Empress of the East

Empress of the East

How A European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire

Book - 2017
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"The extraordinary story of the Russian slave girl Roxelana, who rose from the role of concubine to become the only queen in Ottoman history In Empress of the East, historian Leslie Peirce tells the remarkable story of a Christian slave girl, Roxelana, who was abducted by warriors at age twelve from her Ruthenian homeland, and brought to the harem of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in Constantinople. Suleiman became besotted with her, and forsook all other mistresses. Then, in an unprecedented step, he made her the first and only queen in the Ottoman court. Although shrouded in scandal, the canny and sophisticated Roxelana became a shrewd diplomat and administrator, who helped Suleyman keep pace with a changing world in which women--from Queen Elizabeth to Catherine de Medici--increasingly held the reins of power. In Empress of the East, Pierce reveals the true history of an elusive figure who pushed the Ottoman Empire towards modernity"-- Provided by publisher.
"FROM CHRISTIAN MAIDEN TO MUSLIM QUEEN: Roxelana was born in Ruthenia, possibly the daughter of a priest but more likely into an average family, facing a hardscrabble life. She was captured by slavers around age 12 and taken to the Ottoman court. Her trajectory was extraordinary--she became a favored concubine and then the first, and only, Ottoman Queen. From rags to riches, her life is one of political maneuvering, rule breaking, and forbidden love. A Christian slave girl ripped from her homeland who, against all odds, rose to become the only queen in the history of the Ottoman Empire, Roxelana has long been accused of witchcraft and blamed for turning the sultan Suleyman's head--even preventing him from reaching his full potential as a ruler. But the truth is even more remarkable: the first (and only) Queen in Ottoman history, Roxelana was a diplomat, an administrator, and a modernizer who helped Suleyman keep up with the changing world. She is a remarkable figure whose fascinating story warrants retelling, and whose life will shed new light on the history of the Ottoman Empire. Soon after Roxelana entered Suleyman's harem, however, Suleyman set aside all others, breaking centuries of tradition in favor of the laughing Ruthenian maiden, who he would eventually free and marry. Controversial from the outset, Roxelana has remained so for historians. Both in life and in death, she has been a lightning rod for virtually all of Suleyman's unpopular acts, including a series of controversial executions. This greatest of Ottoman sultans has himself been sold short by the myth of his susceptibility to Roxelana's charms"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780465032518
0465032516
Branch Call Number: BIOGRAPHY 956.015 HURREM 2017
Characteristics: 359 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm

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talk2terih
Oct 23, 2017

High commendations to Ms. Peirce on both the rigor of her scholarship and her ability to bring this exotic woman to life. It is tempting to make assumptions about a subject's thoughts, emotions, and motivations, a trap into which Ms. Peirce never falls. Her speculations are always clearly noted as such, and are firmly based on the source material. This is a terrifically readable book about a very singular woman as well as being the source of considerable information about the inner workings of the Ottoman Empire. Very highly recommended.

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