The Ottoman Caliphate


(note: this article is under construction)

Ottoman rulers were known primarily by the title of Sultan.
The first time the title of caliph was used as a political instead of symbolic religious title by the Ottomans was the peace treaty with Russia in 1774. The outcome of this war was disastrous for the Ottomans. Large territories, including those with large Muslim populations such as Crimea, were lost to the Christian Russian Empire.
However, the Ottomans under Abdulhamid I claimed a diplomatic victory, the recognition of themselves as protectors of Muslims in Russia as part of the peace treaty.
This was the first time the Ottoman caliph was acknowledged as having political significance outside of Ottoman borders by a European power. As a consequence of this diplomatic victory, as the Ottoman borders were shrinking, the powers of the Ottoman caliph increased.
Around 1880 Sultan Abdulhamid II reasserted the title as a way of countering creeping European colonialism in Muslim lands.
His claim was most fervently accepted by the Muslims of British India.
By the eve of the First World War, the Ottoman state, despite its weakness vis-à-vis Europe, represented the largest and most powerful independent Islamic political entity.
But the sultan also enjoyed some authority beyond the borders of his shrinking empire as caliph of Muslims in Egypt, India and Central Asia.

The Ottoman Empire



Abdülhamid II  1867

Abdul Hamid II (Ottoman Turkish: عبد الحميد ثانی‎, - Abdü’l-Ḥamīd-i sânî - Turkish: Ikinci Abdülhamit; 21 September 1842 – 10 February 1918) was the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and the last Sultan to exert effective autocratic control over the fracturing state.
He oversaw a period of decline in the power and extent of the Ottoman Empire, including widespread pogroms and government-sanctioned attacks on Armenians and Bulgarians, as well as an assassination attempt, ruling from 31 August 1876 until he was deposed shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, on 27 April 1909.
In accordance with an agreement made with the republican 'Young Ottomans', he promulgated the first Ottoman constitution of 1876 on 23 December 1876, which was a sign of progressive thinking that marked his early rule.
Soon, however, he claimed Western influence on Ottoman affairs and citing disagreements with Parliament, Abdul Hamid suspended both the short-lived constitution and Parliament in 1878 and seized absolute power, ending the first constitutional era of the Ottoman Empire.
Abdul Hamid's 1909 removal from the throne was hailed by most Ottoman citizens, who welcomed the return to constitutional rule after three decades.
Despite his conservatism and despotic rule, some modernization of the Ottoman Empire occurred during Abdul Hamid's long reign, including reform of the bureaucracy, the extension of the Rumelia Railway and Anatolia Railway, and the construction of the Baghdad Railway and Hejaz Railway, the establishment of a system for population registration and control over the press and the founding of the first modern law school in 1898.
The most far-reaching of these reforms were in education: professional schools were established.
The University of Istanbul, although shut down by Abdul Hamid himself in 1881, was reopened in 1900, and a network of secondary, primary, and military schools was extended throughout the empire.
Railway and telegraph systems were developed by primarily German firms.
Between 1871 and 1908, the 'Sublime Porte' thus "reached a new degree of organizational elaboration and articulation."


Abdul Hamid believed that the ideas of 'Tanzimat' could not bring the disparate peoples of the empire to a common identity, such as Ottomanism.
He tried to formulate a new ideological principle, 'Pan-Islamism'; since Ottoman sultans beginning with 1517 were also nominally 'Caliphs', he wanted to promote that fact and emphasized the Ottoman Caliphate.
Abdul Hamid usually resisted the pressure of the European powers to the last moment, in order to seem to yield only to overwhelming force, and to appear as the champion of Islam against aggressive Christendom.
Pan-Islamism was encouraged; the privileges of foreigners in the Ottoman Empire, which were often seen as an obstacle to effective government, were curtailed.
Along with the strategically important Constantinople-Baghdad Railway, the Constantinople-Medina Railway was also completed, making the trip to Mecca for Hajj more efficient.
Missionaries were sent to distant countries preaching Islam and the Caliph's supremacy.
Abdul Hamid's appeals to Muslim sentiment were not very effective due to widespread disaffection within the Empire.
In Mesopotamia and Yemen disturbance was endemic; nearer home, a semblance of loyalty was maintained in the army, and among the Muslim population, only by a system of deflation and espionage (see below).
After his rule began, Abdul Hamid became fearful of being assassinated and withdrew himself into the fortified seclusion of the Yildiz Palace.


