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عبد العزيز
Ottoman Caliph
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Kayser-i Rûm
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Sultan Abdulaziz of the Ottoman Empire.jpg
Sultan Abdulaziz during his visit to the United Kingdom in 1867.
32nd Ottoman Sultan (Emperor)
Reign25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
PredecessorAbdulmejid I
SuccessorMurad V
Born8 February 1830
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died4 June 1876(1876-06-04) (aged 46)[1]
Çırağan Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Tomb of Sultan Mahmud II, Fatih, Istanbul
ConsortsDürrünev Kadın
Hayranidil Kadın
Edadil Kadın
Nesrin Kadın
Gevheri Kadın
Issuesee below
Full name
Abdülaziz Han bin Mahmud[2]
FatherMahmud II
MotherPertevniyal Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
TughraAbdulaziz عبد العزيز's signature

Abdulaziz (Ottoman Turkish: عبد العزيز‎ / ʻAbdü'l-ʻAzīz, Turkish: Abdülaziz; 8 February 1830 – 4 June 1876) was the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and reigned between 25 June 1861 and 30 May 1876.[1] He was the son of Sultan Mahmud II and succeeded his brother Abdulmejid I in 1861.[3]

Born at Eyüp Palace, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul),[4] on 8 February 1830, Abdulaziz received an Ottoman education but was nevertheless an ardent admirer of the material progress that was made in the West. He was the first Ottoman Sultan who travelled to Western Europe, visiting a number of important European capitals including Paris, London and Vienna in the summer of 1867.

Apart from his passion for the Ottoman Navy, which had the world's third largest fleet in 1875 (after the British and French navies), the Sultan took an interest in documenting the Ottoman Empire. He was also interested in literature and was a talented classical music composer. Some of his compositions, together with those of the other members of the Ottoman dynasty, have been collected in the album European Music at the Ottoman Court by the London Academy of Ottoman Court Music.[5] He was deposed on grounds of mismanaging the Ottoman economy on 30 May 1876, and was found dead six days later under unnatural and mysterious circumstances.

Early life[edit]

A portrait of Sultan Abdulaziz

His parents were Mahmud II and Pertevniyal Sultan[6] (1812–1883), originally named Besime, a Circassian.[7] In 1868 Pertevniyal was residing at Dolmabahçe Palace. That year Abdulaziz took the visiting Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France, to see his mother. Pertevniyal considered the presence of a foreign woman within her private quarters of the seraglio to be an insult. She reportedly slapped Eugénie across the face, which almost caused an international incident.[8] According to another account, Pertevniyal was outraged by the forwardness of Eugénie in taking the arm of one of her sons while he gave a tour of the palace garden, and she gave the Empress a slap on the stomach as a possibly more subtly intended reminder that they were not in France.[9]

The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque was built under the patronage of his mother. The construction work began in November 1869 and the mosque was finished in 1871.[10]

His paternal grandparents were Sultan Abdul Hamid I and Sultana Nakşidil Sultan. Several accounts identify his paternal grandmother with Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, a cousin of Empress Joséphine.[11] Pertevniyal was a sister of Khushiyar Qadin, third wife of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. Khushiyar and Ibrahim were the parents of Isma'il Pasha.[12][13]


The Ottoman Empire in 1862

Between 1861 and 1871, the Tanzimat reforms which began during the reign of his brother Abdulmejid I were continued under the leadership of his chief ministers, Mehmed Fuad Pasha and Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha. New administrative districts (vilayets) were set up in 1864 and a Council of State was established in 1868.[1] Public education was organized on the French model and Istanbul University was reorganised as a modern institution in 1861.[1] He was also integral in establishing the first Ottoman civil code.[1]

Culverin with the arms of Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Siege of Rhodes (1522). Caliber: 140mm, length: 339 cm, weight: 2533kg, ammunition: 10 kg iron ball. Remitted by Abdulaziz to Napoleon III in 1862.

Abdulaziz cultivated good relations with the Second French Empire and the British Empire. In 1867 he was the first Ottoman sultan to visit Western Europe;[1] his trip included a visit to the Exposition Universelle (1867) in Paris and a trip to the United Kingdom, where he was made a Knight of the Garter by Queen Victoria[14] and shown a Royal Navy Fleet Review with Ismail Pasha. He travelled by a private rail car, which today can be found in the Rahmi M. Koç Museum in Istanbul. His fellow Knights of the Garter created in 1867 were Charles Gordon-Lennox, 6th Duke of Richmond, Charles Manners, 6th Duke of Rutland, Henry Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (a son of Queen Victoria), Franz Joseph I of Austria and Alexander II of Russia.

