Abdul Hamid II (Ottoman Turkish: عبد الحميد ثانی, `Abdü’l-Ḥamīd-i sânî;Turkish: İkinci Abdülhamit; 21 September 1842 – 10 February 1918) was the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the last Sultan to exert effective autocratic control over the fracturing state. He oversaw aperiod of decline in the power and extent of the Ottoman Empire, including widespread pogroms and government-sanctioned massacres of Armenians and Bulgarians, as well as an assassination attempt, ruling from 31 August 1876 until he was deposed shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, on 27 April 1909. In accordance with an agreement made with the republican Young Ottomans, he promulgated the first Ottoman constitution of 1876 on 23 December 1876, which was a sign of progressive thinking that marked his early rule.
Soon, however, he claimed Western influence on Ottoman affairs and citing disagreements with Parliament, Abdul Hamid suspended both the short-lived constitution and Parliament in 1878 and seized absolute power, ending the first constitutional era of the Ottoman Empire. Abdul Hamid's 1909 removal from the throne was hailed by most Ottoman citizens, who welcomed the return to constitutional rule after three decades.
Despite his conservatism and despotic rule, some modernization of the Ottoman Empire occurred during Abdul Hamid's long reign, including reform of the bureaucracy, the extension of the Rumelia Railway andAnatolia Railway and the construction of the Baghdad Railway and Hejaz Railway, the establishment of a system for population registration and control over the press and the founding of the first modern law school in 1898. The most far-reaching of these reforms were in education: professional schools were established. The University of Istanbul, although shut down by Abdul Hamid himself in 1881, was reopened in 1900, and a network of secondary, primary, and military schools was extended throughout the empire. Railway and telegraph systems were developed by primarily German firms. Between 1871 and 1908, theSublime Porte thus "reached a new degree of organizational elaboration and articulation."
Abroad, Abdul Hamid was nicknamed the Red Sultan or Abdul the Damned due to the massacres committed against minorities during his rule and use of a secret police to silence dissent and republicanism.These led to an assassination attempt in 1905, contributing to the sultan's worsening paranoia until his eventual removal from the throne.
Abdul Hamid II was born at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul (Constantinople), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, on 21 September 1842. He was the son of Sultan Abdülmecid and Tirimüjgan Kadınefendi (Circassia, 16 August 1819 –Beylerbeyi Palace, 2 November 1853), originally named Virjin. After the death of his mother, he later became the adoptive son of his father's wife,Valide Sultan Rahime Perestu. He was a skilled carpenter and personally crafted some high quality furniture, which can be seen today at the Yıldız Palace, Sale Kosku and Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. Abdul Hamid II was also interested in opera and personally wrote the first-ever Turkish translations of many opera classics.
He also composed several opera pieces for the Mızıka-yı Hümâyun (Ottoman Imperial Band/Orchestra, which was established by his grandfather Mahmud II who had appointed Donizetti Pasha as its Instructor General in 1828), and hosted the famous performers of Europe at the Opera House of Yıldız Palace, which was restored in the 1990s and featured in the filmHarem Suare (1999) of the Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Özpetek (the film begins with the scene of Abdul Hamid II watching a performance.) Unlike many other Ottoman sultans, Abdul Hamid II traveled to distant countries. Nine years before he took the throne, he accompanied his uncle Sultan Abdülaziz on his visit to Paris (30 June – 10 July 1867), London (12–23 July 1867), Vienna (28–30 July 1867) and the capitals or cities of a number of other European countries in the summer of 1867 (they departed from Istanbul on 21 June 1867 and returned on 7 August 1867).
Accession to throne
He ascended to the throne following the deposition of his brother Murad on 31 August 1876. At his accession, some commentators were impressed by the fact that he rode practically unattended to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque where he was given the Sword of Osman. Most people expected Abdul Hamid II to have liberal ideas, and some conservatives were inclined to regard him with suspicion as a dangerous reformer.
First Constitutional Era, 1876–1878
He did not plan and express any goal in his accession speech, however he worked with the Young Ottomans to realize some form of constitutional arrangementsThis new form in its theoretical space could help to realize a liberal transition with Islamic arguments, which could balance the Tanzimat's imitation of western norms. The political structure of western norms did not work with the centuries-old Ottoman political culture, even if the pressure from the Western world was enormous to adapt western ways of political decision. On 23 December 1876, under the shadow of the 1875 insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the war withSerbia and Montenegro and the feeling aroused throughout Europe by the cruelty used in stamping out the Bulgarian rebellion, he promulgated the constitution and its parliament.
The international Constantinople Conference which met at Constantinopletowards the end of 1876 was surprised by the promulgation of a constitution, but European powers at the conference rejected the constitution as a significant change; they preferred the 1856 constitution, the Hatt-ı Hümayun and 1839Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane, but questioned whether there was need for a parliament to act as an official voice of the people.
In any event, like many other would-be reforms of the Ottoman Empire change proved to be nearly impossible. Russia continued to mobilize for war. However, everything changed when the British fleet approached the capital from the Sea of Marmara. Early in 1877 the Ottoman Empire went to war with the Russian Empire.
Abdul Hamid's biggest fear, near dissolution, was realised with the Russian declaration of war on 24 April 1877. In that conflict, the Ottoman Empire fought without help from European allies. Russian chancellor Prince Gorchakov had effectively purchased Austrian neutrality with the Reichstadt Agreement. The British Empire, though still fearing the Russian threat to British dominance in Southern Asia, did not involve itself in the conflict because of public opinion against the Ottomans, following reports of Ottoman brutality in putting down the Bulgarian uprising. The Russian victory was quickly realised. The conflict ended in February 1878. The Treaty of San Stefano, signed at the end of the war, imposed harsh terms: the Ottoman Empire gave independence to Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro; it granted autonomy to Bulgaria; instituted reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and ceded parts of Dobrudzha to Romania and parts of Armenia to Russia, which was also paid an enormous indemnity. After the war with Russia, Abdulhamid suspended the constitution in February 1878, and he also dismissed the parliament after its solitary meeting in March 1877. For the next three decades, the Ottoman Empire was ruled by Abdulhamid from Yıldız Palace.
