Abdulmejid I

Abdülmecid I (Ottoman Turkish: عبد المجيد اولAbdülmecîd-i evvel; 23/25 April 1823 – 25 June 1861) or Tanzimatçı Sultan Abdülmecid (Sultan Abdülmecid the Reorganizer) due to the Tanzimat reforms he conducted, he is 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.[3] His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories. Abdulmejid 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 the United 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. Abdulmejid'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 Abdulmejid, was named after him.

Abdulmejid I
عبد المجيد اول
Ottoman Caliph
Amir al-Mu'minin
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Kayser-i Rûm
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Knight of the Garter
Sultan Abdulmecid Pera Museum 3 b
A painting of Abdulmejid at the Pera Museum in Istanbul.
31st Ottoman Sultan (Emperor)
Reign2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861
PredecessorMahmud II
Born25 April 1823[1][2]
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died25 June 1861 (aged 38)
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
ConsortsServetseza Kadın
Şevkefza Kadın
Verdicenan Kadın
Zeynifelek Hanım
Nükhetsezâ Hanım
Tirimüjgan Kadın
Nesrin Hanım
Düzdidil Kadın
Gülcemal Kadın
Mahitab Kadın
Ceylanyar Hanım
Nergizev Hanım
Navekmisal Hanım
Bezmiara Kadın
Nalandil Hanım
Şayeste Hanım
Serfiraz Hanım
Gülüstü Hanım
Perestu Sultan
Issuesee below
Full name
Abdul Mecid bin Mahmud
FatherMahmud II
MotherBezmiâlem Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
Abdulmejid I عبد المجيد اول's signature

Early life

Abdulmejid was born at the Beşiktaş Sahil Palace or at the Topkapı Palace, both in Istanbul.[4] His mother was his father's first wife in 1839, Valide Sultan Bezmiâlem, originally named Suzi (1807–1852), either a Circassian[5] or Georgian slave.[6][7][8]

Abdulmejid received a European education and spoke fluent French, the first sultan to do so.[1] Like Abdülaziz who succeeded him, he was interested in literature and classical music. Like his father Mahmud 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 and Fuad Pasha. Throughout his reign he had to struggle against conservatives who opposed his reforms. Abdulmejid 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. Abdulmejid 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 Abdulmejid 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 rebel Egyptian 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).[1]

The allies
Sultan Abdulmejid (left) with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Emperor Napoleon III of France
Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in Istanbul, was built by Abdulmejid between 1843 and 1856, at a cost of five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tons of gold. Fourteen 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.
During the reign of Abdulmejid, besides European style architecture and European style clothing adopted by the court, the Ottoman educational system was also mainly based on the European model.

In compliance with his father's express instructions, Abdulmejid 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 the Crimean War by a similar statute issued in February 1856, named the Hatt-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.[9]

The most important reform measures promoted by Abdulmejid were:

  • Introduction of the first Ottoman paper banknotes (1840)
  • Reorganisation of the army, including the introduction of conscription (1842–1844)[1]
  • 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[1]
  • Reorganisation of the court system, establishing a system of civil and criminal courts with both European and Ottoman judges.[1]
  • 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[1]
  • Plans to send humanitarian aid of £10,000[10] (£24.83 million in 2013[11]) to Ireland during its Great Famine, but later agreed to reduce it to £1,000[10] (£2.483 million in 2013[11]) at the insistence of British diplomats wishing to avoid embarrassing Queen Victoria, who had made a donation of £5,000.[10]
  • Plans to abolish slave markets (1847)[10]
  • Plans to build a Protestant chapel (1847)[10]
  • Establishment of modern universities and academies (1848)
  • Establishment of an Ottoman school in Paris[1]
  • 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[9]
  • New land laws confirming the right of ownership (1858)[1]
  • Decriminalisation of homosexuality (1858)[12][13]

Another notable reform was that the turban was officially outlawed for the first time during Abdulmejid's reign, in favour of the fez. European fashions were also adopted by the Court. (The fez would be banned in 1925 by the same Republican 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 Abulmejid who personally tested the new invention.[14]

When Kossuth and others sought refuge in Turkey after the failure of the Hungarian uprising in 1849, the sultan was called on by Austria and Russia to surrender them, but he refused.[1] 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."[9]

In 1844 he created the Ottoman lira and in 1852 he instituted the Order of the Medjidie.

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 Abdulmejid's brother Abdülaziz.[9]

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 Bosnia and Montenegro, and in 1861 he was forced to give up Lebanon by the Concert of Europe.[1]

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.[1]

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.


Abdulmejid died of tuberculosis (like his father) at the age of 38 on 25 June 1861 in Istanbul, and was buried in Yavuz Selim Mosque, and was succeeded by his younger half-brother Sultan Abdülaziz, son of Pertevniyal Sultan.


Turkish crimea medal
The Crimean War medal issued by Abdulmejid to British, French and Sardinian allied personnel involved in the Crimean War (Sardinian issue)
Sultan Abdülmecid I
Abdulmejid in his youth, by David Wilkie, 1840.

Abdulmejid married nineteen times and had forty-four children. He left several sons, of whom four eventually succeeded to the throne. His marriages were:

İstanbul - Yavuz Selim Camii - Mart 2013 - r3
The türbe of Abdulmejid is located inside the Yavuz Selim Mosque in Fatih, Istanbul.

In fiction

  • A fictionalized version of Abdulmejid I appears in the 2008 novel The Bellini Card, by Jason Goodwin.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abdulmecid I". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. ^ There are sources that state his birth date as the 23rd of April.
  3. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3
  4. ^ Since when is it called istanbul ?:Since 1453 and before the city is writen استان, a-sitan or i-stan in Arabian sources and also later writen as استانبول, a-stan-bol or i-stan-bul. Also the Commander of the City was called Commander of Istanbul (Ayrıca Osmanlı Ordusu’nda İstanbul'un merkez ordu komutanı için resmen İstanbul ağası ve İstanbul'un en yüksek sivil hakimi için resmen İstanbul efendisi sıfatları kullanılırdı)
  5. ^ "Putnam's Monthly Magazine of American Literature, Science and Art Volume 0005 Issue 30 (June 1855)".
  6. ^ "Gürcistan Dostluk Derneği".
  7. ^ Bezmiâlem Valide Sultan, Bezmiâlem Vakıf Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi Hastanesi Archived June 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ The Private World of Ottoman Women by Godfrey Goodwin, 2007, p.157
  9. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abd-ul-Mejid" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 36–37.
  10. ^ a b c d e Christine Kinealy (2013), Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland: The Kindness of Strangers, p. 115
  11. ^ a b "Measuring Worth - Purchase Power of the Pound".
  12. ^ Kazi, Tehmina (7 October 2011). "The Ottoman empire's secular history undermines sharia claims - Tehmina Kazi".
  13. ^ http://faith-matters.org/images/stories/fm-publications/the-tanzimat-final-web.pdf
  14. ^ Istanbul City Guide: Beylerbeyi Palace Archived October 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b c d e Harun Açba (2007). Kadın efendiler: 1839-1924. Profil. ISBN 978-9-759-96109-1.
  16. ^ Açba, Harun (2007). "Bölüm 2: Sultan I. Abdülhamid Han Ailesi". Kadınefendiler: Son Dönem Osmanlı Padişah Eşleri (in Turkish) (1 ed.). Istanbul: Prolil Yayıncılık. p. 28. Retrieved 24 Apr 2016.
  17. ^ Açba, Harun (2007). "Bölüm 2: Sultan I. Abdülhamid Han Ailesi". Kadınefendiler: Son Dönem Osmanlı Padişah Eşleri (in Turkish) (1 ed.). Istanbul: Prolil Yayıncılık. p. 36. Retrieved 24 Apr 2016.
  18. ^ "The Bellini Card". 18 January 2013.

