Abdülmecid I: Wikis


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Osmanli-nisani.svg    Abdülmecid I
Ottoman Sultan
Sultan Abdulmecid Pera Museum 3 b.jpg
Tughra of Abdülmecid I.JPG
Reign 1839–61
Period Decline of the Ottoman Empire
Full Name Abdülmecid I
Predecessor Mahmud II
Successor Abdülaziz
Royal House House of Osman
Dynasty Ottoman Dynasty
Religious beliefs Sunni Islam

Sultan Abdülmecid I, Abdul Mejid I, Abd-ul-Mejid I or Abd Al-Majid I Ghazi (Ottoman Turkish: عبد المجيد الأول ‘Abdü’l-Mecīd-i evvel) (23/25 April 1823 – 25 June 1861) was the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and succeeded his father Mahmud II on July 2, 1839.[1] 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 the 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. Abdülmecid's biggest achievement was the announcement and application of the Tanzimat (Reorganization) reforms which were prepared by his father Mahmud II and effectively started the modernization of Turkey in 1839.


Early life

He was born at Beşiktaş Sahil Palace or at Topkapı Palace, both in Constantinople.[2] His mother was his father's first wife in 1839, Valide Sultan Bezmiâlem, originally named Suzi (1807 - 1852), a Circassian slave.[3]

Abdülmecid received a European education and was a fluent speaker of the French language while being interested in literature and classical music like Abdülaziz who succeeded him. He was an advocate of reforms like his father Mahmud II, and was lucky enough to have the support of progressionist viziers like Mustafa Reşit Pasha, Mehmet Emin Ali Paşa and Fuat Pasha. Throughout his reign he had to struggle against conservatives who opposed his reforms. Abdülmecid was also the first emperor to personally listen to the public's complaints in special reception days, usually every Friday, without any middlemen. Abdülmecid toured the empire's territories to see in first person how the Tanzimat reforms were being applied; travelling to İzmit, Mudanya, Bursa, Gallipoli, Çanakkale, Lemnos, Lesbos and Chios in 1844. He toured the Balkan provinces in 1846.


When Abdülmecid succeeded to the throne, the affairs of the Ottoman Empire were in an extremely critical state. At the very time his father died, the news was on its way to Constantinople that the empire's army had been defeated at Nizip by that of the rebel Egyptian viceroy, Muhammad Ali. The empire's fleet was at the same time on its way to Alexandria, where it was handed over to the same enemy by its commander Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, on the pretext that the young sultan's advisers were sold to 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.

Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in Constantinople, 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 only to adorn the interior ceiling of the palace. The world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria, is at the center 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 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 security for their lives and property; 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 keen opposition from the Muslim governing classes and the ulema, or religious authorities, and was but partially put in force, especially in the remoter parts of the empire; and more than one conspiracy was formed against the sultan's life on account of it.

The most important measures of reform promoted by Abdülmecid were:

  • Introduction of the first Ottoman paper banknotes (1840)
  • Reorganization of the army (1843-1844)
  • Adoption of an Ottoman national anthem and Ottoman national flag (1844)
  • Reorganization of the finance system according to the French model
  • Reorganization of the Civil and Criminal Code according to the French model
  • 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)
  • Establishment of the first modern universities and academies (1848)
  • Abolition of an unfairly imposed capitation tax which imposed higher tariffs on non-Muslims (1856)
  • Non-Muslims were allowed to become soldiers (1856)
  • Various provisions for the better administration of the public service and for the advancement of commerce

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 in full swing by the Court. (The fez itself was later banned with the "Hat Law" in 1925 by the Republican National Assembly which had already 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 Constantinople, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new invention.[4]

The Crimean War medal issued by Abdülmecid to British, French, and Sardinian allied personnel involved in the Crimean War (Sardinian issue)

When Kossuth and others sought refuge in Turkey after the failure of the Hungarian rising 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, "Abdülmecid 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 a new coin with that name and in 1852 he instituted the Order of the Medjidie.

The Ottoman Empire took its first 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 Turkey and indirectly to the dethronement and death of Abdülâziz in the following years.

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 39 in Constantinople on 25 June 1861, where he was buried, and was succeeded by his brother, Abdülâziz, the oldest survivor of the family of Osman.


