Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Table of Contents
Sultan Abdul Hamid II is considered one of the most important and famous sultans of the Ottoman Empire, as he took over the rule of the state during a difficult period and faced many crises during his era.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II ruled the Ottoman Empire for nearly 33 years, and he achieved many achievements during his time, the most famous of which was the Hejaz Railway, in addition to strengthening the defenses of the Çanakkale area, spreading education, opening schools and establishing factories.
The lineage and family of Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Sultan Abdul Hamid II belongs to the Ottoman family, as his full name until Ertugrul Gazi is:
Sultan Abdul Hamid II son of Sultan Abdul Majid I son of Mahmoud II son of Abd al-Hamid I son of Ahmed III son of Muhammad IV son of Ibrahim I son of Ahmed I son of Muhammad III son of Murad III son of Salim II son of Suleiman the Magnificent son of Selim I bin Bayazid II son of Muhammad Al-Fatih son of Murad II son of Muhammad I son of Bayazid I son of Murad I son of Orhan Gazi son of Osman son of Erturgul Gazi
Sultan Abdul Hamid II married:
- Nazikeda Kadın
- Bedrifelek Kadın
- Nurefsun Kadın
- Bidar Kadın
- Dilpesend Kadın
- Mezide Mestan Kadın
- Emsalinur Kadın
- Müşfika Kadın
- Sazkar Hanım
- Peyveste Hanım
- Fatima Basind.
- Pesend Hanım
- Behice Hanım
- Saliha Naciye Hanım
The life of Sultan Abdul Hamid II before the sultanate
The mother of Sultan Abdul Hamid died at the age of ten, so he was raised by Presto Hanim.
The Sultan learned Arabic, Farsi, and French languages, in addition to the Ottoman language at a young age, and he completed the study of Sahih al-Bukhari in the science of hadith.
The Sultan also learned politics and economics by the Minister of Education, as well as literature, Islamic sciences, poetry, mysticism, calligraphy and music.
The prince Abdul Hamid traveled to Egypt and Europe with his uncle, Sultan Abdul Aziz, over a period of about a month and a half.
The Sultan worked in the trade profession, in the days of his father, Sultan Abdul Majid I, and he was passionate about it, as he loved equestrian and sports.
The Sultan was known for his love for religion, as his daughter Aisha said of him:
My father used to perform the five daily prayers on time, recite the Holy Qur’an, and in his youth he walked the Shadhiliyya path, and he used to frequent mosques, especially in the month of Ramadan
The era of Sultan Abdul Hamid II
The reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid began on the eleventh of Shaban 1293 AH corresponding to August 31, 1876, succeeding his brother Sultan Murad the Fifth.
The Sultan took power after his brother, Murad V, suffered a mental breakdown, following the coup against his uncle, Sultan Abdul aziz, who died.
The Sultan went to the tomb of the prophet Mohamed companion Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and took the Sultani Sword there, according to a tradition inherited since the conquest of Constantinople.
The Sultan then visited the tomb of his father, Sultan Abdul Majid I, then the tomb of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, and then to the tomn of his grandfather Mahmoud II and his uncle Abdulaziz I.
The Sultan took power during a difficult period, as the Ottoman Empire was facing major financial problems, and bloody revolutions in the Balkans sparked by nationalist elements.
Since the first day of his reign, the Sultan faced difficult situations, the most important of which was the spread of separatist ideas and financial crises.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II did not possess real powers in the first two years of his reign, as Midhat Pasha, known for his pro-Western affiliation, had the final say in all important matters after announcing the first meşrutiyet.
The Ottoman Empire declared bankruptcy only a year before the Sultan took power.
Unrest and revolutions in the empire erupted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia.
The European countries sent a list to the Ottoman Empire claiming the injustice of the Christians and demanding the improvement of their conditions while European ambassadors monitored the procedures followed, which was considered by the ottoman parliament as a blatant interference in the state’s sovereignty.
The parliament rejected the list, which is what Russia used as a pretext to declare war on the Ottoman Empire.
Sultan Abdul Hamid knew the inability of the state to enter a war, and therefore he tended to try to conclude peace with Russia, but Medhat Pasha declared war anyway without concern for the sultan’s desire.
The war was disastrous for the Ottoman Empire, as Russia occupied Romania, and Bulgaria, and reached Edirne.
Russian forces were only about a kilometer away from Istanbul, and Russia invaded Anatolia and surrounded the capital from all directions.
The Ottoman Empire, under the weight of defeat, was forced to conclude the Treaty of San Stefano with Russia, whose provisions were extremely unfair, as it was stated:
- Independence of Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia.
- Paying a fine to Russia in the amount of 250 million gold liras, and in the event of failure to pay the bankruptcy of the state, the land will be paid
- The Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits opened for Russia, both times of peace and war.
- A pledge to protect the Christians of Crete and the Armenians.
- Granting Russia 6 Ottoman warships.
Sultan Abdul Hamid exercised many pressures to try to prevent these provisions, but he succeeded in preventing the last clause only, so that the state would keep its warships.
Dissolving the parliament and assuming power
After the crushing defeat suffered by the state, the Sultan decided to dissolve the parliament, suspend the constitution and assume power completely.
The Greco-Ottoman War
A war broke out between the Ottoman Empire and the Greek Kingdom in 1897, as Greece sought to gain control of the Ottoman island of Crete.
Greece occupied the island, and the Ottoman Empire declared war on it
The war witnessed a crushing Ottoman military victory, as the Ottomans made a peace with Greece according to the following conditions:
- Inclusion of border regions from Thessaly to the Ottoman Empire
- Paying 4 million Ottoman liras in war compensation
- Preserving the island of Crete and granting it self-rule under the authority of the Ottoman Empire
- The survival of the Ottoman forces in the occupied territories of Greece until all of the previous conditions are implemented
The state of the Ottoman Empire under the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Sultan Abdul Hamid assumed the rule of the Ottoman Empire in extremely difficult circumstances, as the state’s debts had reached what amounted to 2 billion Ottoman liras.
- Reducing the debts of the Ottoman Empire to more than one-tenth from about 2 billion to 100 million Ottoman pounds
- Reducing the salaries of princes and ministers.
- Transfer oversight of the minors ’financial allocations to the Ministry of Finance instead of the private treasury.
- Establishing banks
- Relying on the gold and silver as a main currency.
- Abolishing the foreign franchise system
- Encouraging internal trade between states at the expense of imports from abroad
- Increasing agricultural exports
- Establishing necessary railways, roads and infrastructure
- Establishing an agricultural bank to provide the necessary financing to farmers
- The establishment of the Hejaz Railway, which contributed greatly to the ease of movement of agricultural products
- Activating the system of medium and small properties
- Diversification the agricultural production of crops
- Establishing a school of agriculture to teach the latest agricultural sciences
Despite the decline of the Ottoman Empire dramatically in many areas, the era of Sultan Abdul Hamid is considered the peak of economic progress in the era of decline in general.
The Sultan faced many challenges, but he managed them with skill and wisdom, which led to an economic renaissance in all the lands of the empire.
Education during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II witnessed a great renaissance, as the Sultan is one of the most prominent sultans who developed education.
The Sultan led the largest campaign for education in Ottoman history, opening schools and universities, and updating educational curricula.
The Sultan established middle and higher schools and technical institutes, and he modernized curricula and scientific plans.