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Abd al-Hamid II

Abd al-Hamid II, 1842–1918, Ottoman sultan (1876–1909). His uncle, Abd al-Aziz, was deposed from the throne of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in 1876 by the Young Turks, a liberal reformist group. Abd al-Hamid's brother, Murad V, succeeded as sultan, but was shortly declared insane, and Abd al-Hamid ascended the throne. He at first accepted (1876) the constitution promulgated by Midhat Pasha but soon suspended it, dismissed Midhat, and eventually had him strangled. The war with Russia (see Russo-Turkish Wars) led to the Treaty of San Stefano, subsequently modified by the Congress of Berlin (see Berlin, Congress of). To save what remained of his empire, the sultan then pursued a policy of friendship with Germany. German officers reorganized the Turkish army, and German business interests obtained concessions, most notably for the construction of the Baghdad Railway. For his part in the Armenian massacres of 1894–96, he was called the Great Assassin and the Red Sultan. Ruling as absolute monarch, Abd al-Hamid lived in virtual seclusion. In 1908 the Young Turks, who had penetrated the armed services, revolted and forced the sultan to adhere to the constitution of 1876. He was deposed (1909) when he tried to plot a counterrevolution and was succeeded by his brother, Muhammad V.

See study by J. Haslip (new ed. 1973).

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