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|Caliph of Islam
|Royal house||House of Osman|
|Born||25 April 1823|
|Died||25 June 1861(aged 38)|
Abdülmecid I (Ottoman Turkish: عبد المجيد اول ‘Abdü’l-Mecīd-i evvel) (23/25 April 1823 – 25 June 1861) was the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and succeeded his father Mahmud II on 2 July 1839. His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories. Abdülmecid wanted to encourage Ottomanism among the secessionist subject nations and stop the rise of nationalist movements within the empire, but failed to succeed despite trying to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into the Ottoman society with new laws and reforms. He tried to forge alliances with the major powers of Western Europe, namely the United Kingdom and France, who fought alongside the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War against Russia. In the following Congress of Paris on 30 March 1856, the Ottoman Empire was officially included among the European family of nations. Abdülmecid's biggest achievement was the announcement and application of the Tanzimat (Reorganization) reforms which were prepared by his father Mahmud II and effectively started the modernization of Ottoman Empire in 1839. For this achievement, one of the Imperial anthems of the Ottoman Empire, the March of Abdülmecid, was named after him.
Abdülmecid was born at the Beşiktaş Sahil Palace or at the Topkapı Palace, both in Constantinople. His mother was his father's first wife in 1839, Valide Sultan Bezmiâlem, originally named Suzi (1807–1852), either a Circassian or Georgian slave
Abdülmecid received a European education and was a fluent of French speaker, the first sultan to do so. Like Abdülaziz who succeeded him, he was interested in literature and classical music. Like his father Mahmud II, he was an advocate of reforms and was lucky enough to have the support of progressive viziers such as Mustafa Reşit Pasha, Mehmet Emin Ali Paşa and Fuat Pasha. Throughout his reign he had to struggle against conservatives who opposed his reforms. Abdülmecid was also the first sultan to directly listen to the public's complaints on special reception days, which were usually held every Friday without any middlemen. Abdülmecid toured the empire's territories to see in person how the Tanzimat reforms were being applied. He travelled to İzmit, Mudanya, Bursa, Gallipoli, Çanakkale, Lemnos, Lesbos and Chios in 1844 and toured the Balkan provinces in 1846.
When Abdülmecid succeeded to the throne, the affairs of the Ottoman Empire were in a critical state. At the time his father died, the news reached Constantinople that the empire's army had been defeated at Nizip by the army of the rebel Egyptian viceroy, Muhammad Ali. At the same time, the empire's fleet was on its way to Alexandria, where it was handed over to Muhammad Ali by its commander Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, on the pretext that the young sultan's advisers had sided with Russia. However, through the intervention of the European powers, Muhammad Ali was obliged to come to terms, and the Ottoman Empire was saved from further attacks while its territories in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine were restored. The terms were finalised at the Convention of London (1840).
In compliance with his father's express instructions, Abdülmecid immediately carried out the reforms to which Mahmud II had devoted himself. In November 1839 an edict known as the Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane, also known as Tanzimat Fermanı was proclaimed, consolidating and enforcing these reforms. The edict was supplemented at the close of the Crimean War by a similar statute issued in February 1856, named the Hatt-ı Hümayun. By these enactments it was provided that all classes of the sultan's subjects should have their lives and property protected; that taxes should be fairly imposed and justice impartially administered; and that all should have full religious liberty and equal civil rights. The scheme met with strong opposition from the Muslim governing classes and the ulema, or religious authorities, and was only partially implemented, especially in the remoter parts of the empire; and more than one conspiracy was formed against the sultan's life on account of it.
The most important reform measures promoted by Abdülmecid were:
- Introduction of the first Ottoman paper banknotes (1840)
- Reorganisation of the army, including the introduction of conscription (1842–1844)
- Adoption of an Ottoman national anthem and Ottoman national flag (1844)
- Reorganisation of the finance system according to the French model
- Reorganisation of the Civil and Criminal Code according to the French model
- Reorganisation of the court system, establishing a system of civil and criminal courts with both European and Ottoman judges.
- Establishment of the Meclis-i Maarif-i Umumiye (1845) which was the prototype of the First Ottoman Parliament (1876)
- Institution of a council of public instruction (1846)
- Creation of the Ministry of Education
- Establishment of the first modern universities and academies (1848)
- Establishment of an Ottoman school in Paris
- Abolition of an unfairly imposed capitation tax which imposed higher tariffs on non-Muslims (1856)
- Non-Muslims were allowed to become soldiers in the Ottoman army (1856)
- Various provisions for the better administration of the public service and for the advancement of commerce
- New land laws confirming the right of ownership (1858)
- Decriminalisation of homosexuality (1858)
Another notable reform was that the turban was officially outlawed for the first time during Abdülmecid's reign, in favour of the fez. European fashions were also adopted by the Court. (The fez itself was later banned with the "Hat Law" in 1925 by the Republican National Assembly which had already abolished the sultanate and proclaimed the Turkish Republic in 1923).
Samuel Morse received his first ever patent for the telegraph in 1847, at the old Beylerbeyi Palace (the present Beylerbeyi Palace was built in 1861–1865 on the same location) in Constantinople, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new invention.
When Kossuth and others sought refuge in Turkey after the failure of the Hungarian uprising in 1849, the sultan was called on by Austria and Russia to surrender them, but he refused. He also would not allow the conspirators against his own life to be put to death. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica says of him, "Abdülmecid bore the character of being a kind and honourable man, if somewhat weak and easily led. Against this, however, must be set down his excessive extravagance, especially towards the end of his life."