As Russia could dominate the newly independent states, her influence in South-eastern Europe was greatly increased by the Treaty of San Stefano. Due to the insistence of the Great Powers (especially the United Kingdom), the treaty was later revised at the Congress of Berlin so as to reduce the great advantages acquired by Russia. In exchange of these favours, Cyprus was "rented" to Britain in 1878. There were troubles in Egypt, where a discredited khedive had to be deposed. Abdul Hamid mishandled relations with Urabi Pasha, and as a result Great Britain gained virtual control over Egypt and Sudan by sending its troops in 1882 with the pretext of "bringing order" to those provinces. Cyprus, Egypt and Sudan remained as Ottoman provinces "on paper" until 1914, when Britain officially annexed those territories in response to the Ottoman participation in World War I on the side of theCentral Powers.
There were key problems regarding the Albanian question resulting from the Albanian League of Prizren and with theGreek and Montenegrin frontiers where the European powers were determined that the decisions of the Berlin Congress should be carried into effect.
The union in 1885 of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia was another blow. The creation of an independent and powerful Bulgaria was viewed as a serious threat to the Ottoman Empire. For many years Abdul Hamid had to deal with Bulgaria in a way that did not antagonise either Russian or German wishes.
Crete was granted extended privileges, but these did not satisfy the population, which sought unification with Greece. In early 1897 a Greek expedition sailed to Crete to overthrow Ottoman rule on the island. This act was followed by war, in which the Ottoman Empire defeated Greece (see the Greco-Turkish War (1897)); however as a result of the Treaty of Constantinople, Crete was taken over en depot by the United Kingdom, France, and Russia. Prince George of Greecewas appointed as ruler and Crete was effectively lost to the Ottoman Empire. The ʿAmmiyya, a revolt in 1889–90 among Druze and other Syrians against excesses of the local sheikhs, similarly led to capitulation to the rebels' demands, as well as concessions to Belgian and French companies to provide the area with rail service.
Starting around 1890, Armenians began demanding the implementation of the reforms which were promised to them at the Berlin conference. To prevent such measures, in 1890-91, Sultan Abdul Hamid gave semi-official status to the Kurdish bandits who were already actively maltreating the Armenians in the provinces. Made up of Kurds (as well as other ethnic groups such as Turcomans), and armed by the state, they came to be called the Hamidiye Alaylari("Hamidian Regiments"). The Hamidiye and Kurdish brigands were given free rein to attack Armenians, confiscating stores of grain, foodstuffs, and driving off livestock, and confident of escaping punishment as they were subject only to courts martial. In the face of such violence, the Armenians established revolutionary organizations, namely the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (Hunchak; founded in Switzerland in 1887) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation(the ARF or Dashnaktsutiun, founded in 1890 in Tiflis). Clashes ensued and unrest occurred in 1892 at Merzifon and in 1893 at Tokat. Abdul Hamid II did not hesitate to put down these revolts with harsh methods, possibly to show the unshakable power of the monarch, while using the local Muslims (in most cases Kurds) against the Armenians. As a result of such violence, 300,000 Armenians were killed in what became known as the Hamidian massacres. News of the Armenian massacres were widely reported in Europe and the United States and drew strong responses from foreign governments and humanitarian organizations alike.
Hence, Abdul Hamid II was referred to as the "Bloody Sultan" or "Red Sultan" in the West. On 21 July 1905, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation attempted to assassinate him with a car bombing during a public appearance, but the Sultan was delayed for a minute and the bomb went off early, killing 26, wounding 58 (of which four died at hospital) and demolishing 17 cars in the process. This continued aggression, along with the handling of the Armenian desire for reforms, led to the western European powers taking a more hands-on approach with the Turks.
America and the Philippines
Sultan Abdul Hamid II, after being approached by American minister to Turkey, Oscar Straus, sent a letter to the Moros of the Sulu Sultanate telling them not to resist American takeover and cooperate with the Americans at the start of theMoro Rebellion. The Sulu Moros complied with the order.
John Hay, the American Secretary of State, asked the Jewish American ambassador to Ottoman Turkey, Oscar Strausin 1889 to approach Sultan Abdul Hamid II to request that the Sultan write a letter to the Moro Sulu Muslims of the Sulu Sultanate in the Philippines telling them to submit to American suzerainty and American military rule, the Sultan obliged them and wrote the letter which was sent to Sulu via Mecca where 2 Sulu chiefs brought it home to Sulu and it was successful, since the Sulu Mohammedans ... refused to join the insurrectionists and had placed themselves under the control of our army, thereby recognizing American sovereignty. The Ottoman Sultan used his position as caliph to order the Sulu Sultan not to resist and not fight the Americans when they came subjected to American control.President McKinley did not mention Turkey's role in the pacification of the Sulu Moros in his address to the first session of the Fifty-sixth Congress in December 1899 since the agreement with the Sultan of Sulu was not submitted to the Senate until December 18. Despite Sultan Abdulhamid's "pan-Islamic" ideology, he readily acceded to Oscar S. Straus' request for help in telling the Sulu Muslims to not resist America since he felt no need to cause hostilities between the West and Muslims. Collaboration between the American military and Sulu sultanate was due to the Sulu Sultan being persuaded by the Ottoman Sultan. John P. Finley wrote that: After due consideration of these facts, the Sultan, as Caliph caused a message to be sent to the Mohammedans of the Philippine Islands forbidding them to enter into any hostilities against the Americans, inasmuch as no interference with their religion would be allowed under American rule. As the Moros have never asked more than that, it is not surprising, that they refused all overtures made, by Aguinaldo's agents, at the time of the Filipino insurrection.
