Mehmed V

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Mehmed V
Ottoman Caliph
Amir al-Mu'minin
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Photo of Mehmed V in his seventy-first year
Photograph by Carl Pietzner, June 1915
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Padishah)
Reign27 April 1909 – 3 July 1918
Sword girding10 May 1909
PredecessorAbdul Hamid II
SuccessorMehmed VI
Grand Viziers
Born(1844-11-02)2 November 1844
Old Çırağan Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
(present-day Istanbul, Turkey)
Died3 July 1918(1918-07-03) (aged 73)
Yıldız Palace, Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Tomb of Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, Eyüp, Istanbul
Mehmed Han bin Abdulmejid[1]
FatherAbdulmejid I
MotherGülcemal Kadın (biological mother)
Servetseza Kadın (adoptive mother)
ReligionSunni Islam
TughraMehmed V's signature

Mehmed V Reşâd (Ottoman Turkish: محمد خامس, romanizedMeḥmed-i ḫâmis; Turkish: V. Mehmed or Mehmed Reşad; 2 November 1844 – 3 July 1918) was the penultimate sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1909 to 1918. Mehmed V reigned as a constitutional monarch, interfering little when it came to government affairs, though the constitution was held with little regard by his ministries. The first half of his reign was marked by contentious politicking between factions of the Young Turks, and the second half by war and domination of the Committee of Union and Progress and the Three Pashas.

Reşad was the son of Sultan Abdulmejid I.[2] He succeeded his half-brother Abdul Hamid II after the 31 March Incident. Coming to power in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt, his nine-year reign featured three coups d'etat, four wars, and numerous uprisings. The Italo-Turkish War saw the cession of the Empire's North African territories and the Dodecanese Islands, including Rhodes, during which the CUP was forced out of power by the military. This was followed up by the traumatic loss of almost all of the Empire's European territories west of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the First Balkan War, and the return of a now radicalized CUP rule in another coup. Eastern Thrace was retaken in the Second Balkan War.

The Ottomans entered World War I in November 1914 during which Mehmed declared jihad against the Allies. While Ottoman forces successfully fended off an Allied invasion at Gallipoli, defeat loomed on the Caucasian and Mesopotamian fronts. Military collapse in the field and a revolt by the Empire's Arab subjects spelled impending disaster, though Mehmed died before Ottoman surrender, and he was succeeded by Mehmed VI.[3]

Early life[edit]

Prince Mehmed Reşad was born on 2 November 1844 at the Çırağan Palace,[4] Istanbul.[5] His father was Sultan Abdulmejid I, and his mother was Gülcemal Kadın. He had three elder sisters, Fatma Sultan,[6] Refia Sultan and Hatice Sultan (Refia Sultan's twin sister, died in infancy).[7] After his mother's death in 1851, he and his sisters were entrusted to the care of his father's senior consort Servetseza Kadın.[8][9] She had asked Abdulmejid to take the motherless children under her wing, and raised as her own, and carried out the duties of a mother who cares for her children with compassion and concern.[10]

In 1856, aged twelve, he was ceremoniously circumcised together with his younger half-brothers, Şehzade Ahmed Kemaleddin, Şehzade Mehmed Burhaneddin, and Şehzade Ahmed Nureddin.[11][12]

Reşad received his education at the palace. Halid Ziya, the chief clerk of the Chamberlain's office between 1909 and 1912, described this as being a poor one. Thanks to his comparatively high intelligence, however, he made good use of the education he had and used it to go further. He studied Arabic and Persian, and spoke the latter very well. He took piano lessons from an Italian pianist and calligraphy lessons from a famous Ottoman calligrapher, Kazasker Mustafa Izzet Efendi (1801–1876), who designed the giant pendant medallions of the Hagia Sophia. In addition to Persian literature, Mehmed was also interested in Mevlevi Sufism and the Masnavi.[13]

He enjoyed the company of his uncle Abdul Aziz. Mehmed became crown-prince in 1876 with the ascension of his brother Abdul Hamid II, but was essentially kept under house arrest in Dolmabahçe Palace, and was under close surveillance. Abdul Hamid made sure to not personally communicate with him.

