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The Tanzimat-i Hayriye, or “Auspicious Reorderings,” was a period of sustained legislation and reform that modernized Ottoman state and society, contributed to the further centralization of administration, and brought increased state participation in Ottoman society between 1839 and 1876. Its antecedents lay in the passion for “ordering” (nizam) that had guided the efforts of Gazi Hasan Paşa and Halil Hamit Paşa during the reign of Abdulhamit I (1774–1789) as well as those of Selim III and Mahmut II. It was the latter who made the Tanzimat possible by extending the scope of Ottoman government far beyond its traditional bounds to include the right and even the duty to regulate all aspects of life and changing the concept of Ottoman reform from the traditional one of attempting to preserve and restore the old institutions to a modern one of replacing them with new ones, some imported from the West. The successes as well as the failures of the Tanzimat movement in many ways directly determined the course reform was to take subsequently in the Turkish Republic to the present day. Leading the Tanzimat were Mahmut's sons, Abdulmecit I (1839–1861) and Abdulaziz (1861–1876), whose reigns encompassed the entire period and who provided the context in which the Tanzimat bureaucrats could and did proceed at their work.
The Accession of Abdulmecit I
The beginnings of the new reign were hardly auspicious. The old warrior Mehmet Husrev Paşa, who had fallen out of favor in Mahmut's later years, used his position as head of the Supreme Council (Meclis-i Vâlâ) to gain influence over his young and inexperienced heir-apparent, Abdulmecit, and planned to use the new regime to regain power.
Abdulhamit II came to the throne at the youthful age of 34, having been born to one of Abdulmecit's concubines, Tirimüjgân Kadin, soon after his father's accession, on September 21, 1842. During his years as prince, he seems to have distinguished himself among his brothers by avoiding the new style European frivolity that was entering the palace under his father's influence, avoiding extravagance to the point of parsimony. He also spent a great deal of time outside his apartments in the Dolmabahçe Palace at a summer house on the Bosporus above Tarabya, a small pleasure palace at Kâgithane, on the Golden Horn, at his mother's house in Maçka, in the country outside Beyoğlu, and in the palace of his sister, using the opportunity to contact Ottomans of all ranks and some foreigners, discussing with them the problems of the empire and how they could be resolved. Particularly close to him in these early days were an Englishman named Thompson, who owned a farm next to his at Tarabya, and two lesser Tanzimat bureaucrats, Ibrahim Ethem Efendi and Mehmet Esat Saffet Efendi, most famous of the nineteenth-century ministers of education, both of whom subsequently served him for a time as grand vezirs. His personal finances were handled by a well-known Armenian Galata banker, Hagop Zarifi Bey, from whom he gained a knowledge of finance and economics that was to serve him well in later times. The young prince was thus a sincere though somewhat dour and persistent young man who was determined to prepare himself as best he could for the task of rescuing the empire.
Reform, Revolution and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 1808–1975 is the second book of the two-volume History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. It discusses the modernization of the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the spread of nationalism among its subject peoples, and the revolutionary changes in Ottoman institutions and society that led to the Empire's demise and the rise of the democratic Republic of Turkey. Based on extensive research in the Ottoman archives as well as Western sources, this volume analyzes the external pressures, reform measures, institutional changes, and intellectual movements that affected the heterogeneous Ottoman society during the Empire's last century. It concludes with an analysis of contemporary Turkey's constitutional and political structures and principal domestic and foreign problems.
The Turks were the only one of the Central Powers able to overturn immediately the vindictive settlements imposed by the Allies following World War I. Because Turkish resistance ultimately was led to success by Mustafa Kemal, it long has been assumed that he created it as well. He did, indeed, do more than anyone else to create the Turkish Republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, but he accomplished this by bringing together elements of resistance that had already emerged. He coordinated their efforts, expressed their goals, personified their ambitions, and led them to victory.
The National Resistance Forces
Resistance appeared from the first days of the occupation while Mustafa Kemal still was in Cilicia. It came initially from within the Istanbul government itself, where many of the officials organized the secret Outpost Society (Karakol Cemiyeti) shortly after the armistice and used their positions to thwart the Allied demands as well as to send arms and ammunition to Anatolia. Small boats were loaded in the capital in the cover of darkness and sent out into the Aegean and the Black Sea to deliver their valuable cargoes. There is considerable evidence that Talat Paşa himself stimulated the first resistance movements in Thrace before fleeing the country and that resistance in Istanbul was organized within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When Mustafa Kemal, Kâzim Karabekir, and other leading officers returned to Istanbul to protest the demobilization orders, they were warmly received by the sultan and others and appointed to important positions in the areas remaining under direct Ottoman authority, where they could lead opposition almost under the noses of the Allies.