A popular tale says that in 1845, the onset of the Great Irish Famine resulted in over 1,000,000 deaths. Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but Queen Victoria requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived at Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors.[5][6]

Due to this the Irish people, especially those in Drogheda, are friendly to the Turks. This event led to the appearance of Ottoman symbols on Drogheda's coat of arms.

Marriages and issue

He married many times and left several sons, of whom four eventually succeeded to the throne.


First marriage and issue

He married firstly in Constantinople on 1 August 1839 to Circassian or Georgian HH Valide Sultan Chevkefza, (Poti, 12 December 1820 - Constantinople, Ortaköy, Çırağan Palace, 13 November 1882 or 17 September 1889), and had:

  • Murad V
  • HIH Princess Aliye Sultan (20 October 1842 - 10 July 1844)

Second marriage and issue

He married secondly in Constantinople on 10 November 1841 to Armenian[citation needed] HH Valide Sultan Tirimüjgün or Tirimüjgan Kadın Efendi (16 August 1819 - Constantinople, Fariya Palace, 3 October 1852 or 2 November 1853), and had:

  • Abdul Hamid II
  • HIH Princess Seniha Sultan (? - 1877), unmarried and without issue

Third marriage and issue

He married thirdly in Constantinople on 27 March 1843 to HH Valide Sultan Gülcemal Kadın Efendi, (Caucasus, 1826 - Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 16 November 1851 or 29 December 1895), originally named Sofiya, a Circassian, and had:

  • HIH Princess Fatma Sultan (1 November 1840 - 29 August 1884), unmarried and without issue
  • HIH Princess Hadice Sultan (7 February 1842 - 1842), twin with the below
  • HIH Princess Refia Sultan (7 February 1842 - 4 January 1880), twin with the above, unmarried and without issue
  • Mehmed V
  • HIH Princess Rukiye Sultan (1850 - ?), unmarried and without issue

Fourth marriage and issue

He married fourthly in Constantinople on 10 June 1852 to Caucasian HH Verdicenan Kadın Efendi (Caucasus, 1826 - Constantinople, Beşiktaş, Beşiktaş Palace, 9 December 1889), and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Ahmed Nureddin Efendi (1851-1885)

Fifth marriage and issue

He married fifthly in 1854 to Circassian HH Gülüstü Haseki Kadın Efendi and had:

Sixth marriage and issue

He married sixthly HH Aisha Sarfiraz Kadın Efendi (1837 - Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 9 June 1905), and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Sulaiman Selim Efendi (Constantinople, Dolmabahçe Palace, 12 January 1861 - Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 16 June 1909), married firstly in 1885 to Filisan Kadın Efendi (1869 - 1947), and had one son, married secondly in 1886 to Amina Janidun Kadın Efendi, without issue, married thirdly in 1893 to HH Fatima Kadın Efendi (1871 - 1932), without issue, and married fourthly on 4 May 1895 to Ayscha Tarzandar Kadın Efendi (1880 - Constantinople, 1958), and had one daughter and one son:
    • HIH Prince Şehzade Muhammed Abdul Halim Efendi (1894 - Paris, 26 May 1926), married in 1913 to HH Samiya Khanum Kadın Efendi (1896 - ?), and had issue:
      • HIH Princess Fatima Sultan (1920 -), unmarried and without issue
      • HIH Prince Şehzade Chengis Efendi (Paris, 1925 - 10 October 1950), unmarried and without issue
    • HIH Princess Emine Naciye Sultan (Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 25 November 1898 - Istanbul, Nişantaşı, Nişantaşı Palace, 5 December 1957), married firstly in 1914 to HE Damat İsmail Enver Pasha Beyefendi (22 November 1881 - 4 August 1922), Minister of War between 1914 and 1918, and had issue, and married secondly in 1923 to HE Damat Mohammed Kamil Beyefendi (1900 - 1962), brother of her first husband, and had issue:
      • HIH Princess Türkan Sultan (1919 - 1990) married with HH Huveyda Mayatepek efendi.
    • HIH Prince Shehzade Muhammed Sharifuddin Efendi (Constantinople, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, 19 May 1904 - Beirut, 1966), married firstly at Constantinople, Nişantaşı, Nişantaşı Palace, on 14 November 1923 and divorced in 1927 as her first husband his cousin HH HIH Princess Hadice Sükriye Sultan Hanım Efendi (Constantinople, Üsküdar, Çamlıca Palace, 24 February 1906 - Cairo, 1 April 1972), without issue, and married secondly in Beirut in 1929 and divorced in 1956 HH Semahat Hanın Efendi (1911 - ?), and had issue:
      • HIH Princess Mubachal Sultan (1929 - 1993), unmarried and without issue

