Abdülmecid I (Ottoman Turkish: عبد المجيد اول ‘Abdü’l-Mecīd-i evvel; 23/25 April 1823 – 25 June 1861), also known as Abdulmejid and similar spellings, 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 Ottoman society with new laws and reforms. He tried to forge alliances with the major powers of Western Europe, namely theUnited 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 and effectively started the modernization of the 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 theBeşiktaş Sahil Palace or at theTopkapı Palace, both in Constantinople. His mother was his father's first wife in 1839,Valide Sultan Bezmiâlem, originally named Suzi (1807–1852), either aCircassian or Georgian slave.
Abdülmecid received a European education and spoke fluentFrench, the first sultan to do so.Like Abdülaziz who succeeded him, he was interested in literature and classical music. Like his fatherMahmud 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 andFuat 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 Istanbul that the empire's army had been defeated at Nizip by the army of the rebelEgyptian 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).
Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in Istanbul, was built by Abdülmecid between 1843 and 1856, at a cost of five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tons of gold. 14 tons of gold was used to adorn the interior ceiling of the palace. The world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria, is in the centre hall. The palace has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world, and even the staircases are made of Baccarat crystal.
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 theCrimean War by a similar statute issued in February 1856, named theHatt-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. 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
• Plans to send humanitarian aid of £10,000 (£24.83 million in 2013) to Ireland during its Great Famine, but later agreed to reduce it to £1,000 (£2.483 million in 2013) at the insistence of British diplomats wishing to avoid embarrassing Queen Victoria, who had made a donation of £5,000.
• Plans to abolish slave markets (1847)
• Plans to build a Protestant chapel (1847)
• Establishment of modern universities and academies (1848)
• Establishment of an Ottoman school in Paris
• Abolition of a 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 would be banned in 1925 by the sameRepublican National Assembly that 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 Istanbul, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new invention.
When Kossuth and others sought refuge in Turkey after the failure of theHungarian 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, "He 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."
In 1844 he created the Ottoman lira and in 1852 he instituted the Order of theMedjidie.
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 later dethronement and death of Abdülmecid's brother Abdülâziz.
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. The Ottomans 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 Bosniaand Montenegro, and in 1861 he was forced to give up Lebanon by the Concert of Europe.
He restored the Hagia Sophia between 1847 and 1849, and was responsible for the construction of the Dolmabahçe Palace. He also founded the first French Theatre in Istanbul.
He was made the 717th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1856 and the 52nd Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.
Abdülmecid died of tuberculosis (like his father) at the age of 38 on 25 June 1861 in Istanbul, where he was buried, and was succeeded by his brother Abdülâziz.
Marriages and children
Abdülmecid married nineteen times and left several sons, of whom four eventually succeeded to the throne. His marriages were:
• Circassian (of the Kabardian tribe) Empress Servetseza Kadın (1 September 1823, Maykop, Russia – 24 September 1878 Istanbul), married in Istanbul,Topkapı Palace, in 1838, daughter of Prince Mansur Bey Temruko and Princess Fülane Hanım Dadeşkeliani, without issue.
