Pertevniyal Sultan

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Pertevniyal Sultan
012 PertevniyalCami.JPG
Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque, Aksaray, Istanbul. Resting place of Pertevniyal Sultan
Valide sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Tenure25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
PredecessorNakşidil Sultan
SuccessorŞevkefza Kadın
BornHasna Khater
c. 1812
Wallachia , or Circassia
Died5 February 1883 (aged 71)
Beşiktaş Palace, Beşiktaş, Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
SpouseMahmud II
ReligionSunni Islam

Pertevniyal Sultan (c. 1812 – 5 February 1883), sometimes called Besime and Hasna was a consort of Sultan Mahmud II, and Valide Sultan to their son Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire.[1] Her sister, Hoşyar Kadın, was the mother of Isma'il Pasha, Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879.[2]


There are three possible theories about her ethnicity:

Early life[edit]

Pertevniyal was the biological older sister of Hoşyar Kadın, the queen mother of Egypt. At an early age, the two sisters were captured from their home country and sold to slavery. Pertevniyal, who was originally named Hasna or Besime, was sent to the harem of the Topkapi Palace while her sister Hoşyar was sent to the harem of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. Both sisters successfully became favorites of their spouses, Sultan Mahmud II and Ibrahim Pasha. Both sisters also gave birth to two future monarchs, Sultan Abdülaziz and Isma'il Pasha of Egypt. In an extremely rare case, both sisters were queen mothers concurrently during the reigns of their sons, the Ottoman Sultan and the Egyptian Khedive (Viceroy). The two sisters maintained a good relationship despite being queens of two distant countries.

Abdülaziz's accession[edit]

The final illness of Abdülmecid I in 1861 started a spate of rumors that there was a group in the palace who wanted Murad to succeed to the throne instead of Abdülaziz. There seems to have been no truth in these allegations, but they nevertheless worried Abdülaziz and especially his mother, Pertevniyal. On the night when Abdülmecid died and the grand vizier, the kapudan pasha, and the commander-in-chief of the Army conducted Abdülaziz from the heir's suite to the ruler's suite in Dolmabahçe Palace, Pertevniyal thought they were taking him prisoner. They waited in the sultan's suite until the imperial cliques were ready, and then escorted Abdülaziz to Topkapı Palace, the palace of his forebears, to await the gathering of the council of ministers, some of whom had to be summoned from their homes up the Bosphorus. Pertevniyal, to reassure herself, followed him there.[3]

Visit to France[edit]

Mother of Abdülaziz, who made an official visit to France, United Kingdom and Prussia in 1867. In 1868, Empress Eugénie of France returned the visit, and was taken by the sultan to his mother in the Dolmabahçe Palace, but reportedly, Pertevniyal became outraged by the presence of a foreign woman in her harem, and greeted the Empress with a slap in the face, almost provoking an international incident.[4][5] The visit of the Empress, however, did leave a lasting effect by making Western fashion popular among the harem women.[6]

Political influence[edit]

Pertevniyal exerted some influence over her son. When Abdülaziz took his trip to Europe, Pertevniyal was anxious about him the whole time he was away. On his way home he stopped at Ruse, Bulgaria, where Midhat was governor, with the intention of a month and acquainting himself with the Balkan country. But Pertevniyal, a possessive and short-sighted woman, wrote him to come home immediately. Sultan of Turkey though he was, he obeyed his mother's command.[3]

Pertevniyal contributed to the instability of her son's rule by meddling in affairs of state. Especially unwise was her alliance with Mahmud Nedim Pasha, the sycophantic grand vizier whose recklessness and incompetence led to further financial chaos. There was such an outcry against Mahmud Nedim that he finally fell from power in 1876 and was succeeded by Midhat Pasha, who did his best to get the Empire on a sounder financial footing. There was sum of 100,000 Turkish lira unaccounted for in the budget, and Midhat discovered that it had been appropriated by Mahmud Nedim.[3]

Privately Mahmud Nedim disclosed that the money had not been spent by him but had gone to the palace, presumably to the valide sultan. Mahmud Nedim was exiled from the capital for a while, but with the valide's power backing was soon able to return. Midhat's efforts at financial reform were blocked, and he was replaced by Mahmud Nedim. Finally, when talk of Abdülaziz's deposition was in the air, Pertevniyal sent a harem ağa to Midhat requesting him to prepare a document giving his advice on how her son could save his throne. Midhat carefully composed such a document which was approved by the valide, but neither she nor anyone else had the courage at this point, with the sultan in a highly nervous state, to submit to him.[3]

Murad V appointed Empress mother Şevkefza Kadın reported chief ally, Damat Nuri Pasha, as Lord Pasha, after which Şevkefza and Damat was to have confiscated all the gold coins and jewelry hidden away by Pertevniyal in the harem of Dolmabahçe Palace.[7]


She founded a Pertevniyal Anatolian High School as well as Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque in 1872. In the days when the Hejaz was part of the Empire, the Porte tried to improve the health situation there. Pertevniyal, built hospitals in the Harem-i Sherif, and young Turkish doctors went out from Istanbul to man them.[3]

Pertevniyal Anatolian High School

Later life and death[edit]

After the death of her son, Sultan Abdülaziz, Pertevniyal Sultan was despondent. Her only pleasure and distraction lay in passing time by training young and lovely children, gathering them about her and finding consolation in the things they did and their sweet behaviour. Pertevniyal Sultan had another habit between the dusk and the night time prayer. She would prostrate herself in worship, weeping loudly as she cried out, "I forgive everything, only I seek justice for the blood of my son!" Afterwards in her room she would have the Quran recited and then have the children say "Amen".[8][9] She died on 5 February 1883 at Beşiktaş, Istanbul, and was buried at the Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque in Aksaray, Istanbul.


  • Devletlu İsmetlu Mehd-i Ülya-i Sultanat-i Seniyye Valide Pertevniyal Sultan Aliyyetü'ş-Şân Hazretleri.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sultan Abdülaziz Han". Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 2016. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  2. ^ "His Highness Ibrahim Paşa". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fanny Davis (1986). The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-24811-5.
  4. ^ John Freely: Inside the Seraglio: private lives of the sultans in Istanbul. Penguin, 1 jul 2001
  5. ^ "Women in Power 1840–1870". Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  6. ^ Oleg Grabar: Muqarnas: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture
  7. ^ "Women in Power 1870–1900". Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  8. ^ The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher: Voices from the Ottoman Harem. University of Texas Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-292-78335-5.
  9. ^ Ayşe Osmanoğlu (2007). Babam Sultan Abdülhamid: hatıralarım. Selis Kitaplar.
Ottoman royalty
Preceded by
Bezmiâlem Sultan
Valide Sultan
25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
Succeeded by
Şevkefza Kadın