Leslie Peirce, Empress of the East How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire

The extraordinary story of the Russian slave girl Roxelana, who rose from concubine to become the only queen of the Ottoman empire 

In Empress of the East, historian Leslie Peirce tells the remarkable story of a Christian slave girl, Roxelana, who was abducted by slave traders from her Ruthenian homeland and brought to the harem of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in Istanbul. Suleyman became besotted with her and foreswore all other concubines. Then, in an unprecedented step, he freed her and married her. The bold and canny Roxelana soon became a shrewd diplomat and philanthropist, who helped Suleyman keep pace with a changing world in which women, from Isabella of Hungary to Catherine de Medici, increasingly held the reins of power. 

Until now Roxelana has been seen as a seductress who brought ruin to the empire, but in Empress of the East, Peirce reveals the true history of an elusive figure who transformed the Ottoman harem into an institution of imperial rule.

Leslie Peirce is Silver Professor of History, Middle Eastern, and Islamic Studies at New York University. The award-winning author of two previous books, Peirce lives in New York City. 

Event date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465032518
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Published: Basic Books - September 19th, 2017

Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780520228924
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Published: University of California Press - June 16th, 2003