Haseki Sultan (B. 1506,
Rutenya / Lehistan – D. 1558, Istanbul).
Her real name was Alexandra Lisowska (La Rossa); she was recognized as Roxelana
in Europe. She was the wife of Ottoman Sultan Kanuni Sultan Süleyman and mother
of the subsequent sultan Selim II, who became the Sultan later. She was a
sultan who played a significant role in the Ottoman history and she was known
as the only woman who married an Ottoman with a marriage contract. Hürrem, who
was from a Polish-born Jewish family, was kidnapped by Tatar raiders in 1520
from the Rohatyn, a city within the borders of Ukraine today, when she was at a
young age, around 20 years old because of her beauty. That area was within the
boundaries of the Kingdom
of Poland between 1184
and 1939. Then Alexandra Lisowska entered under the protection of the Crimean
Han and then she was presented the Ottoman palace. Hürrem Sultan was privately
educated in the palace. She managed to attract the attention of the sultan with
her intelligence and talent, and gained a place among the harem women and the
elders of the palace. According to the 16th Century sources, the
maiden name of Hürrem Sultan was unknown. But according to later records, for
example, according to the first records of the 19th Century in Ukraine,
it was Anastasia (Nastia briefly) and according to the Polish tradition, she
was known as Aleksandra Lisowska. We know her generally as Hürrem Sultan or Hürrem Haseki Sultan. The name Hürrem of Persian origin, means "easygoing
person" in Turkish and Kerîme, in other words "noble person" in Arabic.
When Hürrem Sultan came
to the palace, Kanuni was the governor of Manisa and he had a son from
Mahidevran Sultan named Mustafa. Mustafa became very popular prince in time. It
was regarded as certain that he would be the sultan after Kanuni. This
situation meant that Mahidevran Sultan would be the Valide Sultan. However, Hürrem
Sultan got ahead of Mahidevran Sultan in all respects and became the married
spouse of the sultan by gaining Kanuni’s trust and love. She gave five
children, one girl and four boys to Kanuni Sultan Süleyman. The eldest son of
her children, prince Mehmet was killed as a result of an assassination before
ascending the throne. Her second son Selim ascended the throne. Her other sons,
Beyazıt and Cihangir were princes. She made her daughter Mihrimah Sultan marry
the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha.
Sultan, who was an effective Haseki Sultan in the state administration,
supported the Iran war. She provided peace with the Russians and Polish. During
this period, Russians began to spread eastward by dominating the Kazan and
Astrakhan Khanates. Some sources claim that Hürrem Sultan had negative effects
on the 16th century of the Ottoman
History by applying various
intrigues. Hürrem Sultan created an alliance with the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha
after having her daughter marry him. Kanuni had his son Mustafa, who was much
loved by the Janissaries, killed with the belief that he would dethrone him. It
is a common belief that Hürrem Sultan affected Kanuni so much that he had his own
son killed. Mahidevran Sultan was thoroughly discredited after the murder of
She spent a large part of her life
in Bursa where
the tomb of his son was. However, after the death of Hürrem Sultan, Hürrem Sultan’s
son Sultan Selim II put Mahidevran Sultan on the payroll and got a mausoleum
built for her son Mustafa.
Hürrem Sultan died eight years before her husband Kanuni
Sultan Süleyman on April 18th 1558 and she couldn’t see that her son
Selim II ascended the throne. Her funeral was buried in the Hürrem Sultan mausoleum
near the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.
The inner walls of the tomb are covered with İznik tiles, depicting the garden
Hürrem Sultan had Mimar
Sinan built the Haseki Küliyesi (T.N. Islamic Social Complex) in Istanbul in the Haseki
district that is called with her name today; there is a bath, a madrasah and
hospital in the social complex that of the construction was completed in
1538-1550. Today, this is known as the Ministry of Health, Haseki Training and
Research Hospital and carries the distinction of being the oldest hospital
which has been serving continuously in Turkey. Hürrem Sultan also had a kitchen
built around the Hagia Sophia Mosque to help the needy and the poor.
Hürrem Sultan has been
the subject of historical and artistic studies such as painting, music and
ballet in the modern Turkey
as well as in Europe. The 63rd Symphony
of Joseph Haydn is an example of these studies. Most of these works have been
written by Ukrainians but they are generally in English, German and French.
There is a monument to Hürrem Sultan in the Rohatyn, Ukraine which was cited as the
birthplace in some sources. In 2007, the Muslim Tatars opened a mosque in
memory of Hürrem Sultan in Mariupol which is a port city in Ukraine.
Demet Altınyeleklioğlu / Moskof Cariye Hürrem Sultan (Roman, 2009), Can Atilla
/ Aşk-ı Hürrem (Danslı oyun, 2003),
Erhan Afyoncu / Muhteşem Süleyman; Kanuni Sultan Süleyman ve Hürrem
Sultan (2011), Meral Okay / Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Senaryo, televizyon dizisi olarak
çekildi, 2011), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Kadınlar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C.
6, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).