The Imperial Harem

The Ottoman sultan’s harem, which gave home to the mothers, wives, female relatives and concubines of the sultans, played quite a marginal role in the Ottoman Empire for centuries. But when the central power of the empire weakened, the political influence of women living in the harem significantly grew.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, even 1,200 harem girls could live in the Imperial Harem, and the total number of the staff including guards and servants could reach up to several thousand.

Naturally, harem girls were selected for their beauty; but candidates had to undergo thorough inspections: even snoring at night was checked.

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