Abdul Hamid II was born at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, on 21 September 1842.
He was the son of Sultan Abdülmecid and Tirimüjgan Kadinefendi (Circassia, 16 August 1819 – Beylerbeyi Palace, 2 November 1853).
After the death of his mother, he later became the adoptive son of his father's wife, 'Valide Sultan' Rahime Perestu.
Surprisingly, he was a skilled carpenter and personally crafted some high quality furniture, which can be seen today at the Yildiz Palace, Sale Kosku and Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul.
Abdul Hamid II was also interested in opera, and personally wrote the first-ever Turkish translations of many opera classics.
He also composed several opera pieces for the Mizika-yi Hümâyun (Ottoman Imperial Band/Orchestra, which was established by his grandfather Mahmud II who had appointed Donizetti Pasha as its Instructor General in 1828), and hosted the famous performers of Europe at the Opera House of Yildiz Palace.
Unlike many other Ottoman sultans, Abdul Hamid II traveled to distant countries.
Nine years before he took the throne, he accompanied his uncle Sultan Abdülaziz on his visit to Paris (30 June – 10 July 1867), London (12–23 July 1867), Vienna (28–30 July 1867) and the capitals or cities of a number of other European countries in the summer of 1867 (they departed from Istanbul on 21 June 1867 and returned on 7 August 1867).
He ascended to the throne following the deposition of his brother Murad on 31 August 1876.
At his accession, some commentators were impressed by the fact that he rode practically unattended to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque where he was girded with the 'Sword of Osman'.
Most people expected Abdul Hamid II to have liberal ideas, and some conservatives were inclined to regard him with suspicion as a dangerous reformer.

Abdul Hamid was exceptionally paranoid - part of the legacy of inherited mental instability that affected many of the later Ottoman Sultans - and set up an immense spying system throughout the empire.
His reign ended when the government decided to depose Abdul Hamid, and on 27 April his brother Reshad Efendi was proclaimed as Sultan Mehmed V.
The ex-sultan was conveyed into captivity at Salonica.
In 1912, when Salonica fell to Greece, he was returned to captivity in Constantinople.
Abdul Hamid also wrote poetry:

'My Lord I know you are the Dear One (Al-Aziz)

... And no one but you are the Dear One
You are the One, and nothing else
My God take my hand in these hard times

My God be my helper in this critical hour'

He spent his last days studying, carpentering and writing his memoirs in custody at Beylerbeyi Palace in the Bosphorus, where he died on 10 February 1918, just a few months before his brother, the Sultan.
He was buried in Constantinople.

Abdülhamid II

Abdulhamid II Tugra - The House of Osman 

Sultan Mehmed V 1917 

Mehmed V Resâd (Ottoman Turkish: محمد خامس Meḥmed-i ẖâmis - Turkish: Mehmed V Resad or Resat Mehmet) (2 November 1844 – 3 July 1918) was the 35th and penultimate Ottoman Sultan.
He was the son of Sultan Abdülmecid I.
He was succeeded by his half-brother Mehmed VI.
His nine-year reign was marked by the cession of the Empire's North African territories and the Dodecanese Islands, including Rhodes, in the Italo-Turkish War, the traumatic loss of almost all of the Empire's European territories west of Constantinople in the First Balkan War, and the entry of the Empire into World War I, which would ultimately lead to the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Sultan Mehmed VI Vahideddin

Abdülmecid II


T H E   H O U S E   O F   O S M A N
T O D A Y ?
Prince Konstantin V Mustafaev of The House of Osman
is this the successor to the Sword of Osman ?

