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Title: Kösem  
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Subject: 1651, Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed IV, Mahfiruz Hatice Sultan, List of sultans of the Ottoman Empire
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Kösem Sultan
Mâh-Peyker Sultan
Born Anastasia
Died 1651
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Resting place Fatih, Turkey, in the mausoleum of her husband Ahmed I
Residence Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Ethnicity Greek[1][2]
Known for Influencing the political life of the Ottoman Empire during her regency.
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I
Children Murad IV, Ibrahim I, Sulayman, Kasim, and daughters 'A'isha, Fatima and Djawharkhan[3]
Relatives Mehmed IV her grandson
Kösem Sultan's sons who were Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Left: Murad IV(ca. 1612–1640) Right: Ibrahim I (ca. 1615–1648)

Kösem Sultan (Turkish pronunciation: [cøˈsem]) (ca. 1589 – 3 September 1651) – also known as Mahpeyker Sultan[4] (Turkish pronunciation: [mah pejˈkeɾ sulˈtan]) – was one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history.[4][5][6][7] Favourite consort and later wife of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603–1617). She achieved power and influenced the politics of the Ottoman Empire through her husband Sultan Ahmed I (r 1603–17), then through her sons Murad IV (r 1623–40) and Ibrahim I ('the Mad’, r 1640–48) and finally through her minor grandson Mehmed IV (r 1648–87). She was Valide Sultan (mother of the Sultan) from 1623 to 1651,[4] when her sons Murad IV and Ibrahim I and her grandson Mehmed IV (1648–1687) reigned as Ottoman sultans. She was a prominent figure during the sultanate of the women. She was official regent twice and was thereby one of two women to have been formal regents of the Ottoman Empire.


Early life

Kösem was of Greek origin,[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] the daughter of a priest on the island of Tinos.[16][17] Her maiden name was Anastasia.[8] She was bought in Ottoman Bosnia by the Bosnian beylerbey,[1][17] and sent to Constantinople, the Ottoman capital, at the age of fifteen, to the harem of Sultan Ahmed I after cancelling her education in Constantinople. Her name was changed after her conversion to Mahpeyker (Moon-Shaped), and later by Sultan Ahmed I to Kösem.[15] She was transferred to the old palace on the death of Sultan Ahmed in 1617, but returned as Valide Sultan (Queen Mother), when her son Murad IV was enthroned in 1623.

First reign

She was appointed not only Valide Sultan but also, as her son was a minor, as official regent during his minority; between 1623 and 1632 she became the first of two women in history who ruled the Ottoman Empire officially and alone. While women had been de facto regents in the empire before her, no woman had ever formally been regents, and her position was thereby new. During most of the reign of Murad IV she effectively ran the empire, attending meetings of the Divan (cabinet) from behind a curtain, even after 1632, when she was not longer official regent.

Second reign

When her son Ibrahim I succeeded his brother in 1640, he proved too mentally unstable to rule. This enabled Kösem to continue in power. Eventually Ibrahim was deposed and Kösem presented her seven-year-old grandson Mehmed IV to the divan with the words "Here he is!, see what you can do with him!" Thus, she declared herself official regent for the second time, and ruled openly again between 1648 and 1651.


It was Mehmed's mother Turhan Hatice who proved to be Kösem's nemesis. It is rumored that Turhan ordered Kösem's assassination when she heard that Kösem was said to be plotting Mehmed's removal and replacement by another grandson with a more pliant mother. Furthermore, some have speculated that Kösem was strangled with a curtain by the chief black eunuch of the harem, Tall Süleyman. The Ottoman renegade Bobovi, relying on an informant in the harem, states that Kösem was strangled with her own hair.[18]

After her death her body was taken from Topkapi to the Old Palace (Eski Sarayı) and then buried in the mausoleum of her husband Ahmad I.[19] Kösem was renowned for her charity work and for freeing her slaves after 3 years of service. When she died the people of Constantinople observed three days of mourning.


  • Mahpeyker: Kösem Sultan (2010), directed by Tarkan Özel, written by Avni Özgürel. (in Turkish)[20][21]



Preceded by
Mahfiruze Hatice Sultan
Valide Sultan
Succeeded by
Turhan Hadice

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