External links

Media related to Abdül Mecid I at Wikimedia Commons

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Abdulmejid I
Born: 23 April 1823 Died: 25 June 1861
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mahmud II
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861
Succeeded by
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Mahmud II
Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate
2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861
Succeeded by

Abdülaziz (Ottoman Turkish: عبد العزيز / `Abdü’l-`Azīz, Turkish: Abdülaziz; 8 February 1830 – 4 June 1876) was the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and reigned between 25 June 1861 and 30 May 1876. He was the son of Sultan Mahmud II and succeeded his brother Abdulmejid I in 1861.Born at Eyüp Palace, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), on 8 February 1830, Abdülaziz received an Ottoman education but was nevertheless an ardent admirer of the material progress that was made in the West. He was the first Ottoman Sultan who travelled to Western Europe, visiting a number of important European capitals including Paris, London and Vienna in the summer of 1867.

Apart from his passion for the Ottoman Navy, which had the world's third largest fleet in 1875 (after the British and French navies), the Sultan took an interest in documenting the Ottoman Empire. He was also interested in literature and was a talented classical music composer. Some of his compositions, together with those of the other members of the Ottoman dynasty, have been collected in the album "European Music at the Ottoman Court" by the London Academy of Ottoman Court Music. He was deposed on grounds of mismanaging the Ottoman economy on 30 May 1876, and was found dead six days later under unnatural and mysterious circumstances.

Behice Sultan

Behice Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: بهيجہ سلطان‎; 26 August 1848 – 21 December 1876) was an Ottoman princess, daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I.

Cemile Sultan

Cemile Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: جمیله سلطان‎; 18 August 1843 – 26 February 1915) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I. She was the half sister of Sultans Murad V, Abdul Hamid II, Mehmed V, and Mehmed VI.

Fatma Sultan (daughter of Abdulmejid I)

Fatma Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: فاطمہ سلطان‎; 1 November 1840 – 29 August 1884) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I (reign 1839 - 1861) and sister of Sultan Mehmed V (reign 1909 - 1918) of the Ottoman Empire.

Gülcemal Kadın

Gülcemal Kadın (Ottoman Turkish: کل جمال قادین‎) (c. 1826 – 15 December 1851) was the sixth wife of Sultan Abdulmejid I, and the mother of Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire.

Gülüstü Hanım

Gülüstü Hanım (Turkish pronunciation: [ɟylysˈty]); (c. 1831 – c. 1865; Ottoman Turkish: کلستو خانم‎) was the nineteenth wife of Sultan Abdulmejid I. She was the mother of Mehmed VI, the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Mehmed V

Mehmed V Reşâd (Ottoman Turkish: محمد خامس Meḥmed-i ẖâmis, Turkish: Beşinci Mehmet Reşat or Reşat Mehmet) (2 November 1844 – 3 July 1918) was the 35th and penultimate Ottoman Sultan. He was the son of Sultan Abdulmejid I. He was succeeded by his half-brother Mehmed VI. His nine-year reign was marked by the cession of the Empire's North African territories and the Dodecanese Islands, including Rhodes, in the Italo-Turkish War, the traumatic loss of almost all of the Empire's European territories west of Constantinople in the First Balkan War, and the entry of the Empire into World War I, which would ultimately lead to the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Mehmed VI

