Mahmud II Biography

(Sultan of Ottoman Empire)

Birthday: July 20, 1785 (Cancer)

Born In: İstanbul, Turkey

Mahmud II was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who became known as 'Peter the Great of Turkey' for undertaking massive administrative, military, and fiscal reforms. He came to power in 1808 amidst a tumultuous internal conflict and ruled until his death in 1839. He followed in the footsteps of his forward-thinking cousin Selim III, who was dethroned and assassinated for introducing too many reforms within a short period of time. He abolished the conservative Janissary corps and initiated the Tanzimat reforms which, along with his several other sociopolitical reforms, marked the beginning of the modern Turkish Republic. While Mahmud II is often blamed by Western historians for severe loss of territory due to nationalist uprisings in Ottoman-ruled regions including Serbia and Greece, the fragmentation had already started when he assumed power.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Mahmud bin Abdul Hamid

Died At Age: 53


Spouse/Ex-: Aşubcan Kadın (m. 1810), Bezmiâlem Sultan (m. 1822), Pertevniyal Sultan (m. 1829), Zernigar Kadın Efendi

father: Abdul Hamid I

mother: Nakşidil Sultan

children: Abdülaziz, Abdulmejid I, Adile Sultan, Atiye Sultan, Ayşe Sultan, Cemile Sultan, Emine Sultan, Fatıma Sultan, Fatma Sultan, Hamide Sultan, Hatice Sultan, Hayrie Sultan, Hayriye Sultan, Mihrimah Sultan, Munire Sultan, Rafia Sultan, Şah Sultan, Saliha Sultan, Şehzade Abdülhamit, Şehzade Abdullah, Şehzade Ahmed, Şehzade Bayezid, Şehzade Hafiz, Şehzade Kemalüddin, Şehzade Mahmud, Şehzade Mehmed, Şehzade Mehmet, Şehzade Murat, Şehzade Nizameddin, Şehzade Osman, Şehzade Süleyman, Zeyneb Sultan

