Abdülhamid II.

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Şehzade Abdülhamid in 1867

Abdülhamid II (also Abdulhamid and Abdul Hamid , Ottoman عبد الحميد İA ʿAbdü'l-Ḥamīd ; * September 21, 1842 in Istanbul ; † February 10, 1918 ibid) was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from August 31, 1876 to April 27, 1909 . He was the second son of Sultan Abdülmecid I and succeeded his brother Murad V after his deposition to the throne.


Abdülhamid II was the son of Tîr-î-Müjgan Kadınefendi ( Tirimüjgan Kadınefendi in Turkish), a Circassian of the Schapsugen tribe and the Sultan Abdülmecid I.

Early government years

Tughra of Abdülhamid II.

Abdülhamid accompanied his uncle, Sultan Abdülaziz , on his trip to Austria, England and France in 1867 . He was believed to be a believer in liberal principles, and the more conservative of his subjects regarded him with suspicion for years after his accession to the throne.

Abdulhamid was followed in 1876 by his brother Murad V, who after only three months' rule for government incompetence had been deposed. Delay in public spending and an empty treasury, the uprisings in Bosnia and Herzegovina , the war with Serbia and Montenegro and the Bulgarian uprisings in April 1876 , which were bloodily suppressed, weighed on the Ottoman Empire.

In 1876 an international conference was convened in Istanbul , which among other things discussed the future of the Balkans. To demonstrate his readiness for reform, Abdülhamid II supported the liberal reform movement and on December 23, 1876, proclaimed a constitution drawn up in particular by Midhat Pasha , which would have introduced a parliamentary system. However, the new ruler quickly turned away from this domestic political course and suspended the constitution. Like his predecessors, he ruled increasingly authoritarian past his ministers, suppressed the Young Turkish movement and also built an effective censorship and espionage system.

Political Challenges

The devastating war with Russia followed in early 1877 . The harsh conditions initially imposed on Abdülhamid by the Peace of San Stefano were moderated to some extent in the Berlin Congress in 1878 , mainly on the initiative of British diplomacy. From the congress, Abdülhamid II leaned closely to the German Empire. German experts should reorganize the state finances and the Ottoman army . Another national bankruptcy forced him to agree to a foreign control over the national debt , and in December 1881 to pass on by decree many of the state revenues for the benefit of the creditors to the Dette Publique .

In 1882, the formerly Ottoman Egypt was occupied by Great Britain (see British rule in Egypt ). The unification of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia in 1885 - contrary to the provisions of the Berlin Congress  - was another low blow, as was the occupation of Tunisia by France in 1888 . From this point on, however, Abdülhamid was able to avoid further territorial losses for the time being, so that in the following years he concentrated on stabilizing his authoritarian rule within.

In this way, Abdülhamid succeeded in lowering his ministers to the rank of secretaries and in concentrating the entire state administration in his hands in the Yıldız Palace . But this did not diminish the internal disagreement: Crete was constantly in turmoil, the Greeks were dissatisfied, and from around 1890 the Armenians began increasingly to demand the reforms that had been granted to them in Berlin.

The sultan tried to strengthen the grip of state power in the eastern provinces. For this purpose he set up the Hamidiye regiments, whose members were recruited from Kurdish riders from individual tribes.

The massacres of 1894–1896

Contemporary satirical depiction of the Sultan as the "Great Butcher"

There were minor incidents in Merzifon and Tokat in 1892/93 . In 1894, a serious revolt in the mountainous region of Sasun (in the Vilâyet Bitlis ), triggered by high tax demands, was ruthlessly suppressed. The European states demanded reforms again. Great Britain and the Armenians originally wanted to demand further reforms, but this failed because of Russian opposition. Russia rejected any scheme that could have led to full Armenian independence or would have required war with the Ottoman Empire to accept the plan. The Sultan had noticed the disagreement between the powers and rejected many of the reform clauses. Instead of implementing the reforms promised to the outside world, a series of massacres began in autumn 1895, primarily of the Armenians, which dragged on for many months throughout Asia Minor and in the capital. In some cases, Armenian activists provided the pretext; the background, however, was to resolve the “Armenian question” by decimating and intimidating those affected. At the latest these massacres, which parts of the public ascribed to the Sultan, brought him the worst possible reputation in the European public: He became the “red (bloody) Sultan”, a symbol of deviousness and cruelty. British Prime Minister Gladstone called him the "big killers" ( Grand Assassin ) and the "nasty Turks" ( the unspeakable Turk ). The pogroms of 1894–1896, which killed up to 300,000 Armenians, were also known as the Hamidic massacres . Hamidiye regiments played an important role in the massacres.

