Young Turk Revolution

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Young Turk Revolution
Part of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire
Declaration of the 1908 Revolution in Ottoman Empire.png
Declaration of the Young Turk Revolution by the leaders of the Ottoman millets in 1908

Young Turks victory

Young Turks Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg Ottoman imperial government
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg Sultan Abdul Hamid II
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The Young Turk Revolution (July 1908) of the Ottoman Empire was when the Young Turks movement restored the Ottoman constitution of 1876 and ushered in multi-party politics in a two stage electoral system (electoral law) under the Ottoman parliament. More than three decades earlier, in 1876, constitutional monarchy had been established under Sultan Abdul Hamid II during a period of time known as the First Constitutional Era, which only lasted for two years before Abdul Hamid suspended it and restored autocratic powers to himself. On 24 July 1908, Abdul Hamid capitulated and announced the restoration of Constitution, which established the Second Constitutional Era. After an attempted monarchist counterrevolution in favor of Abdul Hamid the following year, he was deposed and his brother Mehmed V ascended the throne.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Young Turks Political reform movement in the Ottoman Empire

Young Turks was a political reform movement in the early 20th century that consisted of Ottoman exiles, students, civil servants, and army officers. They favoured the replacement of the Ottoman Empire's absolute monarchy with a constitutional government. Later, their leaders led a rebellion against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II in the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. With this revolution, the Young Turks helped to establish the Second Constitutional Era in 1908, ushering in an era of multi-party democracy for the first time in the country's history.

Ottoman constitution of 1876

The Ottoman constitution of 1876 was the first constitution of the Ottoman Empire. Written by members of the Young Ottomans, particularly Midhat Pasha, during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909), the constitution was only in effect for two years, from 1876 to 1878 in a period known as the First Constitutional Era. Later it was put back into effect and amended to transfer more power from the sultan and the appointed Senate to the generally elected Chamber of Deputies after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, initiating a period known as the Second Constitutional Era.


Once underground, organizations (named committee, group, etc.) established (declared) their parties. [1] Among them "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP), and "Freedom and Accord Party" also known as the Liberal Union or Liberal Entente (LU) were major parties. There were smaller parties such as Ottoman Socialist Party. On the other end of the spectrum were the ethnic parties which included; People's Federative Party (Bulgarian Section), Bulgarian Constitutional Clubs, Jewish Social Democratic Labour Party in Palestine (Poale Zion), Al-Fatat, and Armenians organized under Armenakan, Hunchakian and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). ARF, previously outlawed, became the main representative of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, [2] replacing the pre-1908 Armenian elite, which had been composed of merchants, artisans, and clerics who had seen their future in obtaining more privileges within the boundaries of the state's version of Ottomanism.

Committee of Union and Progress political party in Ottoman Empire

The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), later the Party of Union and Progress, began as a secret society established as the Committee of the Ottoman Union in Istanbul on 6 February 1889 by medical students Ibrahim Temo, Mehmed Reshid, Abdullah Cevdet, İshak Sükuti, Ali Hüseyinzade, Kerim Sebatî, Mekkeli Sabri Bey, Nazım Bey, Şerafettin Mağmumi, Cevdet Osman and Giritli Şefik. It was transformed into a political organisation by Behaeddin Shakir, aligning itself with the Young Turks in 1906 during the period of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. In the West, members of the CUP were usually called Young Turks while in the Ottoman Empire its members were known as Unionists.

Freedom and Accord Party political party in Ottoman Empire

The Freedom and Accord Party, formerly and also known as the Liberal Union or the Liberal Entente, was a liberal Ottoman political party active between 1911 and 1913, during the Second Constitutional Era. As the Liberal Union/Entente, it was the second largest party in the Ottoman Parliament of 1909. It had managed to organize covering most of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The political programme of the party advocated for Ottomanism, government decentralisation and the rights of ethnic minorities.

The Ottoman Socialist Party was the first Turkish socialist political party, founded in the Ottoman Empire in 1910.


