Pertevniyal Sultan

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Pertevniyal Sultan
Valide sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Tenure25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
PredecessorBezmiâlem Sultan
SuccessorŞevkefza Kadın
Bornc. 1810
Died26 January 1884(1884-01-26) (aged 73–74)
Ortaköy Palace, Ortaköy, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
(present day Istanbul, Turkey)
SpouseMahmud II
Full name
Turkish: Pertevniyal Sultan
Ottoman Turkish: پرتونیال سلطان
ReligionSunni Islam, previously Orthodox Christian

Pertevniyal Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: پرتونیال سلطان‎, from the Persian compound پرتو + نيا partov-niâ, literally "Descended from Radiance"; c. 1810 – 26 January 1884), was the thirteenth wife of Sultan Mahmud II, and Valide sultan to their son Sultan Abdulaziz of the Ottoman Empire.[1]

Early life[edit]

The origin of Pertevniyal Sultan is disputed. She was either a Kurd, or a Romanian, or a Circassian.[2] She was the sister of Hoshiar Qadin, the consort to Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, and mother of his son Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879.[3][4] She married Sultan Mahmud, and was given the title of "Second Fortunate" which literally means second favorite of the Sultan. [5] She gave birth to her only son Abdulaziz on 8 February 1830.[6]

As Valide Sultan[edit]

Abdulaziz's accession[edit]

The final illness of Sultan Abdulmejid 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 Abdulaziz. There seems to have been no truth in these allegations, but they nevertheless worried Abdulaziz and especially his mother, Pertevniyal. On the night when Abdulmejid died and the grand vizier, the kapudan pasha, and the commander-in-chief of the Army conducted Abdulaziz 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 Abdulaziz 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.[7]

Political influence[edit]

Pertevniyal exerted some influence over her son. When Abdulaziz 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.[8]

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.[8]

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 Abdulaziz'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.[8]

Visit of the Empress of France[edit]

In 1868, Empress Eugénie of France paid a visit to the Ottoman Empire. She 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.[9][10] The visit of the Empress, however, did leave a lasting effect by making Western fashion popular among the harem women.[11]

Abdulaziz’s deposition and murder[edit]

Pertevniyal Sultan witnessed the death of his son from the throne by Hüseyin Avni Pasha and other opponents, whom she hated so much, and after his death she had very bad days in this time. She saw her son's ear and ring while she was seeing that his son was lying in the blood. Then Necib, one of the sons of Nûreddin Efendi, one of the sons of Sultan Abdulmejid, pulled him by the arm, and took him to the police station square, barefoot, ageless and disastrous. [12]

After these insults, thirty-eight days remained in Topkapı Palace. The revolutionaries transported him to the palace and disconnected him from outside because they considered the Circassian Hasan incident as a counter-attack organized by the supporters of Sultan Abdülaziz. Later, she was taken to Feriye Palace by order of Murad V. [12]


Pertevniyal Anatolian High School

She founded the Pertevniyal 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.[13]

Pertevniyal Sultan was a great philanthropist, and thanks to her influence, she had the opportunity to make her son do whatever he wanted. In order to provide income to the foundations that it intends to establish, lands called Fasil fields. She commissioned a fountain in front of the Kâtib Mosque in October 1862, and then it was removed from the square and moved to the entrance door of the mosque on the grounds that it narrowed the road. She also built three fountains, one in Suboyu (Bige) village and two on Karaköy road in Şebinkarahisar. In 1864, she built a shipbuilding pool (stone loom) in Tersane to cover her own income, the first Ottoman battleship, came out of this loom. [12]

Last years[edit]

When Murad V ascended the throne after the deposition of Abdulaziz, he appointed his mother Şevkefza Kadın's reported chief ally, Damat Nuri Pasha, as Lord Pasha, after which Şevkefza and Damat were to have confiscated all the gold coins and jewelry hidden away by Pertevniyal in the harem of Dolmabahçe Palace.[14] The sealed apartments of Pertevniyal were opened and from them eight chests of gold and four chests of debentures were removed. Eight porters were needed to lift each one of the chests with gold. It was said these eight chests contained 5,120 okkas of gold.[15][16]

