Mihrimah Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: مهرماه سلطان, "Sun and Moon", Turkish pronunciation: [mihɾiˈmah suɫˈtan]; 19 March 1522 – 25 January 1578) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife, Hurrem Sultan. She was the most powerful imperial princess in Ottoman history and one of the prominent figures during the Sultanate of Women.
|Born||19 March 1522|
Old Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
|Died||25 January 1578 (aged 55)|
Old Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
(m. 1539; died 1561)
|Issue||Ayşe Hümaşah Sultan |
Sultanzade Osman Bey
|Father||Suleiman the Magnificent|
Mihrimah or Mihrümah means "Sun and Moon", or "Moon of the Suns" in Persian. To Westerners, she was known as Cameria, which is a variant of "Qamariah", an Arabic version of her name meaning "of the moon". Her portrait by Cristofano dell'Altissimo entitled as Cameria Solimani. She was also known as Hanım Sultan, which means "Madam Princess". Other Ottoman imperial princesses who also named “Mihrimah” and also Mihrimah Sultan's close relative were:
- Mihrimah's niece, daughter of Şehzade Bayezid (son of Suleiman the Magnificent; Mihrimah's younger full-brother)- Mihrümah Sultan
- Mihrimah's grandniece, daughter of Murad III (son of Selim II; Mihrimah's nephew)-Mihrimah Sultan
Mihrimah was born in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1522 during the reign of her father, Suleiman the Magnificent. Her mother was Hurrem Sultan, an Orthodox priest's daughter, who was the current Sultan's concubine at the time. In 1533 or 1534, her mother, Hurrem, was freed and became Suleiman's legal wife. She had five brothers, Şehzade Mehmed, Şehzade Abdullah, who died at the age of three years, Şehzade Selim (future Selim II), Şehzade Bayezid, and Şehzade Cihangir. She was well-educated and disciplined. She was also sophisticated, eloquent and wellread.
In 1539, Suleiman decided that Mihrimah be married to Rüstem, a devshirme from Croatia who rose to become Governor of Diyarbakır and later, Suleiman's Grand Vizier. However, Hurrem believed that she should be married to the more handsome governor of Cairo. According to a rumor circulated by Rüstem's enemies, he had leprosy. The doctor dispatched to Diyarbakır to examine him found proof that he was not leprous. There was a flea in his clothing, despite the fact that the fastidious Rüstem changed his garments daily.
The marriage took place on 26 November 1539 in the Old Palace, when Mihrimah was seventeen. Her wedding ceremony and the celebration for her younger brothers Bayezid and Cihangir's circumcision occurred on the same day, the collective festivities lasting fifteen days. Five years later in 1544, her husband was selected by Suleiman to become Grand Vizier. He held the post until his death in 1561, except for a two-year interval when he was dismissed to assuage popular outrage following the execution of the Şehzade Mustafa in 1553.
Shortly after her wedding she developed a rheumatoid-like condition and spent most of her life dealing with the illness. In 1544 she traveled to Bursa together with her mother and husband and a large military escort. Although Mihrimah and her mother made efforts to promote Rüstem as an intimate of the sultan, he was, however, kept at a distance from the royal presence. Mihrimah and Rüstem had one daughter, Ayşe Hümaşah Sultan, 1542, and a son, Sultanzade Osman Bey, 1547.
In 1554, Mihrimah suffered a life-threatening miscarriage from which she managed to recover. The couple lived in Pera, as recorded by an anonymous hand, though it is far more likely that they settled in Mihrimah's palace in Üsküdar. In March 1558, Shaykh Qutb al-Din al-Nahrawali, a Meccan religious figure visited Istanbul. In April, he met Mihrimah, and presented her gifts, which were taken apart from her mother's gifts on the suggestion of Shaykh Badr-al Din al-Qaysuni, the sultan's head physician. He met her again in June just before he left Istanbul for Cairo.
After Rüstem's death in 1561, she offered Semiz Ali Pasha, who had succeeded Rüstem as the grand vizier, to marry her. However, the pasha declined the offer. She then chose not to marry again, returning instead to the royal palace.
Although there is no proof of Hurrem or Mihrimah's direct involvement in her half-brother Şehzade Mustafa's downfall, Ottoman sources and foreign accounts indicate that it was widely believed that Hurrem, Rüstem and Mihrimah worked first to eliminate Mustafa so as ensure the throne to Hurrem's son and Mihrimah's full-brother, Bayezid. The rivalry ended in a loss for Mustafa when he was executed by his own father's command in 1553 during the campaign against Safavid Persia because of fear of rebellion. Although this stories were not based on first-hand sources, this fear of Mustafa was not unreasonable. Had Mustafa ascended to the throne, all Mihrimah's full-brothers (Selim, Bayezid, and Cihangir) would have likely been executed, according to the fratricide custom of the Ottoman dynasty, which required all brothers of the new sultan be executed to avoid feuds among imperial siblings. The three of them were also blamed for the execution in 1555 of the Grand Vizier Kara Ahmed Pasha, whose elimination cleared the way for Rüstem's return as the Grand Vizier.
