Sultan Suleiman ruled for 46 years when the Ottoman Empire was at the height of its power. The series “Magnificent Century”, about Sultan Suleiman’s wife, children and sisters, was watched by millions of people around the world.
Sultan Suleiman’s father was Selim I (the Resolute). Although Selim was the ruler for only 8 years, he had conquered important lands in the history of religion such as Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. He also conquered Egypt and gave the Ottomans superiority in the Eastern Mediterranean trade.
Selim I had doubled the Ottoman lands and filled the empire’s treasury with gold. His only son was Sehzade (Prince) Suleiman. Thus, when Selim I died in 1520, his son ascended the throne under the name of Sultan Suleiman.
Normally, in the Ottoman Empire, the sultan would send his sons to certain cities as governors to learn the state administration. When the sultan died, there were tough struggles for the throne between his sons. However, since Sultan Suleiman was the only son, his accession to the throne was peaceful.
Sultan Suleiman’s Wife, Children and Sisters
In this article, you can find information about Sultan Suleiman’s wife, children and sisters. Sultan Suleiman’s period was a brilliant period of the empire, not only militarily but also architecturally. In this way, those of the sultan’s family left many mosques, baths, palaces and tombs in Istanbul.
In the meantime, it should be noted that we have very few resources on the private life of sultans. Since what happened in the sultan’s harem was kept secret, it is not possible to be 100% sure about the events of this period.
1. Mahidevran Sultan
Mahidevran Sultan was the most important woman in Suleiman’s palace when he was still a prince. Mahidevran was the chief concubine at Suleiman’s palace in Manisa and gave birth to her first son, Mustafa.
In the Ottoman Empire, the princes were appointed as governors to certain cities of Anatolia and learned to rule there. The most prominent of these cities, known as Sanjak, was Manisa.
The sultan’s sending a son to Manisa meant that he wished him to be the future sultan. On the other hand, it was not certain that the prince in Manisa would ascend to the throne.
When the sultan died, the strongest of the princes took the throne. Of course, the prince should have received support from the statesmen and the army to ensure this. The prince who could provide this would be the next sultan.
Since Sehzade Suleiman did not have a brother, he was directly assigned to the Manisa sanjak. It was already known that he would become a sultan. During this period, Mahidevran was the woman closest to the sultan.
2. Hurrem Sultan
Hurrem Sultan was born in Ruthenia, which was part of the Kingdom of Poland in the past, and is now in Ukraine. She was taken prisoner during the looting of her hometown and somehow ended up in the Palace in Istanbul.
There was an absolute hierarchy in the harem. While the ruler of the Harem was the Sultan’s mother (Valide Sultan), there were the sultan’s sisters, daughters and Haseki Sultans (women who gave birth to a son to the sultan) under her, respectively.
It was very difficult for Hurrem (aka Roxelana) to rise in the Harem hierarchy and become the closest person to Sultan Suleiman. However, Hurrem not only rose in the Harem over time, and even managed to become the most powerful woman in Ottoman history.
Sultan Suleiman married Hurrem and removed her from the status of concubine. Thus, Hurrem Sultan, as the wife of Sultan Suleiman, would have the right to do charity work like other women in the royal family (Sultan’s mother, daughter and sisters).
Hurrem Sultan had Mimar Sinan, the most famous palace architect of the Ottoman Empire, built a Turkish bath in Sultanahmet (Haseki Hurrem Sultan Hamam) and a mosque complex (Haseki Sultan Mosque) within the boundaries of the Historical Peninsula (The core of Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople)
3. Sehzade Mustafa
Sehzade Mustafa was the eldest son of Sultan Suleiman, born from Mahidevran. Sehzade Mustafa was the favorite son of Sultan Suleiman in the early years of his reign. He served in the Manisa sanjak, where the heir expected to ascend to the throne would rule.
However, over time, Mustafa’s relationship with his father deteriorated. It is rumored that Hurrem Sultan and her ally “the Grand Vizier” Rustem Pasha also played a role in this. Mustafa was accused of conspiring with the Shah of Iran. As a result, he was executed by his father for treason.
Sehzade Mustafa’s death caused great indignation in the army. The majority of senior commanders and bureaucrats saw Mustafa as the next sultan. The murder of Shahzade Mustafa had become a major trauma in Turkish history.
4. Sehzade Mehmed
Sehzade Mehmed was the first child of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan. Mehmed eventually became the favorite son of Sultan Suleiman. However, he died of smallpox at a young age.
When Sehzade Mehmed died at the age of 20, Sehzade Mosque, one of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul, was built in his memory. This mosque is the first of the three great works of the famous architect Sinan.
5. Sehzade Selim
Sehzade Selim was the second eldest son of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan. Selim had strong rivals such as Mustafa and Mehmed on his way to the throne, but in the end he became the next sultan.
The famous architect Sinan had built his second great work, the Suleymaniye Mosque, for Sultan Suleiman. His third major work is Selimiye Mosque, which he built for Sehzade Selim, who ascended the throne under the name of Selim II.
