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Ottoman Empire / Rulers /
Abdülmecid 1
Other spelling: Abd el-Mejid

Sultan Abdülmecid 1

Sultan Abdülmecid 1.

(1823-1861) Ottoman sultan 1839-1861. He was the son of Mahmud 2, the sultan before him.
Abdülmecid is mainly remembered for starting the Tanzimat, "reorganization", the great reform process of the administration, the military and education, in order to bring it up to the same level as the leading European powers.
The reform program of Abdülmecid was a continuation of his father's politics. The motivation for the reforms were to preserve the Ottoman state, as well as to win the support of European powers. The state of the empire was poor when Abdülmecid became sultan, and neighbouring powers, especially Egypt, threatened the borders of the empire. Abdülmecid's foreign policy would be directed toward maintaining friendly relations with the European powers to preserve the territorial integrity of the Ottoman state.
The reform program involved the reorganization of the army and introduction of conscription, the abolition of the unfairly imposed capitation tax, the institution of a council of public instruction, giving all citizens equal legal rights (earlier Muslims had enjoyed better protection under the law) and repression of slave trading.
New penal, commercial and maritime codes were promulgated. Mixed civil and criminal courts with European and Ottoman judges were established.
The reforms met strong opposition from the Muslim governing classes and the religious authorities. Hence the new laws were only partially put in force, and the more remote a province, the less was implemented.
Abdülmecid proved to be too expensive to cover with the state revenue, and he was forced to loan money from foreign banks, and no plans were made for security or pay back. As foreign bankers started to realize that their outstanding debts were insecure, the Ottoman Empire would lose much of its European sympathy. For later sultans, the state debts would become very problematic.
Abdülmecid's mildness and liberal attitudes are well illustrated with the fact that he did not let the conspirators against his own life to be put to death, nor that he would surrender Hungarian nationalists to Austria and Russia in 1849.
Abdülmecid restored the Hagia Sophia, built the Dolmabahce Palace and founded the first French theatre in Constantinople.
He left several sons, of whom two, Murad 5 and Abdülhamid 2 eventually succeeded to the throne.


1823 April 25: Born in Constantinople as son of Sultan Mahmud 2.
1839 July 2: Becomes sultan after the death of Mahmud 2.
— Thanks to an alliance with the strongest European powers excluding France, is the Ottoman Empire strong enough to reject many of the harshest terms imposed by Egypt following the war between the two.
November: Issues the reform edict called Hatt-i Serif of Gülhane, Noble Edict of the Rose Chamber, the first of two parts of the Tanzimat reform program.
1842: The army is reorganized, and conscription is introduced.
1853: The Ottoman Empire participates in the Crimean War against Russia. They receive assistance from France, Great Britian and Sardinia.
1856: Issues the Hatt-i Hümayun, Imperial Edict, the second part of the Tanzimat.
1858: A new land law is issued, together with reforms involving a new system of centralized provincial administration.
1861 June 25: Dies in Constantinople, and is succeeded by his brother, Abdülaziz.

By Tore Kjeilen