President McKinley sent a personal letter of thanks to Mr. Straus for the excellent work he had done, and said, its accomplishment had saved the United States at least twenty thousand troops in the field. If the reader will pause to consider what this means in men and also the millions in money, he will appreciate this wonderful piece of diplomacy, in averting a holy war. Abdulhamid in his position as Caliph was approached by the Americans to help them deal with Muslims during their war in the Philippines and the Muslim people of the area obeyed the order to help the Americans which was sent by Abdulhamid.
The Bates Treaty the Americans had sign with the Moro Sulu Sultanate which guaranteed the Sultanate's autonomy in its internal affairs and governance was then violated by the Americans who then invaded Moroland, causing theMoro Rebellion to break out in 1904 with war raging between the Americans and Moro Muslims and atrocities committed against Moro Muslim women and children such as the Moro Crater Massacre.
Securing Germany's support
The Triple Entente – that is, the United Kingdom, France and Russia – maintained strained relations with the Ottoman Empire. Abdul Hamid and his close advisors believed the empire should be treated as an equal player by these great powers. In the Sultan's view, the Ottoman Empire was a European empire, distinct for having more Muslims than Christians. Abdul Hamid and his divan viewed themselves as modern. However, their actions were often construed by Europeans as exotic or uncivilized.
Over time their perceived aggression by France (the occupation of Tunisia in 1881) and Great Britain (the 1882 power grab in Egypt) caused Abdul Hamid to gravitate towards Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II was twice hosted by Abdul Hamid in Constantinople; first on 21 October 1889, and nine years later, on 5 October 1898. (Wilhelm II later visited Constantinople for a third time, on 15 October 1917, as a guest of Mehmed V). German officers (like Baron von der Goltz and Bodo-Borries von Ditfurth) were employed to oversee the organisation of the Ottoman army.
German government officials were brought in to reorganise the Ottoman government's finances. Abdul Hamid tried to take more of the reins of power into his own hands, for he mistrusted his ministers. Germany's friendship was not altruistic; it had to be fostered with railway and loan concessions. In 1899, a significant German desire, the construction of a Berlin-Baghdad railway, was granted.
Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany also requested the Sultan's help when having trouble with Chinese Muslim troops. During the Boxer Rebellion, the Chinese Muslim Kansu Braves fought against the German Army, routing them, along with the other Eight Nation Alliance forces. The Muslim Kansu Braves and Boxers defeated the Alliance forces led by the German Captain von Usedom at the Battle of Langfang in the Seymour Expedition in 1900 and besieged the trapped Alliance forces during the Siege of the International Legations. It was only on the second attempt in the Gasalee Expedition, that the Alliance forces managed to get through to battle the Chinese Muslim troops at the Battle of Peking. Kaiser Wilhelm was so alarmed by the Chinese Muslim troops that he requested that Abdul Hamid find a way to stop the Muslim troops from fighting. Abdul Hamid agreed to the Kaiser's demands and sent Enver Pasha to China in 1901, but the rebellion was over by that time. Because the Ottomans did not want conflict against the European nations and because Germany was being brown nosed for assistance by the Ottoman Empire, an order imploring Chinese Muslims to avoid assisting the Boxers was issued by the Ottoman Khalifa and reprinted in Egyptian and Indian Muslim newspapers in spite of the fact that the predicament the British found themselves in the Boxer Rebellion was gratifying to Indian Muslims and Egyptians.
Second Constitutional Era, 1908
The national humiliation of the situation in Macedonia, together with the resentment in the army against thepalace spies and informers, at last brought matters to a crisis.
In the summer of 1908, the Young Turk Revolution broke out and Abdul Hamid, upon learning that the troops inSalonica were marching on Constantinople (23 July), at once capitulated. On 24 July an iradeannounced the restoration of the suspended constitution of 1876; the next day, further irades abolished espionage and censorship, and ordered the release of political prisoners.
On 17 December, Abdul Hamid opened the Ottoman parliament with a speech from the throne in which he said that the first parliament had been "temporarily dissolved until the education of the people had been brought to a sufficiently high level by the extension of instruction throughout the empire."
The new attitude of the sultan did not save him from the suspicion of intriguing with the powerful reactionary elements in the state, a suspicion confirmed by his attitude towards the counter-revolution of 13 April 1909 known as the 31 March Incident, when an insurrection of the soldiers backed by a conservative upheaval in some parts of the military in the capital overthrew the new Young Turks' cabinet. The government, restored by soldiers from Salonica, decided on Abdul Hamid's deposition, and on 27 April his brother Reshad Efendi was proclaimed as Sultan Mehmed V.
The Sultan's countercoup, which had appealed to conservative Islamists against the Young Turks' liberal reforms, resulted in the massacre of tens of thousands of Christian Armenians in the Adana province.
Deposition and aftermath
The ex-sultan was conveyed into dignified captivity at Salonica. In 1912, when Salonica fell to Greece, he was returned to captivity in Constantinople. He spent his last days studying, carpentering and writing his memoirs in custody atBeylerbeyi Palace in the Bosphorus, where he died on 10 February 1918, just a few months before his brother, the Sultan. He was buried in Constantinople. Abdul Hamid was the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to hold absolute power. He presided over 33 years of decline. The Ottoman Empire had long been acknowledged as the "sick man of Europe" by other European countries.
Abdul Hamid was paranoid about his security. The memory of the deposition of Abdul Aziz I was on his mind and convinced him that a constitutional government was not a good idea. Because of this, information was tightly controlled and the press was tightly censored. The curriculum of schools was subject to close inspection to prevent dissidence. Ironically, the schools that Abdul Hamid tried to control became "breeding grounds of discontent" as students and teachers alike chafed at the clumsy restrictions of the censors.
Abdul Hamid’s reign also had a fully functioning state spy system. These spies greatly impeded the operation of the state administration as officials were constantly concerned that a false report would be filed against them. In Spies, Scandals and Sultans, by Ibrahim Al-Muwaylihi, it is recounted how spies were operating all across Constantinople and that even the Shaykh al-Islam was paralyzed with fear of these spies. Additionally, al-Muwaylihi described how many spies followed the carriage of the Crown Prince. Overall, these spies hampered the functioning of the state and potential reform ideas as people were afraid of being reported.
