His Father's Name: Abdulhamid the First
His Mother's Name: Nakshidil Valide Sultana
Date of Birth: July 20th, 1785
Date of Death: June 30th, 1839
His Sultanate: 1808-39 (31 years)
(b. July 20, 1785, Constantinople--d. July 1, 1839, Constantinople), Ottoman sultan (1808-39) whose westernizing reforms helped to consolidate the Ottoman Empire despite defeats in wars and losses of territory.
Mahmoud the Second was 23 years old at his accession. Sultan Selim the Third, took personal interest to educate and train Mahmud. He was a calligrapher, composer and poet who wrote under the pseudonym "Adlee." He was brave, patient, resolute and dignified.
Early in his reign Mahmud faced erosion of his empire in the Balkans. The war with Russia, which had continued fitfully after a truce in 1807, was ended by the Treaty of Bucharest (May 28, 1812), ceding the province of Bessarabia to Russia. Mahmoud dispersed the Nizam-i Djedid and formed a new corps called Sekban-i Djedid. The dispersed army corps rebelled but Mahmoud, at the head of his troops, put down the revolt.
In 1813 the Wahabites, who had insulted the Holy Places at Mecca and Medina, were defeated and killed.
By 1815, Serbia was virtually autonomous and a Greek independence movement was stirring. The Greeks in the Morea (the Peloponnese) rebelled (1821) against Ottoman rule, and Mahmud summoned the assistance of Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, governor of Egypt. After massacres on both sides, Ottoman authority in Greece had been partly restored when the united British, French, and Russian fleets destroyed the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet in the Bay of Navarino (Oct. 20, 1827) in southern Greece. Mahmud then declared jihad (holy war) against the infidels. The Ottomans were defeated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, and he acknowledged Greek independence in 1830.
The string of military defeats and the separatist revolts earlier had convinced Mahmud of the need for reforms in his army and administration.
In June 1826, on learning of the formation of a new westernized troops trained by German instructors under the Sultan's direct control, the Janissaries revolted and upon a Fatwa from Shaykhul Islam (Head of the Muslim Scholars), Mahmud dismembered the Janissaries corp while thousands of its members dying in the ensuing massacre. The historians called this event "Vak'ayi-Hayriye" (The Auspicious Incident).
In 1826 he destroyed the defunct Janissary corps, . He abolished military fiefs granted to cavalrymen (1831) and then established a new army,
In return for his services against the Greeks, Sultan Mahmud had agreed to appoint Muhammad 'Ali as governor of Syria and Tarsus (in southern Anatolia). Muhammad 'Ali demanded (1831) the promised governorship. When Mahmud refused, Muhammad 'Ali's forces under his son Ibrahim Pasha invaded Syria, captured Damascus and Aleppo, routed the Ottoman army at Konya (1832), and advanced on Constantinople. Mahmud sought British aid, but--with France supporting Egypt--Great Britain refused. The Sultan then turned to Russia, which sent its fleet to the Bosporus and signed a treaty of mutual defense (July 1833). Determined to take revenge, Mahmud sent his army against the Egyptians in Syria but was severely defeated at Nizip on June 24, 1839, a few days before his death by tuberculosis. His corpse was interred into his tomb at Divanyolou.
Among his administrative reforms, Mahmud adopted the cabinet system of government, provided for a census and a land survey, and inaugurated a postal service (1834). He established a number of new schools and many huge buildings. All of the great mosques in Istanbul were restored during his reign and the Unkapani Bridge was built. He had an Islamic School of Theology established at Mekke-ee Mukerreme.In education, he introduced compulsory primary education, opened a medical school, and sent students to Europe. In addition, the sultan's right to confiscate the property of deceased officials was abolished, and European dress was introduced.
Mahmoud had 15 sons and 12 daughters.