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Abdulmejid I
Ottoman Caliph
Amir al-Mu'minin
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Portrait by Konstantin Cretius
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Padishah)
Reign2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861
PredecessorMahmud II
Grand Viziers
Born25 April 1823[1][2]
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died25 June 1861(1861-06-25) (aged 38)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
ConsortsServetseza Kadın
Şevkefza Kadın
Tirimüjgan Kadın
Verdicenan Kadın
Gülcemal Kadın
Gülistu Kadın
Rahime Perestu Kadın
Bezmiara Kadın
Mahitab Kadın
Düzdidil Hanım
Nükhetseza Hanım
Zeynifelek Hanım
Nesrin Hanım
Ceylanyar Hanım
Serfiraz Hanım
Nalandil Hanım
Navekimisal Hanım
Nergizev Hanım
Şayeste Hanım
Among others
Abdülmecid Han bin Mahmud[3]
FatherMahmud II
MotherBezmiâlem Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
TughraAbdulmejid I's signature

Abdulmejid I (Ottoman Turkish: عبد المجيد اول, romanizedʿAbdü'l-Mecîd-i evvel, Turkish: I. Abdülmecid; 25 April 1823 – 25 June 1861) was the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He succeeded his father Mahmud II on 2 July 1839.[4] His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories. Abdulmejid wanted to encourage Ottomanism among secessionist subject nations and stop rising nationalist movements within the empire, but despite new laws and reforms to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into Ottoman society, his efforts failed in this regard. Abdulmejid's biggest achievement was the announcement and application of the Tanzimat (reorganization) reforms which were prepared by his father and effectively started the modernization of the Ottoman Empire in 1839.

He tried to forge alliances with the major powers of Western Europe, namely the United Kingdom and France, who fought alongside the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War against Russia. During the Congress of Paris on 30 March 1856, the Ottoman Empire was officially included among the Concert of Europe.

Early life

Abdulmejid in his youth, by David Wilkie, 1840.

Abdulmejid was born on 25 April 1823 at the Beşiktaş Palace or at the Topkapı Palace, in Istanbul. His mother was the Georgian consort Bezmiâlem Kadın.[5][6][7][8]

Abdulmejid received a European education and spoke fluent French, being the first sultan to do so.[1] Like Abdülaziz who succeeded him, he was interested in literature and classical music.


Oriental Crisis

When Abdulmejid succeeded to the throne on 2 July 1839 when he was only sixteen, he was young and inexperienced, and the affairs of the Ottoman Empire were in a critical state. His father Mahmud II died at the start of the Second Egyptian–Ottoman War, the news reached Istanbul that the empire's army had just been defeated at Nizip by the army of the rebel Egyptian viceroy, Muhammad Ali. At the same time, the empire's fleet was on its way to Alexandria, where it was handed over to Muhammad Ali by its commander Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, on the pretext that the young sultan's advisers had sided with Russia. However, through the intervention of the European powers during the Oriental Crisis of 1840, Muhammad Ali was obliged to come to terms, and the Ottoman Empire was saved from further attacks while its territories in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine were restored. The terms were finalised at the Convention of London (1840) which saved his empire from a greater embarrassment.[1]

Tanzimat reforms

Main article: Tanzimat

Like his father, Abdulmejid was an advocate of reforms and was lucky enough to have the support of progressive viziers such as Mustafa Reşit Pasha, Mehmet Emin Âli Paşa and Fuad Pasha. Abdulmejid was also the first sultan to directly listen to the public's complaints on special reception days, which were usually held every Friday without any middlemen. Abdulmejid toured the empire's territories to see in person how the Tanzimat reforms were being applied. He travelled to İzmit, Mudanya, Bursa, Gallipoli, Çanakkale, Lemnos, Lesbos and Chios in 1844 and toured the Balkan provinces in 1846. In compliance with his father's express instructions, Abdulmejid immediately carried out the reforms to which Mahmud II had devoted himself. On 3 November, 1839 the Edict of Gülhane, also known as Tanzimat Fermanı was proclaimed, consolidating and enforcing these reforms.

By these enactments it was provided that all classes of the sultan's subjects should have their lives and property protected; that taxes should be fairly imposed and justice impartially administered; and that all should have full religious liberty and equal civil rights. The scheme met with strong opposition from the Muslim governing classes and the ulema, or religious authorities, and was only partially implemented, especially in the more remote parts of the empire. More than one conspiracy was formed against the sultan's life on account of it.[9]

The 1840s saw the creation of the first bank notes and the establishment of the Ottoman lira. The financial system was reorganised according to the French model. Tax farming was abolished and aşar was to be equally levied everywhere. Plans were also set to abolish slave markets.[10] After the Imperial Reform Edict, further reforms towards equality between millets were implemented, including an abolition of a capitation tax which imposed higher tariffs on non-Muslims and the right to serve as soldiers in the Ottoman army.[1]

Other reforms done to emulate France was the reorganisation of the Civil and Criminal Code and the reorganization of education. The General Council of Educaiton (Meclis-i Maarif-i Umumiye) was created in 1841 following which came the Ministry of Education [tr].[1] The court system was reorganised, as a new system of civil and criminal courts were established with both European and Ottoman judges.[1] The first modern universities and academies of the European tradition were established in 1848, around which also coincided with the establishment of an Ottoman school in Paris.[1]

Many army reforms were also implimented in the early 1840s, including the introduction of conscription.[1] In 1844, an Ottoman national flag was adopted and Abdul Mecid's anthem was adopted as the Ottoman imperial anthem.

