Hürrem Sultan was captured in a slave raid and placed in the harem of Suleiman the Magnificent. Lady Zheng endured a series of competitions to enter the inner palace of the Ming dynasty as a concubine, where she won the affection of the lonely and misunderstood Wanli emperor. Both were accused of endless scheming, intrigue, murder, and even the downfall of their respective dynasties. At the same time, these women served as scapegoats for men who saw influential women as a threat to the stability of the political and social order. This lecture explores the secret spaces of Topkapi palace and the Forbidden City as it looks at the role of women in two imperial dynasties. The lecture looks at how the construction of these palaces bolstered authority by limiting the movement and views of inhabitants and visitors. The tension between private space and public authority in a dynastic configuration provides a common link in these stories. This lecture looks at the following regions: 1) Istanbul (1500-1600) 2) Beijing (1400-1650)
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