The Harem

There passed only one thousand years A.C Selçuk Bey from the Kimk Tribe of the Oguz Turks who had converted to Islam founded The Great Seljuk Empire and started to be the defender of the Islamic. Caliphs. To achieve their goal they needed the Persian and the Anatolian lands and it wasn’t long after had they invaded Persia. The Byzantine palace started to hear the sound of the horseshoes of the Turkish horsemen nearby. To defend themselves they sent out a big army to their eastern border. It was 26 August 1071 when the Byzantine emperor Romen Diogenes fought Alparslan, the sultan of the Seljuks in the Manzikert (Malazgirt) Plain. At dusk, the very same day the result of the war seemed to be clear. Seljuk armies decisively defeated the Byzantines. With this victory, Turks wide opened the gates to Anatolia. Turkish horsemen riding through this gate took over most of Anatolia and captured Nicaea, a town that had a political and religious importance for The Byzantines. The Sultan of The Seljuks appointed Suleyman, the son of Kutalmis, as the Sultan of Anatolia due to his success in leading the Turkish army. So, Anatolian Seljuk State was founded the capital of which was chosen to be Konya. They brought in Anatolia a new atmosphere with their distinctive culture. By producing great art, they started an immense construction campaign taking the Pre-Anatolian cultures into consideration. They built schools, mosques, hospitals in cities like Sivas, Erzurum, Konya and ornamented those buildings with splendid crown gates. Besides, they connected their capital Konya to neighbouring towns by well-arranged, secure roads and they builtcaravansaries to set the security along those roads. Because of the Mongol threat in Central Asia, Kayi tribe of The Oguz Turks had to leave their homeland for good. Their caravan first arrived in Eastern Anatolia and stayed in Ahlat for some time. Some of them decided to go back while the rest in about 400 tents moved on towards West and arrived in Ankara dwelling in Karacadag. At the time; the Anatolian Seljuk Empire was being ruled by Alaeddin Keykubat. When the Sultan was to set off for a war in Western Anatolia he called in the new comers to join in the army as raiders. So, the warriors of the Kayi tribe led by Ertugrul Bey became a part of the Great Seljuk army. While Alaeddin Keykubat had to ride back because of the Mongol threat raising in the East, Ertugrul Bey fought on and captured Sogut and the vicinity. So, the Sultan of the Seljuks gave Ertugrul Bey Sogiit to stay in the wintertime and Domanic plateau to spend their summers. Kayi tribe finally had their own homeland in Anatolia. While they were settling in Sogiit, Alaeddin Keykubat, the Sultan of the Seljuks died and the Mongol threat in the East started to grow considerably. Finally, the Mongol hordes overran the Seljuks in Kosedag in the year 1243 and captured Anatolia. While Anatolia was under the Mongol reign Ertugrul Bey died in Sogiit in 1281 in his 90s.

His youngest son Osman, at the age of 23, was appointed as the Bey. Osman Bey who was honoured by being promoted from a subdivision Principality to the highest office continued the raids for the expansion of their lands. He married Mai Hatun the daughter of the Vizier of the Seljuks and increased his political power. After that, he married Bala Hatun, the daughter of Sheikh Edebali, the ritual leader of the area so, he was able to empower himself virtually too. While strengthening himself with those marriages he was expanding his borders by conquering castles one after another. The neighbouring Byzantine princes were scared of his strength and considered him a potential danger. They were looking to find a way to Mil him somehow. They planned to invite Osman Bey for a wedding ceremony and kill him there. Osman Bey soon found out what they had planned and he decided to retaliate their ambuscade attempt by falling them into ambush he was going to lay. He made his soldiers dress up in women’s clothing and went for the wedding. When the Byzantines attempted to kill him his soldiers, taking off their fake clothing, put all the Byzantine soldiers and the princes to the sword. The bride Holifera , the daughter of Yerhisar prince left behind. Osman Bey married her to his son Orhan Bey and she converted to Islam later taking up a Turkish name; Nilüfer. During that time the Seljuk Sultans had no importance under the reign of The Mongols. Osman Bey, realising this fact, declared their independence. From then on, the dynasty was to be named by his name and called ‘The Ottomans’. The Seljuk Empire already declined in 1308 not so long after his declaration of independence. So, many Principalities established in Anatolia gained their independence too. Osman Bey had the gout. Because of that everlasting illness he left his son Orhan Bey the reign of the Ottomans in 1324. He made a will and wanted his son Orhan Bey to capture Brusa (Bursa) at any cost and bury himself there. By his will, Orhan Bey reigning the Ottomans, took Brusa in 1326 and buried his father there who died at the age of 67.

