Oriente Moderno 20 (81), (no. 1 (2001): 23-95), 64; Halil İnalcık, "Karadeniz'de Kazaklar ve Rusya: İstanbul Boğazı Tehlikede", 61; Gizem Dörter, "A Future for the Upper Bosphorus: A Historical Survey of the Upper Bosphorus and a Proposal for a Sustainable Heritage Management Plan", (M.A. Thesis, Koç University, Graduate School of Social Sciences, 2010), 127. For a detailed analysis on the Cossack pirate activities in the Bosphorus, see Victor Ostapchuk, "The Ottoman Black Sea Frontier and the Relations of the Porte with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Muscovy, 1622-1628", (unpubl. PhD. thesis, Harvard University, 1989) 78-83.
  55. ^ Dörter, "A Future for the Upper Bosphorus", 129; Evliya Çelebi, Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi: 1. Kitap: İstanbul Topkapı Sarayı Bağdat 304 Yazmasının Transkripsiyonu-Dizini, prep. by Orhan Şaik Gökyay (İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1996) p. 197, "258. Fasıl ... Murâd Hân asrında bu boğazdan içeri küffâr-ı âk Kazak girüp Yeniköy ve Tarabya kasabası ve Büyükdere'yi ve Sarıyâr kasabaların nehb [ü] gâret etdüği Murâd Hân-ı Râbie mün'akis olup tîz cümle a'yân-ı dîvân ile meşveret edüp ve vezîri Kapudan Receb Paşa'nın ve Kuzu Alî Ağa'nın re'y [ü] tedbîrleri ile bu boğazın ağzında iki tarafa birer Kilidü'l-Bahr-i Siyâh kal'aları inşâ olunması fermân-ı şehriyârî sâdır olup sene (---) şehrinde mübâşeret edüp bir senede iki kal'a-i hısn-ı hasîn ve sedd-i metîn kal'ateyn tamâmeyn oldular."
  56. ^ Quataert 2000, p. 33.
  57. ^ Ben-Naeh 2008, p. 22.
  58. ^ Roe 2010, p. 150: The sultana mother, with this vizier, finding it impossible to provide for the next pay by the ordinarie entrata, have resolved to change the mint, and to remove it into the Scraglio; where they now give out all the saddles, bridles, bitts, stirrups, chains, and ould plate of silver and gold that can be found, to make coins.
  59. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 250.
  60. ^ In addition to Koçi Bey's Risale, the works written for Murad included Aziz Efendi's Kanunname-i Sultanî and the head chancellor Avni Ömer Efendi's Kanun-i Osmanî M efhum-i Defter-i Hakanî. The work presented to Osman II was Kitab-i M üstetab. These works have been edited by, respectively, R. Murphey, İ. FI. UzunçarSili. and Y. Yücel.
  61. ^ Cited in Hammer, Histoire, 7:320, n. 1.
  62. ^ The Negotiations of Thomas Roe in his Embassy to the Ottoman Empire from the year 1621 to the year 1628
  63. ^ Carr, K.E. The Mughal Empire – History of India. Quatr.us Study Guides, July 19, 2017. Web. January 11, 2022.
  64. ^ Sungarso 2021, p. 111.
  65. ^ Özgüles, 2017 & ch. 1.
  66. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 145.
  67. ^ Dunn 2018, p. 154.
  68. ^ The Janissaries were the elite infantry troops under the sultan's control.
  69. ^ Hanks, 2002 & ch. 10.
  70. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 243.
  71. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 245.
  72. ^ Mansel 1995, pp. 200–201.
  73. ^ Piterberg 2003, p. 26, Murad's succession.
  74. ^ Ibid.. 22, Baysun. Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. "Kosem Sultan", 5:272.
  75. ^ İpşirli, art. Ahîzâde Hüseyin Efendi, İA2 1.548–9
  76. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 241.
  77. ^ Niaz 2014, p. 215.
  78. ^ Ibidem, s. 298.
  79. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 193.
  80. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 259.
  81. ^ Naima, Mustafa (1968). Naîmâ târihi, Volume 3. Z. Danışman Yayınevi. p. 1459.
  82. ^ Croutier 1989, p. 119.
  83. ^ Barozzi and Berchet, Le Relazioni, 1:374.
  84. ^ Davis 1970, p. 228.
  85. ^ Oral, 'Tarih-i Gılmani', 36
  86. ^ a b Börekçi, Günhan. "Ibrahim I." Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Ed. Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Masters. New York: Facts on File, 2009. p. 263
  87. ^ Freely, John (2001). Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of the Sultans in Istanbul. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 146. ISBN 978-1784535353.
  88. ^ Mouton (1987). "Archivum Ottomanicum". 10–11: 73. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  89. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 215.
  90. ^ Joseph von Hammer: Osmanlı Tarihi cilt II (condensation: Abdülkadir Karahan), Milliyet yayınları, İstanbul. p 231
  91. ^ Ayhan Buz : Osmanlı Sadrazamları, Neden Yayınları, İstanbul, 2009 ISBN 978-975-254-278-5 p 96
  92. ^ Pohl, N. (2006).Women, Space, Utopia, 1600-1800. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, p. 141.
