Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl)

Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan of Magnificent Century aka Muhtesem Yuzyil/Mera Sultan

Muhteşem Yüzyıl (English: Magnificent Century, Urdu: Mera Sultan) is a Turkish historical TV drama written by Meral Okay and Yilmaz Sahin. Magnificent Century tells the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, also known as Kanuni (the Lawmaker), and a Ukranian slave girl's (Roxelana) rising to the power and becoming "Hurrem Sultan".

The tenth sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleiman I, is the longest reigning sultan of Ottoman history. He ascended to the throne in 1520 and ruled the Ottoman Empire until his death in 1566. He was a great warrior and emperor. Influenced by the vision of Alexander the Great, he was invincible and targeted to make the Ottoman Empire an empire of east and west.

The Magnificent Century or Muhteşem Yüzyıl if we are to call it in Turkish became very popular from the day it first aired. People got obsessed with series quickly, especially with Hurrem Sultan's jewelry. Replicas of Hurrem Sultan's ring started to be sold everywhere.

So you think an emperor of this kind, so powerful and feared, wouldn't have problems at his palace. If you think that way, you're wrong. He takes his fair share of drama and intrigues thanks to his consort Roxelana (Hurrem Sultan). So, it wouldn't be inconvenient to call Magnificent Century a 16th century Game of Thrones.

Historical Accuracy and Controversy

The historical adviser of the show, Erhan Afyoncu, says "There are two parts in the series: reality and fiction. You don't have a lot of information about the daily life of the sultans, how they behave to their wifes, how their daily life unfolds. At that point fiction steps in. Political issues and the campaigns he set on were also shown in the series but the parts depicting the campaigns were the less enjoyed parts of the series as the ratings showed."

The reaction that the series got from the government of AKP (Justice and Development Party) turned the series into Magnificent Controversy at times. The prime minister of the time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, criticized the series as a "a push to demonstrate the  history in a negative light". Erdogan deprecated how the series portrayed Suleiman the Magnificent as a sultan who is very busy with his harem rather than his campaigns conquering land. He condemned the producers and the writers of the show. Apart from the government authorities, the controversy echoed among public as well. Especially people from Islamic roots were not really happy about how the series showed the Ottoman Empire.

International Popularity

Magnificent Century gained enormous international success especially in Balkan countries like Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia. The fact that these countries lived under the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire for centuries has an undeniable effect in the success of the show in the Balkans. The audience in all over the world embraced the show as well in addition to Balkan, Middle Eastern and Arabic countries. Today, the show has aired more than 60 countries.

Season Summary (1-4)

Season 1

Sultan Suleiman I, receives the news that his father Selim I (Yavuz Sultan Selim) died during a hunting trip with his close friend Pargali Ibrahim Pasha. He sets off to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul to take the throne. Meanwhile, a slave from Ukraine named Aleksandra Ruslana Lisowska also known as Roxelana (later Hurrem Sultan) is brought to Topkapi Palace. She learns that if she conceives a boy from Sultan Suleiman and wins his heart, she can rise to the top of the crown as the beloved wife of the sultan. As she plots, she succeeds to impress him and makes him fall in love with her. Roxelana becomes Muslim and takes the name "Hurrem".

Hurrem gives birth to his first son Prince Mehmet and takes big steps towards the crown. Mahidevran Sultan, the consort of Sultan Suleiman and mother of Prince Mustafa, is not very content with this situation and gets really jealous of Hurrem. Later on, Hurrem brings her first and only daughter Mihrimah Sultan to the world.

Sultan Suleiman kills the commander Ariel during his raid of the Hungarian palace. By that time, Hurrem's lover in Ukraine, Leo, comes to the picture and Hurrem and Leo make it a secret. Knowing this secret, Pargali Ibrahim Pasha threatens Hurrem with telling Sultan Suleiman the truth about Leo. Then Commander Ariel's wife Victoria comes to Topkapi Palace and disguises herself as Sadika and enters sultan's services. Her whole aim is to take the revenge of his husband from the sultan.

One day, Sadika puts a dagger on Sultan Suleiman's throat in sudden. While this is happening, Pargali Ibrahim Pasha gathers Hurrem and Leo, and hands them a bowl of delight. The delight is toxic. One of them should eat the delight otherwise Pargali Ibrahim is going to inform Sultan Suleiman of the situation.

