chapter  8
30 Pages

THE POWER OF WOMEN IN THE SULTAN'S HAREM

Power of women in the Osman domain sounds almost paradoxical.

Through the gateway to blissfulness the way leads into the sacredness of blissfulness, into the innermost part of the court, into the chambers of the women. But blissfulness does not always rule there; tyraimy and caprice and misfortune prevail there more than elsewhere, and there the rulers and tyrants most frequently become slaves themselves. Suleimus the Great, whom one could designate as the most solid of all Osman monarchs, Suleimus, the most powerful and most important of all independent Osman rulers, was given to servility to the most beloved of his wives, let her dictate to him the ruin of his friend and favorite, Ibrahim., lie then felt for the first time her future power, and at her wish finally turned over the sceptre of highest power to her son-in-law Rustem, who, however, also could not rule according to his own reason, but according to that of his harem l\nd his mistress. This beloved bedfellow, and at times. truly faithful consort of Suleimus, the Sultana Chuerem the happy, was, according to Hammer, Russian born, whom French historians of her people called Roxelane. She exerted influence

on war and peace in the kingdom, governed not only the domestic, but also the foreign policies. She sought a desired opportunity to disclose in a wide field the generalship of her son-in-law, the Grandvizier Rustempascha, and also to have her oldest son, the prince Selim, the Governor of Magnesia, designated ambassador of the Sultan to the rulers of Europe; and in furtherance of this it was determined to declare war against Persia. Her son-in-law also succumbed to her power. Under Rustem's governorship the ruinous influence of the harem over important affairs first became apparent, and just as this influence of the harem appeared at first to serve and strengthen the purposes of the command of the Grandvizier, in fact the command of the Grandvizier since then began to be undermined, because the harem, once it had discovered an opening, in time its power, instead of assisting the Grandvizier, exercised -itself more against him, and later, not only the women, but even their watchers, the eunuchs, ruled.