Also in 1867, Abdulaziz became the first Ottoman Sultan to formally recognize the title of Khedive (Viceroy) to be used by the Vali (Governor) of the Ottoman Eyalet of Egypt and Sudan (1517–1867), which thus became the autonomous Ottoman Khedivate of Egypt and Sudan (1867–1914). Muhammad Ali Pasha and his descendants had been the governors (Vali) of Ottoman Egypt and Sudan since 1805, but were willing to use the higher title of Khedive, which was unrecognized by the Ottoman government until 1867. In return, the first Khedive, Ismail Pasha, had agreed a year earlier (in 1866) to increase the annual tax revenues which Egypt and Sudan would provide for the Ottoman treasury.[15] Between 1854 and 1894,[15][16] the revenues from Egypt and Sudan were often declared as a surety by the Ottoman government for borrowing loans from British and French banks.[15][16] After the Ottoman government declared a sovereign default on its foreign debt repayments on 30 October 1875,[15] which triggered the Great Eastern Crisis in the empire's Balkan provinces that led to the devastating Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) and the establishment of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration in 1881,[15] the importance for Britain of the sureties regarding the Ottoman revenues from Egypt and Sudan increased.[16] Combined with the much more important Suez Canal which was opened in 1869, these sureties were influential in the British government's decision to occupy Egypt and Sudan in 1882, with the pretext of helping the Ottoman-Egyptian government to put down the ʻUrabi Revolt (1879–1882). Egypt and Sudan (together with Cyprus) nominally remained Ottoman territories until 5 November 1914,[17] when the British Empire declared war against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.[17]

In 1869, Abdulaziz received visits from Eugénie de Montijo, Empress consort of Napoleon III of France and other foreign monarchs on their way to the opening of the Suez Canal. The Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, twice visited Istanbul.[14]

By 1871 both Mehmed Fuad Pasha and Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha were dead.[1] The Second French Empire, his Western European model, had been defeated in the Franco-Prussian War by the North German Confederation under the leadership of the Kingdom of Prussia. Abdulaziz turned to the Russian Empire for friendship, as unrest in the Balkan provinces continued. In 1875, the Herzegovinian rebellion was the beginning of further unrest in the Balkan provinces. In 1876, the April Uprising saw insurrection spreading among the Bulgarians. Ill feeling mounted against Russia for its encouragement of the rebellions.[1]

While no one event led to his being deposed, the crop failure of 1873 and his lavish expenditures on the Ottoman Navy and on new palaces which he had built, along with mounting public debt, helped to create an atmosphere conducive to his being overthrown. Abdulaziz was deposed by his ministers on 30 May 1876.[1]


The türbe (mausoleum) of Sultan Mahmud II (his father) on Divan Yolu street, where Abdulaziz was also buried.
Abdülaziz's death in 1876 by Victor Masson

Abdulaziz's death at Çırağan Palace in Istanbul a few days later was documented as a suicide.[1][18]

Following Sultan Abdulaziz's dethronement, he was taken into a room at Topkapi Palace. This room happened to be the same room that Sultan Selim III was murdered in. The room caused him to be concerned for his life and he subsequently requested to be moved to Beylerbeyi Palace. His request was denied for the palace was considered inconvenient for his situation and he was moved to Feriye Palace instead. He nevertheless had grown increasingly nervous and paranoid about his security. In the morning of 5 June, Abdulaziz asked for a pair of scissors to trim his beard. Shortly after this he was found dead in a pool of blood flowing from two wounds in his arms.

Several physicians were allowed to examine his body. Among which "Dr. Marco, Nouri, A. Sotto, Physician attached to the Imperial and Royal Embassy of Austria‐Hungary; Dr. Spagnolo, Marc Markel, Jatropoulo, Abdinour, Servet, J. de Castro, A. Marroin, Julius Millingen, C. Caratheodori; E. D. Dickson, Physician of the British Embassy; Dr. O. Vitalis, Physician of the Sanitary Board; Dr. E. Spadare, J. Nouridjian, Miltiadi Bey, Mustafa, Mehmed" certified that the death had been "caused by the loss of blood produced by the wounds of the blood‐vessels at the joints of the arms" and that "the direction and nature of the wounds, together with the instrument which is said to have produced them, lead us to conclude that suicide had been committed".[19] One of those physicians also stated that "His skin was very pale, and entirely free from bruises, marks or spots of any kind whatever. There was no lividity of the lips indicating suffocation nor any sign of pressure having been applied to the throat".[20]

Assassination claims[edit]

There are several sources claiming the death of Abdulaziz was due to an assassination.

