Abdulaziz (Ottoman Turkish: عبد العزيز, romanized: ʿAbdü'l-ʿAzîz; Turkish: Abdülaziz; 8 February 1830 – 4 June 1876) was the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and reigned from 25 June 1861 up until 30 May 1876, where he was overthrown via a government coup.[1] He was the son of Sultan Mahmud II and succeeded his brother Abdulmejid I in 1861.[3]

Ottoman Caliph
Amir al-Mu'minin
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Padishah)
Reign25 June 1861 – 30 May 1876
PredecessorAbdulmejid I
SuccessorMurad V
Grand viziers
Born8 February 1830
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died4 June 1876(1876-06-04) (aged 46)[1]
Feriye Palace, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Tomb of Sultan Mahmud II, Fatih, Istanbul
(m. 1856; his d. 1876)
(m. 1861; his d. 1876)
(m. 1861; died 1875)
(m. 1868; his d. 1876)
(m. 1872; his d. 1876)
Among others
Abdülaziz Han bin Mahmud[2]
FatherMahmud II
MotherPertevniyal Sultan
ReligionSunni Islam
TughraAbdulaziz's signature

Born at Eyüp Palace, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul),[4][5] on 8 February 1830, Abdulaziz 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.[6] 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 Abdulaziz

His parents were Mahmud II and Pertevniyal Sultan[7] (1812–1883), originally named Besime, a Circassian.[8] In 1868 Pertevniyal was residing at Dolmabahçe Palace. That year Abdulaziz 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12] Pertevniyal was a sister of Khushiyar Qadin, third wife of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. Khushiyar and Ibrahim were the parents of Isma'il Pasha.[13][14]


The Ottoman Empire in 1875
Sultan Abdulaziz during his visit to the United Kingdom in 1867.

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]

Sultan Abdulaziz, accompanied by Emperor Napoleon III, arrives in Paris in 1867 (top). The Kings of Europe are in Paris (Sultan Abdulaziz is second from right) for the opening of the Universal Exposition of 1867 (bottom).

Abdulaziz cultivated good relations with France and the United Kingdom. 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[15] 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.

Imperial Coach used by Sultan Abdulaziz during his visit to Paris, London and Vienna in 1867, currently at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum in Istanbul.[16]
Queen Victoria and Sultan Abdulaziz on the royal yacht HMY Victoria and Albert during the Sultan's visit to the United Kingdom in 1867.

Also in 1867, Abdulaziz 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.[17] Between 1854 and 1894,[17][18] the revenues from Egypt and Sudan were often declared as a surety by the Ottoman government for borrowing loans from British and French banks.[17][18] After the Ottoman government declared a sovereign default on its foreign debt repayments on 30 October 1875,[17] 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,[17] the importance for Britain of the sureties regarding the Ottoman revenues from Egypt and Sudan increased.[18] 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,[19] when the British Empire declared war against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.[19]

In 1869, Abdulaziz 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.[15]

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. Abdulaziz 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. Abdulaziz was deposed by his ministers on 30 May 1876.[1]


The türbe (mausoleum) of Sultan Mahmud II (his father) on Divan Yolu street, where Abdulaziz was also buried.
Death of Abdulaziz (1876), an imaginary depiction by French artist Victor Masson (1849–1917).

Abdulaziz's death at Çırağan Palace in Istanbul a few days later was documented as a suicide.[1][20]

Following Sultan Abdulaziz's dethronement, he was taken into a room at Topkapi Palace. This room happened to be the same room that Sultan Selim III was murdered in. The room caused him to be concerned for his life and he subsequently requested to be moved to Beylerbeyi Palace. His request was denied for the palace was considered inconvenient for his situation and he was moved to Feriye Palace instead. He nevertheless had grown increasingly nervous and paranoid about his security. In the morning of 5 June, Abdulaziz asked for a pair of scissors to trim his beard. Shortly after this, he was found dead in a pool of blood flowing from two wounds in his arms.

Bedroom of Sultan Abdulaziz at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
Sarcophagus of Sultan Abdulaziz in the mausoleum of his father, Sultan Mahmud II. Some of the sultans' descendants are also buried nearby.

Several physicians were allowed to examine his body. Among which "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" 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".[21] 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".[22]

Conspiracy TheoriesEdit

There are several sources claiming the death of Abdulaziz was due to an assassination. Islamic nationalist author Necip Fazıl Kısakürek claimed that it was a clandestine operation carried out by the British.[23]

Another similar claim is based on the book The Memoirs of Sultan Abdulhamid II. In the book, which turned out to be a fraud,[24][25] Abdulhamid II claims that Sultan Murad V had begun to show signs of paranoia, madness, and continuous fainting and vomiting until the day of his coronation, and he even threw himself into a pool yelling at his guards to protect his life. High-ranking politicians of the time were afraid the public would become outraged and revolt to bring Abdulaziz back to power. Thus, they arranged the assassination of Abdulaziz by cutting his wrists and announced that "he committed suicide".[26] This book of memoir was commonly referred to as a first-hand testimony of the assassination of Abdulaziz. Yet it was proven, later on, that Abdulhamid II never wrote nor dictated such a document.[24][25]


Admiral Hasan Rami Pasha supported the Sultan's modernization efforts.
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.
Culverin with the arms of Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Siege of Rhodes (1522). Caliber: 140mm, length: 339 cm, weight: 2533kg, ammunition: 10 kg iron ball. Remitted by Abdulaziz to Napoleon III in 1862.

