Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Ottoman Empire / Rulers /
Mahmud 2

Sultan Mahmud 2

Sultan Mahmud 2.

(1785-1839) Ottoman sultan 1807-1839.
Mahmud 2's reign is remembered for the loss of Greece and Egypt, and for finally ending the Janissaries, which by then had become an elite group unwilling to reform their military.
Mahmud's reform program was mainly designed by Grand vizier Bayraktar Mustafa Pasha of Bulgaria who was the one who had put him in power, and who only got to act as his vizier for half a year, before being killed. With Bayrakdar dead, the reform program lost its main propagator, and would not be resumed until the middle of the 1820's.
Among Mahmud's reforms were to introduce the cabinet system of government, ordering a census and a land survey and establishing a postal service. Moreover, he introduced compulsory primary education, opened a medical school and allowed students to study in European countries. Also during his time, European dress was introduced in Constantinople.


1785 July 20: Born in Constantinople.
1808: Grand vizier Bayraktar Mustafa Pasha of Bulgaria puts Mustafa on the sultan throne, after deposing Mustafa 4.
End of year: The Janissaries revolt, and kill Bayraktar Mustafa Pasha.
1812 May 28: Treaty of Bucharest ends the 6 year long war with Russia, where Mahmud has to cede the province of Bessarabia.
1821: Rebellion in the Pelopponese, Greece, aiming at Greek independence.
1824: Mahmud 2 asks for military aid from the viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, promising him that he would get control over Syria in return.
1826 June 14-15: The Janissary corps find out that Sultan Mahmud 2 is forming new European-style armies, and revolts. Mahmud 2 declares war on them, and it ends with cannons shooting at the Janissary barracks in Constantinople and the provincial capitals, killing most of the troops. Many of the survivors were executed, others were banished. This ended the period of the Janissaries.
1827 October 20: United British, French and Russian fleets destroy the Ottoman-Egyptian at the Battle of Navarino.
1828- 29: War between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, which the Ottomans lose.
1829: Greece declares its independence.
1830: Mahmud 2 accepts the loss of Greece, recognizing it as an independent country.
1831: After that Mahmud 2 refuses to grant Muhammad Ali control over Syria as promised, he declares war on the Ottoman sultan and invades Syria, captures Damascus and Aleppo.
— Mahmud abolishes the system of military fiefs granted to cavalrymen, and establishes a new army which reports directly to him, and which is led by German instructors.
1832: The army of Muhammad Ali defeats the Ottoman army at Konya, and start marching on Constantinople.
1833 July: A Russian fleet arrives at Constantinople, in order to aid the sultan in the defence against the forces of Muhammad Ali. Russia and the Ottoman Empire sign a treaty of mutual defence.
1839: Mahmud renews the war against Muhammad Ali.
June 24: The Ottoman army is finally defeated by the Egyptian at Nizip (now near the border of Syria and Turkey).
July 1: Dies in Constantinople from tuberculosis.

By Tore Kjeilen