Necip Fazıl Kısakürek, an Islamist ideologue, well known for with his rather extreme antisemitist ideas, was the first author significantly referring to the death of Abdulaziz as an assassination. He claimed that it was a clandestine operation carried out by the Great Britain and its proxies with an anti-Islamic motivation, stating "the English being the greatest enemy of Islam" as a reason.[21]

Another similar claim is based on the book of "memoirs by Sultan Abdulhamid II." In the book, Abdulhamid claims that Sultan Murad V had begun to show signs of paranoia, madness, and continuous fainting and vomiting until the day of his coronation, and he even threw himself into a pool yelling at his guards to protect his life. High ranked politicians of the time were afraid the public would become outraged and revolt to bring back Abdulaziz to the power. Thus, they arranged the assassination of Abdulaziz by cutting his wrists and announced that he committed suicide".[22]

This book of memoir is commonly referred to as a first hand testimony of the assassination of Abdulaziz. Yet it's proven, later on, that Abdulhamid II never wrote nor dictated such a document. The book turned out to be merely a fraud,[23][24] possibly produced by political-Islamist motivations in the secularist republic era.

A photograph[25] published in the book “Hatıra-i Uhuvvet: Portre Fotoğraflarının Cazibesi 1846-1950” by Bahattin Öztuncay has also had a considerable attention of the conspiracy theorists. In the photograph, Abdulaziz, presumably after being overthrown, is seen sitting in front of the camera. On his both sides, two men are standing and one of which is seen with an alleged Masonic hidden hand gesture. Even though there's nothing asserts any violence in the photograph, it's presented as the proof of the assassination, possibly because leaning on former sultan's chair is considered disrespectful and popular Islamist belief that the Freemasonry is based on Judaism[26] seems to serve as the confirmation bias in the matter.

A possible yet unlikely murder or assassination of Abdulaziz seems not proven. And as characteristic examples of conservative and populist political approach to the history, these claims have gained a certain rising popularity in Turkey for decades, mainly as arguments of political propaganda, rather than academic works aiming to reveal historical facts.


Queen Victoria and Abdulaziz aboard HMY Victoria and Albert during the Sultan's official visit to the United Kingdom in 1867.
Admission ticket to Lord Mayor Thomas Gabriel's reception of H.I.M. The Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz Khan at The Guildhall on 18 July 1867, issued to The Chairman of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Company.
Admiral Hasan Rami Pasha supported the sultan's modernizing efforts.


Bedroom of Sultan Abdulaziz at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
Sarcophagus of Sultan Abdulaziz in the mausoleum of his father, Sultan Mahmud II. Some of the sultans' descendants are also buried nearby.

First marriage[edit]

  • Dürrünev Kadın (Batumi, c. 1835 – Feriye Palace, Istanbul, 7 December 1895, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1856, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Yusuf Izzeddin (11 October 1857 – 1 February 1916);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Bahaeddin (February 1883 – 8 November 1883);
      • Hatice Şükriye Sultan (24 February 1906 – 1 April 1972);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Nizameddin (10 January 1909 – 19 March 1933);
      • Mihriban Mihrişah Sultan (1 June 1916 – 25 January 1987);
    • Fatma Saliha Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 11 July 1862 – 1941, Cairo, Egypt, and buried in Khedive Tewfik Mausoleum);

Second marriage[edit]

  • Hayranidil Kadın (Kars, 21 November 1846 – Feriye Palace, Istanbul, 26 November 1895, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1861, and had issue:

Third marriage[edit]

  • Edadil Kadın (c. 1845 – Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, 12 December 1875, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1861, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Mahmud Celaleddin (14 November 1862 – 1 September 1888);
    • Şehzade Mehmed Selim (28 October 1865 – 21 October 1867);
    • Emine Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 30 November 1866 – 23 January 1867, Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, buried in Sultan Mahmud II Mausoleum, Divanyolu, Istanbul);

Fourth marriage[edit]

  • Nesrin Kadın (Sochi, c. 1848 – Feriye Palace, 11 June 1876, Istanbul, buried in New ladies Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1868, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Mehmed Şevket (5 June 1872 – 22 October 1899);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Cemaleddin (28 October 1890 – 18 November 1946);
    • Emine Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 24 August 1874 – 29 January 1920, buried in New Mosque, Istanbul);

