Kaya sultan

Kaya Sultan
Spouse Melek Ahmet Pasha
House House of Osman
Father Murad IV
Born  ?
Ottoman Empire
Died  ?
Ottoman Empire
Religion Islam

Kaya Sultan (17th-century), was the daughter of Ottoman Sultan Murad IV. She died shortly after giving birth, at the age of 26, due to complications during her labour.[1] The most famous Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi noted a specific encounter with Kaya Sultan in his book "The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman". An entire chapter of the book is dedicated to Kaya Sultan, from her pregnancy to her death.

Early life

Kaya Sultan was born to Sultan Murad IV, the most heroic and most autocratic of the seventeenth century. The marriage of princesses for political ends has always been used by the Sultans and Kaya Sultan was no exception. At the age of thirteen, Kaya was married to Melek Ahmet Pasha, a former Ottoman Grand Vizier of Abkhazian origin, who was in his mid 50s. However, Kaya was extremely hostile towards her husband, as evident on her wedding night when she struck him with a dagger.[2]

Marriage Life

Kaya proved to be important to her husband's political career. She often assisted him with strategical and financial aid. Evliya Celebi regarded Kaya Sultan as a prime example of the dynasty's beneficence. He also noted that within all the Sultana's and their husbands, none got on as well as Kaya and Melek. This was proven after the death of Kaya as Melek threw himself on Kaya's coffin and wept uncontrollably.[3]

Interpretations of her Dreams

It is noted in Evliya Celebi's book that Kaya experienced strange dreams and requested Melek to interpret them. Kaya stated that these dreams included her strolling in the gardens with her grandfather. At the end of her dream, Kaya's grandfather passed his hand over her face in blessing, but the hand was immediately covered in blood. Kaya then proceeded to pass her own hand over her face and she too, was covered in blood. This is where the Sultana awoke with fright. Melek Ahmed instructed Kaya to give 1000 gold pieces to the poors as alms, 2000 to his interior aghas and exterior aghas, as well as 300 to Evliya Celebi and 100 to Evliya's sister. Kaya Sultan did as she was instructed but later, Melek revealed to Evliya that when Kaya Sultan gives birth, she would bleed to death.[4]

Shortly after this initial interpretation, Kaya had another dream to be interpreted by Melek. Melek attempted to relieve the Sultana of her stress by stating that her second dream was nothing to worry about but Kaya had seen the expression on Melek's face during his interpretation and knew that he was not interpreting the dream properly. This resulted in Kaya growing more and more pious everyday, with numerous donations to Mecca and Medina. What was discovered from this was that Kaya Sultan was the wealthiest of all the Sultana's from her period. This was demonstrated through her enormous donations and her turning over all her property to her children and to her and Melek's servants. She also insisted that should her line end, all the revenues from those lands should go to the Holy Cities.[5]


26 days following a strange dream experienced by Melek Ahmed, which foresaw the death of Kaya Sultan during child birth, Kaya Sultan was due and gave birth to a daughter. Melek gave away numerous alms following the birth of his daughter. However, there would be complications following the birth of Kaya's daughter. Her placenta remained in her womb and got stuck to her heart. That night, all the servants and midwives in the palace attempted everything to free the placenta. These included placing Kaya in blankets and shaking her extremely hard, hanging her upside down and filling a honey barrel with orange-flower water and put her inside. For three days and three nights, Kaya had to endure this torture. In a desperate attempt, the midwives covered their arms with almond oil and placed their hands into the Sultana's uterus and pulled out pieces of skin, including what looked like liver and rennet. Four days after giving birth, Kaya Sultan died.[6]

After Death

Princesses were not treated differently from other ruling elite families. The state often regarded the vast wealth of the princesses to be loaned. After Kaya Sultan's death, grand vizier Koprulu Mehmed Pasha ordered the seizure of Kaya's fortunes, despite the existence of Kaya's husband and her daughter.[7] This was in accordance to the Ottoman landholding system, the Timar System. In the Timar System, land is redistributed after the death of an individual, rather than the land being passed onto future generations. If future generations prove to be beneficial to the empire, the Sultan could distribute other plots of land to these individuals.


See also


  • Celebi, Evliya. 1991 [1659]. “Kaya Sultan (1659).” In The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman: Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588–1662) As Portrayed in Evliya Çelebi's Book of Travels (Seyahat-Name). Ed. Robert Dankoff. Albany: SUNY Press, pp. 221–36.
  • Peirce, Leslie. "The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire". New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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