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Abdul Mejid I°

ABDUL MEJID I°

ABDUL MEJID I ° (1823–1861), 31st sultan of the Ottoman Empire; the elder son of Mahmud ii and his favorite wife, Bezm-i 'Alem. On November 3, 1839, four months after he ascended the throne, he proclaimed the Hatt-i Sherif of Gulhane, which inaugurated the Tanzimat period and in which he pledged the security of life, honor, and property for all the subjects of the empire. Following this, many reforms were undertaken to implement the contents of the edict. During his reign the Crimean War broke out (1853–56). Under the pressure of England and France, his allies in the war, the Porte abolished the poll tax (1855), which had been levied upon Jews and Christians since the Arab conquest. Instead, a tax called Bedel-i Askeri (substitute for military service) was levied from non-Muslim conscripts in lieu of military service. The crisis which led to the war brought the rise of a new generation of statesmen at the Porte, led by Ali and Fu'ad Pashas, who were more open toward the west than their predecessors. In February 1856, just before the war ended, the sultan proclaimed a new reform edict (the Hatti-Humayun) in which he granted civil and political equality for his non-Muslim subjects in breach of the Muslim Law (the shariʿa), which aroused much resentment among the Muslim majority. During Abdul Mejid's reign important reforms were undertaken in the army and in education (mainly to prepare government functionaries), in the currency, and above all in the administration of the provinces.

bibliography:

S.J. Shaw & E.K. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, 2 (1977), 55 ff.; B. Abu-Manneh, Studies on Islam and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century (1826–1876) (2001), 73–97.

[Butrus Abu-Maneh (2nd ed.)]

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