Fifth marriage[edit]

  • Gevheri Kadın (Gudauta, 8 July 1856  – Feriye Palace, Istanbul, 6 September 1884, buried in New ladies Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1872, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Mehmed Seyfeddin (21 September 1874 – 19 October 1927);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Abdülaziz (26 September 1901 – 19 January 1977);
      • Şehzade Mahmud Şevket (30 July 1903 – 1 February 1973);
      • Şehzade Ahmed Tevhid (30 November 1904 – 24 April 1966);
      • Fatma Gevheri Sultan (30 November 1904 – 10 December 1980);
    • Esma Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 21 March 1873 – 7 May 1899, buried in Sultan Mahmud II Mausoleum, Divanyolu, Istanbul);


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abdülaziz". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. pp. 21. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. ^ Garo Kürkman, (1996), Ottoman Silver Marks, p. 46
  3. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 2
  4. ^ Britannica, Istanbul: When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  5. ^ European Music at the Ottoman Court, London Academy of Ottoman Court Music. CD album released on 6 November 2000. ASIN: B0000542KD.
  6. ^ Daniel T. Rogers, "All my relatives: Valide Sultana Partav-Nihal"
  7. ^ His profile in the Ottoman Web Site
  8. ^ "Women in Power" 1840-1870, entry: "1861-76 Pertevniyal Valide Sultan of The Ottoman Empire"
  9. ^ Duff 1978, p. 191.
  10. ^ "Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque Complex". Discover Islamic Art. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  11. ^ Christine Isom-Verhaaren, "Royal French Women in the Ottoman Sultans' Harem: The Political Uses of Fabricated Accounts from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century" Archived 25 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Non European Royalty Website, entry:"Egypt"". Archived from the original on 16 July 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Women in Power" 1840-1870, entry: "1863-79 Valida Pasha Khushiyar of Egypt"
  14. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abd-ul-Aziz". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 35.
  15. ^ a b c d e Mevzuat Dergisi, Yıl: 9, Sayı: 100, Nisan 2006: "Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nda ve Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'nde Borçlanma Politikaları ve Sonuçları"
  16. ^ a b c Article 18 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)
  17. ^ a b Articles 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)
  18. ^ Davis, Claire (1970). The Palace of Topkapi in Istanbul. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 222. ASIN B000NP64Z2.
  19. ^ Ali Haydar Midhat Bey (1903). The Life of Midhat Pasha. London: JOHN MURRAY. pp. 89–90.
  20. ^ Dickson, E. D. (8 July 1876). "Report on the Death of the Ex-Sultan Abdul Aziz Khan". The British Medical Journal. 2 (810): 41–12. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.810.41. PMC 2297901. PMID 20748260.
  21. ^ Kısakürek, Necip Fazıl (2007). Ulu Hakan: II. Abdülhamid Han. İstanbul: Büyük Doğu Yayınları. p. 688. ISBN 9789758180301.
  22. ^ Bozdağ, İsmet (2000). Sultan Abdülhamid'in Hatıra Defteri. İstanbul: Pınar Yayınları. p. 223. ISBN 9753520344.
  23. ^ Murat Bardakçı, Abdülhamid’in hatıra defteri yoktur, bu isimdeki kitap sahtedir, inanmayın ve kullanmayın! (Turkish)
  24. ^ Prof. Dr. Ali Birinci, Sultan Abdülhamid'in Hatıra Defteri Meselesi (Turkish)
  25. ^ Abdulaziz's photograph along with two men
  26. ^ Masonluk, Rehber Ansiklopedisi (Turkish)
  27. ^ CFOA History - Trains and Railways of Turkey
  28. ^ a b c d Voyage of Sultan Abdülaziz to Europe (21 June 1867 – 7 August 1867)
  29. ^ Wm. A. Shaw, The Knights of England, Volume I (London, 1906) page 64
  • Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930..".

External links[edit]

Media related to Abdül Aziz I at Wikimedia Commons

Wikisource logo Works written by or about Abdülaziz at Wikisource

Born: 8 February 1830 Died: 4 June 1876
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Abdulmejid I
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
25 Jun 1861 – 30 May 1876
Succeeded by
Murad V
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Abdulmejid I
Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate
25 Jun 1861 – 30 May 1876
Succeeded by
Murad V