  93. ^ Şefika, Şule. "Women Leaders in Chaotic Environments". 2016. P. 81
  94. ^ Freely, John 1998, p. 26.
  95. ^ Argit 2020, p. 82.
  96. ^ Tibballs 2005.
  97. ^ Rycaut, Paul 1694, p. 493.
  98. ^ Argit 2012, p. 82.
  99. ^ Gibb, Sir H. A. R. (1998). "The Encyclopaedia of Islam". 10: 272. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  100. ^ Rycaut, Paul 1694, p. 492.
  101. ^ Davis 1970, p. 229.
  102. ^ a b Rank, Scott. History's 9 Most Insane Rulers p.76
  103. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 258.
  104. ^ Elhassan, Khalid (26 December 2017). "The Surprising Pastimes of 10 of History's Worst Rulers Will Leave You Scratching Your Head". historycollection. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  105. ^ Rycaut, Paul 1694, p. 495.
  106. ^ Mansel, 1995 & ch. 4.
  107. ^ Thys-Senocak 2006, p. 25-26.
  108. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 263.
  109. ^ Quioted in Thys-Senocak, p. 26
  110. ^ Shepard, Edward. History of the Ottoman Turks: from the beginning of their empire, p. 17
  111. ^ Thys-Senocak, p. 26
  112. ^ The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power by Colin Imber, p. 69
  113. ^ Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire p.55-103
  114. ^ Baer 2007, p. 36.
  115. ^ Kohen, Eli. History of the Turkish Jews and Sephardim: Memories of a Past Golden Age. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2007. Page 142.
  116. ^ Morgan, Robert (21 September 2016). History of the Coptic Orthodox People and the Church of Egypt. FriesenPress. ISBN 9781460280270.
  117. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 251.
  118. ^ Thys-Senocak, p. 17
  119. ^ Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe, p. 35
  120. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 143.
  121. ^ Rycaut, Paul. "The Present State of the Ottoman Empire", p.13
  122. ^ Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries P.21
  123. ^ Davis 1970, p. 71.
  124. ^ Mansel 1995, p. 201.
  125. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 284.
  126. ^ Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. "Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Volume 1." 1835-1843. pp. 204-205
  127. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 251-252.
  128. ^ Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. "Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Volume 1." 1835-1843. pp. 205
  129. ^ Finkel 2005, p. 229.
  130. ^ Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatname, quoted in Dankoff, An Ottoman Mentality, 70, 71.
  131. ^ Naima, Tarih-i Naima, 5:54–59.
  132. ^ The original title is Mizanü'l-hakk. See The Balance of Truth, by Katip Chelebi, translated with an introduction and notes by G. L. Lewis, Ethical and Religious Classics of East and West, no. 19 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1957); M. Tayyib Gökbilgin, "Katip Çelebi, Interprète et rénovateur des traditions religieuses au XVIIe siècle," Turcica 3 (1971): 71–79.
  133. ^ Baer 2007, p. 49.
  134. ^ Ibid.; Vecihi Hasan Çelebi, Tarih-i Vecihi, fols. 85a–87a; Silahdar, Tarih-i Silahdar, 1:59.
  135. ^ Ahmed Dede, Jami' al-Duwal, fol. 776b.
  136. ^ Baer 2007, p. 49-50.
  137. ^ Finkel 2005, p. 433—434.
  138. ^ a b Isom-Verhaaren 2016, p. 229.
  139. ^ Ibid,. fols. 61a-62b.
  140. ^ Freely 2000, p. 156.
  141. ^ Ali Ufkî Bey, Albertus Bobovius, Saray-ı Enderun: Topkapı Sarayı'nda Yaşam, translated by Türkis Noyan, İstanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2013.
  142. ^ Gulielmus D. Macray,Catalogi Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae, Fasciculus Quartus, Oxonii E Typographeo Clarendoniano, 1898 s. 445 no. 1361/7.
  143. ^ Behar, Musıkiden Müziğe: Osmanlı/Türk Müziği: Gelenek ve Modernlik, p. 20.
  144. ^ George H. 2016, p. 175.
  145. ^ George H. 2016, p. 175—176.
  146. ^ George H. 2016, p. 176.
  147. ^ Kalmar 2012, p. 97.
  148. ^ Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. "Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Tome 11 / par J." 1835-1843. pp. 271
  149. ^ Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph. "Osmanli Imparatorlugu Tarihi". 2. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  150. ^ Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. "Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Tome 11 / par J." 1835-1843. pp. 280
  151. ^ Davis 1970, p. 230.
  152. ^ Croutier 1989, p. 120.
  153. ^ a b Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of the Sultans in Istanbul, John Freely. ch. 10
  154. ^ George H. 2016, p. 177.
  155. ^ Paul Ricaut, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun Hâlihazırının Tarihi (XVII. Yüzyıl), (terc. Halil İnalcık-Nihan Özyıldırım; çeviriyazı Ali Emre Özyıldırım; Giriş Bülent Arı), İstanbul 2012, s. 31.
