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Abdulaziz (Ottoman Turkish: عبد العزيز‎ / ʻAbdü'l-ʻAzīz, Turkish: Abdülaziz; 8 February 1830 – 4 June 1876) was the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and reigned between 25 June 1861 and 30 May 1876.[1] He was the son of Sultan Mahmud II and succeeded his brother Abdulmejid I in 1861.[3]

عبد العزيز
Ottoman Caliph
Amir al-Mu'minin
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Kayser-i Rûm
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Knight of the Garter
Order of the Tower and Sword
Sultan Abdulaziz of the Ottoman Empire.jpg
Sultan Abdülaziz during his visit to the United Kingdom in 1867.
32nd Ottoman Sultan (Emperor)
Reign25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
PredecessorAbdulmejid I
SuccessorMurad V
Born8 February 1830
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died4 June 1876(1876-06-04) (aged 46)[1]
Çırağan Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Tomb of Sultan Mahmud II, Fatih, Istanbul
ConsortsDürrünev Kadın
Hayranidil Kadın
Edadil Kadın
Nesrin Kadın
Gevheri Kadın
Issuesee below
Full name
Abdülaziz Han bin Mahmud[2]
FatherMahmud II
MotherPertevniyal Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
TughraAbdulaziz عبد العزيز's signature

Born at Eyüp Palace, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul),[4] on 8 February 1830, Abdülaziz received an Ottoman education but was nevertheless an ardent admirer of the material progress that was made in the West. He was the first Ottoman Sultan who travelled to Western Europe, visiting a number of important European capitals including Paris, London and Vienna in the summer of 1867.

Apart from his passion for the Ottoman Navy, which had the world's third largest fleet in 1875 (after the British and French navies), the Sultan took an interest in documenting the Ottoman Empire. He was also interested in literature and was a talented classical music composer. Some of his compositions, together with those of the other members of the Ottoman dynasty, have been collected in the album European Music at the Ottoman Court by the London Academy of Ottoman Court Music.[5] He was deposed on grounds of mismanaging the Ottoman economy on 30 May 1876, and was found dead six days later under unnatural and mysterious circumstances.

Early lifeEdit

A portrait of Sultan Abdülaziz

His parents were Mahmud II and Pertevniyal Sultan[6] (1812–1883), originally named Besime, a Circassian.[7] In 1868 Pertevniyal was residing at Dolmabahçe Palace. That year Abdülaziz took the visiting Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France, to see his mother. Pertevniyal considered the presence of a foreign woman within her private quarters of the seraglio to be an insult. She reportedly slapped Eugénie across the face, which almost caused an international incident.[8] According to another account, Pertevniyal was outraged by the forwardness of Eugénie in taking the arm of one of her sons while he gave a tour of the palace garden, and she gave the Empress a slap on the stomach as a possibly more subtly intended reminder that they were not in France.[9]

The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque was built under the patronage of his mother. The construction work began in November 1869 and the mosque was finished in 1871.[10]

His paternal grandparents were Sultan Abdul Hamid I and Sultana Nakşidil Sultan. Several accounts identify his paternal grandmother with Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, a cousin of Empress Joséphine.[11] Pertevniyal was a sister of Khushiyar Qadin, third wife of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. Khushiyar and Ibrahim were the parents of Isma'il Pasha.[17]


The Ottoman Empire in 1862

Between 1861 and 1871, the Tanzimat reforms which began during the reign of his brother Abdulmejid I were continued under the leadership of his chief ministers, Mehmed Fuad Pasha and Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha. New administrative districts (vilayets) were set up in 1864 and a Council of State was established in 1868.[1] Public education was organized on the French model and Istanbul University was reorganised as a modern institution in 1861.[1] He was also integral in establishing the first Ottoman civil code.[1]

Culverin with the arms of Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Siege of Rhodes (1522). Caliber: 140mm, length: 339cm, weight: 2533kg, ammunition: 10kg iron ball. Remitted by Abdülaziz to Napoleon III in 1862.

Abdülaziz cultivated good relations with the Second French Empire and the British Empire. In 1867 he was the first Ottoman sultan to visit Western Europe;[1] his trip included a visit to the Exposition Universelle (1867) in Paris and a trip to the United Kingdom, where he was made a Knight of the Garter by Queen Victoria[18] and shown a Royal Navy Fleet Review with Ismail Pasha. He travelled by a private rail car, which today can be found in the Rahmi M. Koç Museum in Istanbul. His fellow Knights of the Garter created in 1867 were Charles Gordon-Lennox, 6th Duke of Richmond, Charles Manners, 6th Duke of Rutland, Henry Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (a son of Queen Victoria), Franz Joseph I of Austria and Alexander II of Russia.