Turga of Prince Konstantin V Mustafaev of The House of Osman

Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

(note: this article is under construction)

By the 1700s it was obvious that the Empire was in the initial phases of the process of decline.
This decline was evident in the sciences, technology, but most obviously in the military sphere.


The main cause of this decline was the excessive influence of conservative Muslim clergy.
In 1734 an artillery school was established to impart Western-style artillery methods, but the Islamic clergy successfully objected under the grounds of theodicy.
In 1754 the artillery school was reopened on a semi-secret basis.
In 1726, Ibrahim Muteferrika convinced the Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha, the Grand Mufti, and the clergy on the efficiency of the printing press, and Muteferrika was later granted by Sultan Ahmed III permission to publish non-religious books (despite opposition from some calligraphers and religious leaders).

Muteferrika's press published its first book in 1729 and, by 1743, issued 17 works in 23 volumes, each having between 500 and 1,000 copies.


Beginning from the late eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire faced challenges defending itself against foreign invasion and occupation.
In response to foreign threats, the empire initiated a period of tremendous internal reform which came to be known as the 'Tanzimat', which succeeded in significantly strengthening the Ottoman central state, despite the empire's precarious international position.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman state became increasingly powerful and rationalized, exercising a greater degree of influence over its population than in any previous era.
The process of reform and 'modernization' in the empire began with the declaration of the Nizam-i Cedid (New Order) during the reign of Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807), and was punctuated by several reform decrees, such as the Hatt-i Serif of Gülhane in 1839 and the Hatt-i Hümayun in 1856. 
At the end of this period, marked with 1908, to a degree the Ottoman military became modernized and professionalized according to the model of Western European Armies.
The period was followed by defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908–1922).

In 1768 Russian-backed Haidamaks, pursuing Polish confederates, entered Balta, an Ottoman-controlled town on the border of Bessarabia, and massacred its citizens and burned the town to the ground.
This action provoked the Ottoman Empire into the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774.
The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca of 1774 ended the war and provided freedom to worship for the Christian citizens of the Ottoman-controlled provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia.
By the late 18th century, a number of defeats in several wars with Russia led some people in the Ottoman Empire to conclude that the reforms of Peter the Great had given the Russians an edge, and the Ottomans would have to keep up with Western technology in order to avoid further defeats.
Selim III (1789–1807) made the first major attempts to modernize the army, but reforms were hampered by the religious leadership, and the Janissary corps.
Jealous of their privileges and firmly opposed to change, the Janissary created a revolt.
Selim's efforts cost him his throne and his life, but were resolved in spectacular and bloody fashion by his successor, the dynamic Mahmud II, who eliminated the Janissary corps in 1826.
The Serbian revolution (1804–1815) marked the beginning of an era of national awakening in the Balkans during the Eastern Question.
Suzerainty of Serbia as a hereditary monarchy under its own dynasty was acknowledged de jure in 1830.
In 1821, the Greeks declared war on the Sultan.
A rebellion that originated in Moldavia as a diversion was followed by the main revolution in the Peloponnese, which, along with the northern part of the Gulf of Corinth, became the first parts of the Ottoman empire to achieve independence (in 1829).
By the mid-19th century, the Ottoman Empire was called the "sick man" by Europeans.
The suzerain states – the Principality of Serbia, Wallachia, Moldavia and Montenegro – moved towards de jure independence during the 1860s and 1870s.
During the Tanzimat period (1839–1876), the government's series of constitutional reforms led to a fairly modern conscripted army, banking system reforms, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the replacement of religious law with secular law and guilds with modern factories.