Personal lifeEdit

Abdulaziz had five wives. They were Dürrünev Kadın, Hayranidil Kadın, Edadil Kadın, Nesrin Kadın, and Gevheri Kadın.[29][a] He also wanted to marry Princess Tawhida Hanim, daughter of Isma'il Pasha, khedive of Egypt. However, grand vizier Mehmed Fuad Pasha opposed the love match on the grounds that Isma'il then would have too favourable a backstairs entrée to the Sultan.[30] Fuad's objection was written on a small paper, and given to the head chamberlain, who instead of reading it to Abdulaziz, handed it to him. The Sultan was insulted, Fuad was fired, and the marriage plans were cancelled.[30]

Name Birth Death Notes
By Dürrünev Kadın (married 20 May 1856; 15 March 1835 – 3 December 1895)
Şehzade Yusuf Izzeddin 11 October 1857[31][32][33]  1 February 1916[32][33] married six times, and had issue, two sons and two daughters
Saliha Sultan 11 July 1862[34][35][36]  1941[35][36] married once, and had issue, one daughter
Şehzade Mehmed Selim 28 September 1866[31] 23 October 1867[31] born and died in infancy in Dolmabahçe Palace; buried in tomb of Mahmud II
By Hayranidil Kadın (married 1861; 2 November 1846 – 26 November 1895)
Nazime Sultan  14 February[34] 1867[37][38]  1947[38] married once without issue
Abdulmejid II 29 May 1868[39][40][41] 23 August 1944[40][41] married four times, and had issue, one son and one daughter
By Edadil Kadın (married 1861; died 12 December 1875)
Şehzade Mahmud Celaleddin 14 November 1862[31][40][42]  1 September 1888[40][42] married once without issue
Emine Sultan 1 December 1866[34][37] 24 February 1867[34][37] born and died in infancy in Dolmabahçe Palace; buried in tomb of Mahmud II
By Nesrin Kadın (married 1868; died 11 June 1876)
Şehzade Mehmed Şevket 10 June 1869[31][40]  22 October 1899 married once, and had issue, one son
Emine Sultan 24 August 1874[31][43][44]  29 January 1920[43][44] married once without issue
By Gevheri Kadın (married 1872; 8 July 1856 – 6 September 1884)
Esma Sultan  21 March 1873[45][46][47] 7 May 1899[46][47] married once, and had issue, three sons and one daughter
Şehzade Mehmed Seyfeddin 21 September 1874[31][40] 19 October 1927 married four times, and had issue, three sons and one daughter



  1. ^
    At the time of his accession to the throne in 1861, he had two kadıns.[52] Between 1861 and 1867, he had three kadıns.[29] In November 1872, there were four kadıns and one ikbal.[53]


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  2. ^ Garo Kürkman, (1996), Ottoman Silver Marks, p. 46
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  5. ^ Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930."
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  13. ^ "Non European Royalty Website, entry:"Egypt"". Archived from the original on 16 July 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
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  16. ^ "Imperial Coach of the Sultan". www.rmk-museum.org.tr. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Mevzuat Dergisi, Yıl: 9, Sayı: 100, Nisan 2006: "Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nda ve Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'nde Borçlanma Politikaları ve Sonuçları"".
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  23. ^ Kısakürek, Necip Fazıl (2007). Ulu Hakan: II. Abdülhamid Han. İstanbul: Büyük Doğu Yayınları. p. 688. ISBN 9789758180301.
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  26. ^ Bozdağ, İsmet (2000). Sultan Abdülhamid'in Hatıra Defteri. İstanbul: Pınar Yayınları. p. 223. ISBN 9753520344.
  27. ^ CFOA History - Trains and Railways of Turkey
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  29. ^ a b Karahüseyin, Güller; Saçaklı, Palin Aykut (2004). Dolmabahçe Sarayı Harem Dairelerinin Mekan Fonksiyonlart Açısından Değerlendirilmesi. TBMM Milli Saraylar Daire Başkanlığı Yayını Istanbul. pp. 86, 101.
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  35. ^ a b Uluçay 2011, p. 234.
  36. ^ a b Brookes 2010, p. 289.
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  40. ^ a b c d e f Uluçay 2011, p. 233.
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  42. ^ a b Brookes 2010, p. 283.
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  44. ^ a b Brookes 2010, p. 280.
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  46. ^ a b Uluçay 2011, p. 235-36.
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  49. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 64
  50. ^ "Caballeros de la insigne orden del toisón de oro", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1875, p. 103, retrieved 21 March 2019
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  53. ^ Tunç, Muhammed Nuri (2013). Ceyb-i Hümâyûn Hazinesi ve Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Arşivi R.1288 (M.1872) Tarihli Ceyb ve Harc-ı Jâssa Defterlerinin Transkripsiyonu ve Değerlendirilmesi (PhD Thesis). Gaziantep University Institute of Social Sciences. p. 113.


External linksEdit

  Media related to Abdül Aziz I at Wikimedia Commons

  Works by or about Abdülaziz at Wikisource

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