Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Modernization process in Ottoman State and Society

Ottoman State and Society

In the Ottoman state system, there were 2 groups. Rulers (Asakiri) and Ruled (Reaya). Sultan rules the state with a group of bureaucrats. Political authority just used by only Sultan and bureaucrats. In Ruled class, there are 2 main groups; Muslims and Non-Muslims. Of course, there are some groups in the non-Muslims. 3 main groups of non Muslim society are Orthodox, Armenians (Gregorian), and Jewish. Actually this society called as Millet System that means all Muslims call as one nation and all non-Muslims call as one nation. There are also other groups such as Janissaries and Ulemas. Janissaries are soldiers and Ulemas are religious groups. Also, we can divide Ottoman society into 2 categories. Religious Differences and Tax Obligations. In the Ottoman State, majority of the lands belong the state. There was no land lords and no aristocratic class in the Ottoman society. But there is Tımar System. It means that all lands belong the state and owners of Tımars must bring up fief holders (Tımarlı Sipahiler). 

Why Did Sultan Lose Political Prestige? The Dichotomy of Social Sructures and Political Tension in the Ottoman Empire

External and internal challenges existed in Ottoman Empire. Europe’s advanced technology, new techniques of government, high military power was external, Western challenge. Also rise of the nationalism affected non-Muslim class in Ottoman society. 

After, French Revolution, Nationalism started to rise in Europe. Of course this situation affected Ottoman Empire, because there are a lot of nations in Ottoman Empire. There were Christian rebellion in Ottoman Empire, especially in Balkans(Rumelia).

The search for autonomy in the provinces and a series of conflicting demands for order and security and regulatory action made up internal challenge. 


It started by the early 17th Century. Ayans, Janissaries, and Ulemas achieved political power. When the Sultan began to lost political prestige, he started to share political power with Ayans, Janissaries and Ulemas. This was the significant transformation. The Sultan started to lose political prestige because of external and internal factors. 


Why Selim III (1789-1807) Need Centalization? 
Selim III
            Firstly, central government had given lands to Ayans for collecting more taxes. Secondly, Janissaries, Ayans  and Ulemas achieved political power and central government lost political prestige. Thirdly, new non-Muslim class (Millet) and this new group became the middle class and nationalism rised. Because of these reasons, Selim wanted to gain power and establish central government, again.

Selim started reform with military. Because, new powerful states of Europe have powerful regular army. New army had new weapons and new uniform and new training system. The efforts of Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) to create a new order - Nizam-I Cedid , new army, new social rules. New army challenge Ayans and Janissaries and it is a treat for Ulema class because it brings new social understanding to society. The basic aim of Selim’s reforms was the revitalization of the old political order, as clearly indicated by his desire to reform the timars, the backbone of the old Ottoman socio-political system.

The embassies opened in Europe, the modern schools, and especially the teaching personnel brought from France.

The administrative organization established to support the new army contained the embryo of a centralized, functionally oriented state. A fiscal organization intended to gather the revenue of a number of Tımars left without administrators, the collection of new taxes, the contemplated conscription methods, all seem to point towards an emerging central integrated administration. During Selim’ s reign there began to emerge also a small group of men acquainted with western languages and the positive sciences. Selim’ s reforms were halted by the Janissary revolt in 1807. 

Selim III failed because he failed to control Janissaries and Ayans. Also, these reforms came from above (state) but in Europe it came from below (people). 

Mahmud II (1808-1839) 

He came to power with Ayans support in 1808. When he came to power, he started to help to reconstitute the modern army disbanded in 1807. The new army constituted first as a unit of the Janissaries, was known as Sekban, and then in 1826 as Asakir-I Mansure-I Muhammediye(Victorious Muhammadan Soldiers) after the janissaries.  Mahmud II signed the agreement known as Sened-I İttifak (Convenant Union) in 1808. It is a contract between central government and Ayans. It is a kind of Magna Carta (Ottoman Magna Carta). Also, with this contract central government recognized the authority of Ayans. It was the first time the legally recognition of Ayans. The Ayans agreed to protect the central authority against military uprising in return for its guarantee of their lands. So, the bureaucracy and the Ayans had a certain common interest in rationalizing the administrative and economic systems of the empire. The conflict between the central bureaucracy and the Ayans resulted in a speedup of centralization. In 1831, the Sultan was able to abolish the remaining Tımars with little opposition. Finally, he destroyed Janissaries in 1826 and the Sultan seized the lands of Ayans and distributed them to his own men in the new ‘victorious Muhammadan  soldiers’ army (Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye).èWhen Mahmud II came to power, he helped to reconstitute the modern army disbanded in 1807, indirectly. The new army, constituted first as a unit of the Janissary corps, was known as Sekban, and then in 1826 as Victorious Muhammadan Soldiers after the Janissaries had been abolished. Ayans crushed in 1815 and destroyed in 1832 under the rule of Mahmud II. 