تنظيمات (Tanzimât) literally meaning reorganization of the Ottoman Empire, was a period of reformation that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876.
The Tanzimât reform era was characterized by various attempts to modernize the Ottoman Empire and to secure its territorial integrity against nationalist movements from within and aggressive powers from outside of the state. The reforms encouraged Ottomanism among the diverse ethnic groups of the Empire, attempting to stem the tide of nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire. The reforms attempted to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into Ottoman society by enhancing their civil liberties and granting them equality throughout the Empire.

The Ottoman Ministry of Post was established in Istanbul on 23 October 1840.
Samuel Morse received his first ever patent for the telegraph in 1847, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new invention.
Following this successful test, installation works of the first telegraph line (Istanbul-Adrianople-Şumnu) began on 9 August 1847.
The reformist period peaked with the Constitution, called the Kanûn-u Esâsî.
The empire's First Constitutional era, was short-lived.
The parliament survived for only two years before the sultan suspended it.
The Christian population of the empire, owing to their higher educational levels, started to pull ahead of the Muslim majority, leading to much resentment on the part of the latter.
In 1861, there were 571 primary and 94 secondary schools for Ottoman Christians with 140,000 pupils in total, a figure that vastly exceeded the number of Muslim children in school at the same time, who were further hindered by the amount of time spent learning Arabic and Islamic theology.
In turn, the higher educational levels of the Christians allowed them to play a large role in the economy.
In 1911, of the 654 wholesale companies in Istanbul, 528 were owned by ethnic Greeks.
The Crimean War (1853–1856) was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire.
The financial burden of the war led the Ottoman state to issue foreign loans amounting to 5 million pounds sterling on 4 August 1854.
The war caused an exodus of the Crimean Tatars, about 200,000 of whom moved to the Ottoman Empire in continuing waves of emigration.
Toward the end of the Caucasian Wars, 90% of the Circassians were ethnically cleansed and exiled from their homelands in the Caucasus and fled to the Ottoman Empire, resulting in the settlement of 500,000 to 700,000 Circassians in Turkey.
The Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) ended with a decisive victory for Russia.
As a result, Ottoman holdings in Europe declined sharply; Bulgaria was established as an independent principality inside the Ottoman Empire, Romania achieved full independence. Serbia and Montenegro finally gained complete independence, but with smaller territories.
In 1878, Austria-Hungary unilaterally occupied the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Novi Pazar.
Although the Ottoman government contested this move, its troops were defeated within three weeks.
In return for British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's advocacy for restoring the Ottoman territories on the Balkan Peninsula during the Congress of Berlin, Britain assumed the administration of Cyprus in 1878, and later sent troops to Egypt in 1882, with the pretext of helping the Ottoman government to put down the Urabi Revolt; effectively gaining control in both territories.
From 1894–96, between 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians living throughout the empire were killed in what became known as the Hamidian massacres.
As the Ottoman Empire gradually shrank in size, many Balkan Muslims migrated to the empire's remaining territory in Balkans or to the heartland in Anatolia.


The rise of nationalism swept through many countries during the 19th century, and it affected territories within the Ottoman Empire.
A burgeoning national consciousness, together with a growing sense of ethnic nationalism, made nationalistic thought one of the most significant Western ideas imported to the Ottoman Empire.
The empire was forced to deal with nationalism from both within and beyond its borders.
The number of revolutionary, secret societies which turned into political parties during the next period rose dramatically.
Uprisings in Ottoman territory had many far-reaching consequences during the 19th century and determined much of the Ottoman policy during the early 20th century.
Many Ottoman ruling elite questioned whether the policies of the state were to blame: some felt that the sources of ethnic conflict were external, and unrelated to issues of governance.
While this era was not without some successes, the ability of the Ottoman state to have any effect on ethnic uprisings was seriously called into question.


