Women In The Imperial Harem

663 Words3 Pages
Women of royal courts in the imperial harem had significant influence over the Ottoman emperor. Contrary to popular belief pertaining to concubines, women who were part of a harem exhibited a degree of power that allowed them to move up the hierarchy and into the inner circle of the Sultan. Western media portrays harems and court culture in an orientalist fashion. Harems are depicted as an elaborately exotic and promiscuous aspect of the Eastern world, and almost always centered on female concubines. From an orientalist perspective, the number of female concubines in a harem exhibits a degree of mystique; however, the royal courts were not merely focused on women, but also integrated the power of men. The complexity of a harem is often understated in Western depiction of court culture. A hierarchy within the harem exists to permit mobility. A concubine may become an ikbal, or a favorite, of the Sultan if she births a male child. However, the harem did not solely consist of female concubines. Eunuchs were integral to the harem and were considered…show more content…
Many posit that harem women had little value or influence over political or social affairs; however, despite the conventional ideology of men’s dominance in royal matters, some women played an important role both politically and socially in the Ottoman culture. For example, Roxelana, also known as Rossa in Istanbul, was a Ukrainian slave brought in as a concubine for Suleyman the Magnificent. She rose to power after becoming Suleyman’s favorite consort, and she often accompanied him in public outings. She was the first to ever marry a Sultan, and her sons became heir to the throne. This, once again, proves the harem was not necessarily about men’s dominance, but rather an establishment that allowed certain women to elevate their

More about Women In The Imperial Harem

Open Document