His Father's Name: Abdulmedjid
His Mother's Name: Tirimujgan Kadin Effendi
Date of Birth: September 21st, 1842
Date of Death: February 10th, 1918
His Sultanate: 1876-1909 (33 years)
|(b. Sept. 21, 1842, Constantinople--d. Feb. 10, 1918, Constantinople), Ottoman sultan from 1876 to 1909, under whose autocratic rule the reform movement of Tanzimat (Reorganization) reached its climax and who adopted a policy of pan-Islamism in opposition to Western intervention in Ottoman affairs.|
Sultan Abdulhamid the Second was tall, olive-skinned with a jutting forehead, black eyes and a thick black beard. He was educated by the leading scholars of the day and had a good memory and judgment. He was a genius at politics but was also athletic and good at sports. He was brave, pious and had a vast knowledge of Moslem mysticism.
When he became Sultan, the Ottoman Empire was about to collapse, but Abdulhamid revived the kingdom and managed to defer the destruction for another 33 years. Everybody appreciated his efforts apart from intellectuals living under the protection of the European countries. By these people he was ceaselessly slandered. Nevertheless, he ruled the Empire with great energy. He believed that there would be a world war and that the only way to save the Ottoman Empire would be to take part in the war as an ally to one of the major countries who has great marine power [England]. Tragically, he was deposed by the YOUNG TURKS who allied themselves to the wrong side the great Ottoman Empire was finally ruined.
The first thing Abdulhamid did when he became Sultan was to convene a court to determine whether or not his uncle Abdulaziz was murdered or committed suicide. The court clearly decided that it was a case of murder. The Sultan then amazed everyone by ending capital punishment and making life imprisonment the major sentence.
He promulgated the first Ottoman constitution on Dec. 23, 1876, primarily to ward off foreign intervention of Western powers and Russia. After a disastrous war with Russia (1877), Abdulhamid was convinced that little help could be expected from the Western powers without their intrusion into Ottoman affairs. As a last resort to fend off the Western intrusion, he dismissed the Parliament, which had met in March 1877, and suspended the constitution in February 1878. Thenceforth for 40 years he ruled from his seclusion at Yildiz Palace (in Istanbul), assisted by a system of secret police, an expanded telegraph network, and severe censorship.
There was an attempt on the life of the Sultan but the bomb failed to explode and Abdulhamid survived. Despite what many people, including the poet Tevfik Fikret, wrote and said about this, it was clearly an attempt by Christian factions to end the life of the Sultan of the last independent Islamic Empire in the world.
After the French occupation of Tunisia (1881) and assumption of power by the British in Egypt (1882), Abdülhamid turned for support to the Germans. In return, concessions were made to Germany, culminating in permission (1899) to build the Baghdad Railway. Eventually, the suppression of the Armenian revolt (1894) and the turmoil in Crete, which led to the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, once more resulted in European intervention.
Abdülhamid used pan-Islamism to solidify his internal absolutist rule and to rally Muslim opinion outside the empire, thus creating difficulties for European imperial powers in their Muslim colonies. The Hejaz Railway, financed by Muslim contributions from all over the world, was a concrete expression of his policy.
Internally, the most far-reaching of his reforms were in education; 18 professional schools were established; Darülfünun, later known as the University of Istanbul, was founded (1900); and a network of secondary, primary, and military schools was extended throughout the empire. Also, the Ministry of Justice was reorganized, and railway and telegraph systems were developed. Under his rule new industries were created (dockyards, fez manufacture, clothes factories, etc.) and the debt to foreign countries was reduced from 52,000,000 to 30,000,000 gold pieces. Model farms were created as well as numerous new schools and colleges in areas such as agriculture, forestry, economy, fine arts, the law, commerce, medicine, teacher education and so on. Virtually all the schools Abdulhamid created are still open today. Apart from Primary Schools in the villages, 300 Middle-High Schools were opened at which many new subjects, such as foreign languages, were taught. During this time the Museums of Archaeology and War were opened, also several libraries. The Hospital for the Poor, the Hydrophobia Institute and many Alms Houses were also opened. Sultan Abdulhamid was unjustly depicted by many Historians as cruel and responsible for the Armenian Massacres.
His resentment against European intervention in the Balkans and to give Palestine to the English (he told them Palestine is a trust - amana - from God, and it is not mine to give away), led to the military revolution of the Young Turks in 1908. Sultan Abdulhamid was deposed and exiled to Salonica. When the possibility arose that Salonica might be invaded he was moved to the Palace of Beylerbeyi in Istanbul. He died on February 10th, 1918, his corpse being buried next to his uncle, Sultan Abdulaziz and his grandfather, Mahmoud the Second. He was 74 years old at the time of his death and even his greatest adversaries wept at his funeral.
Bismark thought very highly of Sultan Abdulhamid when he said:" 90% of intelligence is in the head of Sultan Abdulhamid and 5% in my head, and the remaining five in all the heads of the politicians."
He was very religious and honest and even after his dethronement his enemies felt remorse or regret at their actions. He never signed any Imperial declaration without accompanying it by ritual ablution and was never very fond of comfort or an easy life.
When faced by the revolt which ended his sultanate Abdulhamid abandoned his throne without argument, even though he had superior forces under his command, saying "This is the will of Allah." The Jews played an important part in his dethronement because it was during this time that they began to campaign for Palestine to become a Jewish homeland. Abdulhamid was opposed to this.
He had nine sons and seven daughters.
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