The Russian extension in this century developed with the main theme of supporting independence of Ottomans' former provinces and then bringing all of the Slav peoples of the Balkans under Bulgaria or using Armenians in the east sets the stage.
At the end of the century from Russian perspective; Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and autonomy of Bulgaria was achieved.
That alarmed the Great Powers.
After the Congress of Berlin the Russian expansion was controlled through stopping the expansion of Bulgaria.
The Russian public felt that at the end of Congress of Berlin thousands of Russian soldiers had died for nothing.
The military of the Ottoman Empire remained an effective fighting force until the second half of the eighteenth century, when it suffered a catastrophic defeat against Russia in the 1768-74 war.


Selim III came to the throne with an ambitious effort in military reforms in 1789.
He failed, and Selim III was replaced by Mahmud II in 1808 who established martial law of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha.
His first task was to ally with the Janissaries in order to break the power of the provincial governors.
He then turned on the Janissaries, and removed them from power during Auspicious Incident in 1826 (see above).
Efforts for a new system (1826–1858) began following was was referred to as 'the Auspicious Incident'.
The stagnation and reform of the Ottoman Empire (1683–1827) ended with the dismemberment of Ottoman Classical Army.
The issue during the decline and modernization of the Ottoman Empire (1828–1908) was to create a military (a security apparatus) that could win wars and bring security to its subjects.
That goal took multiple Sultans with multiple reorganizations during this period.
At the end of this period, with the Second Constitutional Era in 1908, - with a degree of- Ottoman military became modernized and professionalized in the form of European Armies.

Defeat and Dissolution

The Second Constitutional Era began after the Young Turk Revolution (3 July 1908) with the sultan's announcement of the restoration of the 1876 constitution and the reconvening of the Ottoman Parliament.
It marked the beginning of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
This era is dominated by the politics of the 'Committee of Union and Progress', and the movement that would become known as the 'Young Turks'.
Profiting from the civil strife, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, but it pulled its troops out of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, another contested region between the Austrians and Ottomans, to avoid a war.
During the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12), in which the Ottoman Empire lost Libya, the Balkan League declared war against the Ottoman Empire.
The Empire lost the Balkan Wars (1912–13).
It lost its Balkan territories except East Thrace and the historic Ottoman capital city of Adrianople during the war.
Some 400,000 Muslims, out of fear of Greek, Serbian or Bulgarian atrocities, left with the retreating Ottoman army.
During the period from 1821 to 1922 alone, the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims in the Balkans led to the death of several million individuals, and the expulsion of a similar number.
By 1914 the Ottoman Empire had been driven out of nearly all of Europe and North Africa. 
It still controlled 28 million people, of whom 15.5 million were in modern-day Turkey, 4.5 million in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, and 2.5 million in Iraq.
Another 5.5 million people were under nominal Ottoman rule in the Arabian peninsula.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers (?), in which it took part in the Middle Eastern theatre.
There were several important Ottoman victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut, but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians.
The United States never declared war against the Ottoman Empire.
In 1915, as the Russian Caucasus Army continued to advance in eastern Anatolia, aided by some Ottoman Armenians, the Ottoman government started the deportation and massacre of its ethnic Armenian population.
Ethnic cleansing was also enforced against the Greek and Assyrian minorities.
The 'Arab Revolt', engineered by the British, which began in 1916 turned the tide against the Ottomans at the Middle Eastern front, where they initially seemed to have the upper hand during the first two years of the war.
The Armistice of Mudros, signed on 30 October 1918, ended the hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre, and was followed with occupation of Constantinople and subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire was solidified. 
The last quarter of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century saw some 7–9 million Turkish-Muslim refugees from the lost territories of the Caucasus, Crimea, Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands migrate to Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.
The occupation of Constantinople and İzmir led to the establishment of a Turkish national movement, which won the Turkish War of Independence (1919–22) under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha (known later as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk).
The sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922, and the last sultan, Mehmed VI (reigned 1918–22), left the country on 17 November 1922.

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey declared the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923. The Caliphate was abolished on 3 March 1924.