Here's an interesting event that will be taking place in Washington. If you are anywhere in the vicinity you might want to drop by. I thought I'd publish the annoucement here as it contained a fascinating bit of history that I had never heard or read about before. That Roxolana was some clever girl, all right.
The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress presents Galina Yermolenko in a talk titled "Roxolana: From slave to legend" tomorrow - Wednesday, June 22 at 12:00 noon in Room LJ-119, Thomas Jefferson Building. This event is free and open to the public -- no reservations are required.
In the early sixteenth century, a young woman was kidnapped from a Ukrainian village and sold into the Ottoman imperial harem. She quickly became the favorite concubine of Sultan Suleiman I, the Magnificent (1520-1566), and later, his beloved wife, the powerful sultana. In the course of their four-decade-long romance, until her death in 1558, Roxolana reigned supreme not only in Suleiman's heart, but also in his court, as his chief political advisor. The former slave left an indelible mark on both Ottoman history and the European imagination. Dr. Yermolenko will trace the evolution of the Roxolana legend in European history and literature, focusing on the disparities between the Western European and Eastern European responses to this woman. She aruges that in the West, the Roxolana image was developing parallel to the images of "the Turk" and to the fantasies of the Asian harem, while in Eastern Europe (namely, Ukraine and Poland), Roxolana became a symbol of national pride, as she was for a long time associated with the Ottoman slave trade in that region.