Despite all the discrediting of the Sultan in the European public, it was not possible to provide evidence that the Sultan had given the orders for massacres of the civilian population. That the massacres were organized in some way can be seen from the fact that similar procedural patterns existed in the places where the massacres took place. So almost all male Gregorian Armenians were killed, women and children as well as other Christians and Catholic Armenians were not touched, as the reports of the British diplomat Charles Eliot and the American missionary Edwin Bliss show. Other statements by contemporary and eyewitnesses speak against an order from the sultan. Charles Eliot, Hepworth and the German ambassador stated that the Sultan did not organize the massacres. All he had given was the order to suppress insurrections by Armenian rebels with the utmost severity or to prevent those in preparation. The local authorities irritated the sultan and in some cases even invented planned attacks in order to collect their medals. Another argument against a central order is that there were local officials in other places who intervened to prevent the impending massacre of Armenians, including the governor of Ankara and the commandant in Aleppo, Lieutenant General Edhem Pascha.

Turkish-Greek War

The promised reforms for the non-Turkish minorities were still only on paper. Crete alone benefited from extended privileges. Nevertheless, a riot broke out there. In early 1897, Greece sent an expeditionary army to support the insurgents. In the Turkish-Greek War that followed , the Ottoman Empire achieved an easy victory, but the great powers protected Greece and only allowed Istanbul a small border correction. A few months later, Crete was even taken over by four major powers and thus effectively withdrawn from the rule of the sultan; instead there was an autonomous government under a prince of Greece until 1909.

Baghdad Railway

Reception of the German ambassador on the occasion of the completion of the first section of the Baghdad Railway on June 21, 1904

The sultan's further policy was contradictory: the following year he received the German Kaiser and the Empress in a festive ceremony in Istanbul - a symbol of the intensification of German-Ottoman relations. In 1899 the Sultan approved the construction of the strategically important Baghdad Railway for the German Empire . In 1901, as part of the military reforms, several high military officials came to serve as advisers to the Sultan, such as Heinrich Karl Abraham Imhoff for the artillery, Karl Auler for the pioneers, von Rüdgisch for the cavalry, and Bodo Borries von Ditfurth for the infantry. At the same time, however, the sultan promoted pan-Islamic propaganda, which made the situation of the Christian population in the empire less secure and ran counter to the policy of equality that had been introduced since the middle of the 19th century. The privileges of foreigners within the Ottoman Empire were curtailed; the new railway line to the holy places was swiftly continued and emissaries were sent to distant countries (especially in colonies of hostile European great powers) to preach Islam and the supremacy of the sultan caliph.


This appeal to the Muslim community spirit was largely useless against discontent due to the ongoing mismanagement. There was constant riot in Mesopotamia and Yemen; in the army and in the Muslim population, the semblance of loyalty was maintained mainly through a system of espionage and denunciation and massive arrests. Meanwhile, the sultan, for fear of an assassination attempt, withdrew almost completely to his Yıldız palace, and public appearances were kept to a minimum. In 1905 he survived an attack by Armenian terrorists . On July 21, 1905, the revolutionaries had put the Daschnak dynamite in his car while the Sultan was holding his Friday prayers in the Hamidiye Mosque . A delay of a few minutes saved the sultan's life; 26 members of his retinue died and 58 were injured.

Young Turkish Revolution

One of the last known recordings of Sultan Abdülhamid from 1908, during the cuma selamlığı Friday

Since 1903 the Rumelian provinces on the soil of ancient Macedonia , the internal unrest of which the Sultan's government could no longer control, were in fact placed under international supervision. This national humiliation, reinforced by the pent-up resentment of numerous officers against the palace spies and informants, as well as the spread of liberal ideas, especially in the army, finally led to a crisis of the sultan's absolutist rule (for a detailed discussion see Young Turks ). When Abdülhamid heard of the revolt of the Saloniki troops led by Young Turkish officers and of their march on Istanbul (July 23, 1908), he had to surrender immediately.

