ottoman empire - imperial harem-

ottoman empire - imperial harem- - The Power of Women in...

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The Power of Women in Ottoman Empire Politics In Leslie Peirce’s novel, The Imperial Harem , Peirce describes the power of women in politics and society both in the imperial harem and in the government of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout the book, she explains the importance of women in Ottoman society. She points out the power women possessed in a harem and their role with the reigning sultan and his potential successor. She expresses the traditional role of women and concubines in the imperial harem before the rule of the sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and then explains the growth in power women experienced in post- Suleyman society in Ottoman politics. Women, who gained power within the harem, also gained political power in the empire. Peirce aims to disprove the two common Western myths that believe harems to be purely sexual and that women had no power or influence outside of the harem itself. Women of the imperial harem were an integral and powerful part of family politics in the royal household. Similar to other pre-modern cultures, Ottomans used royal marriages to gain favorable alliances with other nations. However, by the end of the fourteenth century, Ottoman sultans began to reproduce through concubinage, while excluding their legal wife. In addition, because of the power the wife and mother of a sultan possessed, the sultan Murad I completely avoided taking a wife because she would need to be “treated as Queen.” (p. 39). Peirce points out that “After the fourteenth century or perhaps even as early as the mid-fourteenth century, virtually all royal children appear to have been born of concubines.” (p. 39). The growth of concubines, female slaves that a
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Muslim male could have an unlimited number of, displays the power that a royal wife and, even more so, a royal mother controlled. For example, according to the traveler Ibn Battuta, Orhan’s wife was given command of soldiers when he was not present. With the
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This essay was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course HIST 258 taught by Professor Kilic-schubel during the Spring '07 term at Kenyon.

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ottoman empire - imperial harem- - The Power of Women in...

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