History of Ottoman Empire

Who Was Holofira / Nilufer Khatun?

Who Was Holofira / Nilufer Khatun?

Nilufer Hatun was born in Bilecik, Byzantine Empire in 1307, the daughter of the Prince of Yarhisar. She married the Ottoman prince Orhan Bey, the first child she bore him was the future Murad I.

History Of Nilufer Khatun:

The traditional stories about her origin, traced back to the 15th century, are that she was daughter of the Byzantine ruler (Tekfur) of Bilecik, called Holofira. As some stories go, Orhan’s father Osman raided Bilecik at the time of Holofira’s wedding arriving there with rich presents and disguised and hidden soldiers. Holofira was among the loot and given to Orhan.

However modern researchers doubt this story, admitting that it may have been based on real events. Doubts are based on a lack of direct evidence from the time. In addition there is secondary evidence of an alternate origin, in particular her Ottoman name Nilüfer meaning water lily in the Persian language.

According to a source, in the spring of 1299, the Bilecik magistrate who was to marry the daughter of Yarhisar invited Osman Ghazi and his men to his wedding festivity. In the spring the Söğüt people migrated to Domaniς plateau until autumn. Osman Ghazi asked to leave all his belongings at the Bilecik castle before coming to the wedding. It was the usual practice in those years to entrust the heavy goods of encampment to neighbouring castles. The magistrate accepted gladly. The wedding would be in Chakirpinar, two hours away from Bilecik.

On the way to the wedding, the magistrate of Yarhisar was encircled by Osman’s soldiers. They turned back toward Yarhisar. When the people saw their magistrate, they opened the gates and Osman’s soldiers got in. The conquest of the castle did not take long. At the Bilecik castle, one of the bales left by Osman Ghazi was opened. A soldier got out of it and informed others. Other historians make her a daughter of the Prince of Yarhisar or a Byzantine Princess Helen (Nilüfer), who was of ethnic Greek descent.

Armed soldiers stepping out of the bales captured everyone in the castle. Bilecik had fallen to the Ottomans. While the guests were waiting for the bride, the horsemen of the Ottomans appeared. There was a big ceremony in Karacahisar. Orhan Ghazi would marry Holofira, the daughter of the Yarhisar magistrate. The young bride converted to Islam and became Nilüfer Hatun.

Buriel Place And Death:

Nilüfer Hatun Imareti, a convent annex hospice for dervishes, now housing the Iznik Museum in İznik, Bursa Province, was built by Sultan Murad in 1388 to honor his mother after her death.

When Orhan Gazi was off on campaign Nilüfer acted as his regent, the only woman in Ottoman history who was ever given such power. During Murad’s reign she was recognized as Valide Sultan, or Queen Mother, the first in Ottoman history to hold this title, and when she died she was buried beside Orhan Gazi and his father Osman Gazi in Bursa. The Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta, who visited Iznik in the 1330s, was a guest of Nilüfer Hatun, whom he described as ‘a pious and excellent woman.

The building originally served as a hostel for the Ahi Brotherhood of Virtue. This was a religious and fraternal society formed by the craft guilds in Anatolia during the Seljuk period. Ibn Battuta also wrote about the hospitality her received at one of the Ahi lodges in Anatolia.

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