19th c. Middle East

Society was not composed of individuals but of groups. Governments recognized these groups.

People defined themselves by their religious affiliation

compact minorities: maronite christians, alawis, druze in jabal druze

compact minorities located specific location and has minority identity much more than other minorities

Millet system: Religious divisions. Millets were allowed to govern themselves.

Only 1/3 of the christians paid the poll tax. (jizya)

sunni/shia division: not about religious dogma but politics

Official establishment of Islam: Sheikh'ul-Islam. Popular Islam: Sufism.

Social hierarchy: 1. Government (military and bureaucracy) 2. Religious establishment 3. Remainder of those outside the government

In 19th c. government became more centralized and powerful, and landowners became more powerful too and tensions between them and peasants grew.

There is no reliable statistics of the mid east in 19th c. Egypt's population was 3.5M in the beginning of 19th c. It grew 25 times today.

Ottomans in 19th c.

Middle East in the 19th c. was underpopulated. Now it's overpopulated.

Famine and plague was two causes for low population

Ottoman Empire became ever more muslim and ever less Christian during 19th c.

Territorialization of Identity

Religious minories sought a territorial identity

Population of Mid East grew in 19th c. and it was no longer self sufficient in food

Almost all of trade was with Europe

Government was minimal and was recognizing only the groups, not individuals

European Development

Europe: New medicine increased the population and new shipbuilding increased the trade

1783: The loss of Crimea. Before that Black Sea was an Ottoman lake.

The first time Muslim subjects began to live in Christian lands for the Ottomans.

Selim III, serious efforts of modernization

Military was the vanguard of Westernization

Revolutionary change in the military led to change in other spheres

Islam was no longer a superior culture

Napoleon's invasion of Egypt

Brought also scientific missions

Russians and French were interfering with the affairs of Christians in Ottoman lands.

The eastern Question

Şark Meselesi

Refers to the fate of the Ottoman Empire

European powers had their interests in a weak but stable Ottoman Empire

Napoleon occupied Cairo in July 1798, but one month later British destroyed the French fleet

After autonomy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali was also a part of the Eastern Question

Tanzimat in Ottomans

  • Sultan Abdulmecid


  • Hatt-i Serif of Gulhane (1839)
  • Hatt-i Humayun of 1856 (Islahat Fermani)
  • Ottoman COnstitution (1878)


About 1/2 to 2/3 of all reform expenditure to army


Iltizam system revoked

Iltizam: tax farm

Administrative reform

-  Vilayet law of 1864, centralized government
-  Effective system of taxation
-  Valis are appointed from Istanbul

Ministry of Education: 1847

Local councils

Legal Reform

Equality before law

Step towards territorial nationalism

Brings Secularization, because Muslims become equal among others.

Was meant to be make minorities more loyal but **backfired.** It was no
longer possible to suppress Christians due to European powers'

Jews were seen as loyal Ottoman subjects

Security of life and property


Eroding the authority of the ulema

Explained like reinstution of Sharia

New Legislation: Sharia is no longer tradition only. It needs other
bodies of legalization. Hence God's law was not good enough

These were real reforms but they are also used to seek European support

Guarantee of equality

The empire bankrupted because of the reforms

Russo-Turkish war (1877-78)

Abdulhamid II dissolved the Parliement

Abdulhamid advocated the muslim solidarity.

Abdulhamid's reforms were real reforms targeting towards bureuacracy

Tanzimat lied the foundations of modern Turkey

Tanzimat's most important success was in Education

The most important aspect: No turning back for Turkey

[Okunandan Kalan]