  156. ^ Rycaut, Paul. "The Present State of the Ottoman Empire", p.20
  157. ^ Rycaut, Paul. "The Present State of the Ottoman Empire", p.37
  158. ^ Rycaut, Paul. "The Present State of the Ottoman Empire", p.21
  159. ^ Thys-Senocak, p. 28
  160. ^ Rycaut, Paul. "The present state of the Ottoman Empire" p.18
  161. ^ John Freely, Inside the Seraglio, p. 158
  162. ^ Singh, Nagendra Kr (2000). International encyclopaedia of Islamic dynasties. Anmol Publications PVT. p. 425. ISBN 81-261-0403-1. Kosem Walide...Her body was taken from Topkapi to the Eski Saray and then buried in the mausoleum of her husband Ahmad I.
  163. ^ Freely & 2000 158.
  164. ^ Naima, Tarih-i Naima, 5:113.
  165. ^ Baer 2007, p. 47.
  166. ^ Nihadi, Tarih-i Nihadi, fol. 158b.
  167. ^ Necdet Sakaoğlu (2007). Famous Ottoman women. Avea. p. 136. It was a tradition to light candles for her soul at nights, and this tradition continued until the Topkapi Palace harem was closed.
  168. ^ Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. "Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Tome 11 / par J." 1835-1843. pp. 282
  169. ^ Thys-Senocak, Lucienne: Ottoman Women Builders: The Architectural Patronage of Hadice Turhan Sultan. Ch. 2
  170. ^ Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries P. 203
  171. ^ Ibid., 101
  172. ^ Naima, Tarih-i Naima, 5:132-148. See also Ulucay, Harem II, 47-5o. Ulucay also believes that the interference of harem women in politics was one of the main reasons for the decline of Ottoman power.
  173. ^ Farah, Ceaser E. "Decision making and change in the Ottoman Empire" p=172
  174. ^ Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire P.22
  175. ^ Ozgules, Muzaffer (2017). The Women Who Built the Ottoman World: Female Patronage and the Architectural Legacy of Gulnus Sultan. I.B. Tauris. p. 51. ISBN 978-1784539269.
  176. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 209.
  177. ^ Hunt 2010, p. 318.
  178. ^ Stern, Bernhard 1934, p. 125.
  179. ^ a b Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. "Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours. Tome 11 / par J." 1835-1843. pp. 286
  180. ^ Naima, Tarih, 5:113.
  181. ^ Osmanlı Kadınlarının Yunanistan'da Bulunan Eserleri, pp. 225
  182. ^ Ozgules, Muzaffer (2017). The Women Who Built the Ottoman World: Female Patronage and the Architectural Legacy of Gulnus Sultan. I.B. Tauris. p. 52. ISBN 978-1784539269.
  183. ^ Şefika Şule Erçetin (28 November 2016). Women Leaders in Chaotic Environments:Examinations of Leadership Using Complexity Theory. Springer. p. 83. ISBN 978-3-319-44758-2.
  184. ^ İbrahim Alaeddin Gövsa / Türk Meşhurları (1946), Ana Britanica Ansiklopedisi (13. cilt, 1986), Büyük Larousse Ansiklopedisi (12. cilt, s. 7064, 1986), M. Çağatay Uluçay / Padişahların Kadınları ve Kızları (1992), Mücteba İlgürel / Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi (26. cilt, s. 273-275, 2002), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Kadınlar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 6, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey's Famous People. {{cite book}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  185. ^ Isom-Verhaaren 2016, p. 199.
  186. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 248.
  187. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 216.
  188. ^ Kumrular, a.g.e., s. 296.
  189. ^ Sakaoglu, Necdet (2008). Bu Mulkun Kadin Sultanlari. Oglak. pp. 315–316. ISBN 978-9753297172.
  190. ^ Isom-Verhaaren 2016, p. 201.
  191. ^ Michel Baudier, Histoire générale du Serail et de la cour du grand seigneur Empereur des Turcs, 1623, s. 56.
  192. ^ Madame de Gomez, Histoire de Osman Premier..., op. cit., wstęp.
  193. ^ a b c d e f g Singh, Nagendra Kr (2000). International encyclopaedia of Islamic dynasties (reproduction of the article by M. Cavid Baysun "Kösem Walide or Kösem Sultan" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam vol V). Anmol Publications PVT. pp. 423–424. ISBN 81-261-0403-1. Through her beauty and intelligence, Kösem Walide was especially attractive to Ahmed I, and drew ahead of more senior wives in the palace. She bore the sultan four sons – Murad, Süleyman, Ibrahim and Kasim – and three daughters – 'Ayşe, Fatma and Djawharkhan. These daughters she subsequently used to consolidate her political influence by strategic marriages to different viziers.
  194. ^ a b c Peirce 1993, p. 365.
  195. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 232.
  196. ^ Turkish screenwriter tells Ottoman history through one woman's life
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  198. ^ "Kösem Sultan – Nurgül Yeşilçay". www.fox.com.tr. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
Ottoman royalty
Preceded by Haseki Sultan
26 November 1605 – 22 November 1617
Succeeded by
Preceded by Valide Sultan
10 September 1623 – 2 September 1651
Succeeded by