Countering the conservative politics of Abdul Hamid's reign was the amount of social reform that occurred during this time period. The development of a more liberal environment in Turkey strengthened the culture, and also provided the grounds for the later rebellion. Abdul Hamid's political circle was close-knit and ever-changing. When the sultan abandoned the previous politics from 1876, he suspended the Ottoman Parliament in 1878. This left a very small group of individuals able to partake in politics in the Ottoman Empire. [3]

In order to preserve the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, many Turks felt a need for modernization of the country. However, Abdul Hamid's method of rule was not in line with the developing nation. The origins of the revolution lie in the organization of two political factions. Neither agreed with Abdul Hamid's reign, but each had separate interests. The Liberals were the upper-class groups in the Ottoman Empire and desired a more relaxed form of government with little economic interference. They also pushed for more autonomy of the different ethnic groups, which became popular among foreigners in the empire. In a slightly lower class formed a different group- the Unionists. Members were of working class and foremost wanted a secular government. These two groups initially formed out of the same intent- to return to the old constitution, but cultural differences divided them. [3]


Members of the military tradition, military officers, among the Young Turks revolted. The defense of their shrinking state had become a matter of intense professional pride which caused them to raise arms against their state. The event that triggered the Revolution was a meeting in the Baltic port of Reval between Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Nicholas II of Russia in June 1908. Though these imperial powers had experienced relatively few major conflicts between them over the previous hundred years, an underlying rivalry, otherwise known as "the Great Game", had exacerbated the situation to such an extent that resolution was sought. The Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 brought shaky British-Russian relations to the forefront by solidifying boundaries that identified their respective control in Persia (eastern border of the Empire) and Afghanistan. Military officers fearing the meeting was a prelude to the partition of Macedonia, Army units in the Balkans mutinied against Sultan Abdülhamid II. A desire to preserve the state, not destroy it, motivated the revolutionaries.

Edward VII King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India 1901-1910

Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910.

The Great Game Political and diplomatic confrontation between Britain and Russia over the Central Asia region from 1830 to 1895

"The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and Southern Asia. Russia was fearful of British commercial and military inroads into Central Asia, and Britain was fearful of Russia adding "the jewel in the crown", India, to the vast empire that Russia was building in Asia. This resulted in an atmosphere of distrust and the constant threat of war between the two empires. Britain made it a high priority to protect all the approaches to India, and the "great game" is primarily how the British did this in terms of a possible Russian threat. Historians with access to the archives have concluded that Russia had no plans involving India, as the Russians repeatedly stated.

Afghanistan A landlocked south-central Asian country

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi) and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experiences very cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, while the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get very hot in summers. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.

The revolt began in July 1908. [4] Major Ahmed Niyazi, fearing discovery of his political moves by an investigatory committee sent from the capital, decamped from Resen on 3 July with 200 followers demanding restoration of the constitution. The sultan's attempt to suppress this uprising failed due to the popularity of the movement among the troops themselves. Rebellion spread rapidly due to the ideology of Ottomanism.

Ahmed Niyazi Bey Ottoman bey and revolutionary

Ahmed Niyazi Bey, , was the Ottoman bey of the Resne area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An ethnic Albanian, Niyazi was one of the heroes of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution and of suppressing the 1909 Ottoman countercoup as he played leading roles in both events. Niyazi is also known for the Saraj, a French-style estate he built in Resne.


Ottomanism was a concept which developed prior to the First Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire. Its proponents believed that it could solve the social issues that the empire was facing.

On 24 July, sultan Abdul Hamid II capitulated and announced restoration of the 1876 constitution. [5]

Popular support for the Revolution
Demonstration in the Sultanahmet
Greek demonastration Bitola 1908.JPG
Greek demonstration in Monastir in favour of the constitution
Young Turk Revolution - Flyer for the constitution.png
Postcard for the new constitution in Ottoman Turkish and Greek
Postcard for the new constitution in Ottoman Turkish and French
Greek lithograph celebrating the Ottoman Constitution.png
Lithograph, with Ottoman Turkish, Greek, and French text, celebrating the new constitution and the promised equality and brotherhood among the Ottoman subjects


The Ottoman general election, 1908 took place during November and December 1908. On 17 December the Committee of Union and Progress, a unionist organization, won a majority in the parliament. The Senate of the Ottoman Empire reconvened for the first time in over 30 years on 17 December 1908 with the living members from the First Constitutional Era. The Chamber of Deputies' first session was on 30 January 1909. These developments caused the gradual creation of a new governing elite. In some communities, such as the Jewish (cf. Jews in Islamic Europe and North Africa and Jews in Turkey), reformist groups emulating the Young Turks ousted the conservative ruling elite and replaced them with a new reformist one.

