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Beshir Agha

Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Imperial Harem

Jane Hathaway

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.

  • Publication date: February 22, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781851683901
  • RRP: £25.00
  • Pages: 160
  • Publication date: December 1, 2012
  • ISBN: 9781780741956
  • RRP: £18.00
  • Pages: 160

Jane Hathaway

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

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