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Nilüfer was a Valide Sultan (1359) wife of Orhan I, the second ruler of the state which has become the Ottoman Empire. She was mother of the next ruler, Murad I. Her other son was Kasim (died 1346). Some older sources also claim she was mother of Orhan's first son, Suleyman Pasha, which is disputed.[1]

The traditional stories about her origin, traced back to the 15th century, are that she was daughter of the Byzantine ruler (Tekfur[2]) of Bilecik, called Holofira. As some stories go,[3] Orhan's father Osman raided Bilecik at the time of Holofira's wedding arriving there with rich presents and disguised and hidden soldiers. Holowira was among the loot and given to Orhan.

However modern researchers doubt this story, admitting that it may have been based on real events. Doubts are based on various secondary evidence and lack of direct documentary evidence of the time. In particular, her Ottoman name Nilüfer meaning water lily in Persian language suggests that she may have been a Persian concubine.[1]

Other Historians make her a daughter of the Prince of Yarhisar or a Byzantine Princess Helen (Nilüfer), who was of ethnic Greek descent.[4][5][6]

Nilüfer Hatun İmareti ("Nilüfer Hatun Soup Kitchen"), a convent annex hospice for dervishes, now housing the Iznik Museum in İznik, Bursa Province, was built by Sultan Murad in 1388 to honor his mother after her death.[7]

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Leslie P. Peirce (1993) "The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire", ISBN 0195086775.
  2. ^ "tekfur" is corrupted Armenian tagavor for "king", the term traditionally used in the Ottoman Empire for Byzantine and other Christian rulers, cf. Tekfur Palace, see Jane Taylor (1998) "Imperial Istanbul: A Traveller's Guide, Includes Iznik, Bursa and Edirne", ISBN 1860642497, p. 33
  3. ^ "Diccionario histórico, ó Biografia universal compendiada" (1832) article Holofira
  4. ^ The Fall of Constantinople, Steven Runciman, Cambridge University Press, p.36
  5. ^ The Nature of the Early Ottoman State, Heath W. Lowry, 2003 SUNY Press, p.153
  6. ^ History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Stanford Jay Shaw, Cambridge University Press, p.24
  7. ^ "Nilüfer Hatun Soup Kitchen"
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