• Circassian (of the Shapsug tribe) Empress Tirimüjgan Kadın (c. 1825 –Istanbul, Feriye Palace, 3 October 1852), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1839, daughter of Bekhan Bey and Almaş Hanım, and had:
• Princess Naime Sultan (11 October 1840 – 1 May 1843, buried in Laleli türbesi);
• Sultan Mehmed Abdul Hamid II, 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire;
• Prince Mehmed Abid (22 April 1848 – 7 May 1848, buried in New Mosque – Refia Sultan türbesi);
• Circassian (of the Ubykh tribe) Empress Düzdidil Kadın (née Ayşe Dişan, c.1825, North Caucasus – 18 August 1845, Istanbul), married in Istanbul,Topkapı Palace, in 1839, daughter of Şıhım Bey Dişan and Princess Fülane Hanım Çaçba, and had:
• Princess Mevhibe Sultan (31 May 1840 – 9 February 1841, buried in Bahçekapı, Hamidiye Türbesi);
• Princess Neyyire Sultan (13 October 1841 – 18 December 1843);
• Princess Cemile Sultan (Old Beylerbeyi Palace, Bosphorus, 17 August 1843 – Erenköy, 26 February 1915);
• Princess Samiye Sultan (23 February 1845 – 18 April 1845, buried in New Mosque, Istanbul);
• Circassian (of the Ubykh tribe who temporarily sought refuge in present-day Georgia) Empress Şevkefza Kadın, (c. 1825, Poti, Georgia – 17 September 1889, Istanbul, Ortaköy, Çırağan Palace), married in Istanbul,Topkapı Palace, in 1839, daughter of Mehmed Bey Zaurum and Cemile Hanım, and had
• Mehmed Murad V, 33rd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire;
• Aliye Sultan (20 October 1842 – 10 July 1845, buried in New Mosque);
• Abkhazian Empress Zeynifelek Hanım (c. 1825, North Caucasus – December 1841, Istanbul), married in Istanbul in 1839, daughter of Prince Aslan Bey Klıç and Princess Şaşa Hanım Loo, and had:
• Princess Behiye Sultan (22 February 1841 – 3 June 1847).
• Bosniak Empress Gülcemal Kadın, (Caucasus, c. 1826 – Istanbul, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 16 November 1851), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1840 and had:
• Princess Fatma Sultan (1 November 1840 – 26 August 1884);
• Princess Refia Sultan (Beşiktaş Palace, 7 February 1842 – Fındıklı Palace, 4 January 1880);
• Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, 35th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire;
• Abkhazian Empress Verdicenan Kadın (née Saliha Açba, c. 1830, Sukhumi,Abkhazia – 9 December 1889, Istanbul, Beşiktaş, Beşiktaş Palace), married inIstanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1844, daughter of Prince Kaytuk Giorgi Bey Açba and Princess Yelizaveta Hanım, and had:
• Princess Münire Sultan (Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, 9 December 1844 – Istanbul, 29 June 1862).
• Prince Şehzade Ahmed Kemaleddin (Old Çırağan Palace, Istanbul, 3 December 1847 – Beşiktaş Palace,Istanbul, 26 April 1905);
• Circassian (of the Ubykh tribe) Empress Perestu Kadın (née Rahime Gogen, c. 1830, Sochi, Russia – Maçka,Istanbul), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1844, daughter of Gök Bey Gogen, without issue.
• Abkhazian Empress Nükhetseza Hanım (née Hatice Baras, Abkhazia, Russian Empire, c. 1830 – Beşiktaş, 15 May 1850), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1845, daughter of Hatuğ Bey Baras and Ferhunde Hanım, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Ahmed (5 June 1846 – 6 June 1846);
• Princess Nazime Sultan (26 November 1847 – 1 December 1847, buried in New Mosque – Refia Sultan türbesi);
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Burhaneddin (Old Beylerbeyi Palace, Bosphorus, 23 May 1849 – Dolmabahçe Palace,Istanbul, 4 November 1876);
• Chechen Empress Mahitab Kadın (née Nuriye, c. 1830, Makhachkala, Russia – c. 1888, Istanbul), married inIstanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1845, daughter of Hişam Bey and Malika Hanım, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Ziyaeddin (22 November 1846 – 27 April 1849);
• Princess Sabiha Sultan (15 April 1848 – 27 April 1849);
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Vamik (19 April 1849 – 6 August 1849, buried in New Mosque - Refia Sultan türbesi);
