Biography of Sultán Otomano Abdul Medjid I o Abdulmecit I (1823-1861)

Ottoman Sultan born April 25, 1823 and died on June 25, 1861. He/She was the son of sultan Mahmud II and one of his wives, Bezmialem (Georgian origin). Enthroned sultan on 1 July 1839, with sixteen years, encountered a difficult internal situation. In various parts of the Empire were seething nationalism, without that had material means to appease them. Particularly serious was the situation of Syria and Arabia, in the hands of the insurrectionist Governor of Egypt, the Albanian Mehmet Alí, who now threatened to wipe out the Ottoman dynasty.

However, hastily intervened the main European powers (Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia) by sending its warships to Palestinian coasts. The treaties signed on 15 July 1840 and July 13, 1841salvaron Abdülmecit I and restored inner peace. Egypt, as well as the Straits (on which Russia wanted to extend its influence), came under Turkish sovereignty, but it continued to be governed autonomously and as family Lordship by Mehmet Ali and his son Ibrahim low.

Thus secured the throne, and helped its capable Grand Vizier Reschid low (until his death in 1853), was dedicated to implement reforms in all areas (tanzimat: 'action of organizing'), which in many cases had already been proposed by Selim III and his father Mahmud II, to modernize the country and strengthen it internally from the European foreign threat and the nationalism of some of their regions. On November 3, 1839, official decrees in this sense (edict of Gulhane) were enacted.

According to French models reorganized the Administration creating ministries and applying measures that centralizasen over the Government of the Empire and quitasen to local governors, sometimes true autocrats. The enactment of new legal codes created an independent judiciary; It also established permanent embassies in some European countries in the military field, the Suppression of the janissaries by Mahmud II was offset by the recreation of a regular army, structured according to the Prussian example, that would be faithful to the State; supply and conditions of military service were improved and a more rational recruitment system was introduced.

Another group of important reforms affect education: adopted secular education, already not governed by Islamic principles, which was to prepare new staff and technicians. Indeed, in social and religious matters in general showed tolerant (in part because of Western pressure): well, since the decrees of 1839 all his subjects, regardless of their religion, they legally had equal rights and he/she even abolished slavery. It also prompted the industry and also the arts, in addition to imposing the European (except the fez, which retained) clothing; He/She presented also numerous Turkish products in the Universal exhibition in London in 1851 and completed the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, the new residence of the Turkish sultans.

Despite these measures, had to deal with throughout his reign many nationalist revolts in the Balkans and in the Middle East. In Serbia, there were some riots in 1842 and 1843, and two years later, in 1845, an uprising in Albania. In 1848, a hard war in Kurdistan, together with turmoil in Syria, Bosnia and Wallachia (from 1847 to 1852).

Between 1854 and 1856 went to war against Russia, in the so-called Crimean War, as that country threatened to conquer Moldavia and Wallachia (which already had in fact influence) endangering the same Istanbul and the Straits. Thanks to the support of France, Piedmont-Sardinia, and England and the own combativeness of Turkish troops (who defended successfully Silistria, Kalafat and elsewhere) emerged victorious in this war, keeping intact its territory in the peace of Paris of 1856, subsequent to the capture of Sevastopol by the Coalition last year. The conditions of peace were followed shortly afterwards, at the request of the allied European powers, of new decrees reinforcing its reformist measures, especially the freedoms granted to non-Muslims (edict of Hattihumajun, February 21).

He died prematurely in 1861, with only thirty-eight years, because of a very disordered life with alcohol abuse since his youth. He/She was buried near the tomb of the also smug sultan Selim III. His brother Abdulaziz succeeded him, but his sons were also sultans: they ruled until the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the Caliphate. Murad V did briefly in 1876; Abdülhamid II from 1876 until his deposition in 1909; Mehmed V between 1909 and 1918, and Mehmed VI, from 1918 to the abolition of the Sultanate in 1920 (would be even Caliph until 1922).

Links on the Internet ; Page with information on the Dolmabahçe Palace (in English). ; Page with a biography of Abdülmecit I (in English).


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SHAW, S.J. History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. 2 vols. (Cambridge, University Press: 1985).