1808-1839 1861-1871

The Ottoman Empire 1839-1861

In 1839 Sultan Mahmud II. was succeeded by his son Abdulmecid. In Turkish historiography, the years under his rule (1839-1861) are referred to as the Tanzimat Period, Tanzimat expressing a set of individual reforms.
At the outset of his rule, Abdulmecid faced yet another challenge from Muhammad Ali, the independent-minded Khedive of Egypt; at Nezib the Ottoman forces suffered another crushing defeat (1839). Abdulmecid promulgated the Noble Rescript of the Rose Bower, a set of liberal principles on which his government was to be based.
In 1839, the solar calendar was introduced (Rumi Calendar); the counting of years began with the year 622, but the months and days of the Julian calendar were used; the year began in March.
A Council of Justice established, a new Penal Code was promulgated in 1840, a new Commercial Code in 1841, which was based on a French model. An Ottoman Bank was established (1840), the first paper money issued (1841)
In 1841, resistance to certain aspects of the reform, regarded in violation with Islamic tradition, caused the dismissal of Reshid Pasha, one of the main architects of the Tanzimat reforms. In 1846 an Assembly of Provincial Notables was called to assemble, a first parliament of the Ottoman Empire. Intended as a forum which would provide the administration with information about the situation in the provinces and the sentiment of the respective population, it was an utter failure, as the delegates, selected from the educated and trusted, remained silent (unaccustomed to democratic tradition and distrustful of the administration). An ambitious reform of education was begun but only partially implemented, due to lack of funding. The plan to found an Ottoman University had failed; a number of secondary schools were established (1845). In 1847 new courts were created, in which European legal tradition dominated over Islamic legal tradition. In 1850 a Commercial Code (Reshid Pasha) was published. Reshid Pasha again was dismissed in 1852. In 1856 the Sultan again proclaimed intended reforms, the most drastic the introduction of equal treatment of all subjects, disregarding their religion. In 1858 a new Penal Code and a Land Code were published, a judicial reform in 1860, another Commercial Code in 1861; a Maritime Code - after Sultan Abdulmecid's death - in 1863.

In 1839/1840, with British support, the challenge posed by Egypt was dealt with; control over Syria was regained, the autonomy (factual independence) of Egypt recognized, Ottoman sovereignty over Iraq, Tripolitania, the Cyrenaica and Fezzan restored by ousting local potentates.
in 1852 found another enemy - Russia. At French request, the Sultan had ordered the key of Church of the Holy Sepulchre handed over to the Catholic Community; the Czar of Russia, claiming to be the protector of the Ottoman Empire's Ottoman christians demanded the key to be returned to her former holders; when this demand was not fulfilled, Russia declared war (the Crimean War). The Ottoman fleet was quickly defeated; Britain and France, joined by Sardinia, came to the Ottoman Empire's rescue. The fact that the Sultan did not have to cede major territories to Russia was due primarily to Anglo-French military achievements.

Abdulmecid from Ottoman Web Site
REFERENCE Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons, 1999, 352 pp.
Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, Oxford : University Press, (1961) 1969, 524 pp.
Andrew Mango, Atatürk. The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey. Woodstock : Overlook 1999

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on April 22nd 2002, last revised on May 10th 2006

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