Seventh marriage and issue

He married seventhly HH Nalandil Haseki Kadın Efendi (1829 - Constantinople, Beşiktaş, Beşiktaş Palace, 23 December 1890), and had:

  • HIH Princess Seniha Sultan (22 November 1852 - Nice, 15 September 1931), unmarried and without issue

Other marriages and issue

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Mehmed Ziyaeddin Efendi (10 February 1842 - 7 June 1845)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Ahmed Efendi (5 June 1846 - 6 June 1846)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Mehmed Abid Efendi (22 April 1848 - 7 May 1848)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Mehmed Fuad Efendi (7 July 1848 - 28 September 1848)

He married HH Neveser Kadın Efendi and had:

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Mehmed Nizameddin Efendi (24 June 1850 - 28 May 1853)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Mehmed Vamik Efendi (19 April 1850 - 6 August 1850)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Mehmed Rusdu Efendi (31 March 1852 - 5 August 1852)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Prince Şehzade Abdullah Efendi (3 February 1853 - 3 February 1853)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Princess Mevhibe Sultan (8 May 1840 - 2 November 1841)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Princess Naime Sultan (11 October 1840 - 1 May 1843)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Princess Behiye Sultan (22 February 1841 - 3 June 1847)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Princess Neyyire Sultan (14 October 1841 - 19 December 1843)

He married HH Düzd-i Dil Kadın Efendi (? - August 1845), and had:

  • HIH Princess Cemile Sultan (17 August 1843 - 26 February 1915), married in 1858, marriage annulled in 1881 by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, as his third wife to HE Damat Mahmud Celaleddin Pasha Beyefendi (1836 - 1884), and had issue:
    • HH Princess Fethiye Hanımsultan (1859 - 1887), unmarried and without issue
    • HH Prince Sultanzade Mahmud Celaleddin Beyefendi (1864 - 1916), twin with the below, unmarried and without issue
    • HH Prince Sultanzade Sakib Beyefendi (1864 - 1897), twin with the above, unmarried and without issue
    • HH Prince Sultanzade Besim Beyefendi (? - died as an infant)
    • HH Princess Ayse Hanımsultan (1875 - 1937), unmarried and without issue
    • HH Princess Fatma Hanımsultan (1879 - 1890)

HIH Princess Cemile Sultan adopted HE Damat Mahmud Celaleddin Pasha Beyefendi's two sons, Ahmet Fazil Bey (? - 1906), unmarried and without issue, and Kazim Bey (? - 1918), unmarried and without issue, by his two prior deceased wives

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Princess Samiye Sultan (23 February 1845 - 18 April 1845)

He married an unknown wife and had:

  • HIH Princess Nazima Sultan (26 November 1847 - 1 December 1847)

He married HH Valide Sultan Rahime Perestu, without issue, who became the adoptive mother of Abdul Hamid II and his half sister HIH Cemile Sultan (17 August 1843 - 26 February 1915)

In fiction

A fictionalized version of Abdülmecid I appears in the 2008 novel The Bellini Card, by Jason Goodwin.[7]


  1. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3
  2. ^ Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930..".
  3. ^ Slavery in the Ottoman Empire, Putnam's Monthly, vol. V, June 1855, No. 30, p. 615
  4. ^ Istanbul City Guide: Beylerbeyi Palace
  5. ^ Why crescentstar on Drogheda Utd emblem?
  6. ^ Gratitude to the Ottomans
  7. ^ Goodwin, Jason (2008). The Bellini Card. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 10–14. ISBN 978-0571239924. 

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

Abdülmecid I
Born: April 23, 1823 Died: June 25, 1861
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mahmud II
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Jul 2, 1839 - Jun 25, 1861
Succeeded by
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Mahmud II
Caliph of Islam
Jul 2, 1839 - Jun 25, 1861
Succeeded by


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