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Nakşidil Sultan

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Title: Nakşidil Sultan  
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Subject: Valide sultan, List of sultans of the Ottoman Empire, August 22, Miscegenation
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Nakşidil Sultan

Nakşidil Valide Sultan
Nakşidil Valide Sultan
Born possibly Aimée du Buc de Rivéry
(1768-12-19)19 December 1768
Died 22 August 1817(1817-08-22) (aged 48)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Cause of death
Resting place
Ethnicity French
Known for Valide Sultan
Religion Islam or Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Abdul Hamid I
Children Adoptive son Mahmud II

Nakşidil Valide Sultan (fully Devletli, İsmetli, Nakşidil Valide Sultan Aliyyetü'ş-şân Hazretleri; 19 December 1768 – 22 August 1817)[1] was the consort of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid I and Valide Sultan to her adoptive son Mahmud II. There is a legend that she was the same person as Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, cousin of Empress Josephine, who went missing at sea at the age of eleven: according to the legend, Aimée du Buc de Rivéry was captured by Barbary pirates and sold as a harem concubine, though there is no evidence of this.

Controversy over identity

The husband of Nakş-î Dil Sultân, Caliph of Islam, Ghazi Sultan Abdul Hamid I, Abd Al-Ḥamīd-i evvel I, عبد الحميد اول, Khan in his royal robes.

The history of Aimée du Buc de Rivéry is difficult to trace, particularly after she reportedly became part of the royal harem. Numerous novels state she was the mother of Mahmud II in the royal harem. According to the Ottoman Chronicles, the mother of Mahmud II was known by the Turkish name Nakşidil (Nakshidil) and died in 1817; all the women of the sultan were given Turkish names when they entered the harem.

Whatever the case, the woman who was valide sultan during this period was very western and French-influenced; she was said to have given the sultan French lessons, sending an embassy to Paris, and reforming the harem by giving the women permission to go on picnics and boat travels along the coasts outside the palace.

She also was not, as is often stated, the 13th wife of Abdul Hamid I and recorded mother of Mahmud II.[2] According to a Turkish historian, though "Sultan Mahmud II's mother Nakşidil Sultan, whose life has been the subject of 174 historical novels in the world as well as the film 'The Favorite' ... was believed to be Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, the cousin of Napoleon's wife Josephine ... she [actually] came from a family that had its origins in the Caucasus region. Dr. Fikret Saraçoğlu has found in the archives of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul documents pertaining to her death and funeral."[3] Robert Vine wrote: "The myth of two cousins from a Carribean [sic?] island becoming respectively the wife of the French Emperor and the mother of the Ottoman Sultan has an obvious romantic attraction - but by the same token, is highly improbable, unless provided with solid factual proof".[4]

Ibrahim Pazan writes that she was actually a Georgian and was born in Caucasus. She was raised in the Ottoman palace and was given thoroughly Turkish Islamic education.[5]

The legend

(This story is the legend of Aimee in the Ottoman palace harem and is not rooted in historical fact)

Aimée became the wife of the sultan, taking the name of Nakşidil. She introduced French ideas to the Ottoman people, especially the sultan, and her French-style reforms may have led to his death at the hands of the Janissaries and the Ulema, which were against the liberalization of the empire. During the rule of Abdul Hamid I, Aimée taught him French; and for the first time, a permanent ambassador was sent from Constantinople to Paris. Selim started a French newspaper and let Nakşidil decorate the palace in rococo style, which was popular in France at that time. Aimee bore a son named Mahmud II, who became sultan after his father's death.

The assassins, aided by the Ulema, also sought to kill Mahmud, but Nakşidil saved her son by concealing him inside a furnace. Thus Mahmud became the next Sultan, accomplishing significant reforms in the empire that were, for the most part, attributed to the influence of his mother.

Although Aimée accepted Islam as part of the harem etiquette, as well as the religion of her husband, she always remained a Roman Catholic in her heart. Her last wish was for a priest to perform the last rites. Her son did not deny her this: as Aimée lay dying, a priest passed for the first time through the Seraglio, to perform the Holy Sacrament before her death.

Mahmud's own biological mother: Nakş-î Dil Sultan

The adoptive son of Nakşidil Sultan, Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II.

Although Nakşidil acted as Valide Sultan during Mahmud's reign, she was not his biological mother. His biological mother was Nakş-î Dil Sultan, born Nache de la Bozary in France. However, his own mother died from Tuberculosis and Nakşidil served as his step-mother.


The legend, though somewhat fictionalized, was told in the 1989 movie Intimate Power (a.k.a. The Favorite), in which she was portrayed by Amber O'Shea, and which also starred F. Murray Abraham. It was based on the novel "Sultana" by Prince Michael of Greece.

See also

Further reading

  • "The Veiled Empress: An Unacademic Biography" by Benjamin A. Morton (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1923)
  • Maurizio Costanza, La Mezzaluna sul filo - La riforma ottomana di Mahmûd II, Marcianum Press, Venezia, 2010 (appendix.1)
  • "The Veiled Sultan" by March Cost (pen name of Margaret Mackie Morrison) (NY: Vanguard Press, 1969)
  • "Sultana" by Prince Michael of Greece (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), ISBN 0-06-015166-8
  • "Valide" by Barbara Chase-Riboud
  • Peirce, Leslie P., The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-508677-5 (paperback).
  • Yavuz Bahadıroğlu, Resimli Osmanlı Tarihi, Nesil Yayınları (Ottoman History with Illustrations, Nesil Publications), 15th Ed., 2009, ISBN 978-975-269-299-2 (Hardcover).


  1. ^ "Images du patrimoine". Manioc. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Turkish Sultanic Family Genealogy
  3. ^ Turkish Daily News
  4. ^ Robert D. Vine, "Myth and Fact in History", p. 57
  5. ^ İbrahim Pazan (2007). Padişah anneleri. Babıali Kültür Yayıncılığı.  

External links

  • Two Empresses from Martinique- Part I
  • Two Empresses from Martinique - Part II
  • The Veiled Empress' tomb
  • , a novel about the EmpressSeraglioAn excerpt from
  • Historic Sites of Martinique
  • La légende de la sultane Validé
Ottoman royalty
Preceded by
Ayşe Seniyeperver Sultan
Valide Sultan
2 July 1839 – 2 May 1853
Succeeded by
Bezmiâlem Sultan
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