The Tanzimat

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The Tanzimat State and Its Legitimacy*
The nineteenth century undoubtedly was “the Longest Century of the Ottoman Empire”.1 There were very important military, economic and administrative problems pending which inherited from previous centuries. At the same time, Serbian Revolt (1805), Greek War of Independence (1821-1826) and Question of Egypt were the primary reasons for reforms in the nineteenth century. The “Tanzimat (orders, reforms)” did not start with the proclamation of Hatt-ı Hümayün on 3 November 1839. It is more appropriate to take the beginning from the reign of Mahmud II. Throughout the century, reforms were sustained by Ottoman rulers on the fields from jurisprudence to administration and from education to economics. In this respect, in the nineteenth century the Ottoman Empire might be called as the “Tanzimat State”.2 In this short article my aim is to understand the spirit of “Tanzimat State”; analyze its reactions against the matters mentioned above and find legitimate answer for its application by subjects.
Initially, I would like to mention on the sultans and the bureaucrats of the “Tanzimat State” Their aims and reforms were different from their predecessors’ and they showed us what Tanzimat was. Firstly, they were aware that there was no going back to “Golden Age”. Essences of reforms were ‘making of the modern State’ in the Western sense.3 Secondly, they were highly aware of what was going on in the Europe and provinces. The fact Sublime Porte bureaucrats came from foreign affairs: Mustafa Reşid himself had been long time as ambassador in Paris and London.4 Secondly, they tried to establish “bureaucratic central authority”. This process began with Mahmud II: Although Alemdar supported him he refused to sign “Deed of Agreement” in 1808 and he kept his silence after Alemdar was killed by Janissaries. Abolition of Janissaries in 1826 was the…...

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