V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1792–1914 > 2. The Middle East and Egypt, 1796–1914
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1807–8)
2. The Middle East and Egypt, 1796–1914
a. The Ottoman Empire
1. Beginnings of Modernizing Reform
SULTAN MAHMUD II. In Nov. 1808, just months after his accession, Mahmud faced a revolt by the Janissaries, who forced him to abandon plans to create a new army, and in addition killed his reform-minded grand vezir, Mustafa Bayrakdar Pasha. This experience, and the unhappy fate of his predecessor Selim III, prompted the sultan to prepare cautiously for the eventual destruction of the Janissaries. A set of decisive actions he took marked the true beginnings of modernization in the empire. In addition to creating a new army and restoring central control in many provinces, he began the reorganization of the state based on European ideas of the rule of law, conciliar bureaucracy, and equality of the subjects.  1
Reassertion of Istanbul's control in the Balkans and Anatolia. Mahmud used political pressures and military expeditions to remove rebellious governors and local notables from their hold over large parts of Anatolia and the Balkans, which were brought under his direct rule. In western Anatolia the central government eliminated several of the rural notables known as valley lords (derebeys) who ruled over autonomous hereditary principalities, including the Janikli family in the area of Trabzon (1812–13), the Chapanolu family around Ankara and Amasya (1814), and the Karaosmanolu family in the area of Aydin (1816). The last of the valley lords was subjugated in 1866 when a military expedition removed the Kuchuk Aliolu chiefs in the area of Adana.  2
Reassertion of Istanbul's control over the province of Aleppo, after a crackdown on the local Janissary corps and the execution of many of its leaders.  3
The Serbian revolt. In April 1815, two years after the Ottomans suppressed the uprising of Karageorge, a second revolt broke out under the leadership of Milosh Obrenovich. In 1817, Sultan Mahmud conceded a degree of autonomy to the Serbs (See 1817), recognizing Milosh as the prince of Serbia and allowing the Serbs to have their own national assembly and army. The Ottomans continued to maintain their governor in Belgrade as well as their garrisons.  4
First appearance of cholera in the empire. Numerous subsequent epidemics hit the region well into the 20th century (7 between 1821 and 1850). The estimated mortality in various cities was 1–4 percent, with higher rates of 6–10 percent among the poor segments of the population. Mecca suffered the highest recorded mortality rates, with cholera epidemics wiping out as many as 10–15 percent of the Muslim pilgrims (the city had 23 epidemics between 1831 and 1912). The bubonic plague disappeared in most parts of the region by the 1840s, and cholera took its place as the leading scourge.  5
War with Iran, provoked by border incidents. The Iranians pushed successfully into Anatolia, but agreed to peace after an epidemic ravaged their troops. The Treaty of Erzurum (July 28, 1823) reaffirmed the Treaty of 1746 with minor boundary changes in favor of Iran. Provisions were made for the release of the confiscated property of Iranian merchants in Istanbul and for the entry of Iranian traders and pilgrims into Ottoman lands.  6
THE GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE (See 1821–31). A revolt against Ottoman rule in the Morea in March 1821 spread quickly to the Greek mainland and islands, and a Greek assembly declared independence. The Ottomans solicited the assistance of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, whose disciplined troops subdued Crete before moving into the Morea in 1825 and defeating the rebels there. When the Ottomans resisted European demands for an armistice, a combined British and French squadron destroyed the Ottoman and Egyptian fleets at Navarino (Oct. 20, 1827) in a naval battle that turned the tide in favor of the Greek rebels. The Ottomans refused to settle on European terms, and war ensued with Russia (April 1828) in which the Ottomans were soundly defeated. They agreed to a European scheme to establish Greece as an autonomous tributary state ruled by a hereditary prince invested by the sultan (1829), but in 1830 they were forced to accept full Greek independence.  7
1822, Jan. 24
Death of Ali Pasha of Janina, the powerful ruler of Albania and parts of Greece for over three decades, after Ottoman forces occupied his lands and put him to death.  8
Aug. 13
A major earthquake in northern Syria caused extensive damage and loss of life, especially in Aleppo. In 1872 another severe earthquake in that region devastated Antioch (Antakya).  9
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.