New Book | The Women Who Built the Ottoman World

Posted in books by Editor on March 20, 2018

From I. B. Tauris:

Muzaffer Özgüles, The Women Who Built the Ottoman World: Female Patronage and the Architectural Legacy of Gülnus Sultan (London: I. B. Tauris & Co, 2017), 304 pages, ISBN: 9781784539269, £64 / $99.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire remained the grandest and most powerful of Middle Eastern empires. One hitherto overlooked aspect of the Empire’s remarkable cultural legacy was the role of powerful women—often the head of the harem, or wives or mothers of sultans. These educated and discerning patrons left a great array of buildings across the Ottoman lands: opulent, lavish, and powerful palaces and mausoleums, but also essential works for ordinary citizens, such as bridges and waterworks. Muzaffer Ozgules here uses new primary scholarship and archaeological evidence to reveal the stories of these Imperial builders. Gulnus Sultan (1642–1715), the favourite of the imperial harem under Mehmed IV and mother to his sons, was exceptionally pictured on horseback, travelled widely across the Middle East and Balkans, and commissioned architectural projects around the Empire. Her buildings were personal projects designed to showcase Ottoman power and they were built from Constantinople to Mecca, from modern-day Ukraine to Algeria. Ozgules seeks to re-establish the importance of some of these buildings, since lost, and traces the history of those that remain. The Women Who Built the Ottoman World is a valuable contribution to the architectural history of the Ottoman Empire and to the growing history of the women within it.

Muzaffer Özgüles is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Architecture at Gaziantep University, Turkey, and was the Barakat Trust Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Khalili Research Centre at the University of Oxford from 2014 to 2015. He gained his PhD in Architectural History at Istanbul Technical University in 2013.

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