Biography of Abdulhamit II o Abd al-Hamwd. Sultán otomano (1842-1918)

Sultan of Turkey, born in Istanbul on September 21, 1842 and died in the same city on February 10, 1918, which was thirty fourth Ottoman sultan Osman dynasty and occupied the throne between 1876 and 1909. He/She headed an autocratic Government, although it was also the maximum impeller of the Tanzimat (Reorganization) of the Ottoman administration.

It was the second son of the Ottoman sultan Abdülmecit I. It happened in throne on August 31, 1876, his brother Murad V, who had been declared incapable by mental illness by Midhat low. Pressed by this last Abdülhamit was forced to approve the first Ottoman Constitution on December 23, 1876. The Magna Carta, which recognized him as Caliph of all Muslims, established the indivisibility of the Empire, the creation of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, the inviolability of individual freedom and freedom of education. The senators would be appointed directly by the sultan and would have lifetime, while the members of the Chamber of deputies would be elected by secret ballot every four years. The sultan, by means of a decree issued on 10 September, announced the start of the Tanzimat, a name that was known the movement aimed at the reorganization of the Ottoman State.

His reign was characterized by the ongoing clashes with the major foreign powers that, taking advantage of the weakness of his Government, sought to influence the internal politics of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, he/she ordered the killing of Bulgarian rebels, which provoked the indignation of the international powers. In 1877-78 was the second Russo-Turkish war, which put end the unfavorable Treaty of San Stefano, and whose agreements were ratified by the Treaty which was signed at the Congress of Berlin (1878). These two agreements marked the beginning of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. Cyprus was assigned to England, Thessaly and the Aegean to Greece and Albania to Montenegro. This situation was exploited by the sultan to give a twist to your policy, and then began to take reactionary and absolutist court measures to promote a confessional and pan-Islamic policy. In February 1878, he/she suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament and away from Government to Midhat low, who was murdered by order of the sultan in 1883.

The sultan used the panislamismo to consolidate his power. Defender of Islam was proclaimed, and to win the favor of the faithful built the railroad from the Hejaz, linking Anatolia with Medina, in order to facilitate pilgrimages to Mecca. He/She tried to enhance the Muslims who lived in the colonies of the European powers, in order to create these problems within their territories. Fearing for his life, he/she ruled trapped for nearly forty years from his palace of Yildiz in Constantinople, aided by a violent secret police.

He made an approach to Germany, the country that helped to reorganize finances and the Turkish army. The Germans, in compensation, received the concession for the construction of the railway linking Istanbul with Baghdad. Relations between Turkey and Germany have narrowed further in 1899 with a visit to the kaiser Guillermo II to the Ottoman Empire. His reign suffered a severe blow in 1885 when it produced the union of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia.

It gave samples of his cruelty in 1895 when he/she ordered the killings of Armenians. This action earned him the nickname of the "red Sultan". The killing of Christians in Crete in 1897 made to Greece declared war on Turkey. The catastrophic results of the Greco-Turkish war (1897) led to the emergence of the political party of the young Turks, where he/she joined a series of annoying revolutionaries, with the continuous territorial losses. From 1900, he/she promoted a profound educational reform. He/She established numerous vocational schools and founded what later would become the University of Istanbul. Throughout all the Empire created a network of primary, secondary, and military schools. He/She reorganized the Ministry of Justice, and a system of railways and Telegraphs spread throughout the Empire. In 1905, Abdülhamit II suffered an attack which was unharmed when he/she went to the mosque to pray. In 1908 there was the Declaration of independence of Bulgaria and the consummation of the political domain of Austria on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The pressure of the young Turks, who had rebelled in Macedonia, forced him in 1908 to promulgate a Constitution, granting amnesty to exiled politicians and convene again the Turkish Parliament, which was reopened that same year. At the beginning of 1909, he/she promoted a counterrevolution that ended in failure. He/She was forced to abdicate by the National Assembly in April 1909, and replaced by his brother Reshid Effendi, who was crowned with the name of Mohamed V. He/She was forced into exile in Thessaloniki.


HASLIP, J. The Sultan: The Life of Abdul Hamid. (London: 1958).

KANSU, A. The Revolution of 1908 in Turkey. (New York: Leiden, 1997).

MARCOFT, A. Abd-Ul Hamid: the bloody Sultan (1842-1918). (Barcelona. Youth, 1943)

PEARS, E. Life of Abdul-HAmid. (London: 1917).

Internet links ; Biography and details of his reign.; Page about the Ottoman Empire.