Müşfika Kadın

Müşfika Kadın
Born 10 December 1867
Hopa, Caucasus, Ottoman Empire
Died 16 July 1961
Serencebey Yokuşu no. 53, Yıldız, Istanbul, Turkey
Burial Yahya Efendi Cemetery
Spouse Abdul Hamid II
Issue Hamide Ayşe Sultan
Full name
Turkish: Müşfika
English: Mushfika
Ottoman Turkish: مشفقه
House House of Osman (by marriage)
Father Mahmud Bey
Mother Emine Hanım
Religion Sunni Islam

Müşfika Kadın (Ottoman Turkish: مشفقه قادين; born Ayşe Ağırba; 10 December 1867 – 16 July 1961; meaning "the compassionate one") was the Empress of the Ottoman Empire as the eighth wife of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. She was the mother of Hamide Ayşe Sultan,[1] who was famed for publishing her memoirs by the name of Babam Sultan Abdülhamid (Turkish for "My Father, Sultan Abdul Hamid") in 1960. In 1934 Müşfika took the surname Kayısoy pertaining to Abdul Hamid's descendance from the Kayıhan tribe.

Early life

Empress Müşfika Kadın was born on 10 December 1867 to an Abkhazian noble family in Hopa, Caucasus, Ottoman Empire. Her personal name was Ayşe Ağırba. Her father was Gazi Şehid Ağır Mahmud Bey and her mother was Emine Hanım.[2][3][4][5] She had a sister named Fatma Hanım one year younger than her, as well as a brother named Şahin Bey seven years older than her. Mahmud Bey volunteered for service in the Ottoman-Russian war of 1877–78, entrusting his wife and children to the care of Hüseyin Vasfi Pasha, an army officer posted in the area.[6][7]

Hüseyin Vasfi Pasha's wife Bezminigar Hanım was Mahmud Bey's cousin, hence a close relative, and moreover had been in service to Empress mother Pertevniyal Sultan before her marriage, so for these reasons the pasha sent Mahmud Bey's family to live with his wife in Istanbul.[6] At that time Ayşe was eight years old, Fatma was seven and Şahin Bey fifteen. In those days Pertevniyal Sultan was despondent over the death of her son Sultan Abdulaziz. 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 and their sweet behavior.[6] Pertevniyal Sultan had another habit between the dust and the night time prayer. She would prostate herself in worship, weeping loudly. Afterwards in her room she would have the whole Quran recited and then have the children say "Amen".[6]

Entering the imperial harem

Knowing these things Bezminigar Hanım decided to present Mahmud Bey's family to Pertevniyal Sultan. With difficulty she won over Emine Hanım, then she took the two girls round. Pertevniyal Sultan was enchanted by Emine Hanım's beautiful face, blue eyes and blonde hair and by the sweet aspects of Fatma's head of curls.[6] She adopted the two girls and ordered Nâvekyar Kalfa to look after Ayşe and Şevkidide Kalfa to look after Fatma, under the protection of her own high Hazinedar Şemsicemal Kalfa, and changed their names, as palace tradition had it, calling Ayşe Destizer (Ottoman Turkish: دست زر) and Fatma Destiper.[6] Their mother Emine Hanım and older brother Şahin Bey remained in the home of Bezminigâr Hanım, but when the word arrived that Mahmud Bey had been killed in the war, despite all attempts to dissuade them they returned to the palace which they had come. After this nothing further was heard of them.[6]

When years later Pertevniyal Sultan died, as custom dictated all the servants in villa, headed by the High Hazinedar, were transferred to Dolmabahçe Palace. Ayşe Destizer grew into a young lady in Dolmabahçe Palace, and when she entered her nineteenth year she was noticed by Abdul Hamid II, who in those days was in the habit of going to the harem after the ceremony of receiving felicitations on festival days.[6] She was taken to the Yıldız Palace straightaway.


