Nakşidil Sultan

Nakşidil Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: نقش دل سلطان; 1761 – 28 July 1817;[2] meaning "Embroidered on the Heart" in Persian) was the ninth and last consort of Sultan Abdul Hamid I, and Valide Sultan to her son Mahmud II of the Ottoman Empire.

Nakşidil Sultan
Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Tenure28 July 1808 – 28 July 1817
Bornc. 1761[1]
Died28 July 1817 (aged 55-56)[2]
Beşiktaş Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
(present day Istanbul, Turkey)
Türbe of Nakşidil Sultan, Fatih Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
SpouseAbdul Hamid I
Among others
Turkish: Nakşidil Sultan
Ottoman Turkish: نقش دل سلطان
ReligionSunni Islam , previously Georgian Orthodox Christianity



According to various scholars, she came from a family with origins in the Caucasus region. Fikret Saraçoğlu has found in the archives of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul documents pertaining to her death and funeral.[3] Others like Necdet Sakaoğlu and Ibrahim Pazan traced these origins further and claim she was actually a Georgian. She was raised in the Ottoman palace and was given thoroughly Turkish Islamic education.[4][5]

Controversy over identityEdit

There is a fanciful legend that she was Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, who had gone missing at sea in 1788, and was a distant cousin-in-law of the former Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. According to this myth, Aimée du Buc de Rivéry was captured by Barbary pirates and sold as a harem concubine, though there is no evidence of this.[6]

Several older myths, dating back even to the early 16th century, already purported connections between the French and the Ottoman monarchies. These have been found to be politically motivated fabrications, intended to justify alliances between the two (supposedly related) monarchies. The Aimée-Nakşidil tale shows several distinct parallels to these older tales. In times of monarchy, the stories about abducted French princesses weren't repudiated by French officials to maintain good relations with the Ottoman inventors of the tales. In later times this and similar harem tales have been used in France to perpetuate a view of Turkey, the Middle East and the Islam in general as mysterious and despotic in nature, despite more accurate accounts available.[6]

However, fifty years later, in 1867, when Sultan Abdulaziz, son of Mahmud, went to Paris to be entertained by Napoleon III. He was greeted with great enthusiasm by Napoleon, who told the press that their grandmothers were related. Another invented tradition concerning a French woman with royal connections in the Ottoman harem was being created to support the political aspirations of the rulers of the Ottoman Empire and France. As in other examples of invented traditions, this legend was loosely connected with a historical phenomenon. Initially this legend also emphasized the relationship between the two rulers, just as the earlier myth had done.[7]

As imperial consortEdit

Nakşidil, who had been a lady-in-waiting to Esma Sultan, daughter of Sultan Ahmed III,[1] married Abdul Hamid in 1782. She was given the title of "Seventh Consort". On 22 October 1783, she gave birth to her first child, a son, Şehzade Murad Seyfullah, who died at the age of one year of smallpox on 3 March 1784.[1]

One year later, on 20 July 1785, she gave birth to her second child, a son, Şehzade Mahmud (future Sultan Mahmud II).[8] One year later, on 28 November 1786, she gave birth to her third child, a daughter, Saliha Sultan, who died at the age one on 10 April 1788.[9][1]

In 1788, Nakşidil commissioned a fountain in Sultanahmet next to the prison known as the "Nakşi Kadın Fountain".[8] She was widowed at Abdul Hamid's death in 1789.[1]

Widowhood and Valide SultanEdit

In 1807, after the accession of her stepson, Sultan Mustafa IV, her daily and weekly allocations were raised. During these years, the monthly and annual income sources of Nakşidil came from the three farms located in Taşçı Han, near the Fatih Mosque.[1]

In 1808, assassins sent by his half-brother Mustafa, aided by the Ulema, sought to murder Mahmud. Nakşidil saved her son by concealing him, so that he lived to become the next sultan, Mahmud II. Mahmud became sultan after having ordered the death of his half-brother, Mustafa, who had previously ordered the deaths of Mahmud II, and of their cousin, Selim III, whom he had deposed as sultan,[10] and Nakşidil became the Valide Sultan.[1]

In 1809, she commissioned a fountain near Sarıkadı Village in Üsküdar known as "Nakşidil Sultan fountain". In 1817, she established another fountain, kitchen, and her own mausoleum in Fatih.[11]

