Ismihan Sultan

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Ismihan Sultan
Manisa, Ottoman Empire
Died8 August 1585(1585-08-08) (aged 40–41)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
(present day Istanbul, Turkey)
Selim II Mausoleum, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
(m. 1562; died 1579)
Kalaylıkoz Ali Pasha
(m. 1584)
  • first marriage
  • Safiye Hanımsultan
  • Sultanzade Ahmed Bey
  • Sultanzade Sokolluzade Ibrahim Paşah
  • Sultanzade Piri Mehmed Bey
  • second marriage
  • Sultanzade Mahmud Bey
Turkish: Ismihan Sultan
Ottoman Turkish: اسمیخان سلطان
FatherSelim II
MotherNurbanu Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
Opening pages from the Qur'an probably meant for the Selim I (1512–1520), perhaps to celebrate his conquest of Mamluk Egypt and Syria in 1517. Seventy years later this luxurious manuscript was dedicated to the mausoleum of her father, Selim II (1566–1574), by great-granddaughter of Selim I, Ismihan Sultan. Dated September 1517.[1] Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

Ismihan Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: اسمیخان سلطان, "Purity of the Khan" or "Highness of the Khan"; Manisa, 1545 – Costantinople, 8 August 1585) was an Ottoman princess, daughter of Selim II (reign 1566–74) and his legal wife, Nurbanu Sultan. She was the granddaughter of Suleiman the Magnificent (reign 1520–66) and his favourite consort and legal wife Hürrem Sultan, sister of Sultan Murad III (reign 1574–95) and aunt of Sultan Mehmed III (reign 1595–1603).


Early years[edit]

Ismihan Sultan was born in Manisa in 1545.[2][3] Her father was Şehzade Selim (future Selim II), son of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem Sultan.[2][3] She spent her early life in Manisa and Konya, where her father served as a sanjak-bey.[3] Her mother was Nurbanu Sultan.[4][5][6][7] She was described as not particularly beautiful.[citation needed].

First marriage[edit]

In 1562, strong alliances were made for the daughters of Şehzade Selim, the prince who would succeed Suleiman as Selim II, on 17 August 1562 Ismihan married Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, Gevherhan the admiral Piyale Pasha, and Şah the chief falconer Hasan Agha.[8] Her father was particularly happy to give Ismihan's hand to Sokollu as a reward for the vizier's help in his succession struggle with his brother Şehzade Bayezid.[9] The State Treasury covered the expenses for the imperial wedding and granted 15,000 florins as a wedding gift to the imperial son-in-law.[10] The couple owned two palaces, one located in Kadırga,[11] and the other one located in Üsküdar.[12] The two together had three sons and a daughter.[5]

The Ragusans remarked on the marriage of Ismihan and Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, according to which he was awed by the sultana no less than others were by him. She frequently referred to him as “Vlach, in other words, a most vile rustic” (Murlacco, che vuol dire contadino vilissimo).[13]

Second marriage[edit]

After the death of the grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha in 1579, the princess's first choice for a new husband was Ösdemiroğlu Osman Pasha. However, he was not interested. Her next choice was Kalaylıkoz Ali Pasha, the governor of Buda, who agreed to the marriage, but when the imperial order came demanding his divorce, his wife's sorrow and suffering were said to have caused the city to revolt.[14] However, the two married in 1584[5] and had a son, Sultanzade Mahmud Bey born in 1585.[15]

Court Career[edit]

In 1575, just after her brother Sultan Murad ascended to the throne, her daily stipend consisted of 300 aspers.[16] In the early 1580s,[17] Ismihan collaborated with her mother Nurbanu to further isolate Safiye Sultan politically.[18] After which Murad accepted as a gift from her, two beautiful slave women,[19] each skilled at dance and musical performance.[20] The French refused to return two Turkish women who had been captured at sea by Henry III's brother-in-law and made members of Catherine de' Medici's court. Interceding on behalf of the Turkish women were Ismihan and her aunt, Mihrimah Sultan. [21]


Only two of Ismihan's five children survived after infancy.

From her first marriage, Ismihan had a daughter and three sons:

  • Safiye Hanımsultan (1563 - ?): Ismihan Sultan's eldest child. She was firstly married to her father's cousin Sokollu Mustafa Pasha, governor of Buda. After his exection in 1578, she married new governor of Buda Silahdar Cafer Pasha. After his death in 1587, she gave birth to their twin sons, Mehmed Bey and Cafer Bey, who died as children. She married thirdly to Sultanzade Abdülbaki Bey, son of her mother's cousin Hümaşah Sultan.
  • Sultanzade Ahmed Bey (1563 - 1567)
  • Sultanzade Sokolluzâde Ibrahim Han Paşah (1565 - 1621). In 1924, an his descendant Sokulluzade Abdülbâki Ihsân Bey married another Ottoman princess, Rukiye Sultan, granddaughter of Sultan Mehmed V.
  • Sultanzade Piri Mehmed Bey (1566 - 1567)

From her second marriage, Ismihan had a son:

  • Sultanzade Mahmud Bey (5 August 1585 - 24 September 1585): Ismihan died giving birth to him. He died 50 days after his mother.


Ismihan Sultan died in childbed on 8 August 1585 and was buried in the mausoleum of her father located in Hagia Sophia. [5][22] Her newborn son Mahmud would outlive her by no more than fifty days.[5]


Ismihan commissioned a mosque located near the Hippodrome, bearing Sokollu Mehmed Pasha's name. Her husband was responsible for the religious college and dervish hostel associated with it.[14] She also commissioned another mosque in her name in Mangalia, Romania.[23] She also endowed a library in her own madrasa in Eyüp.[24] Peasants on royal endowment land were accorded privileged treatment. The inhabitants of the Bulgarian village of Bobosevo, which had formed part of the holdings of Ismihan, today still remember that their village was under the protection of a princess (“under the veil of a Sultana”).[25]


  1. ^ "The Art of the Qur'an: Explore & Discover". National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian.
  2. ^ a b Taner, Melis (2009). 'Power to Kill:' A Discourse of the Royal Hunt During the Reigns of Süleyman the Magnificent and Ahmed I. p. 41.
  3. ^ a b c "SELİM II (ö. 982/1574): Osmanlı padişahı (1566-1574)". İslam Ansiklopedisi. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  4. ^ Miović 2018, p. 114.
  5. ^ a b c d e Uluçay 2011, p. 69.
  6. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 92.
  7. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 271.
  8. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 67.
  9. ^ Kayaalp 2018, p. 42 n. 62.
  10. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 68.
  11. ^ Milletlerarasi Türk Sanatlari Kongresi (1995). Bildiriler. Kültur Bakanliǧi. p. 198. ISBN 978-975-17-1487-9.
  12. ^ Kayaalp 2018, p. 40 n. 37.
  13. ^ Miović 2018, p. 110.
  14. ^ a b Peirce 1993, p. 69.
  15. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 273.
  16. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 127.
  17. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 259.
  18. ^ Kayaalp 2018, p. 34.
  19. ^ Kayaalp 2018, p. 35.
  20. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 94.
  21. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 227.
  22. ^ Sakaoğlu 2008, p. 271, 274.
  23. ^ Tom Le Bas; Brian Bell (2007). Romania. APA Publications. p. 161. ISBN 978-981-258-610-0.
  24. ^ Kayaalp 2018, p. 69 n. 70.
  25. ^ Peirce 1993, p. 217.