While the Young Turk Revolution had promised organizational improvement, once instituted, the government at first proved itself rather disorganized and ineffectual. Although these working-class citizens had little knowledge of how to control a government, they imposed their ideas on the Ottoman Empire. In a small Liberal victory, Kâmil Pasha, a Liberal supporter and ally to England, was appointed as the Grand Vizier on 5 August 1908. His policies helped to maintain some balance between the Committee of Union and Progress and the Liberals, but conflict with the former led to his removal barely 6 months later, on 14 February 1909. [6]

The Sultan maintained his symbolic position, and in April 1909 attempted to seize power (Ottoman countercoup of 1909) by stirring populist sentiment throughout the Empire. The Sultan's bid for a return to power gained traction when he promised to restore the caliphate, eliminate secular policies, and restore the sharia-based legal system. On 13 April 1909, army units revolted, joined by masses of theological students and turbaned clerics shouting, "We want Sharia", and moving to restore the Sultan's absolute power. The 31 March Incident, on 24 April 1909 reversed the actions and restored the parliament by the Hareket Ordusu commanded by Mahmud Shevket Pasha. The deposition of Abdul Hamid II in favor of Mehmed V followed.


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Second Constitutional Era

The Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire established shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution which forced Sultan Abdul Hamid II to restore the constitutional monarchy by the revival of the Ottoman Parliament, the General Assembly of the Ottoman Empire and the restoration of the constitution of 1876. The parliament and the constitution of the First Constitutional Era (1876–1878) had been suspended by Abdul Hamid in 1878 after only two years of functioning. Whereas the First Constitutional Era had not allowed for political parties, the Young Turks amended the constitution to strengthen the popularly elected Chamber of Deputies at the expense of the unelected Senate and the Sultan's personal powers, and formed and joined many political parties and groups for the first time in the Empire's history.

First Constitutional Era

The First Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire was the period of constitutional monarchy from the promulgation of the Kanûn-ı Esâsî, written by members of the Young Ottomans, that began on 23 December 1876 and lasted until 14 February 1878. These Young Ottomans were dissatisfied by the Tanzimat and instead pushed for a constitutional government similar to that in Europe. The constitutional period started with the dethroning of Sultan Abdülaziz. Abdul Hamid II took his place as Sultan. The era ended with the suspension of the Ottoman Parliament and the constitution by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, with which he restored his own absolute monarchy.

31 March Incident 1909 rebellion of conservative reactionaries in Constantinople

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Ottoman countercoup of 1909

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Abdul Hamid II was the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the last Sultan to exert effective control over the fracturing state. He oversaw a period of decline, with rebellions particularly in the Balkans, and he had an unsuccessful war with the Russian Empire followed by a successful war against the Kingdom of Greece in 1897. Hamid II ruled from August 31, 1876 until he was deposed shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, on April 27, 1909. In accordance with an agreement made with the Republican Young Ottomans, he promulgated the first Ottoman Constitution of 1876 on December 23, 1876, which was a sign of progressive thinking that marked his early rule. Later, however, he noticed Western influence on Ottoman affairs and citing disagreements with the Parliament, suspended both the short-lived constitution and Parliament in 1878 and accomplished highly effective power and control.

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1912 Ottoman coup détat

1912 Ottoman coup d'état was a military coup in the Ottoman Empire against the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) government by a group of military officers calling themselves the Saviour Officers during the dissolution era of the Ottoman Empire.

General elections were held in November and December 1908 for all 288 seats of the Chamber of Deputies of the Ottoman Empire. They were the first elections contested by political parties.

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Eyüp Sabri Akgöl politician

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  1. ( Erickson 2013 , p. 32)
  2. Zapotoczny, Walter S. "The Influence of the Young Turks" (PDF). W zap online. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  3. 1 2 Ahmad, Feroz (July 1968). "The Young Turk Revolution". Journal of Contemporary History . 3, The Middle East (3): 19–36. JSTOR   259696.
  4. The Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1983, page 788, Volume 13
  5. Quataert, Donald (July 1979). "The 1908 Young Turk Revolution: Old and New Approaches". Middle East Studies Association BUlletin. 13 (1): 22–29. JSTOR   41890046.
  6. Somel, Selçuk Akşin (2003). Historical Dictionary of the Ottoman Empire. The Scarecrow Press. p. 147. ISBN   0-8108-4332-3.