Mahidevran Hatun.

About the character of my upcoming poem.

Painting of Mahidevran Hatun

Mahidevran Hatun (Hatun means Lady). Popularly known these days as Mahidevran Sultan. This is not a fictional character or a living real character, this is someone who passed away 440 years ago. Interesting isn’t it? Why would someone even think about a lady who was born in the year 1500? Her life. I saw a series called Magnificent Century – Kösem the story about one of the most powerful ladies in the Magnificent Century era of the Ottoman Empire. Well, the so-called Magnificent Century started almost 100 years before the arrival of Kösem Sultan into the Ottoman empire. It started with Hurrem Sultan. So after watching the fictionalized version of Kösem Sultan’s story, I went back a bit to know more about Hurrem. When I started watching that part it started with Sultan Sulieman coming to take the throne as the emperor of the Ottoman Empire. By that time he already had a lady, Mahidevran, and a son with her, a boy called Mustafa who was 5 years old at that time. That part was viciously fictionalized with jealous rages and fights between Mahidevran and Alexandra who later converts to Islam and become Hurrem. The acting of Nur Fettahoğlu maybe the trigger point in me following not the heroine. But I started researching who this character was historically. That’s where the goose chase started there is hardly any information I can get my hands on about this lady.

An early painting of Mahidevran

Not a lot of people know about her birthplace or early life. But the best and realistic information I got surprised me further. Mahidevran was born to an Albanian Musician who was a Muslim and from early information available she was married to then Prince Suleiman when she was 12 years old. At the age of 15 she gave birth to their first born Prince Mustafa. I wondered what the hell this little girl was doing in the princely harem of an Ottoman Province?

An early painting of a young Mahidevran

Okay, now we need more explanations, what is a harem? In those days, slavery was widespread in Europe and middle east. people of nobility as well as rulers have harems filled with these slaves. The slaves are subjects or properties which they can own and use. They don’t have much rights and any children are directly owned by their masters. So these Sultans don’t have to marry them so they buy these slaves/concubines from European slave markets and bring them to the harem in the topkapi palace in Istanbul. Mahidevran as we know now was not a slave even though in the show she is called a slave. There were bitter rivalry between Mahidevran and Hurrem in the early days… but as even the Sultan is forbidden to speak about the harem no one knows what all happened in there. There were Venetian reports which were nothing but National Enquirer type gossips in those days about Mahidevran beating and scratching the face of Hurrem. But many Turkish historians disputed these claims as Mahidevran lived at the Topkapi palace until Mustafa was old enough to go for administrative training in a province.

Here is where Mahidevran’s life changed for the better. The so-called abandoned wife of Suleiman raised a boy who became a sensation wherever he went as he was loved by the army, people, ladies all around the empire. His popularity is exactly was the scheaming lady Hurrem used against him and fabricating evidence that he is organizing a revolt against the Sultan, Hurrem requested Prince Mustafa to be executed and the henpecked Sultan obliged.

This didn’t go well for Mahidevran and Mustafa’s family. Mustafa was only known to have one concubine his oldest was a girl the second child was a 5 year old boy. The boy also was executed by strangulation. The girl Nargis Shah was taken away and married away to some old man. Mahidevran’s life fell apart as she moved to Bursa where her son was buried. People in Bursa taunted her and anyone who helped her. She was neck deep in debt with no money to even pay rent. After Hurrem died in 1558 things got a little better. By the order of Sultan Suleiman, his son Selim paid off Mahidevran’s debts and bought her a house and allowed an income. Mahidevran never lived the life of a Sultana. She lived the rest of her life in prayers near her son’s grave. After Sultan Suleiman passed away, Selim became the Sultan and he built the mausoleum of Prince Mustafa. All the children Sultan Suleiman had in Hurrem died one after the other and Mahidevran outlived all of them, Mahidevran passed away in 1581 at the age of 81 living a long life in the standards of those times. She was buried in the mausoleum of her son.

It is going to take a significant effort to write about this character. I am going to take a much modern approach to write this. In my busy life, I am estimating approximately a year to finish this project. Don’t you all know.. I love writing especially about heartbroken people whose life in some way resonate with mine.

One Reply to “Mahidevran Hatun.”

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