As he got older, Abdul Hamid became increasingly isolated and paranoid. He was afraid of having any organisation or individual impinge on his level of power. In response to this fear, he began underfunding the army and further restricting political and civil rights, helping to spark the Young Turk Revolution (initiated by the Third Army) in 1908.
Political decisions and reforms
Most people expected Abdul Hamid II to have liberal ideas, and some conservatives were inclined to regard him with suspicion as a dangerous reformer. However, despite working with the reformist Young Ottomans while still a crown prince and appearing as a liberal leader, he became increasingly conservative immediately after taking the throne. Default in the public funds, an empty treasury, the 1875 insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the war withSerbia and Montenegro, and the feeling aroused throughout Europe by the Abdul Hamid government's cruelty in stamping out the Bulgarian rebellion all contributed to his apprehension for enacting significant changes.
There were many further setbacks. Financial embarrassments forced him to consent to foreign control over the Ottoman national debt. In a decree issued in December 1881, a large portion of the empire's revenues were handed over to thePublic Debt Administration for the benefit of (mostly foreign) bondholders.
Over the years, Abdul Hamid succeeded in reducing his ministers to the position of secretaries, and he concentrated much of the Empire's administration into his own hands at Yıldız Palace. However, internal dissension was not reduced. Crete was constantly in turmoil. The Greeks living within the Ottoman Empire's borders were dissatisfied, along with the Armenians.
Abdul Hamid's distrust for the reformist admirals of the Ottoman Navy (whom he suspected of plotting against him and trying to bring back the 1876 constitution) and his subsequent decision to lock the Ottoman fleet (which ranked as the 3rd largest fleet in the world during the reign of his predecessor Abdülaziz) inside theGolden Horn caused the loss of Ottoman overseas territories and islands in North Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea during and after his reign.
His push for education resulted in the establishment of 18 professional schools, and in 1900, Darulfunun, aka the University of Istanbul, was established. He also created a large system of secondary, primary, and military schools throughout the empire. 51 secondary schools were constructed in a 12-year period (1882–1894). As the goal of the educational reforms in the Hamidian era were to counter foreign influence, these secondary schools utilized European teaching techniques, yet instilled within students a strong sense of Ottoman identity, "Islamic morality", and loyalty to the sultan. The primary goal of these educational reforms was to Ottoman-ize the education system and thereby the student citizenry.
Abdul Hamid also reorganized the Ministry of Justice and developed rail and telegraph systems. The telegraph system expanded to incorporate the furthest parts of Empire. Railways connected Istanbul and Vienna by 1883, and shortly afterwards the Orient Express connected Paris to Istanbul. During his rule, railways within the Ottoman Empire expanded to connect Ottoman-controlled Europe and Anatolia with Istanbul as well. The increased ability to travel and communicate within the Ottoman Empire served to strengthen Istanbul's influence over the rest of the Empire.
Question of Islam
Abdul Hamid believed that the ideas of Tanzimat could not bring the disparate peoples of the empire to a common identity, such as Ottomanism. He tried to formulate a new ideological principle, Pan-Islamism; since Ottoman sultans beginning with 1517 were also nominally Caliphs, he wanted to promote that fact and emphasized the Ottoman Caliphate.
Abdul Hamid usually resisted the pressure of the European powers to the last moment, in order to seem to yield only to overwhelming force and to appear as the champion of Islam against aggressive Christendom. Pan-Islamism was encouraged; the privileges of foreigners in the Ottoman Empire, which were often seen as an obstacle to effective government, were curtailed. Along with the strategically important Constantinople-Baghdad Railway, theConstantinople-Medina Railway was also completed, making the trip to Mecca for Hajj more efficient. Missionaries were sent to distant countries preaching Islam and the Caliph's supremacy. During his rule, Abdul Hamid refused Theodor Herzl's offers to pay down a substantial portion of the Ottoman debt (150 million pounds sterling in gold) in exchange for a charter allowing the Zionists to settle in Palestine. He is famously quoted with telling Herzel's emissary "as long as I am alive, I will not have our body divided, only our corpse they can divide."
Abdul Hamid's appeals to Muslim sentiment were not very effective due to widespread disaffection within the Empire. InMesopotamia and Yemen disturbance was endemic; nearer home, a semblance of loyalty was maintained in the army and among the Muslim population only by a system of deflation and espionage. After his rule began, Abdul Hamid became fearful of being assassinated and withdrew himself into the fortified seclusion of the Yıldız Palace.
Photographs of the Ottoman Empire
Fearful of assassination, Abdul Hamid II did not travel often (though still more than many previous rulers). Photographs provided visual evidence of what was taking place in his realm. He commissioned thousands of photographs of his empire including from the Constantinople studio of Jean Pascal Sébah. The Sultan presented large gift albums of photographs to various governments and heads of state, including the United States and Great Britain. The American collection is housed in the Library of Congress and has been digitized.
Abdul Hamid II was born at Çırağan Palace, Ortaköy, or at Topkapı Palace, both in Constantinople, the son of Sultan Abdülmecid I and one of his many wives, Tîr-î-Müjgan Sultan, (Circassia, 16 August 1819 – Constantinople, Feriye Palace, 2 November 1853). He later also became the adoptive son of another of his father's wives, Valide Sultan Rahime Perestu. He was a skilled carpenter and personally crafted most of his own furniture, which can be seen today at the Yıldız Palace and Beylerbeyi Palace in Constantinople. Abdul Hamid II was also interested in opera and personally wrote the first-ever Turkish translations of many opera classics. He also composed several opera pieces for the Mızıka-ı Hümayunwhich he established, and hosted the famous performers of Europe at the Opera House of Yıldız Palace which was recently restored and featured in the film Harem Suare (1999) of the Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Özpetek, which begins with the scene of Abdul Hamid II watching a performance. He was also a fan of the actressSarah Bernhardt, and he brought her to his private theatre on numerous occasions.
