Abdülhamid II, (born September 21, 1842, Constantinople [now Istanbul, Turkey]—died February 10, 1918, Constantinople), Ottoman sultan from 1876 to 1909, under whose autocratic rule the reform movement of Tanzimat (Reorganization) reached its climax and who adopted a policy of pan-Islamism in opposition to Western intervention in Ottoman affairs.
A son of Sultan Abdülmecid I, he came to the throne at the deposition of his mentally deranged brother, Murad V, on August 31, 1876. He promulgated the first Ottoman constitution on December 23, 1876, primarily to ward off foreign intervention at a time when the Turks’ savage suppression of the Bulgarian uprising (May 1876) and Ottoman successes in Serbia and Montenegro had aroused the indignation of Western powers and Russia. After a disastrous war with Russia (1877), Abdülhamid was convinced that little help could be expected from the Western powers without their intrusion into Ottoman affairs. He dismissed the Parliament, which had met in March 1877, and suspended the constitution in February 1878. Thenceforth, for 30 years, he ruled from his seclusion at Yıldız Palace (in Constantinople), assisted by a system of secret police, an expanded telegraph network, and severe censorship.
After the French occupation of Tunisia (1881) and assumption of power by the British in Egypt (1882), Abdülhamid turned for support to the Germans. In return, concessions were made to Germany, culminating in permission (1899) to build the Baghdad Railway. Eventually, the suppression of the Armenian revolt (1894) and the turmoil in Crete, which led to the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, once more resulted in European intervention