That Ottoman Principality was to grow into the Ottoman Empire. The new ventures started taking place. Important steps were being taken to establish the departments of the state. From 400 tents there grew an army of 20.000 soldiers. While the Ottomans gaining power, their neighbours, the Byzantines were getting weakened day by day by the fierce struggle over the throne. Princes trying to keep their thrones and avoid their enemies were begging Orhan Bey for his help. In such a case, The Byzantine emperor Andronikos III. asked for Orhan Bey’s help and married his daughter Asporca to Orhan Bey in return. After that, John Kantakuzen VI who wanted Orhan Bey to be one of his relatives gave his daughter to him for a marriage. Orhan Bey after reigning for 36 years died in 1362 at the age of 80. His son Prince (Sehzade) Murad born from Nilufer Hatun sat on the throne by the name Murad I. Sultan Murad institutionalised the identification of becoming a state which Orhan Bey had earlier started. He secured the regulation in Anatolia and in 1362 by taking over Adrianople (Edirne) moved the capital there since it would be easier to rule his European conquests from there. Sirpsindigi and Cirmen victories made it easy for the Turks to move towards the heart of Europe. Thereupon, the Croats, the Hungarians, the Romanians, the Poles, and the Bulgarians gathered a crusades army of 100.000 soldiers and fought Ottomans in Kosova. Ottomans won a great victory against the crusaders. Unfortunately, Sultan Murad while walking about the battlefield got stabbed by a wounded Serb and so, the Turks lost a great ruler. Yildirim Beyazid, aged 29, born from Gülçiçek Hatun succeeded to the Ottoman throne in the battlefield. Yildinm Beyazid dominated Wallachia (Eflak) and defeated a huge crusaders army in Nigbolu. At that time he got married Devlet Sah Hatun, the daughter of Germiyanoglu Siileyman Shah. For this political marriage, he was given Kiitahya and the vicinity as a trousseau. The Serbian King Lazar I gave his daughter, Maria Olivera Despina to him to secure himself. Aydmoglu Isa Bey was able to continue his Principality by giving his daughter, Hafsa Sultana to him.

After his victories in Europe, Yildirim Bayezid returned back to Anatolia and attacked the Turkish Principalities there. The rulers of the Principalities losing their lands fled to the Mongol Emperor Tamerlane’s land for a proteetion, and the sultans of the countries invaded by Tamerlane came to Yildirim Bayezid to get sheltered. By their provocation, the two Turkish emperors fought. in the battle took place around Ankara in 1402, Yildirim Bayezid was defeated since the Principalities’ soldiers who had been with him formerly decided to fight in favour of Tamerlane in the battlefield. Yildirim Bayezid became a prisoner of Tamerlane and died of his sorrow on 9 March 1403. Tamerlane remaining in Anatolia for 8 years went back to his homeland leaving a divided Anatolia in many pieces behind. Right after his departure from Anatolia a struggle över the throne started among the sons of Yildirim. Mehmet Çelebi after along struggle, re-founded the Ottoman Empire by defeating his brothers. His son, Murad II sat on the throne after his death in 1421.

Many problems were waiting for this young Emperor succeeded to the throne at the age of 18. Anatolian Principalities wanted to go back to their independent status before the Ankara Battle. That’s why, Mentesogullari, Germiyanogullari, Aydinogullari and Candarogullari did not recognise Murad II and rebelled. At the same time, Murad II had to fight his ünde Mustafa and the brother Mustafa since they had rebelled together with the above mentioned Principalities too. Finally, he was able to reunion Anatolia in 1431. He had been reigning his country for 23 years. Although he was only 40 , the problems he had faced both in Anatolia and in Europe made him exhausted. That’s why he left his throne to his son Mehmed II aged 12. But since the Ottoman throne was left to a child, some movements started both in Europe and Byzantine and another Crusades army was prepared. Against that prominent danger Murad II took the Ottoman throne back again and left it to the son after defeating the Crusaders. And Murad II had to take the throne back önce again when the janissaries [Yeniçeri) rebelled.

