Ottomans Empire Facts for Kids

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Ottoman Empire Women

Women - as they have throughout the history, have always been the epicenter of politics, wars, births and mysteries. The position of the women in the Ottoman Empire was significant because it was like a paradox. On one side, they empowered women that led to the rise of the 'Sultanate of Women' and on the other side they forced the women into flesh trade, trafficking and slavery. Therefore the culture, society and administration of the whole Ottoman Empire cannot be understood without understanding the position of the women.

The Sultanate of Women

What existed a little over a century between the 16th and 17th century A.D. became a defining point in the history of the Ottoman Empire. During that period, the women who were a part of the Imperial Harem became so powerful that they could actually diminish the powers of the sultan if they wished to. Therefore the women began playing important roles in the military and civic administration of the Empire. The women are understood to have been the epicenter of law and administration of the sultanate.

The women were mainly born to Christian families as the earlier rulers of the Empire wanted to stretch their Empire further into Europe and hence intercommunity marriages were common. Coming from the highly educated European background, the women were an enlightened lot and the sultanate found it only rational to include them in the state of affairs of the Empire. The women also held advantage in the sense that no one would rise to rebel against their diktat!

Women Slaves

Some traders however saw this (the intercommunity marriages) as an opportunity and started selling off women as slaves to the European countries. When the sultanate came to know about the practice - it wanted to come down heavily upon those traders but was stopped from doing so by the 'rational' argument of the traders who termed it as an economic and strategic gain for the Empire! The result was that women as slaves were continued to be sold off to European nations even as late as the 18th century and extended till the early 19th century.

As described earlier, the position of the women in the Ottoman Empire represented a true paradox. On one hand they wielded extraordinary influence and power over the Empire and on the other the women belonging to the lower rung of the society were sold off as 'economic' and 'strategic' move!

This site covers all areas Ottoman Empire History Facts. Besides the popular Ottoman topics like rise and fall, leaders, society, economy, Inventions, Religion, it also covers several other areas like comparison with other empires.

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