Midhat Pasha and the other ministers presumed that the former monarch's mother was one of those behind Hasan Bey's rebellion. So they transferred her to Topkapı Palace and cut off all her communication with the outside. Pertevniyal spent three full months moaning and wailing in the veritable prison of her rooms in Topkapı. A few times she sent word to Şevkefza, hoping that she would help put an end to her anguish, but Şevkefza was always afraid of anything that could stir up trouble.[17]

Sultan Abdul Hamid II had loved Pertevniyal since he was a little boy. He was more devoted to her than to Perestu Kadın, who had raised him, and so as soon as he became Sultan his mind turned to the days of torment that Pertevniyal had passed in Topkapı Palace. He sent men to move her and her entourage to one of the villas in Ortaköy, thereby delighting her and repairing the injustice done her. He would visit her everyday until the day she died. [12][18][19]

Pertevniyal was despondent after the death of her son. Her only pleasure and distraction lay in passing time by training young and lovely children, in one of the children there was Müşfika Kadın, the eighth wife of Abdul Hamid II, 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".[20][21]


Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque, Aksaray, Istanbul, resting place of Pertevniyal Sultan

Pertevniyal Sultan died on 26 January 1884 at the age of seventy four[22] in the Ortaköy Palace,[23] Istanbul, and was buried at the Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque in Aksaray, Istanbul.[24][21]


Together with Mahmud, Pertevniyal had one son:

  • Sultan Abdulaziz (Istanbul, Turkey, 8 February 1830 - Çırağan Palace, 4 June 1876, buried in Tomb of Sultan Mahmud II, Fatih, Istanbul), married five times and had eleven children;

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 534.
  2. ^ Akyıldız, Ali (2016). Müsrif, Fakat Hayırsever: Pertevniyal Valide Sultan. p. 308.
  3. ^ "His Highness Ibrahim Paşa". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  4. ^ Tugay, Emine Foat (1963). Three Centuries: Family Chronicles of Turkey and Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. 133.
  5. ^ Hochhut, Pia. The Pious Foundation of Pertev Niyal - Remarks on the Steam Mills at Paşa Limanı (Üsküdar).
  6. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 535.
  7. ^ Davis 1986, p. 177.
  8. ^ a b c Davis 1986, p. 178.
  9. ^ Freely, John (July 1, 2001). Inside the Seraglio: private lives of the sultans in Istanbul. Penguin. p. 273.
  10. ^ "Women in Power 1840–1870". Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  11. ^ Oleg Grabar: Muqarnas: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture
  12. ^ a b c d "PERTEVNİYAL VÂLİDE SULTAN (ö. 1884) II. Mahmud'un "beşinci kadını" ve Sultan Abdülaziz'in annesi". İslam Ansiklopedisi. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  13. ^ Davis 1986, p. 225.
  14. ^ "Women in Power 1870–1900". Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  15. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 41.
  16. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 540.
  17. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 49.
  18. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 51.
  19. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 542-3.
  20. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 145.
  21. ^ a b Uluçay 2011, p. 184.
  22. ^ Akyıldız, Ali (2016). Müsrif, Fakat Hayırsever: Pertevniyal Valide Sultan. pp. 343–4.
  23. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 543.
  24. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 288.


  • Fanny Davis (1986). The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-24811-5.
  • Brookes, Douglas Scott (2010). The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher: Voices from the Ottoman Harem. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-78335-5.
  • Uluçay, M. Çağatay (2011). Padişahların kadınları ve kızları. Ötüken. ISBN 978-975-437-840-5.
  • Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2008). Bu Mülkün Kadın Sultanları: Vâlide Sultanlar, Hâtunlar, Hasekiler, Kandınefendiler, Sultanefendiler. Oğlak Yayıncılık. ISBN 978-6-051-71079-2.
Ottoman royalty
Preceded by
Bezmiâlem Sultan
Valide Sultan
25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
Succeeded by
Şevkefza Kadın