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Süleyman and Mihrimah: The Favorite’s Daughter

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Due to the fact that an Ottoman princess never succeeded to the throne, princesses are usually dismissed as political ciphers lacking power or influence. Mihrimah (Mehr-o-māh), the only daughter of Süleyman (Solaymān) and his concubine (later wife) Hurrem (Khorram), wielded more power during her father’s reign than did her brothers. Together with her mother, and her grand vizier husband, Rüstem (Rostam) Pasha, she belonged to the most powerful faction of her father’s reign. Rare among Süleyman’s favorites, these three never lost his regard leading to loss of status and/or life. By examining Mihrimah’s architectural patronage, her correspondence with her father, her amassment of great wealth, and her involvement in administrative appointments and decisions regarding military expeditions, this article analyzes the particular quality and origin of Mihrimah’s influence and power. It argues that because Mihrimah was female and ineligible to succeed to the sultanate, she was able to develop a closer relationship with her father than could his sons who were candidates for the throne, and thus potentially could revolt against him. This closeness continued even after death, for Mihrimah was the only one of Süleyman’s children to be buried with him in his tomb.

Affiliations: 1: Benedictine University


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