Season 2

Sadika doesn't manage to kill Sultan Suleiman and Sultan Suleiman makes Matrakci Nasuh who is in love with Sadika kill her. Leo eats the toxic delight and dies. Spanish princess Isabella and her servant are abducted by Turkish pirates and sold to the sultan. Suleiman aims to use her as a trump card while bargaining with European monarchs. Isabella attempts to run free multiple times but to no avail. Feeling the intimacy between Isabella and Suleiman, Hurrem Sultan gets jealous and threatens Isabella. Isabella starts to grow feelings towards Suleiman. She becomes favorite of Suleiman's harem. Outraged with jealousy, Hurrem Sultan makes a plan with Gul Aga, Nigar Kalfa and Nilufer Hatun, and make Isabella disappear.
Wife of Pargali Ibrahim Pasha, Hatice Sultan (sister of Sultan Suleiman) accidentally kills his baby son Mehmed. Hatice Sultan gets depressed and leaves Topkapi Palace and goes to Edirne to recover. Pargali Ibrahim has an affair with Nigar Kalfa (a servant in the harem) while Hatice Sultan is in Edirne. Later she tries to commit suicide knowing that she can't be together with him. Ibrahim saves her.

Hatice is pregnant with twins. Mahidevran Sultan gives Valide Sultan (Sultan Suleiman's mother) Leo's journal which Gulsah got after Hurrem tossed it out of window in an edgy endeavor to dispose of it. Valide Sultan calls Hurrem to her chambers, however then she swoons. Hurrem calls for help and after that she tries to take the journal. Daye Hatun sees it and takes it before Hurrem can. She later offers it to Valide Sultan and Daye uses it to make Hurrem Sultan leave the palace. To spare herself, Hurrem comes with an offer to Daye in exchange of keeping quiet. Daye accepts the offer and gives Hurrem the journal. At that moment, Valide  Sultan goes to Hurrem's chambers and Hurrem tosses the journal into flames, obliterating the main confirmation of her and Leo's secret affair.

Hurrem tells Suleiman that she cannot engage in charity activities due to her being a slave. Suleiman sets her free. One night Suleiman goes to her room, but Hurrem says she cannot share her bed with him since her religion forbids this kind of thing as she is a free woman now. Suleiman understands this whole charity enthusiasm of Hurrem is a plot to make him marry her. Suleiman sends her to another palace and there Valide Sultan tries to get her killed but Bali Bey saves Hurrem. She comes back to Topkapi Palace and Sultan decides to wed her. When Suleiman tells Valide Sultan about their marriage, she gets really upset about it.
Pargali Ibrahim Pasha is shot by a poisonous arrow during the wedding ceremony. The archer is sent by one of the viziers to murder him. Ibrahim is taken to hot springs to heal by Matrakci Nasuh, Sumbul Aga and Nigar Kalfa.

Mahidevran Sultan is very bitter about the marriage of Hurrem Sultan and Sultan Suleiman. Mahidevran wants to leave Topkapi with her son Mustafa. Suleiman is not happy about his son leaving Istanbul, but Mustafa persuades him to send them both to Edirne Palace.

With the request of Valide Sultan, Aybige Hatun comes to Topkapi Palace from Crimea. Valide Sultan warns her about Hurrem, but Aybige does not pay attention and become friends with Hurrem. Later she develops feelings for Malkocoglu Bali Bey who is responsible for security of the dynasty. While Pargali Ibrahim is sick, Nigar Kalfa takes care of him in hot springs. Now it is Ibrahim's turn to fall in love. Suspicious of this love fling, Hatice Sultan and Valide Sultan marries Nigar Kalfa to Matrakci Nasuh to give an end this to affair. On the first night of Nigar Kalfa's marriage, Ibrahim makes a deal with Matrakci and makes him divorce Nigar Kalfa.

Hatice Sultan brings her twins Huricihan and Osman (a girl and a boy) into the world. Ibrahim is very happy with his twins on his arms but it is very hard to tell the same for Nigar Kalfa.

Prince Mustafa, 17, comes back from Edirne to Topkapi Palace to be with his father. Hurrem Sultan is busy with game of thrones. Hurrem gets into a fight with Mustafa. She also creates tension between Prince Mustafa and Sultan Suleiman. The tension reaches top when the prince shows disinterest to go to Ayasofya with his father.