Destizer married Abdul Hamid on 12 January 1886.[2] Her marriage was performed by the Deputy of the Noble Sweeper, Seyid Esad Efendi and witnessed by the Superintendent of Departures, Hacı Mahmud Efendi, by the Imam of Kağıthane, Ali Efendi and by the Senior Equerry, Şerafeddin Ağa.[6] As his first gift to her, Abdul Hamid presented her with an exquisite copy of the Holy Quran. When he opened the Quran his eyes fell on the word Müşfikun (the compassionate ones)[6] and gave her the name Müşfikâ. He ordered her seal engraved, and gave her the title Müşfika Başikbal, the Senior Ikbal Müşfika.[5] As had been the case with Abdul Hamid's other wives, once Müşfika joined their ranks the apartments known as the Lesser Chancellery were then made ready.[6] A household staff was delegated, with Dilesrar Kalfa appointed mistress of the Household. She was well known in the palace because she had been in service since the latter days of the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid I and had served Sultan Abdülaziz.[6] Abdul Hamid made Müşfika's sister, Fatma hazinedar with the name of Şükriye Hanım. When Şükriye Hanım came of age, she was given in marriage to Halid Pasha, the second son of Abdul Hamid II's Master of the Robes Ismet Bey.[6] Ismet Bey's mother was Abdul Hamid's wet nurse. Some five months before Abdul Hamid's death, Şükriye Hanım died of typhoid. Abdul Hamid was in Beylerbeyi Palace when he was informed of his death, and it was Abdul Hamid who paid the expenses for her shroud and for laying out her corpse. She lies in the cemetery at Rumeli Hisarı.[6]

A year after the marriage she gave birth to her only daughter, Hamide Ayşe Sultan.[5][6][8] Abdul Hamid was delighted and presented a brooch to Filürye Kalfa, who had brought him the good tidings, and three hundred liras to Ebezade Kamile Hanım, who had served as midwife at Hamide Ayşe Sultan's birth.[6] In addition a decoration was conferred upon Dr. Triandafilidis, the specialist in women's diseases of that era who had examined and treated Müşfika every week during her pregnancy. Hamide Ayşe Sultan was a healthy child of three and one-half kilos.[6] Two days after Hamide Ayşe Sultan's birth Abdul Hamid ordered his prayer rug spread out in Müşfika's room to face Mecca, recited the call to prayer, and repeated Hamide Ayşe Sultan's name three times in her ear, then entrusted her to Dilesrar Kalfa.[6] Servants of the Palace Secretariat brought in from the treasury Hamide Ayşe Sultan's gilded cradle as well as, according to the fashion of those days, embroidered blankets, towels, silver bowls, and a silvered tortoiseshell bowl that was a part of the ancient traditions. For this three servants received their customary gratuity.[6] In the evening of the seventh day after Hamide Ayşe Sultan's birth, Müşfika's Henna night, an orchestral ensemble composed of palace ladies, played music, sweets and fruit drinks were served, and coins were distributed.[6]

She accompanied Abdul Hamid into exile in 1909 and returned to Istanbul with him in 1912. Truly Müşfikâ did prove to be a felicitous, exceedingly compassionate life's comparison for Abdul Hamid II, as until the end of his days she shared in all the tragedies that befell him, and when Abdul Hamid died in Beylerbeyi Palace she was holding him in her arms. She donated the Holy Quran to the pious foundation that maintained Abdul Hamid's mausoleum and had her name inscribed in it.[6]

Last years and death

As being an adjunct member of the imperial family Müşfika was not exiled in 1924 and so remained in Turkey. Ayşe Sultan went into exile and wrote her memoir in Istanbul after her return, completing it by 1955. For large portions of the memoir she relied on Müşfika, as the two did not lived together the princess's return to Turkey.[6] In 1934 Müşfika took the surname "Kayısoy" pertaining to her husband's, Abdul Hamid descendance from the Kayıhan tribe.[5] She died on 16 July 1961 at Serencebey mansion no. 53, Yıldız, Istanbul, Turkey. Her time of death was announced to be 22:00. She is buried in the royal mausoleum of Yahya Efendi Cemetery.[2]


  1. Yavuz Bahadıroğlu (2009). Resimli Osmanlı Tarihi, Nesil Yayınları (Ottoman History with Illustrations, Nesil Publications). 15th Ed. ISBN 978-975-269-299-2.
  2. 1 2 3 Harun Açba (2007). Kadın efendiler: 1839–1924. Profil. pp. 138–40. ISBN 978-975-996-109-1.
  3. M. Çağatay Uluçay (2011). Padişahların kadınları ve kızları. Ötüken. pp. 248–49. ISBN 978-975-437-840-5.
  4. Günay Günaydın (2006). Haremin son gülleri. Mevsimsiz Yayınları. p. 76. ISBN 978-9944-987-03-5.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Necdet Sakaoğlu (2007). Famous Ottoman women. Avea.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher: Voices from the Ottoman Harem. University of Texas Press. 2010. pp. 144–47. ISBN 978-0-292-78335-5.
  7. Fanny Davis (1986). The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-313-24811-5.
  8. Sâmiha Ayverdi (2007). Ne idik ne olduk. Kubbealti Publishing. pp. 47–8. ISBN 978-975-6444-37-5.


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