6. Sehzade Bayezid
Sehzade Bayezid was the third son of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan. After the death of Sehzade Mustafa, who was seen as the future sultan by the bureaucracy and the army, it was expected that Bayezid would ascend to the throne.
However, Bayezid’s relations with Sultan Suleiman were not good. Sultan Suleiman supported Sehzade Selim in the battle of Selim and Bayezid to be the major heir. Bayezid attempted to take refuge with the Shah of Iran. As a result, Bayezid was executed on charges of treason.
7. Sehzade Cihangir
Sehzade Cihangir was the youngest child of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan. Cihangir received a good education and became an intellectual. However, it was not possible for him to be the next sultan due to his health problems and his hunchback.
The most important work that has survived from Sehzade Cihangir is the Cihangir Mosque in Beyoglu (aka Taksim) district. Because of this mosque, Cihangir, one of the most popular neighborhoods of Istanbul, is named after this prince.
8. Mihrimah Sultan
Mihrimah Sultan was the only daughter of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan. It is known that Sultan Suleiman loved his daughter Mihrimah very much. Mihrimah later married the “Grand Vizier” Rustem Pasha, the highest bureaucrat of the state.
Mihrimah Sultan and her husband Rustem Pasha left an important legacy to Istanbul. Mihrimah Sultan had two mosques built, one in Edirnekapi (Old City) and the other in Uskudar (Asian Side).
Rustem Pasha, at the top of the Ottoman bureaucracy, had a mosque built in Eminonu (Old City) named Rustem Pasha Mosque, which is small in size but magnificent with its decoration.
All three mosques were designed by Mimar Sinan, the most famous palace architect in Ottoman history. Rustem Pasha Mosque is famous for the magnificent Iznik tiles adorning its interior.
9. Hatice Sultan
Hatice Sultan was the daughter of the previous ruler Selim I and the sister of Sultan Suleiman. It is rumored that Sultan Suleiman loved Hatice the most among his sisters. Hatice Sultan later married Suleiman’s right-hand man, Pargali Ibrahim Pasha.
As far as we know, Ibrahim Pasha and his wife Hatice Sultan lived in Ibrahim Pasha Palace located in Sultanahmet Square after they got married. Today, this palace serves as the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.
Ibrahim Pasha was a bureaucrat who graduated from Enderun School in Topkapi Palace. While still a young prince, Suleiman became friends with Ibrahim at the Topkapi Palace.
Their friendship continued after Suleiman came to the throne. Ibrahim Pasha also had a great share in Sultan Suleiman’s early successes. As a statesman, Ibrahim Pasha was equipped with unprecedented powers in Ottoman history.
The relationship between the two deteriorated over time. It is claimed that Hurrem Sultan’s dislike of Ibrahim Pasha had an effect on this. Also, according to some historians, the pasha was poisoned by power and behaved like a sultan. As a result, Ibrahim Pasha was executed.
10. Sah Sultan
Sah Sultan was one of the most powerful of Suleiman’s sisters. Shah Sultan first married the Grand Vizier Lutfi Pasha. Shah Sultan’s marriage to Lutfi Pasha did not go well and they were divorced with the sultan’s approval. Lutfi Pasha was retired and removed from the capital.
It is believed that Shah Sultan married for the second time with Zal Mahmud Pasha. Although the date of this marriage is not very clear in the sources, it is understood from the history of a mosque built by the Zal Mahmud Pasha .
Zal Mahmud Pasha and Shah Sultan are mentioned in the inscription of the Zal Mahmud Pasha Mosque, located in the Eyup district of Istanbul. This mosque in Eyup is adjacent to Eyup Sultan Mosque, which is considered the holiest mosque in Istanbul.
In this article, we got to know the family of Sultan Suleiman, who is known as the Lawgiver in the East and the Magnificent in the West. Sultan Suleiman’s life has come to the fore in recent years with the TV show Magnificent Century, which refers to the 16th century.
Most of the characters mentioned in this article are also in the series. Above, you can see the poster of the Magnificent Century (Turkish original name, Muhteşem Yüzyıl) series. I noted the main characters for easy recognition.
You can also read the Ottoman Empire Map article, which summarizes the history of the empire in the form of a timeline. In addition, the Ottoman Istanbul article, which tells the history of the Ottoman capital through its structures, may also interest you.
Written by Serhat Engul
Who is Fatma Sultan? Is she another sister?
Serhat Engül says
Yes she is the youngest sister of Sultan Suleiman.
Charlotte S Zima says
I accidentally found this series of episodes of Magnificent Century and I have become addicted to learning of them.
I watch but at the same time have such anxiety about what is going to happen next. Not sure that the mother of Sultan Suleiman will not have the head of Hurrem. So many evil forces at work.
However, I do realize this is basically a soap opera of their life and much is for the benefit of drama for the entertainment purposes of the Magnificent Century. I am enthralled with their life..