When the Sultan died on a winter day of 1451 in Adrianople (Edirne) Mehined II who was going to be named The Conqueror (Fatih) later, succeeded to the throne. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (Fatih Sultan Mehmed) who sat on the throne at the age of 19, wanted Byzantine which was standing like an apex of a boil in the Empire, to be taken. He made his wishes come true by conquering istanbul in 1453. Having conquered istanbul, he moved the Capital to this city after Bursa and Edirne. He started to produce great art with a big construction campaign and beautified istanbul.

Fatih returned back to Anatolia and captured Trebizond (Trabzon) Greek Empire , defeated Akkoyunlu State and expanded his lands as far as Crimea.

He died at the age of 49 as he set off for another war. His son Bayezid II, a composer, a poet and a scientist sat on the throne. During his 31 year long sultanate, he took ali precautions he found necessary to set the regulations and firmly establish the foundations of the Empire. Yavuz Sultan Selim who was quite enthusiastic found his father rather recessive and by dethrorüng him became the Sultan in 1512. He stopped the Shah Ismail rebellion his father always ignored before it created a big danger.

Yavuz Sultan Selim succeeded to the throne at the age of 42, which was quite an old age at the time to become a Sultan, attacked Egypt gaining the Islamic Caliphate to the Ottomans. After his short but very successful sultanate of 8 years Yavuz Sultan Selim who was quite a sentimental poet at the same time, died in 1520 leaving his throne to his son Süleyman the Magnificient (Kanuni Sultan Süleyman) born of Hafsa Sultan.

The advancement era of the Ottomans reached its peak during his 46-year-long sultanate. After his long-lasting sultanate, his son Selim II sat on the throne upon his death in 1566. Sultan Selim II who was in favour of peace never fought during his reign lasted for 8 years. He let Sokollu Mehmet Pasa deal with all the governmental affairs of the state while he devoted himself to religion and poetry. in the meantime, he ordered Architect Sinan (Mimar Sinan) to build the famous Selimiye Mosque in Adrianople (Edirne). Selim II, who used to mite poems using the name ‘Selimi’ left his throne to his son Murad III in 1574. We notice that Mehmed III replaced Murad III upon his death and Ahmed I succeeded to the throne after Mehmed III in 1603. That Sultan had the Ahmed I Has room constructed in the Harem.

Ottoman Empire had its most powerful era around the end of the 16th. the century which would be followed by an arrested development era lasting until the end of the 17th. century. During that period, since The Empire was ruled by politically weak Sultans, and the women of the palace intervened in the government affairs and on top of everything the corruption of the army ended the glorious victories leading them to a decline in the 17th. century. The Sultans of the period respectively; Ahmed I, Mustafa I, Osman II, Murad IV, ibrahim, Mehmed IV, Süleyman II, Ahmed II, Mustafa II, ruled the Empire. By the end of the 17th. century, although they had experienced a long troublesome era they were still one of the strongest countries of the world. The Ottoman Empire had to lose some of its lands after unsuccessful wars ended up with the signing of The Karlofça Treaty in 1699. The following 150 years became their retardation era. in that era, the Sultans ruled the Empire, respectively; Ahmed III, Mahmud I, Osman III, Mustafa III, Abdülhamid I, Selim III, Mustafa IV, continued to undertake the additional constructions in the Harem despite their huge land losses. Ahmed III’s feast room, Osman III’s mansion to be called by his name, Abdülhamid I.’s room for the favourite women, Selim III’s two separate rooms öne for himself and the other for his mother are reckoned as the additional buildings in the Harem. When Mahmud II born of Naksidil Sultan started to spend his nights in palaces by the water, so, the Harem in the Topkapi Palace lost its previous glory. Abdülmecid, succeeded to the throne after him had the Dolmabahçe Palace built and moved there and of course, the Harem entirely lost its importance. After Abdülmecid, Abdülaziz sat on the throne being followed by Murad Vs short reign. Abdülhamid II’s sultanate which would last for a long period started afterwards. That Sultan did not prefer Dolmabahçe Palace and chose Yildiz Palace as his accommodation and lived there until he was dethroned in 1909. After him, Mehmed Resat and Mehmet Vahidettin continued their sultanate in Dolmabahçe Palace. After taking a stage in history for 624 years with its 8 million square km. lands, 120 million inhabitants, dominating 38 countries in total, The Ottoman Empire completed its historical mission, and with the removal of Caliphate, it collapsed on 3 March 1924 and was replaced by the young Republic of Turkey.