Could someone outline the basic timeline of Gulbahar's history with respect to her exile from the old palace harem and death in line with her son's execution?

I'm writing a tragic-comedy stageplay on Roxelana (Khurrem), the wife of Suleyman the Magnificent. I want to try and bring as many historical accounts as possible. I'm trying to establish the fate of Gülbahar. As I understand, she was consort to the Sultan and gave him a surviving first son, Mustafa, who was due to take the throne.

I have read one account by the historical novelist Harold Lamb...

“...Gulbehar is in exile, Roxelana married to him. In his thoughts he has realized that he cannot enter the society of Europe. ”

Excerpt From: Harold Lamb. “Suleiman The Magnificent Sultan Of The East.”

I also read that she died before Mustafa's execution within the same account...

“Restless anxiety drove her to weigh every word of her spies. It came from the Osmanli law of fratricide. Although Gulbehar had died, Mustafa, the son of the Circassian woman, would be the next Sultan. What if Mustafa chose to invoke the ancient law, and to put to death his stepbrothers who were her own sons, Selim, Bayazid and Jahangir?”

Excerpt From: Harold Lamb. “Suleiman The Magnificent Sultan Of The East.”

Did Gulbehar die before her son's execution or die after? And was she even exiled (and why?).

  • I have no idea. All I know of is the Admiral Barbarossa of that time...not the first nor last time that name would be used. Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 1:20

1 Answer 1


She is better known as Mahidevran Gulbahar, which is why she is hard to find in wikipedia.

She was sent into forced retirement after her son's death, and her disgrace, initially in poverty. After her rival's influence waned, she was "rehabilitated" after a fashion with a monthly "allowance" for living expenses. This rival died five years after her son's death in 1553, the Sultan died more than ten years later, but she survived until the early 1580s.

  • Thanks. So to clarify, Gulbahar lived to see her son Mustafa executed? Therefore the account by Harold Lamb is incorrect? Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 23:14
  • @ХусейH: Yes. Mr. Lamb died over 50 years ago, and more modern sources have refuted his work.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 23:33

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