Beshir Agha

Pages: 160
Subject: Religion: Islam
Series: Makers of the Muslim World
Imprint: Oneworld Academic
Illustrations: Illustrations, maps

Beshir Agha

Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Imperial Harem

Jane Hathaway

Explores the life of the most powerful Chief Harem Eunich in the History of the Ottoman empire.
Hardback
9781851683901 (22 Feb 2006)
RRP £25.00 / US$30.00

The Book

This book explores the life of el-Hajj Beshir Agha (ca. 1657-1746), the most powerful Chief Harem Eunuch in the history of the Ottoman Empire Enslaved in his native Ethiopia as a boy, then castrated in Egypt, el-Hajj Beshir became one of hundreds of East African eunuchs who inhabited the imperial palace's enormous harem. Rising through the ranks to become harem treasurer by 1707, he eventually oversaw the educations of crown princes and harem women whilst choosing and deposing a long series of grand viziers. Wielding unparallelled power and influence over the empire, the libraries that he founded throughout the region helped to shape the religious and intellectual profile of the Ottoman state.

 

CONTENTS


Acknowledgments

Note on transliteration

Introduction

 

1 PRELIMINARIES: ELITE SLAVERY AND HOUSEHOLD MEMBERSHIP

Elite slavery in Islamic societies

Household politics and patron-client ties

 

2 EUNUCHS IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Eunuchs in antiquity

Eunuchs in medieval Islamic empires

Eunuchs under the Mamluk sultanate

Eunuchs under the Ottomans

 

3 BESHIR AGHA'S ORIGINS

Ottoman Abyssinia

Enslavement and castration

Post-castration conditions

Sale in Cairo

The political culture of Ottoman Egypt

Ismail Bey

 

4 EARLY YEARS IN THE PALACE

Sultan's companion

The sultan's mother

The "Edirne Incident” (1703)

Harem treasurer

 

5 EXILE IN CYPRUS AND EGYPT

Cyprus

Egypt

 

6 CHIEF OF THE TOMB EUNUCHS IN MEDINA

Shi‘ism

Medina

The mosque of the Prophet

The tomb of the Prophet

The tomb eunuchs

Relations with Medina's and Egypt's notables

 

7 CHIEF EUNUCH OF THE TOPKAPI PALACE HAREM

Return to Istanbul

Return to the harem

Vizier maker

Nevshehirli Ibrahim Pasha

The Tulip Era

The Book of Festivals

 

8 BESHIR AGHA DURING THE REIGN OF MAHMUD I

The Patrona Halil rebellion, 1730

Mahmud I (r. 1730-54)

 

9 BESHIR AGHA AND THE ARAB PROVINCES

The pilgrimage caravan and the governorship of Damascus

Beshir Agha and Egypt's grandees

 

10 BESHIR AGHA'S LIBRARIES AND PIOUS FOUNDATIONS

Libraries

Holdings of Beshir Agha's library outside the palace

Other libraries

Foundations

Conclusion

 

11 BESHIR AGHA'S DEATH AND BURIAL

Funeral and burial

Beshir Agha's tomb

 

12 BESHIR AGHA'S LEGACY THROUGH THE LENS OF OTTOMAN "DECLINE”

Morali Beshir Agha

Chief harem eunuchs and grand viziers in the post-Beshir era

Beshir Agha and the question of Ottoman "decline”

Conclusion

 

13 SOURCES ON BESHIR AGHA

Primary sources

Secondary sources

 

Works cited

Index

Additional Information

Subject Religion: Islam
Series Makers of the Muslim World
Pages 160
Imprint Oneworld Academic
Illustrations Illustrations, maps

 

About the Author

Jane Hathaway is Associate Professor of Islamic and world history, Ohio State University.