After the lifting of many restrictions in the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution Mehmed earned popularity as crown prince by attending ceremonies that celebrated the constitution, much to the chagrin of his previously absolutist brother.[14]


His reign began at the conclusion of the 31 March Incident on 27 April 1909, which resulted in the deposition of his brother Abdul Hamid II. Mehmed came to the throne largely as a figurehead with no real political power. In 1913 the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) undertook a coup d'état, which brought the dictatorial triumvirate of the Three Pashas to power. At the age of 64, Mehmed V was the oldest person to ascend the Ottoman throne. It was decided to use the name "Mehmed" as his regal name, not his real name "Reşad". This name change was made upon the suggestion of Ferik Sami Pasha, to establish a connection between Mehmed the Conqueror's entry into Constantinople with his army and the arrival of the Action Army to Istanbul. Although he ascended to the throne with the title of Mehmed V, he was called Sultan Reşad by the people.[15]

Enthronement and sword girding[edit]

His Cülûs [tr] ceremony was held in the Ministry of War building (now part of Istanbul University) in Beyazıt. The new sultan boarded the İhsaniye from Dolmabahçe Palace to Sirkeci, during which he received a gun salute that frightened him. As he was leaving Sirkeci to Beyazıt in the royal carriage, the people of Istanbul lined up on both sides of the road and enthusiastically applauded as he passed by. In his speech after the bay'ah prayer, he declared, "I am the first sultan of liberty and I am proud of it!" and from then on Mehmed V was known as the "Constitutional Sultan."[14] On May 10, 1909, the sultan boarded the yacht Söğütlü in front of Dolmabahçe and went to Eyüp. He was girded with the sword of Osman in the Eyüp Mausoleum by the Shaykh al-Islam Saygı Efendi and the Mevlevi Order leader Postnişini Abdülhalim Efendi. Mehmed V then boarded the royal carriage and visited the tomb of Mehmed the Conqueror in the Fatih Mosque, after which he returned to the Dolmabahçe. Since the sultan was not seen on the streets of Istanbul during the long years of Abdulhamid's reign, the new sultan's carriage trip around the city, during which he cheerfully greeted his subjects, created great excitement among the people of Istanbul.[14]

First years[edit]

Padişah Reşad's Cülûs ceremony.

Because of his house imprisonment, Mehmed sat on the throne at the age of 65 and with no experience in state affairs. Due to his meek and weak-willed personality and the strength of a resurgent Sublime Porte and Young Turkey movement, the government was firmly out of his hands. When the sultan was asked to take a more proactive approach to politics when partisanship took hold, Mehmed V responded "If I was to interfere in every matter during the Constitutional Monarchy administration, what was [my] brother's fault?" He also claimed that he had to be subservient to the Unionists in order to save the sultanate, otherwise the Unionists would have declared a republic.[16]

Despite its shaky foundations, the constitution was promulgated for the third time and final time when Mehmed ascended to the throne (it was retracted during the crisis). However the issue about what to with the 31 March perpetrators revealed who was really in power: Mahmud Şevket Pasha and the CUP. In the immediate aftermath of the 31 March Incident, Mehmed V persistently informed the members of the Chamber of Deputies that he would not approve the executions of common criminals and especially political criminals associated with the 31 March uprising.[17] Afterwards, he wasn't able to resist the insistence of the Unionist politicians, and eventually approved their hanging. This was the first of many examples of Mehmed Reşad's reluctant approval of many laws, decrees and wills during his reign against his personal convictions and the constitution, and he soon developed a disinterest in statecraft.[18]

On May 5, 1909, Ahmed Tevfik Pasha, Abdul Hamid II's last grand vizier who was appointed in the middle of the 31 March Crisis, resigned under the pressure from the CUP, and a new government more favorable to the committee was formed under the grand viziership of Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha.

The Albanian Revolt of 1910 broke out and was suppressed by the Şevket Pasha, now War Minister. The assassination of Ahmet Samim Bey and the Western-sponsored integration of the Cretan State into Greece, despite the Ottoman victory over the Greeks in the War of 1897, threw the sultan into a fit of depression.

In June 1911, he embarked on an imperial tour of Selânik (Salonica, today Thessaloniki) and Manastır (today Bitola), stopping by Florina on the way. He also visited Üsküp (Skopje) and Priştine (Pristina), where he attended Friday prayers at the Tomb of Sultan Murad. The visit was recorded on film and photographs by the Manaki brothers. It would soon prove to be the last visit of an Ottoman sultan to the Rumelian provinces before the catastrophe of the Balkan Wars the following year.[14]

In the backdrop of the 1912 Albanian revolt and the Italian invasion of Libya, due to the CUP's policies of centralization and Turkish nationalism, the 1912 elections were mainly a contest between the CUP and the new Freedom and Accord Party. With the CUP rigging the proceedings to their advantage, the military decided to dispute the results. The Savior Officers demanded the pro-CUP Grand Vizier Mehmed Said Pasha dissolve parliament and to resign, which he did. Mehmed V appointed Ahmed Muhtar Pasha in his place, who formed a national unity government called the Great Cabinet. Martial law was declared. With defeat in the Balkan Wars, Muhtar Pasha resigned, and was replaced by Kâmil Pasha.