• Prince Şehzade Ahmed Nureddin (Çırağan Palace, 31 March 1852 – 30 October 1885);
• Princess Zekiye Sultan (24 February 1855 – 18 February 1856);
• Princess Fehime Sultan (24 February 1855 – 10 November 1856);
• Georgian Empress Nesrin Hanım (née Adile Asemiani, c. 1832, Poti, Georgia – 4 January 1853, Istanbul), married inIstanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1847, daughter of Manuçar Bey Asemiani and Mahra Hanım, and had:
• Princess Behice Sultan (26 August 1848 – 21 December 1876), married firstly in Istanbul Damat Mehmed Hüsnü Pasha, son of Mustafa Pasha, married secondly Damat Halil Hamid Bey Efendi (b.1854 – 20 November 1888) son of Mehmed Nurullah Bey;
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Bahaeddin (24 June 1850 – 9 November 1852);
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Nizameddin (24 June 1850 – 9 November 1852);
• Circassian (of the Natukhai tribe) Empress Nergizev Hanım (c. 1830, Anapa, Russia – Istanbul, 26 October 1848), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1847, daughter of Albora Bey and Dadüse Hanım, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Fuad (7 July 1848 – 28 September 1848);
• Circassian Empress Bezmiara Kadın (born c. 1835, Caucasus), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1849 and divorced in 1858, adoptive daughter of Fatma Zehra Hanım, wife of Isma'il Pasha son of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, and had:
• Princess Mükbile Sultan (22 February 1850 – 10 March 1850, buried in New Mosque - Refia Sultan türbesi);
• Circassian (of the Natukhai tribe) Empress Nalanıdil Hanım (born c. 1836, Caucasus), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1851, daughter of Prince Natıkhu Bey Çıpakue, and had:
• Princess Seniha Sultan (Çırağan Palace, 21 December 1851 – Nice, France, 15 September 1931);
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Abdülsamed (20 March 1853 – 5 May 1855);
• Princess Şehime Sultan (Old Beşiktaş Palace 31 January 1855 – 22 May 1857);
• Circassian (of the Ubykh tribe) Empress Ceylanyar Hanım (née Nafiye Berzeg, c. 1836, Sochi, Russia – 17 January 1855, Istanbul), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1851, daughter of Mustafa Bey Berzeg and Princess Daruhan Hanım Dudaruk, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Mehmed Rüşdi (31 March 1852 – 5 August 1852);
• Abkhazian Empress Serfiraz Hanım (née Ayșe Liah, c. 1837 Abkhazia – 9 June 1905, Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1851, daughter of Prince Osman Bey Liah and Zeliha Hanım Tapsın, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Osman Safiyeddin Efendi (9 June 1852 – 2 July 1855);
• Princess Bedia Sultan (October 1857 – 12 July 1858);
• Prince Şehzade Selim Süleyman (Beşiktaş, 25 July 1860 – Bebek Palace, Bosphorus, 16 June 1909), married and had issue;
• Abkhazian Empress Şayeste Hanım (c. 1837 Sukhumi, Abkhazia – 11 February 1912, Constantinople), married inIstanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1852, daughter of Prince Tataş Bey İnalipa and Sarey Hanım, and had:
• Prince Şehzade Abdullah (3 February 1853 – 3 February 1853);
• Princess Naile Sultan (Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, 30 September 1856 – 18 January 1882), married at the Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, 6 October 1876, Damat Mehmed Pasha (died 24 May 1909), 1st ADC to Abdul Hamid II;
• Abkhazian Empress Navekmisal Hanım (c. 1838, North Caucasus – 5 August 1854, Istanbul), married in Istanbul,Topkapı Palace, in 1853, daughter of Prince Rustem Bey Biberd and Princess Fatma Hanım Kızılbek, without issue.
• Abkhazian Empress Gülüstü Hanım (née Fatma Çaçba, c. 1840 – c. 1865, Istanbul), married in Istanbul, Topkapı Palace, in 1855, daughter of Prince Tahir Bey Çaçba and Afişe Hanım Lakerba, and had:
• Princess Mediha Sultan (Beşiktaş, 31 July 1856 – Nice, France, 7 November 1928), married Necib Pasha in 1879, had a son, Prince Sami Bey, then married Ferid Pasha, without issue;
• Sultan Mehmed VI Vahideddin, last sultan of the Ottoman Empire;
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