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As a Tanzimat ( Ottoman تنظيمات Tanzimât , İA Tanẓīmāt , German 'arrangements, reorganization' ) is the name given to the period of profound reforms in the Ottoman Empire , which began in 1839 and ended in 1876 with the adoption of the Ottoman constitution . As a result of the reforms, the Sultan renounced his unrestricted rights over the life and property of his officials. The ministerial departments were determined, the civil law equality of all subjects was declared and the finance, judiciary and army reorganized.

The Edict of Gülhane, which initiated the Tanzimat


With the Tanzimat reforms, the Ottomans tried to stop the slow decline of their empire, especially in comparison with the emerging, industrializing powers of Europe. This should be done through a major modernization of government, administration, the military, the judiciary and the economy. By abolishing the Millet system , which guaranteed religious minorities special rights, the aim was to achieve direct access to power over all subjects. All these reforms were imposed , that is, they drew their legitimacy solely from the will of the sultan. The driving force behind the reforms were the grand viziers Mustafa Reşid Pascha († 1858) and later Ali Pascha († 1871) and Fuad Pascha († 1869). The American Osmanist Stanford Shaw , who also sees the reign of Abdülhamid II (1876–1908) as a continuation of the Tanzimat in the narrower sense, was unable to establish himself with this periodization.

Sultan Mahmut II (1808–1839) undertook the first serious reform efforts, which included the dissolution of the Janissary Corps (1826) and the abolition of feudalism ( Tımar ) (1833 / 1834–1844).

After Abdülmecid I took office in 1839, Mustafa Reschid Pascha formally abolished the tax lease ( Iltizam ).

  • In 1843 a fixed period for military service was introduced.
  • In 1847, Christians were given the right to stand as a witness in court.
  • In 1850 a commercial law was passed.

The measures became known under the name Tanzimat-ı Hayriye ( Ottoman : "Healing New Order") and coincide with the reigns of Abdülmecid I (1839–1861) and Abdülaziz (1861–1876). They put the non-Muslims in the empire on an equal footing with the Muslims and introduced a new judicial system, reorganized the tax system and established general compulsory service in the army . In the course of the following decades, tax leases were actually abolished.

The most important reform edicts were the Hatt-ı Sherif (Noble Handwriting) by Gülhane (1839), the Hatt-ı Hümâyûn (Grand Manorial Handwriting) (1856) as well as the constitution of 1876, with which gradually and with restrictions (1839 these read “within the framework der Scheriatgesetze ") the equality and equal treatment of all subjects regardless of their religion was introduced.

The Hatt-ı Serif of Gülhane (1839)

With the sultanic decree of the reform edict Hatt-ı Şerif on November 3, 1839, the era of the Tanzimat began. The decree was solemnly announced on the site of today's Gülhane Park next to Istanbul's Topkapı Palace in the presence of all European ambassadors. With this decree, Sultan Abdülmecid I had announced his intention to continue the modernization of the Ottoman Empire.

The focus was on three points:

  • the subjects are guaranteed the full security of their lives, their honor and their property
  • taxes are set and collected fairly and in a regulated manner
  • the conscripts are called up in an orderly manner and their military service is limited to five years. So far, individual citizens had been arbitrarily forced into the army for life. This new regulation was implemented in 1843.

The Hatt-ı Hümâyûn (1856)

The Hatt-ı Hümâyûn reform edict of the Sublime Porte was promulgated on February 18, 1856. The new reform edict developed the reforms in the Hatt-ı Sherif of Gülhane . It was a response from the Ottoman government to pressure from England , France and Austria to deepen the reforms that had begun. Otherwise the Paris Peace Treaty , which ended the Crimean War , would not have been so favorable for the Ottoman Empire.

The core of this reform was the dissolution of the Millet system . Previously, all non-Muslims were divided into three millets (religious communities). The Orthodox Christians (Bulgarians, Greeks, Serbs) formed the Millet-i Rum , the Armenian Christians the Millet-i Arman (this also included Copts and Syrians ) and the Jews the Millet-i Yahud . Each millet was under the control of an ethnarch ("national" leader). This was always a religious head who was directly subordinate to the Sultan. From the end of the 18th century, foreign protective powers took over the function of ethnarchs: Great Britain vouched for the Jews, France for the Catholics and Russia for the Orthodox.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the previous religious view of the Millet system changed for those affected into an identity experienced as a cultural minority - a view that coincided with the views of European politicians (the problem coincided with a time when a linguistic and ethnic Nationalism in Europe), where politics consequently concentrated on the granting of special rights for the non-Muslim minorities they considered oppressed. Religious communities, which were integrated into the Ottoman understanding of the state under the term of the millets, thus became ethnic minorities worthy of protection , who appeared to be disadvantaged by social exclusion.

With the dissolution of the Millet system, all subjects received Ottoman rights. Their position as subjects was not indirectly legitimized through their ethnic archives or the foreign protective powers. This created real opportunities for further modernization of the basic institutions of the Ottoman Empire, now that all subjects had access to state posts. With the equality of all subjects, ecclesiastical privileges and immunities were guaranteed. The establishment of an independent Bulgarian church by Ferman in 1870 is also seen in this context.

The Hatt-ı Hümâyûn also opened military service to non-Muslims, allowed foreigners to acquire property in the Ottoman Empire, opened the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles to civilian shipping and abolished torture .

This was followed by the Land Law (1858), the Administrative Law ( Vilâyet ) (1864) and the Civil Code ( Mecelle ) (1869).