Her mother sent letters to Sigismund II, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the contents of her letters were mirrored in letters written by Mihrimah, and sent by the same courier, who also carried letters from the sultan and her husband Rüstem Pasha the Grand Vizier. Mihrimah also became Suleiman's advisor, his confidant and his closest relative. After Hurrem's death, Mihrimah took her mother's place as her father's counselor, urging him to undertake the conquest of Malta in 1565, and sending him news and forwarding letters for him when he was absent from capital. She enlisted the help of the Grand Vizier Semiz Ali Pasha, and promising to outfit four hundred ships at her own expense. However, Suleiman and his son Selim prevented the campaign from going forward so that the admiral, Piyale Pasha, might remain in Istanbul with his new wife, Gevherhan Sultan, Selim's daughter. She also most likely fuelled Suleiman's decision to launch a campaign against Hungary in 1566, where he met his death in Szigetvár.
Due mainly to temporary closures of the western and/or eastern grain markets, shortages and poor harvests, the sixteenth century saw several crises. The citizens of the Dalmatian Republic of Ragusa managed to bridge them thanks to the supplies of Ottoman grain, in which Mihrimah played an essential role. The Ragusans decision to reach out to Mihrimah for support may have been the result of the tensions between the Republic and the kapudan pasha, Piyale Pasha. During the Ottoman siege of Malta in 1565, several Ragusan ships sailed in the Christian fleet. Piyale Pasha reported on this to the Porte. To Ragusan horror, his ships sailed into Ragusan waters and raided the island of Mljet. However, true problems emerged in the spring and summer of 1566, leading Ragusan ambassadors to petition Mihrimah to act as their protector.
In later years Mihrimah retired to the Old Palace. When Selim ascended the throne in 1566, he made his way to the harem at the earliest opportunity after arriving in the capital, and sought Mihrimah, as their mother had died eight years earlier. She continued to act as advisor to Selim. Her influence, due mainly to financial power, did not decline. As soon as he came to power, Selim turned to her for help as he needed money, after which she lend him fifty thousand gold coins. In 1571, the Ragusans asked her to speak with the sultan when the time allowed her, and to recommend them and "spare a couple of kind words for their love's sake".
In 1575, during the reign of her nephew Sultan Murad III, her daily stipend consisted of 600 aspers. The French refused to return two Turkish women who had been captured at sea by Henry III's brother-in-law and made members of Catherine de' Medici's court. Interceding on behalf of the Turkish women were Mihrimah and her niece, Ismihan Sultan. Cığalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha married her granddaughter in October 1576. Mihrimah provided Sinan with a huge dowry including gold and valuable clothes. She also showed her support for him against his rivals inside the court such as Safiye Sultan, Ferhad Pasha, Damat Ibrahim and Halil Pashas.
Mihrimah also sponsored a number of major architectural projects. Her most famous foundations are the two Istanbul-area mosque complexes that bear her name, both designed by her father's chief architect, Mimar Sinan. Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Turkish: Mihrimah Sultan Camii), also known as İskele Mosque (Turkish: İskele Camii), which is one of Üsküdar's most prominent landmarks and was built between 1543 or 1544 and 1548. The second mosque is also named as Mihrimah Sultan Mosque at the Edirne Gate, at the western wall of the old city of Istanbul. Its building took place from 1562 to 1565.
The twin minaret mosque complex in Üsküdar, a prominent landmark, consisted of a mosque, a madrasah, a soup kitchen to feed the poor, a clinic and a primary school. With the exception of the mosque, the primary school, library and madrasah are currently used to serve as an outpatient clinic. The mosque in Edirnekapı consists of a fountain, madrasah and hammam. Unlike its namesake, it features a single minaret.
Mimar Sinan, a sixteenth-century architect, was allegedly in love with Mihrimah. According to a story, he had first seen her while she was accompanying her father during the sultan's Moldova Campaign. To impress her, Sinan built a bridge spanning the Prut River in just thirteen days. He asked for her hand in marriage only to have his proposal rejected by her father. He in turn poured his heart into his architecture. He built the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Üsküdar to resemble the silhouette of a woman with her skirt sweeping the ground.
Mihrimah died in Istanbul on 25 January 1578 outliving all of her siblings. She is the only one of Suleiman's children to be buried in his tomb, the Süleymaniye Mosque complex.
In popular cultureEdit
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Ayşe Sultan duhter-i hazret-i Mihrümāh Sulțān el-mezbūre zevce-i Ahmed Paşa
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- Isom-Verhaaren, Christine (11 April 2016). "Mihrimah Sultan: A Princess Constructs Ottoman Dynastic Identity". In Christine Isom-Verhaaren; Kent F. Schull (eds.). Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253019486.
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- Atçıl, Zahit (2020). "Osmanlı Hanedanının Evlilik Politikaları ve Mihrimah Sultan'ın Evliliği". Güneydoğu Avrupa Araştırmaları Dergis (34): 1–26.
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