Beshir Agha: chief eunuch of the Ottoman imperial harem
Beshir Agha (c. 1657-1746) was the most powerful Chief Harem Eunuch in the history of the Ottoman Empire. Enslaved in his native Ethiopia as a boy, then castrated in Egypt, Beshir Agha became one of hundreds of East African eunuchs who inhabited the imperial palace's enormous harem. Rising through the ranks of the harem hierarchy, he eventually oversaw the education of crown princes and harem women while choosing and deposing a long series of grand viziers. The founder of many mosques, Qur'an schools, sufi lodges and libraries, he was fundamental in shaping the religious and intellectual profile of the Ottoman state.
This study explores the role of Chief Eunuch, examining Beshir Agha's astonishing ascent to the position and the vast authority he wielded once in office. Containing an exhaustive guide to sources available on the influential eunuch and replete with fascinating detail, it will prove an indispensable resource for readers of all backgrounds.
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EUNUCHS IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
BESHIR AGHAS ORIGINS
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Abbas Agha Abbasid Abyssinian African eunuchs Ahmed III Ahmed III's Anatolia Arabic Azeban Beshir Agha Book of Festivals Byzantine Cairo caliph castrated Caucasus chief eunuch chief harem eunuch chief tomb eunuch chronicle Damascus devshirme early Edirne Egyptian eighteenth century el-Hajj Beshir elite slaves empire's eunuch guard eunuchs who guarded European exiled to Cairo Eyiip Faqari faction fountain governor of Egypt grand vizier Habsburg Hanafi Hanafi legal rite harem treasurer Hekimoglu Hekimoglu Ali Pasha Ibrahim Pasha Imam imperial harem imperial palace influence Ismail Bey Istanbul Jalfi legal rite Mahmud Mamluk sultanate Mecca and Medina Medina Mehmed Muslim Mustafa Nevshehirli Ibrahim Pasha noted in chapter Ottoman court Ottoman Empire palace eunuchs pilgrimage caravan pious endowments pious foundations Prophet Muhammad Prophet's tomb Qasimi Qazdagh household Qur'an regimental religious sabil-kuttab Shafi'i Shi'ite Siileyman sixteenth century successor sufi Sunni Islam theological college tomb in Medina Topkapi Palace Turkish Umayyad wakil Yemen Zaydi