Tradition, Terrain, and Turkism: A Study on the Reform of the Imperial Ottoman Army and its Effects on the Outcome of World War I’s Gallipoli Campaign

Powerful Essays
Beginning in 1839 under Mahmud II, massive political, military, and social reforms took place in the Ottoman Empire, centered on westernizing practices as an attempt to stave off imperial weakening and collapse. Having spent centuries in slow decline, being forced to ally with European nations in order to succeed at war, several military and territorial losses, social turmoil, and economic ruin, numerous western experts were invited, institutions adopted, and various reforms begun within the empire. These reforms, collectively known as the Tanzimat, culminated in the creation of a constitutional monarchy in 1876 which ushered in two years of experimental republicanism. Said two years, however, were only thanks to a military coup under the auspices of reformist societies working within the army, having forced Abdulaziz to abdicate in favor of his brother Abdul Hamid II, who began his reign working with and within the new constitutional government.

However, said government attempted to limit the powers of the sultanate, infuriating Abdul Hamid and causing conflict with British foreign relations. He eventually acted directly against the reformists, their document, and their institution – the constitutional period was abolished, its leaders executed. The failure of the empire during the Russo-Turkish War aided this reversion to autocracy; the subsequent Greco-Turkish War (1877-78) only furthered it. Increasingly despotic and distrusting, the actions of the throne stirred greater and greater unrest within the populace. By 1908, the military, led by Young Turk (a liberalizing reform movement of the intelligentsia, themselves heavily educated from Tanzimat-founded universities), had had enough and carried out a bloodless coup,...

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