On December 23, 1876, the Sultan issued the constitution by decree , which for the first time provided for a limitation of the Sultan's power through a parliament in two chambers , one of which (the Chamber of Deputies) resulted from elections. However, the parliament was closed again by Abdülhamid II after the Russo-Ottoman War (1877–1878) and was not reconvened until the Young Turkish Revolution of 1908 . The constitution remained formally in force, however, and the provisions not relating to parliament continued to be applied.


With the reforms demanded by the powers that be - also due to the industrial backwardness - increasing economic problems. In the trade agreements with the European powers that have existed since 1536, the so-called capitulations , the market of the Ottoman Empire was opened to them. The import duties were below the export duties. Due to the lack of competitiveness of Ottoman handicrafts, the Ottoman Empire became an exporter of raw materials and an importer of European goods. Since the Treaty of Balta Liman concluded with Great Britain in 1838, whose free trade privileges were extended to all other European countries in the following years, and especially since the Hatt-ı Hümâyûn of 1856, the Ottoman Empire has been inundated with cheap manufactured goods from Europe. It sank to a semi-colonial status as a sales market and source of raw materials for the industrialized countries.


  • Édouard Engelhardt: La Turquie et le Tanzimât ou histoire des réformes dans l'Empire Ottoman depuis 1826 jusqu'à nos jours. 2 volumes. Cotillon, Paris 1882–1884.
  • Nora Lafi: Une ville du Maghreb entre ancien régime et réformes ottomanes. Genèse des institutions municipales à Tripoli de Barbarie (1795–1911). L'Harmattan, Paris 2002, ISBN 2-7475-2616-X .
  • Nora Lafi (Ed.): Municipalités méditerranéennes. Les réformes municipales ottomanes au miroir d'une histoire comparée (Moyen-Orient, Maghreb, Europe méridionale) (= Center for Modern Orient Studies. Volume 21). K. Schwarz, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-87997-634-1 .
  • Lord Kinross (di: John Patrick Douglas Balfour Kinross): The Ottoman Centuries. The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire. Morrow, New York NY 1977, ISBN 0-688-08093-6 .
  • Marcin Marcinkowski: The development of the Ottoman Empire between 1839 and 1908: Reform efforts and attempts at modernization as reflected in German-language literature. Schwarz, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-87997-342-2 (digitized version)
  • Josef Matuz : The Ottoman Empire. Baseline of its history. 2nd, unchanged edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1990, ISBN 3-534-05845-3 .
  • Donald Quataert : The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (= New Approaches to European History. Volume 17). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge u. a. 2000, ISBN 0-521-63328-1 .
  • Thomas Scheben: Administrative reforms of the early Tanzimatz time. Laws, measures, effects. From the proclamation of the Edict of Gülhane in 1839 to the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 (= European university publications. Series 3: History and its auxiliary sciences. Volume 454). Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1991, ISBN 3-631-43302-6 (also: Mainz, Universität, Dissertation, 1988).
  • Tunay Sürek: The constitutional efforts of the Tanzimât period. The Kanun-i Esasî - the Ottoman constitution of 1876 (= legal history series. 462). PL Academic Research, Frankfurt am Main u. a. 2015, ISBN 978-3-631-66899-3 .
  • Frederic Strohm: Istanbul in the 19th century. The modernization efforts in the Ottoman capital - local factors and global influences. Vienna 2016 ( http://othes.univie.ac.at/44628/1/46526.pdf )
  • Michael Ursinus: Regional reforms in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of the Tanzimat. Reforms of the Romanian provincial governors in the court district of Manastir (Bitola) during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. (1808–39) (= Islamic studies. Volume 73). Schwarz, Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-922968-17-1 ( digitized version ).


  1. a b c Frederic Strohm: Istanbul in the 19th century. The modernization efforts in the Ottoman capital - local factors and global influences . Vienna 2016, p. 34 ff . ( univie.ac.at [PDF]).
  2. ^ Text by Andreas Meier (ed.): The political order of Islam. Programs and Criticism between Fundamentalism and Reforms. Original voices from the Islamic world. Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal 1994, ISBN 3-87294-616-1 , pp. 54-60. In German first Vienna 1919.
  3. Josef Matuz: The Ottoman Empire. Baseline of its history. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1985, ISBN 3-534-05845-3 , p. 230. The text of the edict in a German translation can be found in Andreas Meier (ed.): The political order of Islam. Programs and Criticism between Fundamentalism and Reforms. Original voices from the Islamic world. Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal 1994, ISBN 3-87294-616-1 , pp. 60-65. First German version: Vienna 1919.
  4. İlber Ortaylı: The Problem of Nationalities in the Ottoman Empire Following the second Siege of Vienna. In: Gernot Heiss, Grete Klingenstein (ed.): The Ottoman Empire and Europe 1683 to 1783. Conflict, relaxation and exchange (= Viennese contributions to the history of the modern age. Volume 10). Oldenbourg, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-486-51911-5 , pp. 223-236.
  5. ^ Helmuth Scheel : The constitutional position of the ecumenical church princes in ancient Turkey. A contribution to the history of the Turkish constitution and administration (= treatises of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Philosophical-Historical Class. Born 1942, No. 9, ZDB -ID 210015-0 ). Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1945, p. 10.
  6. Josef Matuz: The Ottoman Empire. Baseline of its history. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1985, ISBN 3-534-05845-3 , p. 231 f.