The venetian sultana

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Perhaps not everyone knows that a Venetian lady was the wife of the Ottoman sultan Selim II: Cecilia Venier-Baffo, better known as Nûr Bânû.

She was the daughter of Violante Baffo and Niccolò Venier – exponent of the Venetian patriciate and lord of the island of Paro, where Cecilia was born in 1525 ca. Around 1537 the corsair Khayr al-Din attacked and plundered the Aegean island and Cecilia was taken prisoner and carried to Constantinople in the harem of Sultan Selim II, becoming the favorite, thanks to her beauty and intelligence, and giving him 5 children , including the future Murâd III.

Cecilia is said to have had a great influence on the sultan’s policy, just remember her letter to Queen Elizabeth which had a great importance in the dialogue between Istanbul and London and the correspondence with Maria de ‘Medici, Queen of France.

Furthermore, she never forgot his origins and always tried to prevent military conflicts with Venice.

In 1582 the Council of Ten spent 2000 sequins for some gifts to Cecilia, who in return sent two precious clothes for the doge.

She maintained her role as adviser even when her son Murad ascended the throne, who always held in high esteem her advice.

She had many bodyguards, eunuchs and confidants, her movements took place in a procession of twenty carriages and foreign ambassadors competed in gifts (from small dogs to French cosmetics). NûrBânû had a confidant; a Jewish slave named Ester Kira who had several foreign relations hips which were exploited on several occasions.

During this period she ordered the construction of the Atik Valide in Istambul, which was completed shortly before her death, on December 7, 1583, after an illness that began in October and which got worse in a few months. It was supposed a stomach cancer, but also of a possible poisoning by the daughter-in-law Safiyye Sultan. She was buried next to her husband Selim II in the mosque of Saint Sophia