Ascent to power - from humble slave to Sultana
How does a good Ukranian girl, the daughter of an Orthodox priest end up as a slave in Constantinople? Crimean Tartars, of course. Her red hair made her unique, so eager to cash in on their prize, they sold her as a slave. Sharp tongued and quick witted, the unruly Roxelana was bought and sold several times. Finally, she was sold to the harem of Sultan Suleyman.
For two years, Roxelana spent her time learning the Koran and the languages spoken in the Harem, namely Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. And of course, there were the womanly arts to learn too - singing, belly dancing, while she waited to be chosen for the Sultan's bed. But these were the things all the harem women learned. Roxelana wanted more - much, much more. So she watched and secretly watched those in power and the power structure of the Sultan's court. Roxelana befriended the Sultan's mother and made strong alliances with the other women.
Then the day she had dreamed of finally arrived. As the Sultan took a stroll through his harem, he caught sight of her beauty, her red hair, and chose her to warm his bed that night. And Roxelana was more than ready. In addition to her body, she demonstrated her intelligence, regaling the Sultan with wonderful stories and an abundance of humor. Discovering there was more to women than soft curves and bed-sport, the Sultan was enchanted by Roxelana's intelligence. She soon became his favourite, at his side at all celebrations, dinner parties, and death sentences.
Of course, much more was needed to secure her place, so Roxelana set out to provide the Sultan with numerous sons. He was so much in love, he wrote her this love letter:
Throne of my lonely niche, my wealth, my love, my moonlight.
My most sincere friend, my confidant, my very existence, my Sultan, my one and only love.
The most beautiful among the beautiful...
My springtime, my merry faced love, my daytime, my sweetheart, laughing leaf...
My plants, my sweet, my rose, the one only who does not distress me in this world...
My Constantinople, my Caraman, the earth of my Anatolia
My Badakhshan, my Baghdad and Khorasan
My woman of the beautiful hair, my love of the slanted brow, my love of eyes full of mischief...
I'll sing your praises always
I, lover of the tormented heart, Muhibbi of the eyes full of tears, I am happy.
Statue of Roxelana in Ukraine