Central government controls every unit thus Mahmud II was absolute leader because he achieved over control state, centralized administration. There was no challenge to his authority.
Mahmud II after his clothing reform
He formed new bureaucratic structure. Bureaucrats for the state educated with European style. He changed all state structure. Sultan Mahmud II also created in 1826 a directorate of Vakıfs, known as the Evkaf. Anew bureaucratic structure began to emerge as a direct consequence of centralization. In 1845, the police functions were given to a special police department, the Zaptiye Müşiriyeti. Also, the increase in foreign relations, and the replacement of Greek dragomans(interpreters) with Muslim culminated in the creation of the Tercüme Odası (Translation Bureau)in 1833. This bureau became the training ground for Ottoman diplomats. Under Mahmud II, the bureaucratization drive resulted also in the creation of the Bab-I Meşihat (Fetvahane, which means literally the house of fetvas) as the office of the Şeyhulislam, who was incorporated in the government bureaucracy formally as a kind of government official in charge of providing religious opinion rather than advice. The Grand Vizirate- the real seat of the Ottoman administration- was divided into ministries of Civil Affairs (which became the Ministry of interior in 1837) and Foreign Affairs. The Grand Vizir became Prime Minister but later reverted to his old title. Minister’s Council (Meclis-I Vükela), a Military Council, and a Judiciary Council was established for public works (nafia).

The school system established under Mahmud II aimed in essence at training personnel for government service. Thus it was an attempt neither towards secularization nor for instructing the population at large. A truly broad educational system was planned only after 1869. 


Why Did Tanzimat? 

Central government achieves to control Ayans, Janissaries, Ulemas but it did not achieve to control nationalist movement in non-Muslim groups.

Mahmud II destroyed the ayans but did not liquidate their supporting subgroups or the economic and social process which was transforming the entire society. In fact, ayans had became  a Muslim middle class after transaction. Mahmud’s liquidation of the ayans seems to have indirectly helped the development of this new class. With bureaucratization, bureaucrats had important role in the administration. The power passes to these bureaucrats in Tanzimat period. 

Tanzimat Period – Imperial Rescript (1839-1876)
Imperial Edict of Reorganization
It was a period of reformation that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876. Meaning of Tanzimat is reorganization of the Ottoman Empire. Actually, It began under Sultan Mahmud II. On November 3, 1839, and continued with Sultan Abdülmecid. The Tanzimat reform era was characterized by various attempts to modernize the Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against nationalist movements and aggressive powers. It is constitutional like a document, legal reform, security for life and property. In this period power passed to bureaucrats (Tanzimat bureaucrats). There was very important reforms in this Tanzimat era. It guarantees to ensure the Ottoman subjects perfect security for their lives, honour, and property, introduction of the first Ottoman paper banknotes by the Ottoman Bank (1840), establishment of the first modern universities and academies (1848), etc. 

The Rescript of 1856 – Islahat Fermanı

Proclamation of the Ottoman Constitution of 1876
It represents another important stage in the transformation of the Ottoman state. It was issued to reaffirm the provisions of the rescript of 1839. Its main purpose was to grant equality to Christians, as promised in 1839. But equality had limited grounds for implementation because of a lack of institutions and legal framework whereby this concept could acquire tangible meaning. The rescript declared equality in military service, justice, schools, abolished the head tax, and provided for equality of employment in government, though the implementation of all these measures was very limited. 

Tanzimat and Islahat provided equality. Before them, there were religious differences.  After that, Ottoman citizenship (Teba) is formed. They had right of property, education, etc. This was rise of individualism.

The impact of these changes was clearly felt in the political-ideological field. The process of integration which began originally as a drive towards administrative centralization was broadened to become concerned with the basic question of political loyalty. The idea of equal citizenship, known usually as Ottomanism, was a mere legal device through which the government wanted to supersede the ethnic and religious loyalties of the various minority groups. 

(Weak Side of OttomanismèThis attempt towards integration failed as far as most of the Christian subjects were concerned, for the idea lacked the emotional appeal held by their own brand of nationalism.) 

But the Muslim-Turkish intellectuals, whose number began to increase rapidly after the middle of the 19th century, seized upon Ottomanism as a nationalist ideology of their own and defined its content according to their own cultural-social background and interpretation of history. Nationality began to transform itself into nationalism.

Main power belongs Bureaucrats. Sultan was only a symbol. Bureaucrats’ aim is keeping unity of Ottoman state. 

Ottomanism is a political identity. It defines only equal citizenship of Ottoman, excepting religious differences, etc. 

The Muslim Interpreters of the New Order: The Young Ottomans 

The Ottoman intellectual trio; Ibrahim Sinasi, Ziya Pasha, and Namik Kemal, usually referred to as Young Ottomans and described as the forerunners of the modern intelligentsia, were the first Muslim to attempt to develop a broad theoretical justification and an ideology for the emerging centralized modern institutions in terms of Islamic political tradition and Ottoman principles of government.  

