You hold the most honored female position in Ottoman family structure.
You are addressed by all – men and women alike – as ‘ippetlu‘ (she of highest dignity), ‘devetlu‘ (she of supreme authority), and of course, ‘valide‘ (mother).
These monikers belong, not exclusively to you, but to every mother in every Ottoman family. In fact, ‘Mother‘ may well be synonymous with ‘Goddess,’ for it is the most exalted position for a woman in the Ottoman family.
However, you, ippetlu, are even more exalted.
Your dignity and authority exceed that of every mother throughout the vast Ottoman territories. Indeed, your ‘mother’ card trumps all. For you, devetlu, have borne the son who now rules the Empire. You are the mother of the new Sultan.
You are the Valide Sultan.
In all the land, there exists no other woman of your status.
And, as you proceed in state to Topkapi Palace to take your rightful position upon the royal harem throne, you revel in the celebration of your ascendence…
And what a celebration it was!
Pomp and circumstance doesn’t even begin to describe the inauguration (called the valide allay) of the incoming Valide Sultan.
The streets would be congested with a procession of hundreds of elaborately decorated carriages transporting Islamic judges, clerics, and other high-ranking officials wearing opulent robes with cloth-of-gold linings, and magnificent jewel-encrusted turbans.
Between the carriages marched thousands of heralds and trumpeters, knights, and guards, couriers and porters, and other royal staff carrying flags of state. Onlookers pressed inward, hoping for glimpses into the passing carriages.
The Valide Sultan’s carriage, of course, was the most majestic of them all.
Flanked on all sides by janisary military troops, the Valide’s carriage was drawn by six white horses boasting jewel-encrusted hardware, and cloth-of-gold entwined tails. A passage from an historical document describing the procession of Mihrişah Valide Sultan, speaks of further extravagance:
“…the valide sultan, in a six-horse carriage with drawn curtains, and behind her another official scattering bright money on both sides.“
Why did the public scattering of money have to end? 😦
In line with Muslim religious law which kept harem women out of the eye of the general public, the Valide’s carriage windows were covered with thick velvet curtains weighted down with a hem of heavy jewels.
But curtains were not enough.
Additional security, in the form of hundreds of eunuchs riding on the foot-boards of all carriages transporting ladies of the harem, kept the Sultan’s harem shielded from prying eyes. The very presence of eunuchs on a carriage signaled that harem women were inside…
At long last, your grand carriage approaches the palace. Your son, the Sultan, awaits your arrival with a patience and reverence he will never show for anyone other than you, for the Sultan waits for no one.
As you alight from your coach, he kneels before you in honor of your exalted position. It is an act he shall never perform for anyone else, for the Sultan lowers his person for no one.
Not even for his most cherished kadin – who presents him with a royal son & heir, nor his most tantalizing ikbal – who stirs his royal loins in a manner which incapacitates his royal brain…a condition you must always be at hand to reverse, for the sake of the Empire.
For it is your duty as Valide Sultan to ensure that no temptress wield undue influence over matters of state for any longer than it takes the royal Sultan to sleep it off.
It is, after all, common knowledge that a man is hard when he’s soft, and soft when he’s hard.
Your job, devetlu, is to keep him soft as much as possible.
No, not even for these favored ladies would the Sultan kneel.
Only for you.
Girls with harem dreams need stay on your good side if they want in. That’s a fact. Even those you’ve admitted should never forget to whom they must acquiesce in all matters.
For you will not have your authority challenged.
More ominously, the royal Sultan will not have his mother dishonored by disobedience…
Would you risk the wrath of a royal Mama’s boy?
Or are you fighting your own royalty-free Mama’s boy battles?
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