Mahmud II
The Sultan Mahmud the Great, 1830
Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate & Sultan of the Ottman Empire
Reign 28 July 1808 – 1 July 1843 (34 years, 11 months, 3 days)
Predecessor Mustafa IV
Successor Abdülmecid I
Spouse Bezmiâlem Sultan (and many others)
Issue Abdülmecid I
House Osmanli
Father Abdülhamid I
Mother Nakşidil Sultan
Born 20 July 1784
Died 1 July 1843 (aged 58)
Esma Sultana Palace, Çamlıca, Ottoman Empire
Religion Sunni Islam

Mahmud II (Ottoman Turkish: محمود ثانى Mahmud-u sānī, محمود عدلى Mahmud-u Âdlî) (20 July 1784 – 1 July 1843), also known as Mahmud the Great, was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and Caliph of Islam from 1808 to 1843, the longest-reigning of the modern Ottoman Sultans. He presided over a tumultuous but incredibly important period of Ottoman history, where he witnessed the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the beginning of the Napoleonic Age, led the country in the Greek Revolution (1821 – 1825), dispatched the Janissary Corps in the Auspicious Incident of 1826, and proclaimed the beginning of the Great Reform, or "Tanzimat", in 1831. He has been regarded by historians as a great reformer and administrator, and has been named the "Great Lawgiver" and as the "greatest Ottoman Sultan since Suleiman I" (who also received the epithet of "Lawgiver"). He has also been regarded as the "savior" of the Ottoman Empire and as its first great modern Sultan.

Mahmud came to the throne in 1808 at the age of 24. He kept the Ottoman Empire out of the escalating Napoleonic Wars and maintained her neutrality even through the War of the Seventh Coalition. Mahmud's Grand Vizier at the time, Mehmed Emin Rauf Pasha, was a signatory to the Treaty of Prague, often regarded as the starting point of the Napoleonic Age. It was after the Treaty of Prague was signed that Mahmud took greater interest in the affairs of the state. He fostered a closer relationship with the French Empire over the following years. When the Greek Revolution broke out in February 1821, Mahmud paid close attention to the affairs and fortunes of the Ottoman Army while it campaigned in Greece. After several months, he was able to secure French assistance, and French troops and materiel, by order of Napoléon I, were deployed to help fight the revolutionaries; though were also used to help train the Ottoman soldiers, who were poor in quality at the time. Mahmud's ability to get the French Emperor on his side also ensured that no other European power would intervene on the side of the revolutionaries.

Following the Ottoman victory, Mahmud took great pains to begin reshuffling the ministers and offices of his government, thereby setting the stage for the Great Reform, which he promulgated in 1831 to great fanfare. While laying the groundwork for the Reform – which many suspected he would proclaim in the years prior to actually doing so – he encountered stiffer and more open opposition from the Janissaries, who had historically been opposed to the direct power of the Sultan and any whisper of internal political or military reform. When the Janissaries revolted in Constantinople and elsewhere, Mahmud ordered troops loyal to the Sultan to put down the rebellion forcefully, rather than cave in to their demands. Nearly every Janissary that opposed Mahmud's earliest reforms were killed or executed, and those few that survived fled the Empire, never to return. With the Janissaries eliminated, Mahmud proclaimed the Great Reform just five years later, certain there would be no significant threat of backlash. He personally dictated the words of many of the laws and proclamations throughout the early Reform period, and made a point of "making a show" about his activity in dealing with the affairs of state. Contemporary European leaders and statesmen noted with surprise at the "great leaps and bounds the Sick Man makes to his recovery", with nearly all noting the importance of Mahmud's leadership and intelligence in the transformation. At the time of his death, the Ottoman Empire had made great strides on the path to full modernization, and the Reform would continue under his successors Abdülmecid I, Abdülaziz, and Abdul Hamid II.


Early life and early reign

End of the Napoleonic Wars

Greek Revolution

Auspicious Incident

Promulgation of the Great Reform

Later reign and death



Titles and styles

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