1871-1878 1908-1914

The Ottoman Empire 1878-1908

Domestic Policy : ABDULHAMID II. had ascended to the throne in 1876, after two of his predecessors had been deposed that year. In 1877 he terminated the attempt to transform the Ottoman Empire in a constitutional parliamentary monarchy, establishing a form of personal rule that was perceived as excentric and despotic.
The administration under Abdulhamid II. is described as autocratic; yet even under her, reforms continued, particularly in the sector of education : schools of finance (1878), law (1878), commerce (1882), a polytechnic (1884), a police academy (1891) etc. were established; in 1900 the UNIVERSITY OF ISTANBUL began operation.
Railway construction had begun in 1866; under Abdulhamid it was intensified. In 1888 the ORIENT EXPRESS, connecting Paris via Vienna with Istanbul, began operation; plans for the BAGHDAD and HEJAZ RAILWAY were made.
Since 1854 the Ottoman Empire had taken foreign loans in order to finance her wars and her modernization policies; by 1876 interest payments alone made up half of the state revenue. In 1881, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, a western-manned bureau was established to administrate a sighnificant segment of the Ottoman economy (several provinces). The PDA was more professional in administrating the revenues than the Ottoman Ministry of Finances, and the surplus revenues ere used to pay down debt.
Sultan Abdulhamid was paranoid; he created irregular Kurdish regiments and incited them to turn on Armenian civilians (pogroms of 1895-1896, estimates of the number of victims range beteen 25,000 and 250,000).

Foreign Policy : In 1877-1878 the Ottoman Empire suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Russians in yet another Russo-Ottoman War, which had arisen out of a Bulgarian rebellion in 1875/76 and out of atrocities committed by Ottoman troops in their suppression. The Sublime Porte signed the humiliating PEACE OF SAN STEFANO which, by creating a large independent Bulgaria, turned the Ottoman Empire's possessions on the Balkans into a torso.
Other European powers, most of all Britain and Austria, came to the rescue. They were not willing to accept such an increase in Russian influence on the Balkans peninsula, and it seemed that a repetition of the Crimean War threatened. At that moment, Otto von Bismarck invited all interested governments to send their plenipotentiaries to Berlin. At the BERLIN CONGRESS of 1878, Bulgaria's borders were revised; Serbia gained Nis; the Ottoman Empire recognized the independence of Serbia, Montenegro and Romania; Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Sandjak of Novipazar, and the British Empire leased Cyprus from the Sublime Porte. Although the solution found by the Berlin Congress still resulted in considerable territorial losses, the solution provided for a remaining Ottoman territory in Europe which was easier to administrate and defend than the torso left by the Peace of San Stefano. In 1881 the Ottoman Empire ceded THESSALY to Greece.
In 1882, Britain proclaimed a protectorate over Egypt - technically independent under its Khedive, but nominally subject to the Sultan, who protested. In 1883 France declared her protectorate over Tunisia, hitherto an Ottoman vassall.
Sultan Abdulhamid II. began to look at Germany as a reliable ally - in contrast to France and Britain, Germany seemed not interested in the acquisition of Ottoman territory, and Germany with its advanced technology and strong economy could help in the development of the Ottoman economy. Projects with strong German investment were the BAGHDAD RAILWAY and the HEJAZ RAILWAY.
In 1897 a rebellion began on the island of Crete; Greece declared war on the Ottoman Empire, but suffered a defeat. Four powers occupied Crete, administrating it for the next ten years, the island still being treated as Ottoman territory. An uprising in Macedonia also indicated another crisis.

Sultan Abdulhamid II., from Ottoman Web Site
Biography Of Sultan Abdul Hameed The Second And The Fall Of The Islamic Khilafa, from ummah.org, tendentious
Hamidian Massacres, from Wikipedia
M.U. Ekinci, The Origins of the 1897 Ottoman-Greek War - A Diplomatic History, masters thesis Bilkent University 2006
DOCUMENTS Article Türkisches Reich, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890 edition, in German
On the Armenian Minority in the Ottoman Empire, in "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.1 No.16, February 1897, Vol.1 No.44, September 1897, Vol.1 No.47, September 1897, posted by Gutenberg Library Online
REFERENCE Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons, 1999, 352 pp.
Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, Oxford : University Press, (1961) 1969, 524 pp.
Douglas A. Howard, The History of Turkey, Westport CT : Greenwood 2001, KMLA Lib.Sign. 956.1 H848h
Article : Turkey and Tributary States (Ottoman Empire), in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.1011-1032, 1037-1038, 1898 pp.1012-1032, 1038-1041 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : Statesman's Year Book 1901 pp.1121-1141, 1150-1153, 1905 pp.1214-1232, 1244-1245 [G]
Article : Turkey, or the Ottoman Empire, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.786-789, 1899 pp.796-798, 1900 pp.882-883 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.785-790, 1908 pp.703-711 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1886 pp.821-822, 1894 pp.744-746 [G]
Algernon Bastard, The Gourmet's Guide to Europe (1903), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, chapter XV pp.226-230 on Turkey
News from Turkey, from "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.III No.15, April 1899, pp.525-528 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on April 22nd 2002, last revised on November 1st 2007

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz