Edited by Gianni Guadalupi. Texts by Jean Salmon, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Helmuth von Moltke, Eustace Clare Grenville Murray, Théophile Gautier, Edmondo de Amicis, Giuseppe Antonio Borgese
1991 / 216 PAGES.
The royal palace of Turkish sultans, a varied stage for the enviable lust, execrable cruelty and ostentatious displays of Eastern Despotism.
Deplorable and depraved despots, the sultans of the Ottoman Empire (whose faces – not so fierce, in truth – stare knowingly up at us from these pages) played the part of the Evil and Ungodly Autocrat in the eyes of Europe for several centuries, and with a perfect physique du rôle. This volume invites us to explore behind the scenes of the theatre known as the Sublime Porte, where a grim dynasty of third-rate actors performed an inexhaustible repertoire of excesses, depravities and vagaries. The period that provided the best scripts was that of the so-called Kadilnar Sultanati: the Sultanate of the Favoured Harem Women. This label, which to our Western ears conjures up lasciviousness, lust and looseness, was applied by Turkish historians to an entire century – over a hundred years where the harem counted more than the divan in the Great Seraglio.