The Sultan's Eunuch | Jane Hathaway

E369 | For more than three centuries, a cadre of African eunuchs were responsible for guarding the Ottoman harem at the imperial palace in Istanbul. The head of this group, the Chief Harem Eunuch, emerged as an extremely influential individual at the court. This was especially true during the crisis years of the long seventeenth century, when the palace became divided along ever-shifting lines of political factions. In this episode, we trace the long trajectory of the office of Chief Harem Eunuch, from its establishment—coinciding with the sultan’s decision to begin residing full-time in the harem—until the ultimate demise of the empire. In particular, we highlight the high degree of mobility for these eunuchs, beginning with their initial journey from Ethiopia to the shores of the Bosphorus, and later on using their position to maintain strong ties to Cairo as well as the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. A liminal figure in every sense of the word—in terms of gender, race, and his duties at the court—the Chief Harem Eunuch offers unique insights into the nature of political life at the Ottoman palace. See more at https://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2018/08/sultanseunuch.html Jane Hathaway is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio State University. She has published numerous books and articles on the Ottoman Chief Harem Eunuch, the Ottoman Arab provinces (especially Egypt), and ethno-regional factionalism in the Ottoman Empire. Her new book, The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Harem: From African Slave to Power-Broker, is available August 2018 through Cambridge University Press. Sanja Kadric is a lecturer in the Department of History at Ohio State University. Her research concerns the devsirme, kinship networks, and origin myths in the Ottoman Empire and addresses the legacy of elite military and bureaucratic slavery in former Ottoman lands. Emily Neumeier is an art historian whose research concerns the art and architecture of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic. She is co-curator of our series The Visual Past and editor of the blog stambouline, a site where travel and the Ottoman world meet. She serves as assistant professor of art history at Temple University. CREDITS Release Date: 5 August 2018 Recording Location: Columbus, Ohio Audio editing by Emily Neumeier Music: Special thanks to Kara Güneş for permission to use the composition Istanbul Images and bibliography courtesy of Jane Hathaway available at https://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2018/08/sultanseunuch.html


Ottoman History Podcast