1st Edition

Ottoman Women Builders The Architectural Patronage of Hadice Turhan Sultan

By Lucienne Thys-Senocak Copyright 2007
    346 Pages
    by Routledge

    348 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Examined here is the historical figure and architectural patronage of Hadice Turhan Sultan, the young mother of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV, who for most of the latter half of the seventeenth century shaped the political and cultural agenda of the Ottoman court. Captured in Russia at the age of twelve, she first served the reigning sultan's mother in Istanbul. She gradually rose through the ranks of the Ottoman harem, bore a male child to Sultan Ibrahim, and came to power as a valide sultan, or queen mother, in 1648. It was through her generous patronage of architectural works-including a large mosque, a tomb, a market complex in the city of Istanbul and two fortresses at the entrance to the Dardanelles-that she legitimated her new political authority as a valide and then attempted to support that of her son. Central to this narrative is the question of how architecture was used by an imperial woman of the Ottoman court who, because of customary and religious restrictions, was unable to present her physical self before her subjects' gaze. In lieu of displaying an iconic image of herself, as Queen Elizabeth and Catherine de Medici were able to do, Turhan Sultan expressed her political authority and religious piety through the works of architecture she commissioned. Traditionally historians have portrayed the role of seventeenth-century royal Ottoman women in the politics of the empire as negative and de-stabilizing. But Thys-Senocak, through her examination of these architectural works as concrete expressions of legitimate power and piety, shows the traditional framework to be both sexist and based on an outdated paradigm of decline. Thys-Senocak's research on Hadice Turhan Sultan's two Ottoman fortresses of Seddülbahir and Kumkale improves in a significant way our understanding of early modern fortifications in the eastern Mediterranean region and will spark further research on many of the Ottoman fortifications built in the area. Plans and elevations of the fortresses are published and analysed here for the first time. Based on archival research, including letters written by the queen mother, many of which are published here for the first time, and archaeological fieldwork, her work is also informed by recent theoretical debates in the fields of art history, cultural history and gender studies.

    Contents: Introduction; From concubine to Valide: Turhan Sultan's rise through the harem hierarchy; Ottoman women/other women; Defending the Dardanelles: the fortress of Seddülbahir and Kumkale and the legacy of Turhan Sultan; Building the capital: the Yeni Valide mosque complex of Istanbul; The pillar of the state: architecture, agency and self representation; Glossary; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.


    Lucienne Thys-Senocak is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey. She also teaches in the graduate program of Anatolian Civilizations and Cultural Heritage Management at the university and is currently directing the restoration project of Hadice Turhan Sultan's Ottoman fortress at Seddülbahir, located on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

    'Painstakingly and exhaustively researched ... the archival work and architectural analysis are first-rate; and the fieldwork on the two military installations must have been a heroic achievement. The arguments are wholly persuasive and are presented in clear, elegant prose that manages to avoid trendy jargon... The author is clearly comfortable with the intricate world of Ottoman court culture and still poorly known architectural history. I believe the book will provoke a lively debate ... This study is novel, original, timely, and important-a superb achievement.' Heghnar Watenpaugh, University of California, and author of The Image of an Ottoman City

    'Lucienne Thys-Senocak has given us a fascinating study of architectural patronage by Hadice Turhan Sultan, mother of Sultan Mehmed IV. Through her fortifications on the Dardanelles and her mosque and market in the commercial heart of Istanbul, this remarkable woman advanced the strength and piety of the empire. Hidden from public view, she proclaimed to the world her own presence and power. An eye-opening comparison with patronage in western Europe, Ottoman Women Builders reveals unexpected possibilities in the lives of elite women in the seventeenth century.' Natalie Zemon Davis, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University and author of Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

    'Ottoman Women Builders was written with a broad audience of early modern scholars and students in mind. Its clear prose and helpful translations, together with a clearly organized text, makes an otherwise specialized topic accessible to various disciplines... [It] is an important contribution to the growing field of Ottoman studies, although nonspecialists will find it equally valuable in its myriad uses as an important tool for comparative studies. Thys-Senocak's work will be a valuable text for students and specialists of European history, art and architecture, women's studies, military history, and Islamic history, art, and architectural history at large.' Renaissance Quarterly

    'This book represents a major contribution to the study of imperial female patronage and to architectural history as a whole.' Journal of The Society of Architectural Historians