Also in 1867, Abdülaziz became the first Ottoman Sultan to formally recognize the title of Khedive (Viceroy) to be used by the Vali (Governor) of the Ottoman Eyalet of Egypt and Sudan (1517–1867), which thus became the autonomous Ottoman Khedivate of Egypt and Sudan (1867–1914). Muhammad Ali Pasha and his descendants had been the governors (Vali) of Ottoman Egypt and Sudan since 1805, but were willing to use the higher title of Khedive, which was unrecognized by the Ottoman government until 1867. In return, the first Khedive, Ismail Pasha, had agreed a year earlier (in 1866) to increase the annual tax revenues which Egypt and Sudan would provide for the Ottoman treasury.[19] Between 1854 and 1894,[19][20] the revenues from Egypt and Sudan were often declared as a surety by the Ottoman government for borrowing loans from British and French banks.[19][20] After the Ottoman government declared a sovereign default on its foreign debt repayments on 30 October 1875,[19] which triggered the Great Eastern Crisis in the empire's Balkan provinces that led to the devastating Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) and the establishment of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration in 1881,[19] the importance for Britain of the sureties regarding the Ottoman revenues from Egypt and Sudan increased.[20] Combined with the much more important Suez Canal which was opened in 1869, these sureties were influential in the British government's decision to occupy Egypt and Sudan in 1882, with the pretext of helping the Ottoman-Egyptian government to put down the ʻUrabi Revolt (1879–1882). Egypt and Sudan (together with Cyprus) nominally remained Ottoman territories until 5 November 1914,[21] when the British Empire declared war against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.[21]

In 1869, Abdülaziz received visits from Eugénie de Montijo, Empress consort of Napoleon III of France and other foreign monarchs on their way to the opening of the Suez Canal. The Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, twice visited Istanbul.[18]

By 1871 both Mehmed Fuad Pasha and Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha were dead.[1] The Second French Empire, his Western European model, had been defeated in the Franco-Prussian War by the North German Confederation under the leadership of the Kingdom of Prussia. Abdülaziz turned to the Russian Empire for friendship, as unrest in the Balkan provinces continued. In 1875, the Herzegovinian rebellion was the beginning of further unrest in the Balkan provinces. In 1876, the April Uprising saw insurrection spreading among the Bulgarians. Ill feeling mounted against Russia for its encouragement of the rebellions.[1]

While no one event led to his being deposed, the crop failure of 1873 and his lavish expenditures on the Ottoman Navy and on new palaces which he had built, along with mounting public debt, helped to create an atmosphere conducive to his being overthrown. Abdülaziz was deposed by his ministers on 30 May 1876.[1]


The türbe (mausoleum) of Sultan Mahmud II (his father) on Divan Yolu street, where Abdülaziz was also buried.
Abdülaziz's death in 1876 by Victor Masson

Abdülaziz's death at Çırağan Palace in Istanbul a few days later was documented as a suicide at the time,[1][22] but suspicions of murder promptly erupted.

A claim states that on the morning of June 5, Abdülaziz asked for a pair of scissors with which to trim his beard. Shortly after this he was found dead in a pool of blood flowing from two wounds in his arms. His body wanted to be examined by 17 physicians, but they were only allowed to examine his wrists:[23] "Dr. Marco, Nouri, A. Sotto, Physician attached to the Imperial and Royal Embassy of Austria‐Hungary; Dr. Spagnolo, Marc Markel, Jatropoulo, Abdinour, Servet, J. de Castro, A. Marroin, Julius Millingen, C. Caratheodori; E. D. Dickson, Physician of the British Embassy; Dr. O. Vitalis, Physician of the Sanitary Board; Dr. E. Spadare, J. Nouridjian, Miltiadi Bey, Mustafa, Mehmed" who certified that the death had been “caused by the loss of blood produced by the wounds of the blood‐vessels at the joints of the arms” and that “the direction and nature of the wounds, together with the instrument which is said to have produced them, lead us to conclude that suicide had been committed.”[24] One of those physicians also stated that “His skin was very pale, and entirely free from bruises, marks or spots of any kind whatever. There was no lividity of the lips indicating suffocation nor any sign of pressure having been applied to the throat.” [25] These claims turned out to be false, as a photograph surfaced in the book Hatıra-i Uhuvvet: Portre Fotoğraflarının Cazibesi 1846-1950 by Bahattin Öztuncay’, which revealed the sultan's last taken picture after being deposed: The royal sultan is sitting on a chair in regular street clothes with two palace servants casually leaning on his shoulders - one with the Masonic hidden hand gesture - while the sultan is staring solemnly.[26][27][28][29]

