Abdul Hamid II

Monarch

1842 – 1918

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Who was Abdul Hamid II?

Abdul Hamid II 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 Empire, including widespread pogroms and government massacres against the minorities of the Empire 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. He was succeeded by his brother Mehmed V. Abdulhamid's deposition was hailed by most Ottoman citizens, who welcomed the return to constitutional rule, which had been suspended for decades after his dissolution of the Ottoman parliament and constitution in 1878 had ended the first constitutional era and given him absolute control.

Despite his conservatism and belief in absolute monarchy, Abdulhamid was responsible for some modest modernization of the Ottoman Empire during his long reign, including reform of the bureaucracy, the ambitious Hijaz Railway project, the establishment of a system for population registration and control over the press, and the founding of the first modern law school in 1898. Between 1871 and 1908, the Sublime Porte thus reached a new degree of organizational elaboration and articulation, although Abdulhamid's attraction to absolutism led him to reduce most of his government ministers to secretaries. He became more reclusive toward the end of his reign, his worsening paranoia about perceived threats to his personal power and his life leading him to shun public appearances.

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