Wednesday, 28th April 1909: From Yildiz Palace in Istanbul to Villa Allatini in Thessaloniki

Mustafa Kemal Pasha, known as Ataturk, the Father of Turks, the founder of the Turkish Republic

The Ottoman empire officially ended on the 1st November 1922, when the Ottoman sultanate was abolished and Turkey was declared a republic.

There have been many incidents leading to this end. One of the key incidents was the deposition of Sultan Abdul Hamit II in 1909, as it signaled the emergence of the power of the Young Turks under the Committee of Union and Progress.

Ahmed Djemal, known as Djemal Pasha, a member of the “Three Pashas” triumpharate, who took power in 1913

In 1908 the Young Turks Revolution reversed the suspension of the Ottoman Parliament by Sultan Abdul Hamit II, marking the onset of the second constitutional era.

The proclamation of the Young Turks reads:

  1. The basis for the Constitution will be respect for the predominance of the national will. One of the consequences of this principle will be to require without delay the responsibility of the minister before the Chamber, and, consequently, to consider the minister as having resigned, when he does not have a majority of the votes of the Chamber.
  2. Provided that the number of senators does not exceed one-third the number of deputies, the Senate will be named as follows: one-third by the Sultan and two-thirds by the nation, and the term of senators will be of limited duration.
  3. It will be demanded that all Ottoman subjects having completed their twentieth year, regardless of whether they possess property or fortune, shall have the right to vote. Those who have lost their civil rights will naturally be deprived of this right.
  4. It will be demanded that the right freely to constitute political groups be inserted in a precise fashion in the constitutional charter, in order that article 1 of the Constitution of 1293 A.H. [Anno Hegira=] be respected.
  5. The Turkish tongue will remain the official state language. Official correspondence and discussion will take place in Turkish.
  6. Every citizen will enjoy complete liberty and equality, regardless of nationality or religion, and be submitted to the same obligations. All Ottomans, being equal before the law as regards rights and duties relative to the State, are eligible for government posts, according to their individual capacity and their education. Non-Muslims will be equally liable to the military law.
  7. The free exercise of the religious privileges which have been accorded to different nationalities will remain intact.
  8. The reorganization and distribution of the State forces, on land as well as on sea, will be undertaken in accordance with the political and geographical situation of the country, taking into account the integrity of the other European powers.
  9. Provided that the property rights of landholders are not infringed upon (for such rights must be respected and must remain intact, according to law), it will be proposed that peasants be permitted to acquire land, and they will be accorded means to borrow money at a moderate rate.
  10. Education will be free. Every Ottoman citizen, within the limits of the prescriptions of the Constitution, may operate a private school in accordance with the special laws.
  11. All schools will operate under the surveillance of the state. In order to obtain for Ottoman citizens an education of a homogenous and uniform character, the officials schools will be open, their instruction will be free, and all nationalities will be admitted. Instruction in Turkish will be obligatory in public schools. In official schools, public instruction will be free. Secondary and higher education will be given in the public and official schools indicated above; it will use the Turkish tongue. Schools of commerce, agriculture, and industry will be opened with the goal of developing the resources of the country.
  12. Steps shall also be taken for the formation of roads and railways and canals to increase the facilities of communication and increase the sources of the wealth of the country. Everything that can impede commerce or agriculture shall be abolished.

The Revolution restored the parliament, which had been suspended by the Sultan in 1878.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II

Abdul Hamid II obtained the throne in 1876, when his brother Murad V was ousted by a liberal reform group led by the grand vizier Midhat Pasha.

In fulfillment of promises made before his accession, Abdul-Hamid issued the empire’s first constitution on Dec. 23, 1876, a document largely inspired by Midhat Pasha. It provided for an elected bicameral parliament and for the customary civil liberties, including equality before the law for all the empire’s diverse nationalities. The issuance of the constitution undercut European ambitions and stalled, at least temporarily, pressure for reform.

The Sultan, however, was an autocrat by nature. In February 1877 Midhat Pasha was dismissed and exiled. Abdul-Hamid’s reactionary measures continued when he prorogued the new parliament in May. From this time until 1908, the Sultan ignored the constitution.