In the opinion of F. A. K. Yasamee:
He was a striking amalgam of determination and timidity, of insight and fantasy, held together by immense practical caution and an instinct for the fundamentals of power. He was frequently underestimated. Judged on his record, he was a formidable domestic politician and an effective diplomat
He was also a good wrestler of Yağlı güreş and a 'patron saint' of the wrestlers. He organised wrestling tournaments in the empire and selected wrestlers were invited to the palace. Abdul Hamid personally tried the sportsmen and good ones remained in the palace.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II was a practitioner of traditional Islamic spirituality. He was influenced by Libyan Shadhili Madani sheikh, Muhammad Zafir al-Madani whose lessons he would attend in disguise in Unkapani before he became Sultan. Abdul Hamid II asked Sheikh al-Madani to return to Istanbul after he ascended the throne. The sheikh initiated Shadhili gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) in the newly commissioned Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque; on Thursday evenings he would accompany Sufi masters in reciting dhikr. He also became a close religious and political confidant of the Sultan. In 1879 the Sultan excused the taxes of all of the Caliphate's Madani Sufi lodges (also known as zawiyas and tekkes). In 1888, he even established a Sufi lodge for the Madani order of Shadhili Sufism in Istanbul, which he commissioned as part of the Ertuğrul Tekke mosque. The relationship of the Sultan and the sheikh lasted for thirty years until the latter's death in 1903.
First marriage and issue
He married first at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1863 to Abkhazian Nazikeda Kadın (c. 1850 – Yıldız Palace, Constantinople, 11 April 1895), daughter of Prince Arzakan Bey Tsanba by his wife Princess Esma Klıç, and had:
• Princess Ulviye Sultan (1868 – 5 October 1875)
Second marriage and issue
He married second at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in October 1868 and divorced on 26 July 1879 to CircassianNurefsun Kadın (c. 1851 – 1915), alias Safunaz, née Ayşe Şermat, daughter of Selim Bey Şermat by his wife Princess Rebiye Hanım.
Third marriage and issue
He married third at Istanbul on 15 November 1868 to Natukhai Bedrifelek Kadın (Poti, 4 January 1851 – Constantinople,Yıldız Palace, 6 February 1930), née Hatice Karzeg, daughter of Prince Mehmed Bey Karzeg by his wife Princess Faruhan Hanım İnal-lpa, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Selim Osmanoğlu Efendi Constantinople, Beşiktaş, Beşiktaş Palace (11 January 1870 –Beirut, 4 May 1937 and buried in Damascus), married at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 4 June 1886 toAbkhazian Eryale Hanım (Sukhumi, Abkhazia, 10 February 1870 – Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 27 December 1904), daughter Prince Ali Hasan Bey Marshania by his wife Princess Fatma Horecan Aredba, and had a son and a daughter, married secondly at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, Eflakyar Hanım, (Batumi, Georgia, ? – Beirut, 1930), daughter of Gazi Muhammed Bey, without issue, married thirdly Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 30 June 1905 to Nilüfer Hanım (Artvin, 1 May 1887 – 23 August 1943) married fourthly at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 29 March 1910 to Pervin Dürrüyekta Hanım (Adapazarı, 6 June 1894 – Lebanon, 1969 and buried there), daughter of Prince Zekeriya Bey Karzeg by his wife Şadiye Hanım, married fifthly at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace to Gülnaz Hanım (? – ?), without issue, married sixthly at Sivas on 16 September 1918 to Dilistan Leman Hanım (? – Beirut, Lebanon, 1 February 1951 and buried there), daughter of Osman Bey, an Abkhazian, by his wife Mevlüde Hanım, without issue:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Efendi (26 April 1887 – 1890)
• Princess Emine Nemika Esin Sultan (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 26 April 1887 – Istanbul, 6 September 1969), married and have issue
• Prince Şehzade Abdul Kerim Efendi (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 26 June 1906 – New York City, 3 August 1935), married at Aleppo on 24 February 1930 and divorced in 1931 Nimet Hanım (Damascus, 25 December 1911 – Damascus, 4 August 1981), and had two sons:
• Prince Şehzade Dündar Aliosman Efendi (born Damascus, 30 December 1930), married to Yüsra Hanım (born 1927), without issue
• Prince Şehzade Harun Osmanoğlu Efendi (born Damascus, 10 February 1932), married to Farizet Darvich Hanım (born 1947), and had:
• Prince Şehzade Orhan Osmanoğlu Efendi (born Damascus, 25 August 1963), married on 22 December 1985 to Nuran Yıldız Hanım (born 1967), and had one son and four daughters:
• Princess Nilhan Osmanoğlu Sultan (born Istanbul, 25 April 1987)
• Prince Şehzade Yavuz Selim Osmanoğlu Efendi (born Istanbul, 22 February 1989)
• Princess Nilüfer Osmanoğlu Sultan (born Istanbul, 5 May 1995), married in Istanbul on 22 September 2012 Damat Mehmet Behlül Vatansever and got Issue:
• Princess Hanzade Vatanserver Hanımsultan (born 2013)
• Prince Sultanzade Vahdettin Vatanserver (born 2014)
• Princess Berna Osmanoğlu Sultan (born Istanbul, 1 October 1998)
• Princess Asyahan Osmanoğlu Sultan (born Istanbul, ... ... 2004)
• Princess Nurhan Osmanoğlu Sultan (born Damascus, 20 November 1973), married firstly in Istanbul on 15 April 1994 and divorced HE Damat Samir Hashem Beyefendi (born 24 January 1959), without issue, and married secondly to HE Damat Muhammed Ammar Sagherji Beyefendi (born 1972), and had one son and one daughter:
• Prince Sultanzade Muhammed Halil Sagherji Beyefendi (born 2002)
• Princess Sara Sagherji Hanımsultan (born 2004)
• Prince Şehzade Abdulhamid Kayıhan Osmanoğlu Efendi (born 4 August 1979)
• Prince Şehzade Muhammed Harun Osmanoğlu Efendi (born 2007)
• Prince Şehzade Abdülaziz Osmanoğlu (2016)
• Princess Zekiye Sultan (Dolmabahçe Palace, 21 January 1872 – Pau, 13 July 1950 and buried there), married atConstantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 20 April 1889 to HE Damat Ali Nureddin Pasha Beyefendi (1867–1953), createdDamat in 1889, and had issue:
• Princess Ulviye Shükriye Hanımsultan (1890 – 23 February 1893)
• Princess Fatima Aliye Hanımsultan (1891 – Constantinople, 14 April 1972), married in 1911 Mehmed Muhsin Yegen and got Issue:
• Osman Yegen (1913–1988) married Yvonne Rosenberg, without Issue
• Salih Yegen (1921–1994) married Ülkü Becan and got Issue:
• Fatma Yasemin Yegen (born 1973) married Hakan Baris
• Muhsin Osman Yegen (born 1977)
• Prince Şehzade Ahmed Nuri Efendi (Istanbul, Yıldız Palace, 11 February 1878 – Nice, August 1944), married firstly at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, in 1900 to Fahriye Hanım (Constantinople, 1883 – Nice, 1940 and buried inDamascus), daughter of a Circassian Bey, lieutenant colonel in the Imperial Ottoman Army, without issue, married secondly at Constantinople, Raşel Hanım, a Jewish lady from Istanbul, without issue.