On the 24th he put the constitution of 1876 back into force, as demanded by the rebelling Young Turks; the next day espionage and censorship were abolished and the release of political prisoners ordered. On December 10th, Abdülhamid opened the newly elected parliament with a speech from the throne, in which he said that the first parliament (by him) had only been temporarily dissolved until the education of the people was brought to a sufficiently high level by expanding teaching would have been.

But on April 13, 1909, Abdülhamid II supported an uprising by conservative soldiers and the religiously incited population of the capital, who tried to overthrow the Young Turkish government (" Incident of March 31 "). The attempted coup was put down by the Salonika troops after three days. After that, the " Committee for Unity and Progress " under Enver , Cemal , Talaat and Gökalp decided to depose Abdülhamid, and on April 27, his younger brother and heir to the throne Reshid Effendi was proclaimed the new Sultan Mehmed V.

Last years

Villa Allatini in Saloniki, exile of the Sultan 1909–1912 before his evacuation to the Beylerbeyi Palace
Tomb ( Türbe ) of Abdülhamid II on the Divan Yolu in Istanbul (2008)

The ex-sultan was taken captive to Salonika , from where he had to be transferred  to the Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul in the autumn of 1912 - as a result of the advance of enemy Bulgarian troops in the First Balkan War . Both times the German station ship SMS Loreley took over the transport of Abdülhamid.


The tomb of Sultan Abdülhamid II in Istanbul

He died on February 10, 1918 in Istanbul; He did not live to see the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War , the collapse of his empire and the overthrow of his dynasty in 1922/1924.




  • Abdülhamit Düşerken ( German: When Abdülhamid fell ), Turkey 2002, with Meltem Cumbul
  • Payitaht 'Abdülhamid' ( German: Capital 'Abdülhamid' ), (TV series) Turkey 2017, with Bülent İnal

See also


  • Tahsin Pasha: Abdülhamit. Yıldız Hatıraları . Istanbul 1931.
  • Ayşe Osmanoğlu: Babam Abdülhamid . Istanbul 1960.
  • Leyla G. Açba-Ançabadze pm: Bir Çerkes Prensesinin Harem Hatıraları . Edadil Açba. Timaş, ​​Istanbul 2010, ISBN 978-6-05114225-8 .
  • Atıf Hüseyin Bey: Sultan II. Abdülhamid'in Sürgün Günleri . Istanbul 2010.
  • Herbert Wilhelm Duda: Abdülhamid II . In: Biographical Lexicon on the History of Southeast Europe . Volume 1. Munich 1974, pp. 4-6.
  • Feroze AK Yasamee: Ottoman Diplomacy. Abdülhamid II and the Great Powers 1878-1888 . Isis, Istanbul 1996, ISBN 975-428-088-6 .
  • François Georgeon: Abdülhamid II. Le sultan calife (1876-1909) . Fayard, Paris 2003, ISBN 2-213-59929-7 .
  • Ferenc Majoros, B. Rill: The Ottoman Empire 1300–1922. The story of a great power . Marix, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-937715-25-8 .
  • Ernst Werner , W. Markov : History of the Turks from the beginning to the present . Berlin 1979.
  • Josef Matuz: The Ottoman Empire. Baseline of its history . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1985, ISBN 3-534-05845-3 , p. 232 ff.
  • Alma Wittlin : Abdul Hamid, o déspota voluptuoso. Translated from the German in Portuguese by J. Carvalho. Casa Ed. Vecchi, Rio de Janeiro 1942.
    • English version: Abdul Hamid. The Shadow of God. John Lane at The Bodley Head, London 1940.

