This joint paper is focused on the lives and networks of royal women in Istanbul during the reign of Selim III (1789-1807). Particular attention is paid to the Sultan's mother, Mihrişah Valide Sultan, as well as his sisters and cousins and their mothers.
Through their philanthropic acts and pleasure pastimes, these women had varying degrees of tangible presence in Istanbul’s landscape. However their socio-political relations is not as visible and begs further scholarly grounding. Equipped with elaborate courts of their own, we argue that they were important constituents of Selim III’s new order. The paper will further unpack the ways in which they made their presence in these networks tangible to their subjects, the very fact that their courts were now a part of the foreign delegations’ visitation circles alongside the sultan’s itinerant weeks along an expanded Bosphorus network. It will also detail their prolific epistolary output, especially their correspondences with their kethüdas, their accountant-cum-master of ceremonies, who regulated their abundant yet seemingly always insufficient finances. These letters highlight aspects of their material world, rivalries, worries, but perhaps most importantly centralized roles in maintaining courtly decorum.
Architecture & Urban Planning