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

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