Reading 19: A Visit to the Wife of Suleiman the Magnificent (Translated from a Genoese
Letter), c. 1550
When I entered the kiosk in which she lives, I was received by many eunuchs in splendid
costume blazing with jewels, and carrying scimitars in their hands. They led me to an inner
vestibule, where I was divested of my cloak and shoes and regaled with refreshments.
Presently an elderly woman, very richly dressed, accompanied by a number of young girls,
approached me, and after the usual salutation, informed me that the Sultana Asseki was
ready to see me. All the walls of the kiosk in which she lives are covered with the most
beautiful Persian tiles and the floors are of cedar and sandalwood, which give out the most
delicious odor. I advanced through an endless row of bending female slaves, who stood on
either side of my path. At the entrance to the apartment in which the Sultana consented to
receive me, the elderly lady who had accompanied me all the time made me a profound
reverence, and beckoned to two girls to give me their aid; so that I passed into the presence of
the Sultana leaning upon their shoulders. The Sultana, who is a stout but beautiful young
woman, sat upon silk cushions striped with silver, near a latticed window overlooking the
sea. Numerous slave women, blazing with jewels, attended upon her, holding fans, pipes for
smoking, and many objects of value.
When we had selected from these, the great lady, who rose to receive me, extended her hand
and kissed me on the brow, and made me sit at the edge of the divan on which she reclined.
She asked many questions concerning our country and our religion, of which she knew