Fourth marriage and issue
He married fourth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 2 September 1875 to Kabardian Bidar Kadın (Caucasus, 5 May 1858 – Erenköy, Asia Minor, 1 January 1918), daughter of Prince Ibrahim Bey Talustan by his wife Princess Şahika İffet Hanım Lortkipanidze, and had:
• Princess Fatma Naime Sultan (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 4 September 1875 – Tirana, 1945), married atIstanbul, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, on 17 March 1898 and divorced in 1904 HE Damat Mehmed Kemaleddin PashaBeyefendi (1869–1920), created Damat in 1898, title removed on his divorce in 1904, married seconldy on 11 July 1907 Mahmud Celaleddin (1874–1944), and had:
• Prince Beyzade Mehmed Cahid Osman Beyefendi (Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, January 1899 –Istanbul, 30 March 1977 and buried there), married firstly in January 1922 to his cousin Princess Dürriye Sultan (Constantinople, Dolmabahçe Palace, 3 August 1905 – Halki, 15 July 1922), without issue, and married secondly to Levrens Hadjer Hussein Hanım, and had issue:
• Bulent Osman Bey (born Nice, 2 May 1930), married at Libreville on 8 November 1962 to French Jeannine Crété, and had issue:
• Rémy Gengiz Ossmann (born 1963), married on 16 November 19?? to Florence Weber, and had issue:
• Sélim Ossmann (born 1993)
• Princess Adile Hanımsultan (Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 12 November 1900 – February 1979), married at Üsküdar on 4 May 1922 and divorced in 1928 her cousin Prince Şehzade Mahmud Sevket Efendi (Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 20 July 1903 – 1 February 1973), excluded from the Imperial House in 1931
• Princess Emine Hanımsultan (Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 1911 -2000, married and had issue
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Abdul Kadir Efendi (Constantinople, Beşiktaş, Dolmabahçe Palace, 16 January 1878 –Sofia, January or 16 March 1944 and buried there), Captain of the Ottoman Army, married firstly at Constantinople,Yıldız Palace, in 1898, to Mislimelek Hanım, née Pakize Marşania, daughter of Prince Abdülkadir Bey Maşan by his wife Princess Mevlüde Hanım İnalipa, married secondly at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, and divorced, to Sühendan Hanım (Tokat, ? - ?), married thirdly at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 6 June 1907 to Mihriban Hanım (Constantinople, 18 May 1890 – Cairo, 1956) and had one son, married fourthly at Kızıltoprak, Asia Minor, on 1 June 1913 and divorced in 1934 to Hadice Macide Hanım (Adapazarı, 14 September 1899 – Vienna, 1934 and buried there), daughter of Mustafa Şerif Bey, Colonel in the Imperial Ottoman Army, and had one son, married fifthly at Kızıltoprak, Asia Minor, on 5 February 1916 to Meziyet Fatma Hanım (İzmit, 17 February 1902 – Istanbul, 13 November 1989), daughter of Mecid Bey, Colonel in the Imperial Ottoman Army, and had one son and two daughters, and married sixthly in Budapest on 4 July 1924 to Irene Mer Hanım, and had one son:
• [Mehmed] Orhan II
• Prince Şehzade Ertughrul Necib Ali Efendi (Kızıltoprak, Asia Minor, 15 March 1915 – Vienna, 7 February 1994), married in Vienna on 14 August 1946 to Austrian Gertrude Emilia Tengler Hanım (Vienna, born 25 May 1926), and had issue:
• Princess Margot Leyla Kadir Sultan (born Vienna, 17 June 1947), married to Austrian HE Damat Werner Schnelle Beyefendi (born 1942), and had one daughter:
• Princess Katharina Alia Schnelle Hanımsultan (born 1980)
• Prince Şehzade Roland Selim Kadir Efendi (born Vienna, 5 May 1949), married in Salzburg in 1972 to Gerlinde ... Hanım (born 1946), and had issue:
• Prince Şehzade René Osman Abdul Kadir Efendi (born Salzburg, 23 August 1975)
• Prince Şehzade Daniel Adrian Hamid Kadir Efendi (born 20 September 1977)
• Prince Şehzade Alaeddin Kadir Efendi (Kızıltoprak, Asia Minor, 2 January 1917 – Sofia, 26 November 1999), Titular Crown Prince of Turkey from 1994 to 1999, married to Lydia Dimitrova Hanımefendi, and had issue:
• Princess Iskra Sultan (born Sofia, 1949), married to Austrian HE Damat Joachim (Peter) Schlang Beyefendi (born 1940), and had one daughter:
• Princess Andrea Schlang Hanımsultan (born 1974), married to Austrian Thomas Schüttfort (born 1972), and had one son:
• Niklas Peter Schüttfort (born 1999)
• Prince Şehzade Plamen Eendi (born Sofia, 1960) - died 1995 Sofia)
• Princess Biydâr Sultan (Kızıltoprak, Asia Minor, 3 January 1924 – Budapest, August 1924 and buried there)
• Princess Safvet Neslişah Sultan (born Budapest, 25 December 1925), married to HE Damat ... Reda Beyefendi, and had two sons:
• Prince Sultanzade Salih Reda Beyefendi (born 1955), unmarried and without issue
• Prince Sultanzade Ömer Reda Beyefendi (born 1959), married to Ceylan Fethiye Palay (born 1971), and had two daughters:
• Meziyet Dilara Reda Hanım (born 1998)
• Neslişah Reda Hanım (born 2000)
• Prince Şehzade Osman Efendi (Budapest, 1925 – Budapest, 1934)
Fifth marriage and issue
He married fifth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 10 April 1883 to Georgian Dilpesend Kadın (Tbilisi, 16 January 1865 – Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 5 October 1903), adoptive daughter of Tiryal Hanımefendi wife of Sultan Mahmud II, had:
• Princess Naile Sultan (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 9 January 1884 – Erenköy, Asia Minor, 25 October 1957), married at the Kurucheshme Palace, 27 February 1905, to HH Damat Arif Hikmat Pasha Germiyanoglu (Prizrin, 16 December 1872 – Beirut, 23 April 1942), sometime Senator and Minister for Justice, third son of HH Haji Abdurrahman Nureddin Pasha, sometime Grand Vizier.