Death and aftermathEdit

In 1816, Nakşidil was struck by a severe illness. Two Greek doctors treated her but were unable to heal her. The chief physician advised Nakşidil to have some rest at the mansion of Gümrükçü Osman Ağa at Çamlıca, but the weather there affected her health, and so she returned to Beşiktaş Palace, where she died on 22 August 1817 of tuberculosis. She was buried in her own mausoleum located at Fatih, Istanbul.[8]

The wife of a French ambassador was present in Istanbul at the time of Nakşidil's death. She writes:[7]

The Valide sultan is dead. . . . It is said that the deceased Sultane was French, of American origin, and that she was born in Nantes; it is added that at barely two years old, her parents embarked with her for America and they were captured by a corsair who took them to Algiers, where they perished. The little girl was purchased by a slave merchant, who judged by her beauty at such a tender age, that she would one day amply compensate him for the care that he lavished upon her. He was not mistaken in his expectation; at fourteen she was a dazzling beauty, sold to the Dey of Algiers to be included in the tribute that he owed to the Grand-Seigneur. She was sent to Abdul Hamid, who found her beautiful and elevated her to the rank of Kadine, that is to say he married her. She gave him Mahmud, the reigning sultan. Mahmud has always had a great respect for his mother. It is said that she greatly surpassed in amiability the Circassians or Georgians which is not surprising since she was French.[7]

In 1818, her son Sultan Mahmud commissioned a fountain (sebil) known as "Nakşidil Sultan Sebil" in the memory of his mother.[12] Her son, and her grandson Abdulmejid I also died of Tuberculosis in 1839 and 1861 respectively.[8]


Together with Abdul Hamid, Nakşidil had three children:

  • Şehzade Sultan Seyfullah Murad (22 October 1783 – 21 January 1786);[13]
  • Mahmud II (Topkapı Palace, 20 July 1785 - Istanbul, Turkey, 1 July 1839, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married sixteen times and had forty children;[13]
  • Saliha Sultan (27 November 1786 – 10 April 1788);[13]


See alsoEdit

Mahmud II

Empress Joséphine


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "NAKŞİDİL SULTAN (ö. 1817): Sultan II.Mahmud'un annesi". İslam Ansiklopedisi. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu mülkün kadın sultanları: Vâlide sultanlar, hâtunlar, hasekiler, kadınefendiler, sultanefendiler. Oğlak Yayıncılık. p. 355. ISBN 978-9-753-29623-6. (Even though her date date was given as August 22nd 1817 in some sources, this information is incorrect, the correct death date is July 28th 1817).
  3. ^ Turkish Daily News Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ İbrahim Pazan (2007). Padişah anneleri. Babıali Kültür Yayıncılığı. ISBN 978-9-944-11831-6.
  5. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu mülkün kadın sultanları: Vâlide sultanlar, hâtunlar, hasekiler, kadınefendiler, sultanefendiler. Oğlak Publications. pp. 358–360. ISBN 978-9-753-29623-6.
  6. ^ a b Isom-Verhaaren 2006, p. 184.
  7. ^ a b c Isom-Verhaaren 2006, p. 185.
  8. ^ a b c d Uluçay 2011, p. 162.
  9. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 170.
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Encyclopædia Britannica: "Mustafa IV".
  11. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 162-63.
  12. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 163.
  13. ^ a b c Sarıcaoğlu, Fikret (2001). Kendi kaleminden bir Padişahın portresi Sultan I. Abdülhamid (1774-1789). Tatav, Tarih ve Tabiat Vakfı. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-9-756-59601-2.


  • Isom-Verhaaren, Christine (June 2006). "Royal French Women in the Ottoman Sultans' Harem: The Political Uses of Fabricated Accounts from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century". Journal of World History. 17 (2): 159–196. doi:10.1353/jwh.2006.0038. JSTOR 20079373. S2CID 53349842.
  • Uluçay, M. Çağatay (2011). Padişahların kadınları ve kızları. Ötüken. ISBN 978-9-754-37840-5.

External linksEdit

Ottoman royalty
Preceded by Valide Sultan
28 July 1808 – 22 August 1817
Succeeded by