Young Ottomans are Muslim-Turkish intellectuals; the first critics of ruling cadre came from Young Ottomans. This was the communication age and this age created new middle class that were the Young Ottomans. 

They criticized Tanzimat bureaucrats. They adopted the authoritarian type of ruling. Young Ottomans said that there was no type administration like this in Europe. There is constitution and parliament in Europe.

Young Ottomans asked same question with Tanzimat bureaucrats. How can we keep Ottoman unity? They answered this question with constitution and parliamentary regime. Actually, they wanted to transform the Ottoman monarchy to constitutional monarchy. 

They realized that all European states have an ideology. This was nationalism and Ottoman ideology became Ottomanism. Thus, we can define them as the first opposition movement.

The intellectuals` aim was to correct the errors of the Tanzimat reforms, and put an end to the cultural dichotomy which supposedly had resulted from a misunderstanding of the philosophical, ethical and social foundations of the empire, and from the use of state power to impose an alien cultural system upon society. 

First Constitutional Period (1876-1878) (I. Mesrutiyet) 

It was started by the pressure of Young Ottomans. The first Ottoman Constitution (Kanun-I Esasi). It is combination Ottoman State understanding and basic rules European constitution.

In 1877, Ottoman Assembly is opened. In this assembly, we can see representatives of all groups like orthodox, Armenians, Turkish, etc.

The constitution has been described as an attempt on the part of the bureaucracy to curb the sultan`s power. If, however, one consider the bureaucracy`s own need for a stable, productive economic basis and the control role to be played by property system and a corresponding social organization to stabilize the dislocated population, the constitutional experiment appears in a different light.

The background of the Constitution of 1876 was the administrative experience and personality of Mithad Pasha, its leading sprit.

The Constitution and Parliament of 1876 and 1877, not only as devices to limit the sultan`s authority, but also as methods of establishing a system of balances and cooperation between the major social groups the propertied groups and the bureaucracy, represented politically by the local and central governments respectively.

The elections to debates in the Parliament of 1877 brought out once more the division of interest and of opinion between the countryside groups and the bureaucracy. The members of the House of Deputies were elected by the administrative councils and the election committees in the provincial capitals, sanjaks, and districts.

The House of Deputies eventually inserted in the reply to the sultan`s speech a critical remark censuring the poor administrative performance of the ministers who supposedly contributed to the Ottoman defeat in the war with Russia in 1877.

The Sultan Abdulhamid II eventually dismissed the House of Deputies (Meclis-i Mebusan) but did not dismiss the Ayan Council (Heyet-i Ayan) Upper House. 

Toward National Statehood 

Especially, the reign of Abdulhamid II represents the synthesis of previous structural developments.

Ottoman nationalism was gradually superseded by Turkish nationalism. Political events reached the turning-point for the throne, the intelligentsia, and the military. All these things have important role in Abdulhamid II`s rule. 

Abdulhamid II (1876-1909)

Abdulhamid II
There are 2 conflicts on Abdulhamid II`s administration. First, he was autocratic Sultan, he stoped the modernization. Second, he was a glorious Sultan, and he was a real hero. Because, he established spay system, he continued reforms on education, state level, structures, etc. So he was controversial sultan. 

He established autocratic regime in 1878 after the closing parliament. On the other hand, he established new schools and new generation from these school created new intellectuals and they established modern Turkey. From 1878 to 1908, there was no challenge his authority. Palace of the sultan became the center of government again. 

After Mahmud II, initiatives passed bureaucrats. It means, Abdulhamid II monopolize the power. Also, Abdulhamid used Caliphate position on politics. 

Differences between Abdulhamid II and Mahmud II 

The effort to consolidate the power of the throne began actually under Abdulaziz in 1870. It was Abdulhamid II who increased the throne`s power and transformed the sultan from a supreme executive organ, as he was regarded throughout  the Ottoman Empire into an autocratic semi-deity as Caliph, and who sought to legitimize his powers thorough a reinterpretation and perversion of Ottoman Islamic political theory. 

Abdulhamid II`s autocracy was different from Mahmud II`s strong power.

Indeed, Mahmud II followed the old Ottoman tradition of hukum and orf, that is he relied upon the Executive absolute prerogative to use whatever authority was necessary in orders to enforce government functions. Mahmud II did not attempt to legitimize his power by reinterpreting the Islamic law, but relied on political practices. He refused to some old political traditions in an effort to show that he was acting in accordance with the traditional separation of powers that had been implemented by the Ottoman government. He claimed that this was in conformity with Islam.

Abdulhamid II broke away from an essentially secular political tradition by generalizing the rule of Islam in government affairs.