Bali Bei is a very interesting person and seems at least in the episodes to be of good character. I didn’t like that he didn’t tell the truth about Hurrems concubine and let her be killed.
Of course, he would probably have been beheaded for it. Would love to know the truth behind what is shown to us.
Serhat Engül says
Hello Charlotte, yes, such TV series can be very gripping sometimes. In fact, we know very little about what really happened in the sultan’s harem. So most of the events in the series are fiction.
However, the important events experienced by the main characters (in general) coincide with the facts in history. What happened between Sultan Suleiman, Hurrem Sultan, Sehzade Mehmed and Ibrahim Pasha is generally true.
Annette Maryam Robinson says
Aslam Alekum i started watching the Magnificent Century in 2018 when i moved to Las Vegas NV. gone back and watched it over and over just to see what i may missed , I love this show . Thank You
Serhat Engül says
Alaikum Selam Meryem. Yes, the TV series about Sultan Suleiman was really successful. Thanks for the feedback.
Merilyn Megna says
I am totally addicted to Magnificent Century, so much so, that i have had to start reading anything i can find on the Ottoman Empire.
Serhat Engül says
Hi Merilyn, yes some shows are really addictive. Magnificent Century is one of them. You can find many articles related to Ottoman history on this site.
Hello Serhat Engul,
The information about Hatice Sultan is not correct. She wasn’t married to Ibrahim Pasha as shown in the Turkish TV series “Magnificent Century/Muhteşem Yüzyıl”. Her first marriage was with Kapudan Iskender Pasha who died in 1515. Her second marriage was with Coban Mustafa Pasha.
Serhat Engül says
Hi Jeanette, yes, until the 2000s, Hatice Sultan was thought to be married to Pargali Ibrahim Pasha. However, a female academic claimed that there was no clear evidence of this, and therefore this marriage never happened.
As in the example of “Shah Sultan” in the article, this subject is not known for certain. If you look at the title “Hatice Sultan” on Wikipedia, it is emphasized that historians “generally” agree that marriage never existed.
This post is not an academic article. Those who read the article are those who watch the “Magnificent Century” series. For this reason, I want to continue with traditional knowledge. I don’t feel the need to update on something that no one is 100% sure of.
Thank you for your contribution. Thus, those who read this article will see that there are new theses on this subject.
What are the chances today’s Hungarian people are from Turkish descent ?
Thx for your ideas
Serhat Engül says
Hello Marika, unfortunately I do not have enough information on this subject. However, there are references in many sources that the Hungarians were originally one of the Turkic peoples who migrated from Asia. This issue is also mentioned on Wikipedia’s page on Hungarians.
Margaret Brown says
Accidentally stumbled on Magnificent century and could not stop watching
I realise that like most TV dramas there are threads of truth running through the beauty and glory of this series, but as a historical drama it awakened in me a thirst for knowledge of Turkish history and as I have an interest in world history, I have begun to look deeper into the lives of the Turkish people back then. What a colourful, fascinating history you have.
Serhat Engül says
Hello Margaret Brown, I am glad that the series Magnificent Century has inspired you to research Turkish history.
Indeed, Ottoman history specifically between the 15th and 19th centuries contains a lot of interesting information about developments in this part of the world.
Of course, one of the most suitable places to observe life in the Ottoman period is Istanbul, which was the capital of the empire. You can find a lot of information on this subject in the articles on this site.
Although the relationships of the characters in the series were mostly fictional, they reflected real events in the history of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.
Amanda Onder says
When l visited the Topkapi Seray years ago l noticed in the Harem, that had just been reopened after hundred of years, had little brass taps placed in well chosen places so that if the people living in the Harem needed to have a private conversation they could open the tap and let the water flow to mask the noise of the conversation.
I didn’t see that at all in the series. How accurate do you think the story of the series is?
I found your post while searching for answer of who became Sultan after Suleiman died and found your good information. Thank you for clearing up about Mehmed, l was wondering what haloed to him.
Is it Selim II accusing Bayezid and his mother of plotting against him? I thought they had the same mother, Hurrem?
Serhat Engül says
Hello Amanda, in my opinion, the series generally moves in parallel with historical events. However, when it comes to details in private life, the share of fiction increases.
Since the life in Topkapi Palace was kept secret, it is not possible to know what kind of dialogues took place between the characters of that period. For this reason, we do not know for certain events other than birth, death and wars.
For example, for a very long time it was thought that Ibrahim Pasha was married to Sultan Suleyman’s sister. But now there are arguments that this is not true. The lack of precise and clear records of even such an important thing points to the scarcity of sources on the private life of that period.
You’re right that the fountains are used so that conversations cannot be heard from outside the room. However, they may not have taken this into account when making a model of Topkapi Palace for the series. I’m not an expert, but I guess the constant water sound wouldn’t be very good in terms of the sound quality of the series.
P.S. I didn’t understand the question about Selim II. Yes, they were both Hurrem’s sons.