Slave in Power

Al-Kaizuran

Her name means (literally, Bamboo) she was a slave, born most likely in Yemen, and gained substantial influence during the reigns of her husband, al-Mahdi (775-785), who allowed her to make many important decisions. After his death, it was Khayzuran who kept the peace by paying off the Caliph’s army in order to maintain order. She arranged for the accession of her son, al-Hadi, even when he was away from the capitol. When al-Hadi proved less tolerant of Khayzuran’s political manoeuvrings than had al-Mahdi, it was speculated that it was Khayzuran who arranged his murder in favour of her second, more tolerant son, Harun. Whatever the truth, Khayzuran is more fondly remembered than many of the caliphs themselves. 

 Shaghab

Successful in maneuvering the religious and military elite into recognizing her only 13-year-old son, Muqtadir, as caliph. She had originally been a slave.

Subh of Cordova (Spain)

known as Sabiha Malika Qurtuba or Sobeida, and was born as a Christian with the name of Aurora, she was concubine of Caliph Hakam, and de-facto ruler during his reign, since he, especially during his later years, retreated to religious contemplation. After his death ruled in the name of their son, Hishram Ibn al Hakram. In 966 she appointed Ibn ‘Amir was her secretary and in 976 she appointed him Hajib – chief of viziers. In 997 he ended up deposing her from influence

Al-Hurra Alam al-Malika of Zubayd

A singer or slave of the king Mansur ibn-Najah (Ca. 1111-23), who was so impressed by her political astuteness that he placed her in charge of the realm’s management and “made no decisions without consulting her”. In 1123 his vizier Mann Allah poisoned him, but Alam continued to govern but she never had the Khutba proclaimed in her name at the Friday night prayer. Zybayd was a principality in western Yemen near San’a, with whom it was in a perpetual state of war. The title of al-hurra was bestowed on women who were active in politics, but did not denote Queenship.

 

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