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Şemsettin Günaltay

Mehmet Şemsettin Günaltay (Turkish pronunciation: [ʃemseˈtin ɟynaɫˈtaj]; 17 July 1883 – 19 October 1961) was a Turkish historian, politician, and Prime Minister of Turkey from 1949 to 1950.

Şemsettin Günaltay
Semsettin gunaltay.jpg
8th Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
January 16, 1949 – May 22, 1950
Presidentİsmet İnönü
Preceded byHasan Saka
Succeeded byAdnan Menderes
Member of the Grand National Assembly
In office
14 May 1950 – 2 May 1954
ConstituencyErzincan (1950)
In office
28 June 1923 – 14 May 1950
ConstituencySivas (1923, 1927, 1931, 1935, 1939, 1943, 1946)
Personal details
BornJuly 17, 1883
Kemaliye, Ottoman Empire
DiedOctober 19, 1961(1961-10-19) (aged 78)
Istanbul, Turkey
Political partyRepublican People's Party
Alma materUniversity of Lausanne


Günaltay was born 1883 in the Kemaliye town of the Vilayet of Mamuret-ul-Aziz, Ottoman Empire. After finishing the Teacher's College, he was educated in physics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

After his return to Turkey, Günaltay worked as a teacher in a number of high schools. During this time, he got to know Ziya Gökalp, a prominent ideologue of Pan-Turkism. Influenced by him, he began to carry out research on Turkish history. In 1914, he was appointed professor of the history of Turks and Islamic tribes at the Faculty of Letters of İstanbul University. Later, he served as the dean of the Faculty of Theology at the same university.

Political careerEdit

In 1915, Günaltay was elected to the Ottoman Parliament as deputy of Bilecik Province from the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), and remained a member of the parliament until its dissolution. In the meantime, he continued to lecture at the university.

During the Turkish War of Independence, Günaltay joined the "Association of Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia". After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, he entered Turkish Grand National Assembly as deputy of Sivas Province from the Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP), serving for 27 years until 1950. Between 1950 and 1954, he represented Erzincan Province in the parliament.

After Prime Minister Hasan Saka's resignation, Günaltay was appointed by President İsmet İnönü to form his cabinet on January 16, 1949 that lasted until Adnan Menderes's Democratic Party took over the government on May 22, 1950 following the general elections. He was the last prime minister of the single party era in the politics of Turkey. He was a scholar of Islam and reopened the faculty of Divinity at the Ankara University, after its Faculty of Divinity was closed in 1933.[1]

Günaltay died on October 19, 1961 in Istanbul due to prostate cancer, shortly after he was elected to the Senate to represent Istanbul Province (but before he could take his seat). He was laid to rest next to his daughter's grave in Ankara in accordance with his will.

Günaltay was also the head of the Turkish Historical Society from 1941 until his death.


  • Zulmetten Nura (From Darkness to Light)
  • Hurafattan Hakikata (From Superstition to Reality)
  • İslam Dini Tarihi (History of the Religion of Islam)
  • Maziden Atiye (From the Past to the Future)
  • Mufassal Türk Tarihi (Detailed Turkish History)
  • Tarih, (History)


  1. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 102. ISBN 9781607814658.
Political offices
Preceded by
Hasan Saka
Prime Minister of Turkey
January 16, 1949 – May 22, 1950
Succeeded by
Adnan Menderes