Following Sultan Abdülaziz's dethronement, he was forced into a room at Topkapi Palace. This room happened to be the same room that Sultan Selim III was murdered in. Six men entered the room and had a hard time overpowering Sultan Abdülaziz as he was a wrestler too. He was left with bruises on his body. Then they cut both of his wrists, wrapped him and left him to bleed to death.[30][31]

In Sultan Abdulhamid II's recently surfaced memoirs, the event is described as an assassination by the order of Hüseyin Avni Pasha and Midhat Pasha. Hüseyin Avni Pasha was used by the French and Midhat Pasha was used by the English to topple Sultan Abdulaziz.[32] According to the memoirs, Sultan Murad V began to show signs of paranoia, madness, and continuous fainting and vomiting even on the day of his coronation, and threw himself into a pool yelling at his guards to protect his life. They were afraid the public would become outraged and revolt to bring the former Sultan back on the throne. Within a few days, on 4 June 1876, they arranged for Sultan Abdülaziz to kill himself with beard scissors, and cut his wrists.[33]


Queen Victoria and Abdülaziz aboard HMY Victoria and Albert during the Sultan's official visit to the United Kingdom in 1867.
Admission ticket to Lord Mayor Thomas Gabriel's reception of H.I.M. The Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz Khan at The Guildhall on 18 July 1867, issued to The Chairman of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Company.
Admiral Hasan Rami Pasha supported the sultan's modernizing efforts.


Bedroom of Sultan Abdülaziz at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
Sarcophagus of Sultan Abdülaziz in the mausoleum of his father, Sultan Mahmud II. Some of the sultans' descendants are also buried nearby.
First marriage
  • Dürrünev Kadın (Batumi, c. 1835 – Feriye Palace, Istanbul, 7 December 1895, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1856, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Yusuf Izzeddin (11 October 1857 – 1 February 1916);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Bahaeddin (February 1883 – 8 November 1883);
      • Hatice Şükriye Sultan (24 February 1906 – 1 April 1972);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Nizameddin (10 January 1909 – 19 March 1933);
      • Mihriban Mihrişah Sultan (1 June 1916 – 25 January 1987);
    • Fatma Saliha Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 11 July 1862 – 1941, Cairo, Egypt, and buried in Khedive Tewfik Mausoleum);
Second marriage
  • Hayranidil Kadın (Kars, 21 November 1846 – Feriye Palace, Istanbul, 26 November 1895, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1861, and had issue:
Third marriage
  • Edadil Kadın (c. 1845 – Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, 12 December 1875, buried in Mahmud II Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1861, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Mahmud Celaleddin (14 November 1862 – 1 September 1888);
    • Şehzade Mehmed Selim (28 October 1865 – 21 October 1867);
    • Emine Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 30 November 1866 – 23 January 1867, Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, buried in Sultan Mahmud II Mausoleum, Divanyolu, Istanbul);
Fourth marriage
  • Nesrin Kadın (Sochi, c. 1848 – Feriye Palace, 11 June 1876, Istanbul, buried in New ladies Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1868, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Mehmed Şevket (5 June 1872 – 22 October 1899);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Cemaleddin (28 October 1890 – 18 November 1946);
    • Emine Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 24 August 1874 – 29 January 1920, buried in New Mosque, Istanbul);
Fifth marriage
  • Gevheri Kadın (Gudauta, 8 July 1856  – Feriye Palace, Istanbul, 6 September 1884, buried in New ladies Mausoleum), married at Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace in 1872, and had issue:
    • Şehzade Mehmed Seyfeddin (21 September 1874 – 19 October 1927);
      • Şehzade Mehmed Abdülaziz (26 September 1901 – 19 January 1977);
      • Şehzade Mahmud Şevket (30 July 1903 – 1 February 1973);
      • Şehzade Ahmed Tevhid (30 November 1904 – 24 April 1966);
      • Fatma Gevheri Sultan (30 November 1904 – 10 December 1980);
    • Esma Sultan (Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, 21 March 1873 – 7 May 1899, buried in Sultan Mahmud II Mausoleum, Divanyolu, Istanbul);