Mehmed VI Vahideddin (Ottoman Turkish: محمد السادس‎ Meḥmed-i sâdis, وحيد الدين‎ Vahideddin, Turkish: Vahideddin or Altıncı Mehmet), who is also known as Şahbaba (meaning "Emperor-father") among his relatives, (14 January 1861 – 16 May 1926) was the 36th and last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, reigning from July 4, 1918 until November 1, 1922 when the Ottoman Empire dissolved after World War 1 and became the nation of the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. The brother of Mehmed V, he became heir to the throne after the 1916 suicide of Abdülaziz's son Şehzade Yusuf Izzeddin as the eldest male member of the House of Osman. He acceded to the throne after the death of Mehmed V. He was girded with the Sword of Osman on 4 July 1918, as the thirty-sixth padishah. His father was Sultan Abdulmejid I and mother was Gülüstü Hanım (1830 – 1865), an ethnic Abkhazian, daughter of Prince Tahir Bey Çaçba and his wife Afişe Lakerba, originally named Fatma Çaçba. Mehmed was removed from the throne when the Ottoman sultanate was abolished in 1922.

Murad V

Murad V (Ottoman Turkish: مراد خامس‎)

(21 September 1840 – 29 August 1904) was the 33rd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who reigned from 30 May to 31 August 1876.

He was born in Istanbul. His father was Abdulmejid I. His mother, whom his father married in Constantinople on 1 August 1839, was Şevkefza Valide Sultan, an ethnic Circassian from the Ubykh tribe, daughter of Mehmed Bey Zaurum and his wife Cemile Hanım.

Münire Sultan (daughter of Abdulmejid I)

Münire Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: منیرہ سلطان‎; 9 December 1844 – 29 June 1862) was an Ottoman princess, daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I and his wife Verdicenan Kadın.

Münire Sultan (daughter of Şehzade Kemaleddin)

Münire Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: منیره سلطان‎; 17 May 1880 – 7 October 1939) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Şehzade Ahmed Kemaleddin, the son of Sultan Abdulmejid I.

Naciye Sultan

Naciye Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: ناجیه سلطان‎; 25 November 1896 – 5 December 1957) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Şehzade Seim Süleyman, son of Sultan Abdulmejid I.

Naile Sultan (daughter of Abdulmejid I)

Naile Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: نائلہ سلطان‎; 30 September 1856 – 18 January 1882) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I.

Perestu Kadın

Perestu Kadın (Ottoman Turkish: پرستو قادین‎; c. 1830 – c. 1904) was the eighth wife of Sultan Abdulmejid I of the Ottoman Empire. In 1876, she was given the title and position of Valide sultan when Abdul Hamid II ascended the throne in 1876 making her the last Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Refia Sultan (daughter of Abdulmejid I)

Refia Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: رافعه سلطان‎; 7 February 1842 - 4 January 1880) was an Ottoman princess, daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I (reign 1839 - 1861) and sister of Sultan Mehmed V (reign 1909 - 1918)

of the Ottoman Empire.

Seniha Sultan

Seniha Sultan (Ottoman Turkish: سنیحه سلطان‎; 5 December 1851 – 15 September 1931) was an Ottoman princess, the daughter of Sultan Abdulmejid I. She was the half-sister of Sultans Murad V, Abdul Hamid II, Mehmed V, and Mehmed VI.

Tirimüjgan Kadın

Tirimüjgan Kadınefendi (Circassia, 16 August 1819 – Beylerbeyi Palace, 2 November 1853), originally named Virjinia,; Ottoman Turkish: تیرمژکان قادین‎) was the second wife of Sultan Abdulmejid I, and the mother of Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire.

Şehzade Ahmed Kemaleddin

Şehzade Ahmed Kemaleddin (Ottoman Turkish: شهزادہ احمد کمالالدین‎; 16 July 1848 - 26 April 1905) was an Ottoman prince, son of Sultan Abdulmejid I and Verdicenan Kadın.

Şevkefza Kadın

Şevkefza Kadın (died 17 September 1889; meaning "who cheers up"; Ottoman Turkish: شوق افزا قادین‎) was the fourth wife of Sultan Abdulmejid I of the Ottoman Empire. She held the position of Valide Sultan from 30 May 1876 to 31 August 1876, when her son Şehzade Murad ascended the throne as Murad V.

Ottoman princes
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2nd generation
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