HAREM, AND THE OTTOMAN WOMEN
Harem in the Ottoman Empire
image of a harem conjures visions of opulent surroundings filled
with beautiful, sensuous women whose sole duty was to entertain
an aging yet still lustful sheik or sultan. This image may have
been based on the imperial harems of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries of the Ottoman Empire. In this period of history, harems
played an important role in the governing of the Ottoman Empire.
This most renown period was known as the Reign of Women, the Kadinlar
Sultanati. The involvement of the harem women, and more specifically,
the Valide Sultan (Sultan's Mother or Queen Mother) and the Sultan's
favourites (favoured harem women), in state politics, diminished
the power and position of the Sultan. As the Sultan was the head
of the government (or Divan), this interference proved to be detrimental
to the Ottoman state.