Empress of the East

Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire


Anyone who loves Dorothy Dunnett’s, Lymond Chronicles will remember Roxelana. A major character in A Pawn in Frankincense and to a lesser extent in The Ringed Castle, she is both powerful and enigmatic. So to discover a biography of the actual women is a delightful find.


The author, Leslie Peirce is Silver Professor of History, Middle Eastern, and Islamic Studies at New York University. The award-winning author of several previous books, Peirce lives in New York City. I am including a link to Amazon, so you can easily find the book, but I am sure it is available elsewhere. I haven’t read it yet but it now tops my TBR list.


Powerful Renaissance Women Roxelana Empress of the East
Roxelana Empress of the East
Title Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire Author Leslie Peirce

Genre Non-fiction History, Biography

Publisher Basic Book

Release Date September 2017

Ebook Yes


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.


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