Sixth marriage and issue
He married sixth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 2 January 1885 to Abkhazian Mezide Mestan Kadın (Ganja, 3 March 1869 – Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 21 January 1909), daughter of Kaymat Bey Mikanba by his wife Princess Feryal Hanım Marşania, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Burhaneddin Efendi (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 19 December 1885 – New York City, 15 June 1949 and buried in Damascus), Captain of the Ottoman Army, Titular King of Albania in 1914, married firstly in 1908 Hidayet Hanım, alias Nurbanu, née Emine Açba, daughter of Prince Mehmed Refik Bey Açba by his wife Princess Emine Mahşeref Hanım Emuhvari, and had a son, married secondly at Nişantaşı Palace, Pera (todayBeyoğlu), on 7 June 1909 and divorced in 1919 Aliyemelek Nazlıyar Hanım (Adapazarı, 13 October 1892 – Ankara, 31 August 1976), daughter of Huseyin Bey, educated at Theresian Military Academy, Vienna, and École des Sciences Politiques, Paris, and had a son, married thirdly in Paris on 29 April 1925 and divorced in 1925 DutchGeorgina Leonora Barnard Mosselmans (Bergen op Zoom, 23 August 1900 – 1969), daughter of Richard Frederick Hendrik Mosselmans and wife (who married secondly on 1 March 1926 to Fernand Comte Bertier de Sauvigny and thirdly on 18 August 1933 to Lord Sholto George Douglas (7 June 1872 – 6 April 1942), former husband of Loretta Mooney and son of the 9th Marquess of Queensberry), and married fourthly in London, Middlesex, on 3 July 1933 to Elsie Deming Jackson (New York City, 6 September 1879 – New York City, 12 May 1952):
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Fahreddin Efendi (Nişantaşı, Nişantaşı Palace, Pera (today Beyoğlu), 26 November 1911 – New York City, 13 July 1968), who married in Paris on 31 August 1933 Greek Catherine Papadopoulos Hanım (Paris, 20 May 1914 – Athens, 15 June 1945), marriage not recognized by the Imperial House, without issue
• Ertuğrul Osman V
Seventh marriage and issue
He married seventh at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 20 November 1885 to Abkhazian Emsalinur Kadın (Tbilisi, 2 January 1866 – Nişantaşı, 1950, buried in Yahya Efendi Mosque), daughter of Ömer Bey Kaya by his wife Selime Hanım, and had:
• Princess Şadiye Sultan (Istanbul, Yıldız Palace, 30 November 1886 – 20 November 1977), married firstly at Istanbul, Nishantashi Palace on 3 December 1910, to Damat Fahir Bey (1882 – 27 September 1922, Istanbul, Nishantashi Palace), and had one daughter, married secondly in Paris, France on 28 October 1931 to Damat Reshad Halis (1885, Istanbul - died ?, November, 1944, Paris) without issue.
• Samiye Hanımsultan Fahir (1918 in Istanbul, Nishantashi Palace – 20 Nov. 1992), married Larry D'arodaca, without issue
Eighth marriage and issue
He married eighth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 12 January 1886 to Abkhazian at Constantinople Müşfika Kadın(Hopa, Caucasus, 10 December 1867 – Istanbul, 16 July 1961), daughter of Gazi Şehid Mahmud Bey Ağır by his wife Emine Hanım, and had:
• Princess Hamide Ayşe Sultan (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 31 October 1887 – 11 August 1960), married atNişantaşı, Nişantaşı Palace, Pera (today Beyoğlu), on 3 April 1921 to HE Damat Mushir Mehmed Ali Rauf Nami Pashazade Beyefendi (Istanbul, 1877 – Viroflay, Yvelines, 21 September 1937 and buried in Paris at Bobigny Cemetery (fr), and had issue:
• Prince Ömer Nami Osmanoğlu Beyefendi (1911 – ?), unmarried and without issue
• Prince Osman Nami Osmanoğlu Beyefendi (1918–2010), married firstly to Adile Tanyeri (?–1958), and had three daughter, and married secondly to German Müşfika Rothraud Granzow (born 1934), and had two daughters:
• Mediha Şükriye Nami Hanım (born 1947), unmarried and without issue
• Fethiye Nimet Nami Bey (born 1953), unmarried and without issue
• Ayşe Adile Nami Hanım (born 1958), married and had issue
• Gül Nur Dorothee Nami Hanım (born 1960),married and without issue
• Sofia Ayten Nami Hanım (born 1961), married Erman Kunter and had issue
• Roksan Kunter (born 1985)
• Prince Beyzade Sultanzade Abdülhamid Rauf Osmanoğlu Beyefendi (October 1921/1922 – 11 March 1981), unmarried and without issue
Ninth marriage and issue
He married ninth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 31 August 1890 to Abkhazian Sazkar Hanım (İstinye, Istanbul, 8 May 1873 – Beirut, 1945), née Zekiye Maan, daughter of Bata Recep Abdullah Bey Maan by his wife Rukiye Havva Hanım Mikanba, and had:
• Princess Refia Sultan (Istanbul, Yıldız Palace, 15 June 1891 – Beirut, 1938; Beirut, Lebanon, buried in Damascus [Sultan Selim Mosque], Syria), married 3 Sept. 1910 in Kiziltoprak Sarayi to Ali Fuad Bey, son of Ahmet Eyüb Pasha.