Web links

Commons : Abdülhamid II.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 2. Abdülhamit dublör kullanmış . In: Radical . June 11, 2011, ISSN  1304-9224 ( com.tr ).
  2. ^ The outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War . In: Provinzial-Correspondenz . Vol. 15, No. 17 , April 26, 1877, p. 1–2 ( staatsbibliothek-berlin.de ).
  3. ^ William L. Langer: The Diplomacy of Imperialism. 1890-1902 . tape 1 . Knopf, New York / London 1935, p. 162 f .
  4. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian: The Armenian Question in the Ottoman Empire . In: East European Quarterly . tape 6 , no. 1 , 1972, ISSN  0012-8449 , pp. 27 .
  5. ^ Ernst FW Jäckh : The Rising Crescent . Turkey yesterday, today, and tomorrow . Farrar & Rinehart, New York / Toronto 1944, pp. 44 f .
  6. The death rates given in retrospect vary greatly from one another:
    • The Turkish diplomat Kâmuran Gürün gave the number 20,000 in 1983; Kâmuran Gürün: Ermeni dosyası . Ankara 1983, p. 167 .
    • Two members of the Armenian Academy of Sciences in Yerevan named a number of 300,000 victims in 1965; Ervand K. Sarkisian, RG Sahakian: Vital Issues in Modern Armenian History . A Documented Exposé of Misrepresentations in Turkish Historiography . Watertown 1965, p. 18 .
    • The information in contemporary witness sources, on the other hand, varies less from one another: the official Ottoman information was 13,432 dead; Kâmuran Gürün: Ermeni dosyası . Ankara 1983, p. 167 .
    • The on-site author Hepworth put the number of deaths at 50,000; George H. Hepworth: Through Armenia on Horseback . Dutton, New York 1898, pp. 344 .
    • The German ambassador gave 60,000 to 80,000 victims; Johannes Lepsius , Albrecht Mendelssohn Bartholdy , Friedrich Thimme (eds.): The Great Politics of the European Cabinets 1871-1914. The Turkish problem . tape 10 . Berlin 1923, p. 120 .
    • Wolfgang Gust speaks of several hundred thousand victims: wrong way Lepsiushaus. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
    • The historian Taner Akçam speaks of up to 300,000 victims; Taner Akçam: A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility . Metropolitan Books, New York 2006, ISBN 0-8050-7932-7 , pp. 42 .
    • The theologian Martin Rade also gave a number of about 300,000 victims; Martin Rade: Axel Meißner: Martin Rades “Christian World” and Armenia. Building blocks for an international ethics of Protestantism. (Studies on oriental church history) . tape 22 . Berlin / Münster 2010, ISBN 3-8258-6281-X ( hist.net [accessed on February 2, 2012]).
    • The Vatican speaks of over 300,000 Armenian victims; Vatican News: Pope Leo XIII appealed to Sultan in vain to stop an earlier massacre of Armenians.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. August 23, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2012.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.catholicinsight.com  
  7. ^ Charles Eliot: Turkey in Europe. New York 1965 (= 1907 2 ), p. 408.
  8. ^ Edwin Munsell Bliss: Turkish Cruelties upon the Armenian Christians. Philadelphia 1896, p. 477.
  9. ^ Charles Eliot: Turkey in Europe. New York 1965 (= 1907 2 ), p. 407.
  10. George H. Hepworth: Through Armenia on Horseback . Dutton, New York 1898, pp. 162, 173 .
  11. Johannes Lepsius, Albrecht Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Friedrich Thimme (eds.): The Great Politics of the European Cabinets 1871-1914. Old and new Balkan traders . tape 12 , no. 1 . Berlin 1923, p. 84 f., 103 .
  12. ^ Report of the British consul Raphael A. Fontana in Ankara and report of the British consul Henry D. Barnham in Aleppo. In: Bilâl N. Şimşir: British Documents on Ottoman Armenians . tape 4 . Ankara 1990, ISBN 975-16-0090-1 , pp. 409-639 f .
  13. ^ Edward Alexander: A Crime of Vengeance . To the Armenian Struggle for Justice . Free Press, New York 1991, ISBN 0-02-900475-6 , pp. 97 .
  14. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian: The Armenian Question in the Ottoman Empire . In: East European Quarterly . tape 6 , no. 1 , 1972, ISSN  0012-8449 , pp. 15 .
  15. ^ Salahi Ramadan Sonyel: The Ottoman Armenians: Victims of Great Power Diplomacy . K. Rustem & Brother, 1987, ISBN 978-9963-565-06-1 , pp. 261 .
  16. ^ The Martyrs of Turkish Fleet at the Shore of Ooshima (slides 5-6 of A Brief Introduction to International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians ). Rotary Mariners. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005.
  17. Hermann Hengst: The Knights of the Black Eagle Order. Verlag Alexander Duncker, Berlin 1901, p. 349.
  18. tccb.gov.tr
  19. Jean Schoos : The medals and decorations of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the former Duchy of Nassau in the past and present. Publishing house of Sankt-Paulus Druckerei AG. Luxembourg 1990. ISBN 2-87963-048-7 . P. 342.
  20. The original German version has not been preserved. The German National Library displays the table of contents for the Portuguese version. The book can be viewed digitally in the reading room.
predecessor Office successor
Murad V. Sultan and Caliph of the Ottoman Empire
Mehmed V.