Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Abdul-Hamid II., Sultan of Turkey
ABDUL-HAMID II., Sultan of Turkey, was born Sept. 22, 1842, being a younger son and the fourth child of Abdul-Medjid, the Sultan who died in 1861. On Aug. 31, 1876, he succeeded his brother, Mourad V., who was deposed, on proof of his insanity, after a reign of three months. He was solemnly girt with the sword of Othman, in the Eyoub mosque, Constantinople, on Sept. 7. About this time the Servians, who had been at war with the Sublime Porte, were completely defeated; but, after the capture of Alexinatz by the Turks, the Russian ambassador at Constantinople presented an ultimatum to the Turkish Government demanding the immediate conclusion of an armistice for six weeks, which was accordingly granted, Nov. 1. The New Turkish Constitution, devised by Midhat Pasha, providing for the establishment of representative institutions on the West European model, was promulgated at Constantinople, and in the provinces of the Empire on Dec. 23. In the same month a Conference of the representatives of the Great Powers was held at Constantinople, but their attempts to avert a war were unsuccessful. On Jan. 18, 1877, a resolution was passed by the Grand Council of Turkey, presided over by Midhat Pasha, rejecting absolutely all the proposals of the European Powers for administrative reforms, on the ground that their acceptance "would sacrifice the independence of the Empire:" the result being that a week later all the plenipotentiaries left Constantinople. On March 1 a treaty of peace was concluded between Turkey and Servia on the basis of the status quo ante bellum. But the Porte had soon to face a more formidable antagonist, for on April 21 a circular despatch from the Russian Government to the European Powers announced a declaration of war against Turkey. During the sanguinary conflict which ensued the Turkish troops fought with heroic valour, but they were eventually obliged to yield to superior numbers, and after the fall of Plevna the Porte sued for peace, and an armistice was accordingly signed in Feb. 1878. A Treaty of Peace was soon afterwards signed at San Stefano (March 3), but its provisions were considerably modified by the representatives of the great Powers assembled in Congress at Berlin. On July 8, 1878, the British Ministry announced that five weeks before they had concluded a defensive Treaty with the Porte, by which England agreed to guarantee the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan, who in turn engaged to introduce "necessary reforms," and to cede the island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by Great Britain.