However, the process of supplanting the monarchic institutions with constitutional institutions and electoral policies was neither as simple nor as bloodless as the regime change.

The new attitude of the sultan did not save him from the suspicion of intriguing with the powerful reactionary elements in the state, a suspicion confirmed by his attitude towards the counter-revolution of 13 April 1909 known as 31 Mart Vakası, when an insurrection of the soldiers backed by a conservative public upheaval in the capital overthrew the cabinet. The government, restored by soldiers from Salonica, decided on Abdülhamid’s deposition.

Sultan Mehmed V

On Tuesday, 27th April 1909, Sultan Abdul Hamid II was deposed by unanimous vote of the Turkish parliament, which had assembled at 8:00 in the morning. No vote could be taken until a fatwa could be approved by the Sheik ul Islam, second only to the Sultan as leader of the Islamic world. The fatwa, which declared that the Sultan had “squandered the wealth of the country”, burned the books of the Sharia, and “spilled blood and committed massacres”, was delivered at 10:10 a.m., and five minutes later, the Sultan was dethroned. At 10:50, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies voted to invite the Abdul Hamid’s younger brother, Rechad Effendi, to be the new Sultan, and at 4:00, the Sheik administered the oath and Rechad was proclaimed as Sultan Mehmed V.

The new Sultan had been kept a virtual prisoner by his older brother since 1876.

Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II proceeds from the Yıldız Palace towards the Hamidiye Mosque for Friday prayers in a photograph from 1908 from the archives of the German Archaeological Institute.

At 3:00 in the morning of Wednesday, 28th April 1909 in Constantinople, the one-time absolute ruler of the Ottoman Empire was put on a train and sent to the city of Salonika.

Abdul Hamid’s harem was broken up, and executions began of the mutineers who had supported him.

The deposed Sultan left from Yildiz Palace, meaning “Star Palace” in Istanbul.

It was built in 1880 and was used by the Sultan.

The area of the palace was originally made of natural woodlands and became an imperial estate during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617).

Servants from the deposed Sultan Abdulhamid II’s Palace at Yildiz being escorted by soldiers of the Young Turks (CUP) during the April Revolution

Various sultans after Ahmed I enjoyed vacationing on these lands and Sultans Abdülmecid I and Abdülaziz built mansions here.

In the late 19th century, Sultan Abdülhamid II left Dolmabahçe because he feared a seaside attack on the palace, which is located at the shore of the Bosporus strait.

He expanded the Yıldız Palace and ordered the renowned Italian architect Raimondo D’Aroncoto build new buildings to the palace complex.

Soldiers around fountain – Yildiz savay in 1909, after the deposition of Abdul Hamid II

When he moved there, the palace became the fourth seat of Ottoman government (the previous ones were the Eski Saray (Old Palace) in Edirne, and the Topkapı and Dolmabahçe Palaces in Istanbul.)

The deposed Sultan arrived in Thessaloniki at 2200 hrs of Wednesday, 28th April 1909 and was immediately taken to Villa Allatini, where he would spend the next three years of his life.

Villa Alatini, Thessaloniki

Villa Allatini was built in 1888 by the Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli, as the Country residence of the Jewish industrialist Allatini.

The seal of Poselli in Yeni Djami, Thessaloniki

After the deposed Sultan was thrown out Yildiz Palace, the Parliamentarian moved in to inventory his treasures.

Thessaloniki is also the childhood home of Mustafa Kemal, the architect and leader of the new Turkish nation built on the ashes of Abdul Hamid’s Ottoman Empire.

In 1912, when Salonica (or Salonique, the name of the time) fell to Greece, Abdul Hamid II was returned to captivity in Istanbul.

Beylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul

He spent his last days studying, carpentering and writing his memoirs in custody at Beylerbeyi Palace in the Bosphorus, where he died on 10 February 1918, just a few months before his brother, the Sultan. He was buried in Istanbul.

By 1930, only a small proportion of Thessaloniki’s inhabitants could remember the city as it had existed in the days of Abdul Hamid.


    • Dear Visitor, Thank you for your kind words.I will try to keep up the good work, and you – hopefully – will return to acknowledge.

Comments are closed.