|Birth||1 January 1840 (Circassia)|
|Death||1 January 1904 (Maçka, Trabzon Province, Turkey)|
Perestu Kadın (c. 1826 – 11 December 1904) was the Empress consort of Sultan Abdülmecid I of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, she was given the title and position of Empress mother when Abdul Hamid II ascended the throne in 1876 making her the last Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Esma Sultan, the daughter of Sultan Abdul Hamid I and aunt of Sultan Abdülmecid I, lived in luxury in her magnificent villa in Istanbul, but still her life passed in sadness because she could not have the one thing she wished for most; a child. At length she decided to adopt a child, the daughter of Gök Bey Gogen who belonged to one of the noble families of the Ubykh tribe of Circassia in the Ottoman Empire, after reaching satisfactory terms with the mother and father, when Rahime was a toddler one year of age. the child was particularly diminutive, delicate and graceful, so she renamed her Perestu, the Persian word for swallow. All the kalfas in Esma Sultan's villa behaved toward this child as though she were a daughter of an Ottoman imperial princess, and indeed her disposition and manners were so lovely that they became devoted to her. In the mean time Princess Esma Sultan carefully arranged the training and education of Perestu. She had three brothers, Mustafa, Hüseyn and Hasan Bey, and two sisters, Fatma Gülcemal Hanım and Mihrifidan Hanım.
In the days of Sultan Abdülmecid's youth before he ascended the throne, he used to pay calls on his aunt every so often, engaging in conversion. He continued there calls after he became Sultan, and one spring day he come to visit his aunt and was passing through the harem gardens when he saw Perestu, then twenty three years old. Suddenly here was this young girl in front of him, her long blonde hair falling about her shoulders, her eyes a turquoise blue. He asked his aunt to give her hand in marriage to him. Firstly she refused to give Peresu's hand in marriage to Abdülmecid but finally Esma Sultan was consented, and the marriage of Perestu to Abdülmecid took place within a week.
The marriage ceremony was celebrated with all due tradition in Esma Sultan Palace in the presence of Sultan's ministers in 1844. One week after that, she was ushered into Esma Sultan's silver-lined carriage in her pearl-trimmed red dress, tiara and bridal veil and sent off to the palace. In those days Sultan Abdülmecid still resided in Topkapı Palace, and he greeted his bride at the main entrance gate into the harem, wearing a splendid uniform with an aigrette plump atop his fez. He took her by the arm and escorted her into the Sovereign's Hall in the palace harem, having her take a seat in the nook that had been prepared for the bride. Mahmud II's daughters and wives came in and joined in the ceremony, as did the wives of important personages.
Gold coins were scattered as Abdülmecid and Rahime Perestu passed by, and the band, composed of forty ladies from Abdülmecid's harem, all dressed in men's costumes, played marches. Sultan Mecid's other wives attended as well, scattering coins, Until evening they passed the time listening to the ensemble playing traditional Ottoman music, after which sherbet was served, followed by a banquet. It was quiet a splendid wedding celebration in the palace. That evening according to custom, the couple entered the bridal chamber, where princess Esma kissed the bride and the groom on their foreheads and said a prayer on their behalf, then returned to her villa, giving praise to God that she had lived to see such a magnificent wedding feast for her little girl.
In 1845, Cemile Sultan's mother, Empress Düzdidil Kadın, died leaving her motherless at the age of two. Abdülmecid took Cemile Sultan to her, and entrusted her into her care. the two siblings grew up together in the same household and spent their childhoods with one another. She also became the adoptive mother of Abdul Hamid II after the death of his own mother, Empress Tirimüjgan Kadın in 1852.
As Valide Sultan
She became the adoptive mother of Sultan Abdul Hamid II and was given the position of Valide Sultan by him. Unlike many of her predecessors, she was not active in politics. Perestu acquired this title because the biological mother Tirimüjgan Kadın of Abdülhamid II had died twenty-three years before Sultan Abdülhamid II's accession to the Ottoman throne. In 1885, during the visit of King Oscar II and Queen Sophia of Sweden to the Ottoman Empire, she received the Swedish queen, who was allowed to visit the Imperial harem. She was the last Empress mother of the Ottoman Empire.
The internal matters of the palace were in her charge. But she did not want to hurt anyone's feelings in the least, did not interfere in the matters, sought justice and equity, and because she was firmly religious she passed a good deal of time in prayers. She possessed good, high moral standards, which led her to help the poor and needy. When anyone went to see her, they would enter her presence in the same way they did the Sultan's, then take a seat in front of her. She would give them advice and treat them kindly. Perestu had a house in Maçka that Sultan Abdülaziz had presented to her at one time. Nowadays this villa is a school. Three days before Abdul Hamid became Sultan, he went to this villa, and it was from there that he proceeded to Topkapı Palace for the ceremony of homage at his accession. Abdul Hamid presented this villa of Perestu along with all its furniture and household goods to Ahmed Riza Bey, the speaker of Parliament.
Rahime Perestu Sultan took ill and died in 1904 in her villa located at Maçka, Istanbul. The traditional service at which the Prophet's Nativity Poem is recited was held in her memory at the Shaziliya Dervish Convent and at the Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque. She lies at rest in the private mausoleum she built during her lifetime at the tomb of Mihrişah Valide Sultan in Eyüp, Istanbul. She even had the cloth covering over her catafalque prepared. While she was having the mausoleum built Abdul Hamid II wanted to help her, but she declined his offer.