The Ottoman Empire received the first of its foreign loans on 25 August 1854 during the Crimean War. This major foreign loan was followed by those of 1855, 1858 and 1860, which culminated in default and led to the alienation of European sympathy from the Ottoman Empire and indirectly to the dethronement and death of Abdülâziz in the following years.
His success in foreign relations was not as notable as his domestic accomplishments. His reign started off with the defeat of his forces by the Viceroy of Egypt and the subsequent signing of the Convention of London (1840), which saved his empire from a greater embarrassment. They successfully participated in the Crimean War and were winning signatories at the Treaty of Paris (1856). His attempts at strengthening his base in the Balkans failed in Bosnia and Montenegro, and in 1861 he was forced to give up Lebanon by the Concert of Europe.
Abdülmecid died of tuberculosis (like his father) at the age of 39 in Constantinople on 25 June 1861, where he was buried, and was succeeded by his brother, Abdülâziz, the oldest survivor of the family of Osman.
Marriages and children
Abdülmecid married a number of times and left several sons, of whom four eventually succeeded to the throne. His marriages were:
- Circassian or Georgian HH Valide Sultan Şevkefza Kadın Efendi, (Poti, 12 December 1820 – Constantinople, Ortaköy, Çırağan Palace, 13 November 1882 or 17 September 1889), married in Constantinople on 1 August 1839. They had two children.
- Armenian HH Valide Sultan Tirimüjgün or Tirimüjgan Kadın Efendi (16 August 1819 – Constantinople, Fariya Palace, 3 October 1852 or 2 November 1853), originally named Virgin or Müjgün, married in Constantinople on 10 November 1841. They had two children. According to other sources she was a Circassian and belonged to the Shapsugs tribe of Circassians.
- HH Valide Sultan Gülcemal Kadın Efendi, (Caucasus, 1826 – Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 16 November 1851 or 29 December 1895), originally named Sofiya, a Circassian, married in Constantinople on 27 March 1843. They had five children including Mehmed V.
- Caucasian HH Verdicenan Kadın Efendi (Caucasus, 1826 – Constantinople, Beşiktaş, Beşiktaş Palace, 9 December 1889), married in Constantinople on 10 June 1852. They had two children.
- Circassian HH Gülistan Münire Kadın Efendi (1831 - May 1861), originally named Münire, married in 1854 at Constantinople. They had four children including Mehmed VI.
- Caucasian HH Nükhet-Sezâ Hanım Efendi (Hope, Caucasus, 2 January 1827 - Beşiktaş, 15 May 1850), married in Constantinople in 1841 and had three children.
- Egyptian HH Bezm-i Can (Bezmara) Kadın Efendi (1845, Egypt - Istanbul), adoptive daughter of Ismail Paşa son of Mehmet Ali of Egypt or may be a slave girl. Her marriage was celebrated in a magnificent ceremony. She got divorced without issue.
- Circassian HH Valide Sultan Rahime Perestu Kadın Efendi (1830, Circassia - 1904, Maçka, Istanbul), daughter of Gogen Gök Bey of The Ubuh Tribe of Circassia, without issue. She became the adoptive mother of Abdul Hamid II and one of his half sisters.
- HH Düzd-i Dil Kadın Efendi (1825 – Constantinople, 18 August 1845), married in Constantinople on 2 October 1842 and had one child, Cemile Sultan.
- HH Ayşe Serfiraz Hanım Efendi (1837 – Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 9 June 1905), married in Constantinople in 1851 and had three children.
- HH Zerrin Melek Kadın Efendi (1824 - 1842), married in Constantinople in 1841 without issue.
- HH Şayeste Hanım Efendi (1838 - Constantinople, 11 February 1912), married in Constantinople in 1852 and had one child, who died in infancy. She became the adoptive mother of Mehmed VI.
- HH Nesrin Hanım Efendi (1826 - Constantinople, 2 May 1853), married in Constantinople in 1845 and had four children.
He married HH Nalandil Kadın Efendi (Caucasus, 1829 – Constantinople, Beşiktaş, Beşiktaş Palace, 23 December 1890), and had two children, HH Mahitab Kadın Efendi (1830 - 1888) and had 2 children, HH Ceylan-yar Kadın Efendi (1828 - 17 January 1855) and had one child, HH Nergis (Nergizu) Kadın Efendi (died Constantinople, 26 October 1848) and had one child.
He also married HH Servet-Sezâ Kadın Efendi (1824 - 24 September 1878), HH Şayan Kadın Efendi (1831 - 1860), HH Neveser Hanımefendi (died Yildiz Palace, 12 September 1889), HH Navek-misal Hanımefendi (1828 - 5 August 1854), HH Yıldız Hanımefendi, HH Safderun Hanımefendi and HH Hüsn-i-Cenan Hanımefendi (died 1843) without issue.
- Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abdulmecid I". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
- There are sources that state his birth date as the 23rd of April
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3
- The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...
- 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.
- Slavery in the Ottoman Empire, Putnam's Monthly, vol. V, June 1855, No. 30, p. 615
- Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan, Gürcistan Dostluk Derneği
- Bezmiâlem Valide Sultan, Bezmiâlem Vakıf Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi Hastanesi
- The Private World of Ottoman Women by Godfrey Goodwin, 2007, p.157
- Istanbul City Guide: Beylerbeyi Palace
- Goodwin, Jason (2008). The Bellini Card. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 10–14. ISBN 978-0-571-23992-4.
Media related to Abdül Mecid I at Wikimedia Commons
Abdülmecid IBorn: 23 April 1823 Died: 25 June 1861
|Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861
|Sunni Islam titles|
|Caliph of Islam
2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861