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Ottoman Empire / Rulers /
Abdülhamid 2

Sultan Abdülhamid 2

Sultan Abdülhamid 2.

(1842-1918) Ottoman sultan 1876-1909.
Abdülhamid's reign is noted for an autocratic rule, where he hardly ever left his residence, the Yildiz Palace. With the aid of a secret police, the growing telegraph network and heavy censorship he managed to stay in power for more than 30 years.
Yet, the reform process of Tanzimat continued well in his time. The main reforms were in education, and 18 professional schools were established in addition to a network of secondary, primary and military schools.
He also put much focus on pan-Islamism in opposition to Western powers and ideals. The background for this was more suspicion towards Western powers which he felt had let him down and other sultans down in several wars, than actual idealism. His sole partner in Europe would become Germany. The pan-Islamic ideas were spread with emissaries to distant countries preaching the caliph's supremacy; the sultan also held the honour of being caliph. Plans for a new railway to the holy cities of Mecca and Madina were given highest priority.
But the pan-Islamic ideas was more successful in creating anti-European sentiments than giving the sultan more support. The dissatisfaction with the Ottoman governance in Mesopotamia and Yemen only grew in force.


1842 September 21: Born in Constantinople as son of Sultan Abdülmecid 1.
1876 August 31: Becomes sultan after his brother Sultan Murad 5 is deposed as sultan.
December 23: Promulgates the first Ottoman constitution.
1877: War with Russia which ends in disaster for the Ottoman Empire.
— Abdülhamid dismisses the Parliament.
1878 February: Suspends the constitution.
1881: The French occupies Tunisia.
December: Abdülhamid is forced to let many of the revenues of the empire be handed over to the Public Debt Administration for the benefit of foreign bondholders.
1882: The British assume power in Egypt.
1894: An Armenian rebellion in Sassun Mountains is ruthlessly crushed by empire forces.
1897: Greco-Turkish war over the supremacy of the island of Crete. The Ottoman Empire takes control over the island, but it is eventually lost to European forces.
1899: In return for German support, the Germans are given permission to built the Baghdad Railway.
1908: The autocratic rule of Abdülhamid and discontent with European advances in the Balkans sparks the military revolution of the Young Turks.
July 23: Abdülhamid capitulates to the Young Turks after they have marched on Constantinople.
July 24: The constitution of 1876 is restored.
July 25: Surveillance of the empire's population and censorship are abolished.
December 10: The Turkish parliament is opened, and is opened by Abdülhamid.
1909 April: Abdülhamid is deposed, and replaced with his brother Mehmed 5.
1918 February 10: Dies in Constantinople.

By Tore Kjeilen