Era of Modern Reform, Coup and Constitution
Tanzimat reforms, Young Turk Revolution, autocratic government, Congress of Berlin, Young Turks
At this point a new international crisis, threats of a war with Russia and Austria, and the constitutionalist aspirations of a group of reformers led to the overthrow of Sultan Abd al-Aziz. After a very short reign, Murad V was succeeded by Sultan Abd al-Hamid II. He promulgated a constitution and accepted a representative parliament, which convened in 1877, but was soon suspended because of war with Russia. In cooperation with Britain, Abd al-Hamid managed to solve the international crisis at the Congress of Berlin (1878). He then moved to restore the Tanzimat reforms, which by the end of the century had created a relatively modern and prosperous state. In the face of continued European dangers, however, Abd al-Hamid suspended the parliament and installed a highly autocratic government in 1878. Governmental power was taken from the bureaucracy and centered in the palace, and all opposition was suppressed. Abd al-Hamid restored financial stability and advanced the economy, but the political repression ultimately led to the rise of a new liberal opposition movement, the Young Turks, who forced him to restore the constitution and parliament in what is known as the Young Turk Revolution (1908). The success of the new constitutional regime was immediately undermined, however, by a series of disasters: Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria annexed East Rumelia, and terrorism in Macedonia and eastern Anatolia resumed with renewed fury.
Abd al-Hamid and those around him in the palace blamed these disasters on the new constitutional regime and attempted a counterrevolution in April 1909. Parliament was dissolved and many members arrested, but the army in Macedonia, dominated by Young Turks, marched back to Istanbul, defeated the counterrevolution, and dethroned the sultan. Subsequent Ottoman sultans reigned but did not rule.
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