Ottoman Court positions

The Ottoman Court was an elaborate society of royalty and nobility. Beneath the ruling nobles however, existed a grand hierarchy of people, effectively slaves, who were the Sultan's to command as he pleased.

Şeyhülislam: The Şeyhülislam (the Ottoman rendering of the Arabic شيخ الإسلام) of the Ottoman Sultan was the supreme religious authority in the Ottoman Empire. This man instructed the Sultan himself in affairs of the Qu'ran.

Kızlar Ağası: The Kızlar Ağası was the chief Black Eunuch of the Ottoman Seraglio. The title literally means "Chief of the Girls," and he was charged with the protection and maintenance of the harem women.

Kapı Ağası: Whereas the Kızlar Ağası was responsible for guarding the virtue of the odalisques, the Kapı Ağası was a chamberlain to the ladies. His name means "Lord of the Door," and he was the chief of the White Eunuchs, acting as a chief servant and procurer.

Bostancı-başı: The Bostancı-başı of the Ottoman Court was his Chief Executioner. The title directly translates as "Head Gardener" (Bostancı=Gardener, başı=head), and it was his job to quite literally "prune" the court of its dead weight and its bad apples.

Valide Sultan: The Valide Sultan was the mother of the reigning Sultan, and the most powerful woman in the Harem, not to mention the Empire. She was the absolute authority in the seraglio, and she, with the help of the Kapı Ağa and the Kızlar Ağası, often her confidantes, or even men she herself had chosen upon her accession, had a finger in every aspect of harem life.

Haseki Sultan: This was the title reserved for the chief consort and lawfully wedded wife of the Ottoman Sultan.[1] A Haseki Sultan had an important place in the palace, being the most powerful woman and enjoyed the greatest status in the imperial harem after valide sultan and usually had chambers close to the sultan's chamber. The haseki had no blood relation with the reigning sultan but ranked higher than the sultan's own sisters and aunts, the princesses of the dynasty. Her elevated imperial status derived from the fact that she was the mother of a potential future sultan.

Kadın: Among the women of the Imperial Harem, the Kadın is the woman (or women) who have given the Sultan a child, preferably a son. Kadin was equivalent to a wife. The first/most senior consorts were called Baş Kadın or Birinci Kadin.[2] A sultan did not have more than 4 Kadin (same law used for legal wives in Islam)[3] Their position as the possible mother of a future Sultan gives them much influence and power in the harem.

Ikbal: Beneath the Kadın was the Ikbal, the harem member with whom the Sultan had slept at least once. These women need not necessarily have given a child to the Sultan, but simply need to have taken his fancy. Many of these women were referred to as Gözde (meaning "Favorite"), or "in the Eye," having done just that: caught the eye of the Sultan.

Cariye: These were the women who served the Valide Sultan, Ikbal's, Kadin's and the Sultan's children. They could be promoted to Kalfas which meant they were free and earned wages, otherwise they were the property of the Sultan and would reside in the Harem. Such women were free to go after 9 years of service.

See also


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