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Afife Nurbanu Valide Sultan
نور بانو سلطان
Topkapı Palace
Born Cecilia or Olivia Venier-Baffo, or "Rachel"
Páros, Cyclades Islands, Republic of Venice
Died 7 December 1583 (aged 58)
Resting place The tomb of Sultan Selim II located in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Known for Valide Sultan
Religion Judaism subsequently converted to Islam after her capture
Spouse(s) Selim II
Children Murad III
Esmehan Sultan
Fatma Sultan
Şah Sultan
Parents Nicolò Venier and Violanta Baffo or another Jewish or Kerkyran family

Afife Nurbanu Valide Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: نور بانو سلطان, ca. 1525 – 7 December 1583) was the wife of Sultan Selim II of the Ottoman Empire, mother of Sultan Murad III, and de facto co-ruler as the Valide Sultan for nine years from 1574 until 1583. She was either a Venetian of noble birth or a Spanish Jew.[1] Her birth name may have been Olivia or Cecilia Venier-Baffo,[2] or Rachel,[3]).

As Valide Sultan her full title was Devletlu İsmetlu Afife Nûr-Banû Vâlide Sultân Aliyyetü'ş-Şân Hazretleri (Daulatlu Ismatlu Afife Nûr-Banû Validā Sultâna 'Aliyāt ûsh-Shân Hazrātlāri).

Biographical theories

Currently, there exist three living theories about the ethnic roots of "Sultanâ Nûr-Banû".

Cecilia or Olivia

According to Venetian records, Cecilia or Olivia was presumably the natural daughter of Nicolò Venier, a Lord of Páros, by Violante Baffo. She was the niece of the Doge of Venice, Sebastiano Venier. She was captured when the Turks conquered the Cyclades island of Páros, where she was born, during the 1537 war, abducted from there and taken to the royal harem of Ottoman Prince Selim II in Istanbul, where she was renamed "Afife Nûr-Banû".


According to the Ottoman records, her birth name was Rachel, her father was Joseph Nasi who used to live in Spain. This theory is deduced from the letters of Sultâna Safiye sent to The Most Serene Republic of Venice with her signature "Baffo, mother of Mehmed III".

Afîfe Nûr-Banû as a Sultâna

Nurbanu became the most favored consort of Ottoman Sultan Selim II, who was put on the throne in 1566, and the mother of Ottoman Sultan Murad III. When Selim II died in 1574, she concealed his death and hid his corpse in an icebox until her son Murad arrived at Istanbul from the Province of Manisa, where Murad was the governor. Twelve days later, upon Murad III's accession to the Ottoman throne, Nûr-Banû acquired the title of Valide Sultan.

Foreign politics of Sultâna Nûr-Banû

Venetian records claims that Nûr-Banû became the Valide Sultan to her son Murad III managed the government together with the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Pasha, who acted as co-regent with the sultan in the Sultanate of Women. Her intermediary to the world outside the harem was her "kira", Esther Handali. "Kira" was so popular means of communication with the outside world when Nûr-Banû was the Valide Sultan that the two women were said to have been lovers. She corresponded with the queen Catherine de' Medici of France. During her nine years of regency (1574 - 1583), her politics were so pro-Venetian that she was hated by the Republic of Genoa. Some have even suggested that she was poisoned by a Genoese agent. In any case, she died at her Palace in the Yenikapı Quarter, Istanbul on 7 December 1583 ( On the 21st day of the month of dhu l-qa'da, 991 of the Arabic calendar ). Moreover, it has been said that Nûr-Banû was related to Giorgio Baffo, as well as to Safiye Sultan, who was born Sofia Baffo, married to Nûr-Banû's son Murad III, and consequently became the next Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire when her son Mehmed III acceded to the throne. On the other hand, the Ottoman records claim that the Republic of Venice became too dependent on the Ottoman Empire during the regency of Sultâna Afife Nûr-Banû because her policies were extremely pro-Jewish.

Charitable Establishments and Philanthropical Activities of Sultâna Nûr-Banû

During her nine years of regency, Afife Nûr-Banû Sultana ordered the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan to build The Atik Valide Mosque and Külliye, a multi-purpose complex of buildings centered around the mosque and composed of madrasah, darüşşifa, khanqah, caravanserai, and Turkish bath at the district of Üsküdar in Istanbul, where previously a "Jewish bath" was located at. The construction of the Külliye was completed and put in commission at the end of 1583, just before the demise of Afife Nûr-Banû Valide Sultan on 7 December 1583. She was buried at the mausoleum of her husband Ottoman Sultan Selim II located inside The Hagia Sophia Mosque at Sultanahmet in Istanbul, Turkey.



  • Goodwin, Jason, Lords of the Horizons, (1998) - page 160
  • A.D. Alderson, The Structure of the Ottoman Dynasty. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1956.
  • Almanach de Gotha: annuaire généalogique, diplomatique et statistique, Justes Perthes, Gotha, 1880-1944.
  • Burke's Royal Families of the World, Volume II: Africa & The Middle East, Burke's Peerage Ltd., London, 1980.
  • Yılmaz Öztuna, Devletler ve Hanedanlar, Turkiye 1074-1990, Ankara, 1989.
  • Osman Selâheddin Osmanoğlu, Osmanli Devleti'nin Kuruluşunun 700. Yılında Osmanlı Hanedanı, Islâm Tarih, Sanat ve Kültür Araştırma Vakfı (ISAR), Istanbul, 1999.
  • Emine Fuat Tugay, Three Centuries: Family Chronicles of Turkey and Egypt, Oxford, 1963.


External links

  • Women Leaders in Power


Preceded by
Ayşe Hafsa Sultan
Valide Sultan
1574 - 1583
Succeeded by
Safiye Sultan

Template:Mothers of the Ottoman Sultans

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