Map of the Ottoman territories in Europe in 1910, prior to the Balkan Wars (1912–1913)

Under his rule, the Ottoman Empire lost all its remaining territory in North Africa (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan) and the Dodecanese to Italy in the Italo-Turkish War and nearly all its European territories (except for a small strip of land west of Constantinople) in the First Balkan War. The Ottomans made some small gains in the following war, recapturing the peninsula comprising East Thrace up to Edirne, but this was only partial consolation for the Turks: the bulk of Ottoman territories that they had fought to keep had been lost forever.[19]

The sudden loss of these enormous swathes of land, which had been Ottoman territory for centuries and were ceded to the Empire's opponents within a span of only two years, was traumatic to the Turks and culminated in the 1913 Ottoman coup d'etat. It also spelt the end of the Ottomanism movement, which for several decades had advocated equal rights to all citizens of the Empire regardless of ethnicity or religion, in order to foster a communal sense of belonging and allegiance to the Ottoman state. With the loss of the Empire's ethnic minorities in Rumelia and North Africa, the movement's raison d'être also evaporated, and the country's politics soon began to take on a more reactionary character, centred around Turkish nationalism. The more extreme elements of this right-wing faction, primarily in the upper echelons of the CUP-dominated government, would go on to commit genocide against the Armenians.[20]

Despite his preference that the country stayed out of further conflict, Mehmed V's most significant political act was to formally declare jihad against the Entente Powers on 14 November 1914, following the Ottoman government's decision to join the First World War on the side of the Central Powers.[21] He was actually said to look with disfavour on the pro-German policy of Enver Pasha,[22] but could do little to prevent war due to the sultanate's diminished influence.

This was the last genuine proclamation of jihad in history by a Caliph, as the Caliphate was abolished in 1924. As a direct result of the declaration of war, the British annexed Cyprus, while the Khedivate of Egypt proclaimed its independence and was turned into a British protectorate; these provinces had at least been under nominal Ottoman rule. The proclamation had no noticeable effect on the war, despite the fact that many Muslims lived in Ottoman territories. Some Arabs eventually joined the British forces against the Ottoman Empire with the Arab Revolt in 1916.

Mehmed V hosted Kaiser Wilhelm II, his World War I ally, in Constantinople on 15 October 1917. He was made Generalfeldmarschall of the Kingdom of Prussia on 27 January 1916, and of the German Empire on 1 February 1916.[citation needed] He was also made a Feldmarschall of Austria-Hungary on 19 May 1918.[citation needed]


Mehmed V died at Yıldız Palace on 3 July 1918 at the age of 73, only four months before the end of World War I.[23] Thus, he did not live to see the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. He spent most of his life at the Dolmabahçe Palace and Yıldız Palace in Istanbul. His grave is in the Eyüp district of modern Istanbul. He was succeeded by his brother Mehmed Vahideddin, who took the regal name Mehmed VI.


Ottoman honours
Foreign honours


Mehmed V had a small harem, as well as few children. He was also the only sultan not to take new consorts after his accession to the throne.


Mehmed V had five consorts:[26][27]

  • Kamures Kadın (5 March 1855 – 30 April 1921). BaşKadin. She is also called Gamres, Kamres or Kamus. Of Caucasian descent, she married Mehmed when he was still Şehzade. She had a son.
  • Dürriaden Kadın (16 May 1860 – 17 October 1909). Second Kadın. She born Hatice Hanim, she married Mehmed when he was still Şehzade. She was the aunt of Inşirah Hanim, who was a consort of Mehmed VI (Mehmed V's younger half-brother). She had a son.
  • Mihrengiz Kadın (15 October 1869 – 12 December 1938). Second Kadın after Dürriaden's death. Circassian, born Fatma Hanım, married Mehmed when he was still Şehzade. She had a son.
  • Nazperver Kadın (12 June 1870 – 9 March 1929). Third Kadın after Dürriaden's death. Born Rukiye Hanim, she was an Abkhazian princess of Çikotua family and niece of Dürrinev Kadın, chief consort of Sultan Abdülaziz, who educated her. She married Mehmed when he was still Şehzade. She had a daughter.
  • Dilfirib Kadın (1890–1952). Fourth Kadın after Dürriaden's death. Circassian, she married Mehmed when he was still Şehzade. She was close friends with Safiye Ünüvar, a teacher at the Palace. She had no children by Mehmed, but after his death she remarried and had a son.