• Rebia Hanımsultan Eyüb (13 July 1911 in Kiziltoprak Sarayi – 19 June 1988, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum)
• Ayşe Hamide Hanımsultan Eyüb (1918 in Kiziltoprak Sarayi – 1934 in Nice, France, buried in Damascus, Sultan Selim Mosque, Syria)
Tenth marriage and issue
He married tenth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 24 January 1893 to Abkhazian Peyveste Hanım (Caucasus, 10 May 1873 – Paris, 1944 and buried there at Bobigny Cemetery (fr)), née Rabia Emuhvari, daughter of Prince Osman Bey Emuhvari by his wife Princess Hesna Hanım Çaabalurhva, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Abdurrahim Hayri Efendi (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 14 August 1894 – Paris, 1 June 1952), married firstly at Nişantaşı Palace, Pera (today Beyoğlu), on 4 June 1919 and divorced in 1923 HH Nabila Emine Halim Hanım (Constantinople, 1 June 1899 – Istanbul, 6 December 1979), daughter of Prince Mehmed Abbas Halim Pasha, by his wife Princess Fahrünnisa Hatice Hanım, second daughter of Mehmed Tewfik Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, and had one daughter, married secondly at Constantinople to Misalruh Hanım (? - c. 1955, Nice, France, buried in Muslim Bobigny cemetery), alias Mihrişah, née Feride, daughter of Mehmed Bey by his wife Emine Hanım, without issue.
• Princess Mihrishah Selcuk Sultan (Istanbul, 14 April 1920 – Monte Carlo, Monaco, 11 May 1980 and buried inCairo), married firstly on 7 October 1940 to HE Damat Ahmed el-Djezuly Ratib Beyefendi (Alexandria – 1972), and had issue, and married secondly in Cairo on 7 April 1966 to Ismail Assem, without issue:
• Princess Hatice Türkân Ratib Hanımsultan (born Cairo, 1941), married to Hüseyin Fehmi (1941–2000), and had two daughters:
• Melek Fehmi (born 1966), 3 sons, Ahmed Ragab (born 1987), Abdelrahman Ragab (born 1991), Aly Ragab (born 1996).
• Nesrin Fehmi (born 1968), Married to Mohamed El Naggar (born 1963). 2 sons, Amr El Naggar (born 1989), Sherif El Naggar (born 1992).
• Princess Mihrimah Ratib Hanımsultan (Cairo, 1943 – Cairo, 1946 and buried there)
• Prince Sultanzade Beyzade Touran Ibrahim Ratib Beyefendi (born Giza, 3 May 1950), married in Bogotá on 27 July 1974 to French Noblewoman Anne de Montozon de Leguilhac (born Toulouse, 13 January 1947), and had issue:
• Fatıma Nimet Selçuk Mahiveş Ratib Hanım (born Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 11 July 1976)
• Karim El-Djezouly Ratib Bey (born Bogotá, 13 December 1978)
Eleventh marriage and issue
He married eleventh at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, in 1896 to Abkhazian Pesend Hanım (Istanbul, 17 April 1876 –Istanbul, 5 November 1924), daughter of Prince Ahmed Sami Bey Açba by his wife Princess Fatıma Ismailevna Mamleeva, and had:
• Princess Hadice Sultan (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 10 July 1897 – 13 February 1898).
Twelfth marriage and issue
He married twelfth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 10 May 1900 to Abkhazian Behice Hanım (Batumi, Georgia, 10 October 1882 – 22 October 1969), née Behiye Maan, daughter of Albus Bey Maan an Abkhazian leader by his wife Nazli Hanım Kucba, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Ahmed Nureddin Efendi (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 12 June 1900 – 2 June 1945, buried at the Islamic cemetery of Bobigny near Paris), married at Maslak, Bosphorus, on 5 May 1919 to Ayşe Andelib Hanım (Adapazarı, 8 August 1902 – ?), daughter of Hüsnü Paşa, Aide-de-camp to Sultan Abdul Hamid II, by his wife Kudsiye Hanım, without issue.
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Badreddin Efendi (Istanbul, Yıldız Palace, 22 June 1901 – 13 October 1903)
Thirteenth marriage and issue
He married thirteenth at Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, on 4 November 1904 to Abkhazian Naciye Hanım (Batumi,Georgia, 1887 – Erenköy, Asia Minor, 4 December 1923), alias Saliha, née Zeliha Ankuap, daughter of Arslan Bey Ankuap by his wife Canhız Hanım, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Abid Efendi (Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 17 September 1905 – Beirut, 8 December 1973 and buried in Damascus), married firstly to Pınardil Fahriye Hanım (? - c. 1934 Nice, France, buried in Muslim Bobigny Cemetery), without issue, married secondly in Tirana on 12 January 1936 and divorced in 1949 Princess Senije Zogu (Mati, 15 November 1908 – Cannes, 15 April 1969), sister of King Zog I, without issue.
• Princess Samiye Sultan (16 January 1908 – Constantinople, Yıldız Palace, 24 January 1909)