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abdülaziz". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. pp. 21. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. ^ Garo Kürkman, (1996), Ottoman Silver Marks, p. 46
  3. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 2
  4. ^ Britannica, Istanbul: When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  5. ^ European Music at the Ottoman Court, London Academy of Ottoman Court Music. CD album released on 6 November 2000. ASIN: B0000542KD.
  6. ^ Daniel T. Rogers, "All my relatives: Valide Sultana Partav-Nihal"
  7. ^ His profile in the Ottoman Web Site
  8. ^ "Women in Power" 1840-1870, entry: "1861-76 Pertevniyal Valide Sultan of The Ottoman Empire"
  9. ^ Duff 1978, p. 191.
  10. ^ "Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque Complex". Discover Islamic Art. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  11. ^ Christine Isom-Verhaaren, "Royal French Women in the Ottoman Sultans' Harem: The Political Uses of Fabricated Accounts from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century" Archived 25 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Christopher Buyers, "The Muhammad 'Ali Dynasty Genealogy"
  13. ^ Non European Royalty Website, entry:"Egypt"
  14. ^ "Women in Power" 1840-1870, entry: "1863-79 Valida Pasha Khushiyar of Egypt"
  15. ^ Rulers from the House of Mohammed Aly Archived 30 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Genealogical entry: "Hoshiar Walda Pasha"
  17. ^ [12][13][14][15][16]
  18. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abd-ul-Aziz". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 35.
  19. ^ a b c d e Mevzuat Dergisi, Yıl: 9, Sayı: 100, Nisan 2006: "Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nda ve Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'nde Borçlanma Politikaları ve Sonuçları"
  20. ^ a b c Article 18 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)
  21. ^ a b Articles 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)
  22. ^ Davis, Claire (1970). The Palace of Topkapi in Istanbul. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 222. ASIN B000NP64Z2.
  23. ^ Sultan Abdülaziz Belgeseli (Turkish) T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı. Posted 30 March 2018.
  24. ^ Ali Haydar Midhat Bey (1903). The Life Of Midhat Pasha. London: JOHN MURRAY. pp. 89–90. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  25. ^ Dickson, E. D. (8 July 1876). "Report on the Death of the Ex-Sultan Abdul Aziz Khan". The British Medical Journal. 2 (810): 41–12. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.810.41. PMC 2297901. PMID 20748260.
  26. ^ Abdülaziz'in katili neden korkuyordu? - What was Abdulaziz's murderer afraid of? (Turkish) Takvim. Published 28 November 2012.
  27. ^ Osmanlı'dan Günümüze İhtilal Hareketleri - Revolutionary Movements from the Ottomans to the Present Day (Turkish)
  28. ^ Ekrem İmamoğlu'nun '145 yıldır' sözü tepki çekti! (Turkish)haber7. Published 11 April 2019.
  29. ^ Yüzyılın Komploları 1. Bölüm (Turkish) TRT Belgesel. Posted 15 May 2019.
  30. ^ En büyük pişmanlığım; o gece, amcamı götürmelerine mani olamadım! - My biggest regret is that I couldn't prevent them from taking my uncle that night! (Turkish) TRT1. Posted 1 December 2017.
  31. ^ Sultan Abdülaziz'in Katli | Payitaht Abdülhamid 27.Bölüm - Sultan Abdülaziz's Murderer (Turkish) TRT1. Posted 2 December 2017.
  33. ^ Bozdağ, İsmet (2000). Sultan Abdülhamid'in Hatıra Defteri. İstanbul: Pınar Yayınları. p. 223. ISBN 9753520344.
  34. ^ CFOA History - Trains and Railways of Turkey
  35. ^ a b c d Voyage of Sultan Abdülaziz to Europe (21 June 1867 – 7 August 1867)
  36. ^ Wm. A. Shaw, The Knights of England, Volume I (London, 1906) page 64
  • Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930..".

External linksEdit

  Media related to Abdül Aziz I at Wikimedia Commons

  Works written by or about Abdülaziz at Wikisource

Born: 8 February 1830 Died: 4 June 1876
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Abdulmejid I
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
25 Jun 1861 – 30 May 1876
Succeeded by
Murad V
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Abdulmejid I
Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate
25 Jun 1861 – 30 May 1876
Succeeded by
Murad V