Christian wives of the Turkish sultans. Political marriages in the Ottoman Empire 14th and 15th century

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Ilona Czamańska

Abstract

During the formation of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman rulers, similarly to the European rulers pursued a policy of the matrimonial contract, when entering into political marriages with the daughters of the Christian rulers. Christian wives were not forced to convert to Islam. Their status was clearly defined by a marriage settlement signed by the parents or brothers of a future husband. This contract provided females with the right to retain their religion, their means of sustenance to maintain their homes and mansions, as well as high status. Initially, these marriages and the related family relationships were treated very seriously, and one should not consider them to be only a manifestation of vassalization, they usually brought mutual political benefits. With time, with growing disproportions in the military capabilities of the Ottoman Empire and the Christian states in the Balkans, they became a part of political pressure. This did not mean, though, a departure from the principles of marriage contracts. The abolition of the Byzantine Empire and the Balkan countries caused a withdrawal from the policy of the sultans’ marriage contracts with Christian females, and later, a complete resignation from marriage settlements. After the conquest of the Balkans and Asia Minor, they lost their purpose.

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Czamańska, I. (2013). Christian wives of the Turkish sultans. Political marriages in the Ottoman Empire 14th and 15th century. Balcanica Posnaniensia. Acta Et Studia, 20, 47-63. https://doi.org/10.14746/bp.2013.20.5
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