Prince Mustafa falls in love with a girl named Nora (later Efsun). She is one of the girls of the harem. Mustafa is not aware that Efsun works for Hurrem. Hurrem wants her to poison Mustafa. Efsun puts the poisonous food in front of Mustafa but she changes her mind and spills the food. Somehow Mustafa gets sick and Mahidevran Sultan grows suspicious of Hurrem. She gathers Hurrem is after Mustafa to prevent his succession to the throne. Mahidevran does not approve of his son's relationship with Efsun and with the initative of her and Valide Sultan, Prince Mustafa is engaged to Aybige. Despite the engagement, the relationship between Malkocoglu Bali Bey and Aybige Hatun continues. The love affair is no secret to Hurrem. Aybige leaves Topkapi with Bali Bey to go to her homeland. Hurrem sends a messsage to Mahidevran via Efsun that Aybige Hatun and Bali Bey are fleeing. Mahidevran immediately tells this to Sultan Suleiman, and he brings them to the palace again. The fate of Bali Bey lies is in Sultan Suleiman's and Şehzade (Prince) Mustafa's hands. Şehzade Mustafa forgives Malkocoglu Bali Bey. Bali Bey returns to his homeland and Aybige Hatun is sent back to Crimean Khanate.

Efsun is pregnant with Şehzade Mustafa's baby and Mahidevran Sultan wants her to abort the baby, but Şehzade Mustafa opposes. Hurrem Sultan tells Valide Sultan about the baby and Valide Sultan employs Daye Hatun to get rid of the baby. During the abortion, Efsun and the baby die due to severe bleeding.

Nigar Kalfa gets pregnant with Pargali Ibrahim's baby. After finding out about this, Valide Sultan wants to tell Suleiman about the baby, but she suffers from stroke in his son Suleiman's chambers before telling anything to him and she cannot recover from the stroke and dies. After Valide Sultan's death, Mahidevran Sultan takes the lead of the harem.

Hurrem Sultan makes plans to get rid of Şehzade Mustafa and his mother Mahidevran Sultan as she sees them as a threat for the throne. She learns about the pregnancy of Nigar Kalfa through Gulsah and she informs Hatice Sultan of his husband's unfaithfulness. Hatice Sultan confronts Ibrahim Pasha about his infidelity, and Ibrahim Pasha admits everything. Hurrem Sultan succeeds to take the leadership of harem from Mahidevran Sultan with her intrigues against her. Mahidevran Sultan is very upset that she lost the battle to Hurrem Sultan.

Season 3

Nigar Kalfa is sent to prison by Hatice Sultan. Hatice Sultan tells Ibrahim that she will divorce him and wants him to leave the palace. You can read more about the story of Nigar Kalfa here.

Hatice accuses Hurrem of hiding Ibrahim's infidelity. Gulfem Hatun (Hatice Sultan's confidant and first consort of Sultan Suleiman) talks Hatice into not divorcing Ibrahim that this would only make Hurrem happy. She changes her mind and does not divorce Ibrahim. Hurrem is furious that they are not divorced. Ibrahim is on campaign in Persia. Nigar Kalfa gives birth to a girl and she is told her baby is dead but the fact is that Hatice takes the baby girl and hides her. After returning from his campaign Ibrahim reconciles with Hatice. A few years later Hurrem learns about the hidden child of Ibrahim and makes sure he knows about his daughter Kader later to be named Esmanur by Ibrahim Pasha.

Sultan Suleiman cannot resist his suspicions about Ibrahim Pasha and executes him in his sleep. Hatice and Mahidevran keeps Hurrem responsible for the execution of Ibrahim Pasha and they plot against her. Sah Sultan, daughter of Sultan Selim I and sister of Sultan Suleiman, joins their murder squad for her own interests. They send Mahidevran's servant Diana to kill Hurrem but Diana ends up serving Hurrem loyally.

After this failed attempt, Şah Sultan creates a wonderful scheme to put Hurrem in a difficult position in front of Sultan Suleiman. Suleiman exiles Hurrem to Edirne. Sah Sultan employs Rustem Pasha to kill Hurrem in Edirne, but Rustem Pasha does not kill her in an attempt to get closer to Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Hurrem and Suleiman, and marry her so that it will be much easier to be part of the Divan (council of viziers). Later, Rustem and Mihrimah marry and Mihrimah  Sultan gives birth to a girl. They name her Humasah.

Nigar Kalfa comes back to Istanbul. She wants to take revenge. With the help of Hurrem Sultan and Hatice Sultan, she enters the palace of Rustem Pasha and Mihrimah Sultan. Nigar Kalfa kidnaps their baby Humasah. Rustem Pasha goes after her, Nigar Kalfa ends up giving baby back to Rustem Pasha as she feels sorry about the baby. Nigar Kalfa's death happens in front of the soldiers waiting watchfully for an opportunity to kill her. She throws herself from the cliff thinking of Ibrahim Pasha.