In 1853 the General Council of Reorganization (Meclis-i Âli-i Tanzimat) was established. Two representatives from each eyalet were summoned to a council to report the needs of their region. This was the prototype of the First Ottoman Parliament (1876)

Another notable reform was that the turban was officially outlawed for the first time during Abdulmejid's reign, in favour of the fez. European fashions were also adopted by the Court. (The fez would be banned in 1925 by the same Republican National Assembly that abolished the sultanate and proclaimed the Turkish Republic in 1923).

Foreign politics

When Lajos Kossuth and his comrades sought refuge in Turkey after the failure of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the sultan was called on by Austria and Russia to surrender them, but he refused.[1]

According to legend,[11][12][13] plans were made to send humanitarian aid of £10,000[10] (£1,225,053.76 in 2019[14]) to Ireland during its Great Famine, but later it was agreed to reduce it to £1,000[10] (£122,505.38 in 2019[14]) at the insistence of either his own ministers or British diplomats to avoid violating protocol by giving more than Queen Victoria, who had made a donation of £2,000.[10]

Sultan Abdulmejid (left) with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Emperor Napoleon III of France

Crimean War and aftermath

Main article: Crimean War

On 16 October 1853, the Ottoman Empire entered another war against Russia that would be known as the Crimean War, where it was soon joined by France and Britain. The Ottomans successfully participated in the war and were winning signatories at the Treaty of Paris (1856). The Empire would be inducted into the Concert of Europe. In a compromise with the Great Powers, Abdul Mecid issued another reform edict on February 1856 known as the Imperial Reform Edict (Islâhat Hatt-ı Hümâyûnu) which was perceived by many subjects as relinquishing sovereignty. The Ottoman Empire received the first of its foreign loans on 25 August 1854 during the war. This major foreign loan was followed by those of 1855, 1858 and 1860, which culminated in default and led to the alienation of European sympathy from the Ottoman Empire and indirectly to the later dethronement and death of Abdulmejid's brother Abdülaziz.[9]

On the one hand, financial imperfections, and on the other hand, the discontent caused by the wide privileges given to the non-Muslim subjects again led the country to confusion. His attempts at strengthening his base in the Balkans were overshadowed by incidents that took place in Montenegro in 1858 and Bosnia. In 1861 he was forced to give up Lebanon through the creation of the Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon.[1]

The major European states had taken the opportunity to intervene in their own interests. The Ottoman statesmen, who panicked in the face of this situation. The fact that Abdulmejid could not prevent this situation further increased the dissatisfaction caused by the Edict of Tanzimat.[15] The opponents formed the Society of Fedâis [tr] which sought to eliminate Abdulmejid and put Abdulaziz on the throne in order to prevent the European states from acting like a guardian. This revolt attempt, the Küleli Incident, was suppressed before it even started on 14 September 1859. Meanwhile, the financial situation deteriorated and foreign debts, which were taken under heavy conditions to cover the costs of war, placed a burden on the treasury. All of the debts received from Beyoğlu consumers exceeded eighty million gold liras. Some of the debt securities and hostages were taken by foreign traders and bankers. The Grand Vizier Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha, who criticized this situation harshly, was dismissed by the sultan on 18 October 1859.[15]

Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in Istanbul, was built by Abdulmejid between 1843 and 1856, at a cost of five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tons of gold. Fourteen tons of gold was used to adorn the interior ceiling of the palace. The world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier is in the centre hall. The palace has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world, and even the staircases are made of Baccarat crystal.


The Egyptian governor Mehmed Ali Pasha[who?], who came to Istanbul as the official invitation of the sultan on 19 July 1846, was shown privileged hospitality by the sultan and the vükela (government ministers). So much so that the old vizier built the Galata bridge in 1845 so that he could drive between Beșiktaș Palace and Bab-ı Ali.[16]

Although he emphasized his commitment to the ceremonial rules imposed by his ancestors at the ceremonies reflected outside, he adopted radical changes in the life of the palace. For example, he abandoned the Topkapı Palace, which the Ottoman dynasty had used for four centuries, and constructed the more modern Dolmabahçe Palace. Between 1847 and 1849 he had repairs made to the Hagia Sophia mosque. He also founded the first French Theatre in Istanbul.[1]

Many reconstruction activities were also carried out during the reign of Abdulmecid. Palaces and mansions were built with some of the borrowed money. An addition to Dolmabahçe Palace (1853), Beykoz Pavilion (1855), Küçüksu Pavilion (1857), Küçük Mecidiye Mosque (1849), Teşvikiye Mosque (1854) are among the main architectural works of the period. Again in this period, as was done by Bezmiâlem Sultan's Gureba Hospital (1845-1846), the new Galata Bridge was put into service on the same date. In addition, many fountains, mosques, lodges and similar social institutions were repaired or rebuilt.[15]


Abdulmejid died of tuberculosis (like his father) at the age of 38 on 25 June 1861 in Istanbul, and was buried in Yavuz Selim Mosque, and was succeeded by his younger half-brother Sultan Abdulaziz, son of Pertevniyal Sultan. At the time of his death, Abdulmejid had one legal wife and queen consort, Perestu Kadın, and many concubines.