Born Country: Turkey

Emperors & Kings Turkish Men

Died on: July 1, 1839

place of death: Istanbul, Turkey

City: Istanbul, Turkey

Childhood & Early Life
Mahmud II was born on July 20, 1785, at Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Ottoman Empire, to Abdul Hamid I, the 27th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and one of his nine wives, Nakşidil Sultan. He had two full-siblings and several half-siblings, including Mustafa IV.
His father reigned from 1774 to 1789, and was succeeded by his nephew Selim III, who was highly educated and undertook several reforms during his reign. However, the Janissary corps dethroned him in 1807 and put Mustafa IV on the throne, who the following year, sent assassins to kill both Selim and Mahmud.
A rebellion led by military commander, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, came too late to save Selim, but rescued Mahmud, who was hidden away by his mother and some servants. As the last surviving member of the house of Osmanli, Mahmud II was put on the throne after Mustafa was deposed, and the Pasha became his grand vizier.
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Accession & Reign
Soon after accession, Mahmud II and his vizier resumed reforms initiated by Selim III, but they had differences of opinion regarding certain decisions. The reform initiative was eventually postponed after the Pasha was killed during a Janissary attack.
Mahmud had to immediately focus on several administrative issues within his realm and take care of outside threats as well. He attempted at centralizing the power of the government throughout the Ottoman Empire, which significantly limited local authority and sparked nationalist and separatist movements in several regions.
The 1807 truce with Russia had become ineffective by this time, and the ongoing war ended with the Treaty of Bucharest on May 28, 1812, according to which the Bessarabia province was seceded to Russia. However, the Turks retained the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, and re-established authority over Mesopotamia in 1810 and the Hejaz in 1813.
A war broke out with the First Saudi State early on during his reign after Abdullah bin Saud banned Ottoman Muslims from entering the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. During the Ottoman-Saudi War in 1812-13, his governor of Egypt, Mehmet Ali Paşa, re-conquered both the cities, following which the Saudi ruler was beheaded and tombs of several Shia religious figures were desecrated.
Serbia, which had seen frequent uprisings since 1804, became virtually autonomous by 1815, even though it was still under Ottoman suzerainty. Moldavia and Wallachia earned autonomy much later in 1829, after the Treaty of Edirne was signed on September 14, 1829 following a second war against Russia.
The Greek uprising properly began in 1821, around the time when the Persians registered a huge victory at the Battle of Erzurum during the Ottoman-Persian War (1821-1823). The Ottoman Navy was defeated by the combined forces of British, French and Russian navies at the Battle of Navarino (1827), following which Greek autonomy was established through the Treaty of Constantinople in July 1832.
The Ottoman Empire was further broken down after the French successfully invaded the Ottoman province of Algeria in 1830. Soon after, Mehmet Ali of Egypt, whose superior force had helped Mahmud greatly in western Arabia, claimed Syria as a reward for his services to the Ottoman Empire.
Mehmet Ali's son Ibrahim invaded the Levant in 1831 and took over Syria by 1832, marching further towards Turk capital Istanbul. The conflict was ended following intervention from Russia, France and Britain at the 1833 Convention of Kütahya, which allowed Ibrahim to keep Syria for an annual tribute.
He ordered another attack on the Egyptians in Syria in June 1839, but his army was defeated at Nizip and his naval commander defected to the opposition with his fleet. However, before the news of the disastrous defeat could reach him, Mahmud died of tuberculosis on July 1, 1839, and was succeeded by his son Abdülmecid.
Major Reforms
Mahmud II is best known for abolishing the Janissary corps and introducing the Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye (meaning 'Victorious Soldiers of Muhammad') with massive military reforms in the style of European conscript army. In June 1826, after the conservative elite troops began demonstrations against his proposed reforms, he burned down their barracks with his new military wing that replaced the Janissaries.
He reformed the feudal system and strengthened the state military by putting the corrupt fiefs in the public domain and also suppressed the 'Dere Beys', the hereditary local chiefs. Following the loss of Greece, he built a strong navy by acquiring the first Ottoman steamships in 1828 and the world's largest warship of the time, 'Mahmudiye', with 128 cannons, in 1829.
He issued several 'firmans' or edicts throughout his reign that closed the Court of Confiscations, reduced the power of the Pashas, and eradicated abuses connected with the vakıfs. He began attending the Divan or state council regularly and abolished vexatious charges imposed by public functionaries, reformed the capitation-tax, and relaxed restrictions on alcoholic beverages.
Shortly before his death in 1839, he started the Tanzimat reforms with the introduction of Meclis-i Vukela or the Council of Ministers and began European-style modernizations in clothing, architecture, and legislation. The reforms, which encouraged 'Ottomanism' throughout the diverse ethnic groups of the empire, also aimed at reducing nationalist movements by allowing more civil liberties to non-Muslim subjects.
He re-established royal authority on government offices with reforms that reduced corruption and increased efficiency, and also established the official gazette, 'Takvim-i Vekayi' (Calendar of Events). He founded the Ottoman foreign affairs office and appointed Foreign Minister and Undersecretary in 1836, apart from expanding and re-organizing the Language Office and Translation Office.
He took great interest in reforming clothing style for the military after abolishing the Janissaries in 1826 and officially adopted the fez, which can also be seen in his later portraits. He introduced similar styles for civilian offices which he wanted the population to adopt too, but faced severe resistance from religious groups, laborers, as well as the military.
Family & Personal Life
Mahmud II had sixteen consorts and produced twenty sons and twenty daughters. Sultan Abdulmejid I, who succeeded him to the throne, was his son with his ninth wife Bezmiâlem Sultan, while Sultan Abdülaziz was his son with his thirteenth wife Pertevniyal Sultan.
There is a myth regarding the identity of Mahmud II's mother Nakşidil Sultan, who was ethnically Georgian, that identifies her with French heiress Aimée du Buc de Rivéry who went missing at sea. The legend formed the basis of the 1989 film 'Intimate Power'.

See the events in life of Mahmud II in Chronological Order

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