Roxelana and Süleyman: What Happens When You Marry a Power-hungry Woman

Süleyman I “fell in love with one of his concubines, Roxelana, who became known as Hürrem Sultan; and he actually married her. She was a street-smart, power-hungry, exotically beautiful woman. Originally from a part of the Kingdom of Poland that is in the Ukraine today, she was captured as a slave, sold and resold, ending up in Istanbul, where she was purchased for the sultan’s harem. She quickly made her way from there to the sultan’s heart. She arranged the death of his closest friend since childhood, Ibrahim Pasha, who had risen to have great influence with Süleyman, thus becoming a perceived threat to Roxelana. She also had his sons by other concubines murdered so as to ensure the ascendance of her son. Roxelana did more than contrive deaths; she was a benefactor to schools and a hospital for women, and was a major influence on her husband to maintain peaceful relations with the Kingdom of Poland and to stop the capturing of slaves in the area from which she had come.”

 blog 70-SuleimanThis is a fairly common depiction of Süleyman I.

blog 70-Roxelana

There are many images of Roxelana, all different, so it’s a little difficult to know exactly what she looked like.

“Her son, Selim I, was known as The Sot. Befitting that name, he seems to have been a spoiled profligate and inherited none of his parents’ skills in politics or warfare, and was the first in a series of incompetent sultans that weakened the empire and contributed to its ultimate downfall much later. “

 “Intrigue, murder, war, peace, and the slave girl who captured the sultan’s heart—it all happened during Süleyman and Roxelana’s reign.” [Excerpts from Voice of a Voyage]

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