Sunday, 18 March 2012

...What Harems are Used For.

It's not what you think. When we hear the word 'harem' we tend to think it was a place where all sorts of sins took place. Everyone got high and had sex and ate and drank and just partied hard. Harems were about one thing and one thing only. Making babies.

Who's ready for some Sultan lovin'?
Harem is a Turkish word, changed slightly from the arabic words haram and/or haraam. All words essentially mean the same thing: "forbidden" and "holy site". Using the harem for sexual purposes was mainly a Turkish Islamic thing and as I said it was more about procreation than recreation. Heirs were very important to Sultans and they needed to make sure they had one. The best chance for this was to be polygamous and have many concubines. It was even used as a nursery and most male children lived there until 16 or so. Wives and kids were tended to by slaves or eunuch servants.

Nice digs.

It is debated amongst scholars, but it seems the heir wasn't depended on being first born and that all male heirs of a ruling family had equal claim to rule. This includes brothers and uncles. The heir was selected based on favour, in other words, who ever was the favourite among the ruling family. It was common practice for heirs to then kill or imprison all of their male relatives in order to have sole claim. Those imprisoned either went mad or became fat, lazy drunks. There's a story about one relative being locked away since birth to about 20 years of age. The ruling Sultan died and the seat then passed to this sheltered Sultan. He went mental, literally. To give a man nothing and then everything is not a good idea. This practice is one factor that contributed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire.


And that is what I learned today.

-What American cheese is.

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