Abdulmejid would not allow conspirators against his own life to be put to death. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica says of him, "He bore the character of being a kind and honourable man, if somewhat weak and easily led. Against this, however, must be set down his excessive extravagance, especially towards the end of his life."[9]

Honours and emblem


Garter emblem and arms

The Crimean War medal issued by Abdulmejid to British, French and Sardinian allied personnel involved in the Crimean War (Sardinian issue)
Abdulmecid created a coat of arms for the Ottoman Empire in 1846, which would be replaced in 1882
Order of the Garter emblem of Sultan Abdulmecid


The türbe of Abdulmejid is located inside the Yavuz Selim Mosque in Fatih, Istanbul.

Abdülmejid had one of the most numerous harem of the dynasty. He is known to be the first sultan whose harem was not composed of slave girls but, due to the progressive abolition of slavery in the Ottoman Empire, of girls of free birth, noble or bourgeois, sent to the sultan by the will of the families. He was also the first sultan whose harem assumed a defined hierarchical structure which included four Kadın, followed by four Ikbal, four gözde and a variable number of minor concubines.


Abdülmejid I had at least twenty-six consorts, but only two were also legal wives:[20][21][22][23][24]


Abdülmecid had at least nineteen sons:[20][21][25][23]


Abdülmecid I had at least twenty-seven daughters:[20][21][26][23][24]

In fiction


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Abdulmecid I". Encyclopædia Britannica (online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  2. ^ There are sources that state his birth date as 23 April.
  3. ^ Garo Kürkman, (1991), Osmanlılarda Ölçü Ve Tartılar, p. 61
  4. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3
  5. ^ Mahinur, Tuna (2007). İlk Türk kadın ressam: Mihri Rasim (Müşfik) Açba. As Yayın. p. 25. ISBN 9789750172502. Bezmialem Sultan da Açba hanedanından imiş , ama onlara Gürcü söyleyişiyle " Maçabeli " diyorlarmış [Bezmialem Sultan was also from the Achba dynasty, but they called them "Machabeli" in Georgian language.]
  6. ^ "Gürcistan Dostluk Derneği". Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Bezmiâlem Valide Sultan, Bezmiâlem Vakıf Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi Hastanesi". Archived from the original on 6 June 2012.
  8. ^ The Private World of Ottoman Women by Godfrey Goodwin, 2007, p.157
  9. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abd-ul-Mejid". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 36–37.
  10. ^ a b c d Christine Kinealy (2013), Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland: The Kindness of Strangers, p. 115
  11. ^ Kinealy, Christine (1997). "Potatoes, providence and philanthropy". In O'Sullivan, Patrick (ed.). The Meaning of the Famine. London: Leicester University Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-7185-1426-2. According to a popular tradition, which dates back to 1853...
  12. ^ Ó Gráda, Cormac (1999). Black '47 and Beyond. Princeton University Press. pp. 197–198. ISBN 0-691-01550-3. ...populist myths...
  13. ^ Akay, Latifa (29 January 2012), "Ottoman aid to the Irish to hit the big screen", Zaman, archived from the original on 17 October 2013, Legend has it ...
  14. ^ a b "Inflation Calculator". Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  15. ^ a b c "ABDÜLMECİD عبد المجید (1823-1861) Osmanlı padișahı (1839-1861)". İslam Ansiklopedisi. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  16. ^ Sakaoğlu 2015, p. 413.
  17. ^ The Americana, Vol.15, Ed. Frederick Converse Beach, George Edwin Rines, (1912);[1]
  18. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 59
  19. ^ "Liste des Membres de l'Ordre de Léopold", Almanach Royal Officiel (in French), 1861, p. 49 – via Archives de Bruxelles
  20. ^ a b c Uluçay 2011, p. 205-227.
  21. ^ a b c Paşa 1960, p. 144-145.
  22. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 275-302.
  23. ^ a b c Sakaoğlu, Necdet (2001). Avrupalılaşmanın yol haritası ve Sultan Abdülmecid. DenizBank. p. 238. ISBN 978-9-757-10450-6.
  24. ^ a b Jamil ADRA (2005). Genealogy of the Imperial Ottoman Family 2005. pp. 7–13.
  25. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 277-291.
  26. ^ Brookes 2010, p. 275-300.
  27. ^ "The Bellini Card". 18 January 2013.


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Abdulmejid I House of OsmanBorn: 23 April 1823 Died: 25 June 1861 Regnal titles Preceded byMahmud II Sultan of the Ottoman Empire 2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861 Succeeded byAbdulaziz Sunni Islam titles Preceded byMahmud II Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate 2 July 1839 – 25 June 1861 Succeeded byAbdulaziz