Mehmed V had three sons:[26][27]

  • Şehzade Mehmed Ziyaeddin (26 August 1873 – 30 January 1938)–with Kamures Kadın. He had five consorts, two sons and six daughters.
  • Şehzade Mahmud Necmeddin (23 June 1878 – 27 June 1913) – with Dürriaden Kadın. Born with kyphosis, he never married or had children.
  • Şehzade Ömer Hilmi (2 March 1886 – 6 April 1935) – with Mihrengiz Kadın. He had five consorts, a son and a daughter. His great-granddaughter Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu became an authress of historical novels about the Ottoman dynasty.


Mehmed V had only one daughter:[28]

  • Refia Sultan (1888–1888) – with Nazperver Kadın. She died in infancy.


  1. ^ "Asian, Ceramics & Works of Art: Antiquities, Islamic & Pre-Columbian Art". C.G. Sloan & Company. 2001.
  2. ^ Abdulmecid, Coskun Cakir, Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, ed. Gábor Ágoston, Bruce Alan Masters, (Infobase Publishing, 2009), 9.
  3. ^ "Rusya Fransa ve İngiltere devletleriyle hal-i harb ilanı hakkında irade-i seniyye [Imperial Decree Concerning the Declaration of a State of War with the States of Russia, France, and the United Kingdom], Nov. 11, 1914 (29 Teşrin-i Evvel 1330), Takvim-i Vekayi, Nov. 12, 1914 (30 Teşrin-i Evvel 1330)" (PDF). Library of Congress.
  4. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 209.
  5. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 7, edited Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; "Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire…."
  6. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 218.
  7. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 220.
  8. ^ Uluçay 2011, p. 203.
  9. ^ Brookes 2020, pp. xvi, 245.
  10. ^ Brookes 2020, pp. 70–71.
  11. ^ Mehmet Arslan (2008). Osmanlı saray düğünleri ve şenlikleri: Manzum sûrnâmeler. Sarayburnu Kitaplığı. p. 329. ISBN 978-9944-905-63-3.
  12. ^ Dünden bugüne İstanbul ansiklopedisi. Kültür Bakanlığı. 1993. p. 72. ISBN 978-975-7306-07-8.
  13. ^ Glencross & Rowbotham 2018, p. 125.
  14. ^ a b c d Sakaoğlu, Necdet (1999) Bu Mülkün Sultanları, İstanbul:Oğlak Yayınları ISBN 975-329-300-3 p. 486
  15. ^ "MEHMED V - TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi". TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 23 September 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  16. ^ Küçük, Cevdet. "Mehmed V". İslâm Ansiklopedisi.
  17. ^ Uşaklıgil, Halit Ziya (2012 ilk baskı: ), Saray ve Ötesi, İstanbul: Özgür Yayınları, ISBN 9-754-47176=2
  18. ^ Uşaklıgil, Halit Ziya (2012 ilk baskı: ), Saray ve Ötesi, İstanbul: Özgür Yayınları, ISBN 9-754-47176=2
  19. ^ The Ottoman Empire: Three Wars in Three Years, 1911–13. New Zealand History. Retrieved 28 January 2020
  20. ^ Bloxham, Donald; Göçek, Fatma Müge (2008). "The Armenian Genocide". The Historiography of Genocide. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 344–372. ISBN 978-0-230-29778-4.
  21. ^ Lawrence Sondhaus, World War One: The Global Revolution, (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 91.
  22. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Mahommed V." . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company.
  23. ^ Mehmed V, Selcuk Aksin Somel, Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, 371.
  24. ^ "Ritter-Orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1918, p. 56, retrieved 14 January 2021
  25. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 369.
  26. ^ a b Brookes 2010, pp. 284–291.
  27. ^ a b Uluçay 2011, pp. 260–261.
  28. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 284.


  • Uluçay, M. Çağatay (2011). Padişahların kadınları ve kızları. Ötüken. ISBN 978-9-754-37840-5.
  • Brookes, Douglas Scott (2010). The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher: Voices from the Ottoman Harem. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-78335-5.
  • Brookes, Douglas S. (2020). On the Sultan's Service: Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil's Memoir of the Ottoman Palace, 1909–1912. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-04553-9.
  • Glencross, Matthew; Rowbotham, Judith, eds. (2018). Monarchies and the Great War. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-89515-4.

External links[edit]

Media related to Mehmed V at Wikimedia Commons

Mehmed V
Born: 2 November 1844 Died: 3 July 1918
Regnal titles
Preceded by Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
27 Apr 1909 – 3 Jul 1918
Succeeded by
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate
27 Apr 1909 – 3 Jul 1918
Succeeded by