Monday, April 15, 2019

The Imperial Harem

From Ancient Origins:
The harem was the ultimate symbol of power and wealth of the Sultan. His ownership of women and eunuchs, mostly as slaves, showed his wealth and prowess. The institution of the harem was introduced in Turkish society with the adoption of Islam, under the influence of the Arab Caliphate which the Ottoman’s sought to emulate. 
Most of the men and women within the harem were bought as slaves to ensure obedience, however some remained free. The main wives, especially those married to solidify personal and dynastic alliances were free women. Slaves and free men and women alike were given an education within the harem. At the end of their respective educations, the men and women would be married off to each other. Subsequently, the men would be sent to occupy administrative posts in the empire’s provinces. 
Due to this practice, only a small number of women were chosen to become part of the Sultan’s personal harem of concubines. This group of women was governed by the Valide Sultan, typically the Sultan’s own mother. An even smaller number of women would be chosen as the Sultan’s favourites, or the hasekis. Even these women could be chosen to be married off or sent as gifts to valued members of the Ottoman elite, that is if they hadn’t had sexual relations with the Sultan himself. (Read more.)

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