ABSTRACT

Roxolana, or Hurrem Sultan, the legendary wife of Suleiman I, the Magnificent (1520-1566), left a special trace in Europe’s cultural memory. The impact of this Asian queen on the Western imagination is comparable only to that of Cleopatra. “The greatest empresse of the East,” Richard Knolles wrote of her-rather high praise, considering the scathingly critical portrayal the venerated English historian gave the “wicked woman” in his famous Generall Historie of the Turks (1603). Most other historians were equally harsh to Roxolana, often portraying her as a witch and ruthless schemer whose tight grip over Suleiman, and her insidious harem intrigues, led to the decline of the Ottoman Empire.