Hurrem parts to Konya after learning from a letter his son Prince  Selim (Selim II) is very sick. The letter is fake. On her way to Konya, Hurrem is abducted by Hatice Sultan's servant Ali Aga and is kept in a hidden place. Mihrimah blames Hatice, Sah and Mahidevran for this and tells this to her father Suleiman. Fearing his brother's reaction, Hatice commits suicide. Mihrimah also discovers her aunt Sah Sultan has a spy in the harem. She threatens her aunt and she tells she will inform his father about this if she won't leave Topkapi and give all her money away to his mother's charity.

Mahidevran assigns Ilyas to kill Prince Mehmed. Ilyas transmits an infectious disease to Mehmed through a wound. Mehmed gets sick and dies. This breaks Suleiman into pieces. Everything is about to collapse for him.

Season 4

Rustem Pasha gives the news that Hurrem Sultan has been found and taken to Topkapi Palace. Hurrem and Suleiman reconcile over their son Mehmed's death. Now that Prince Mehmed is dead, Suleiman has to make a decision about who is going to be at Manisa Sanjak. Manisa Sanjak is the place where the princes are prepared for their ascension to the throne. It is a great indication of who the next sultan will be. Suleyman chooses Selim for Manisa Sanjak. Everyone is shocked that Mustafa is not chosen for the throne.

Hurrem doesnt't want to leave Selim's elevation to the throne to chance. She should get rid of Mustafa. She writes a fake letter to Persian Shah Tahmasp mentioning disposing off Suleiman to seize the throne. She puts Mustafa's seal to make Suleiman believe Mustafa is betraying him. Sultan Suleiman is fooled with the seal. He orders his son Mustafa's death. After Mustafa is killed, the janissaries get really upset and they swear to kill Rustem Pasha whom they hold responsible for Mustafa's death. Suleiman fires Rustem so that the janissaries relieve a bit. Suleiman is really confused about the death of Mustafa and mourn over his beloved son. Prince Cihangir (the youngest son of Hurrem and Suleiman) cannot bear the pain of losing his brother's death, and dies in the arms of his father Suleiman.

Prince Bayezid and Prince Selim are constantly in conflict with each other. Hurrem tries to stop them. But her death is near, she is very sick. Before her death, she makes peace with Mahidevran and visits Ibrahim's grave and dies in Suleiman's arms. After Hurrem's death the fight between Bayezid and Selim gets fierce. Suleiman sides with Selim and get Bayezid and his children murdered with garrotte.

On his campaign to Hungary, right before the victory at the Battle of Szigetvar, he dies hearing the words of Ibrahim saying his time is up. The last words coming out of Suleiman would be "Ibrahim", once his dear friend.


The Magnificent Century soundtrack was made by renowned Turkish pianist and composer Fahir Atakoğlu, Soner Akalın and Aytekin Ataş. The music especially theme of Magnificent Century/Mera Sultan is one of the most enjoyed parts of the series. Luli (the Ukranian lullaby) also has been highly appraised by the viewers.

Hurrem's Lullaby (Luli)

Luli aka the lullaby of Hurrem was sung to baby Prince Mehmed. The lullaby is in Ukrainian.

Magnificent Century Cast

Halit ErgencSultan Suleiman ITenth sultan of the Ottoman Empire1-4
Meryem UzerliHurrem SultanLegal wife of Sultan Suleiman1-3
Vahide PercinHurrem SultanLegal wife of Sultan Suleiman4
Okan YalabikPargali Ibrahim PashaBest friend of Sultan Suleiman and grand vizier1-3, 4 (voice)
Nebahat CehreValide SultanMother of Sultan Suleiman1-2
Nur FettahogluMahidevran SultanMother of Prince Mustafa and previous consort of Suleiman before Hurrem Sultan1-4
Selma ErgecHatice SultanSister of Sultan Suleiman and wife of Pargali Ibrahim Pasha1-3
Mehmet GunsurPrince MustafaSon of Mahidevran Sultan and Sultan Suleiman2-4
Engin OzturkPrince SelimSon of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan4
Aras Bulut IynemliPrince BayezidSon of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan4
Tolga SaritasPrince CihangirSon of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan4
Gurbey IleriPrince MehmedSon of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan3
Pelin KarahanMihrimah SultanDaughter of Sultan Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan3-4
Deniz CakirSah SultanSister of Sultan Suleiman3
Burak OzcivitMalkacoglu Bali BeyLover of Aybige Hatun, soldier2-3
Ezgi EyubogluAybige HatunNiece of Valide Sultan, Crimean princess and lover of Bali Bey2
Filiz AhmetNigar KalfaLover of Ibrahim Pasha and servant in harem1-3
Selim BayraktarSumbul AgaConfidant of Hurrem Sultan and chief eunuch1-4

If you want to get a glimpse of the story of Suleiman the Magnificent with a grain of fiction, you should watch Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl).

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