The Imperial Harem Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1993-09-02
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The unprecedented political power of the Ottoman imperial harem in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is widely viewed as illegitimate and corrupting. This book examines the sources of royal women's power and assesses the reactions of contemporaries, which ranged from loyal devotion to armed opposition. By examining political action in the context of household networks, Leslie Peirce demonstrates that female power was a logical, indeed an intended, consequence of political structures. Royal women were custodians of sovereign power, training their sons in its use and exercising it directly as regents when necessary. Furthermore, they played central roles in the public culture of sovereignty--royal ceremonial, monumental building, and patronage of artistic production. The Imperial Harem argues that the exercise of political power was tied to definitions of sexuality. Within the dynasty, the hierarchy of female power, like the hierarchy of male power, reflected the broader society's control for social control of the sexually active.

Author Biography

Leslie P. Peirce is Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

Preface vii(4)
Acknowledgments xi(2)
Glossary of Essential Terms xiii(2)
Notes on Transliteration and Translation xv(2)
List of Illustrations
Map of the Ottomans in Anatolia and Rumelia after Their Defeat by Timur (Tamerlane) in 1402
Map of the Ottoman Empire and Its Vassals during the Reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566)
Introduction: Myths and Realities of the Harem 3(12)
Part I The Politics of Reproduction 15(138)
1. The House of Osman
2. Wives and Concubines: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
3. The Age of the Favorite: 1520-1566
4. The Age of the Queen Mother: 1566-1656
5. The Imperial Harem Institution
Part II Women and Sovereign Power 153(114)
6. Shifting Images of Ottoman Sovereignty
7. The Display of Sovereign Prerogative
8. The Politics of Diplomacy
9. The Exercise of Political Power
Conclusion: Women, Sovereignty, and Society 267(20)
Appendix: Genealogical Charts
Notes 289(56)
Bibliography 345(18)
Index 363

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