Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.



Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.



The Ottoman Empire

CA. 1800-1914


The Ottoman Empire, which at its height stretched from the Mediterranean to Persia, experienced political and economic decline during the 19th century. From the late 1700s, the Ottoman government had instituted reforms from above, but these were not supported by the old elite and, later, did not go far enough to please the increasingly strong and liberal reform-minded younger generation. The period of reforms was accompanied by a great loss of territory that was the start of the breakup of the great empire.


Territorial Losses and Internal Reforms

The Ottoman Empire suffered territorial losses at the end of the 19th century primarily in the Balkans. Domestically, the sultan prepared reforms.


The French Revolution and the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon also awoke thoughts of freedom and nationalistic feelings in the European territories dominated by the Turks, 2 Greece revolted and finally gained its independence in 1829, while the rest of the Balkans was in rebellion during the whole of the 19th century.

2 Attacking Janissaries engage Greek
fighters during the Greek war of
independence from the Ottomans,
painting by Eugene Delacroix, 1827

see also:

Eugene Delacroix

The European great powers, above all Russia, increasingly intervened, and they supported the independence of Bulgaria, Romania. Serbia, and Montenegro at the Congress of Berlin in 1878.

In North Africa, Egypt, too, sought independence from the 1 Ottoman Empire.

1 The palace Dolmabahce Sarayi near Istanbul,
capital of the Ottoman Empire, completed in 1843

Despite initial support of the Turks by an alliance of Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain, the Egyptians succeeded in 1841. The Maghreb states increasingly came under the influence of Europe. In 1830, France occupied and then colonized Algeria, and in 1881 it made Tunisia a French protectorate.

Domestically, the Ottoman sultans had to contend with a weakening of their central power. The first so-called reform sultan was Selim III, who ascended the throne in 1789 and reorganized the state, its financial administration, and the army according to Western European models. He was not able to withstand the resistance of the traditional elite, however—particularly the military Janissaries, who finally murdered him.

His plans were later carried out by 3 Mahmud II, who destroyed the Janissaries after a 4 revolt in 1826 and replaced them with a conscription army controlled by the central government.

3 Decree signed by Sultan Mahmud II

4 Suppression of the Janissary revolt of 1826

He also fostered the sciences by establishing state schools in which he advocated a general secularization. The Tanzimat reform era, a new phase of reforms, was instituted under Sultan Abdulmecid I.

Along with a new 5 restructuring of the army, the administration was reorganized in line with the French model and the legal standardization of all of the empire's subjects was carried out.

New roads, 6 railroads, and a telegraph system were constructed.

For this purpose, foreign loans were drawn, but the government was unable to pay the interest on them after 1875.

This, together with corruption and the enormous luxury in which the sultans lived—Abdulmecid had just had a huge new 7 palace built on the shores of the Bosporus—finally led to the financial ruin of the Ottoman Empire.

5 Memorial to Count von Moltke, military
instructor for the restructuring of the army
of Mahmud II, Istanbul

6 Railway viaduct at the narrow pass of Ushak

7 Stairwell in the Dolmabahce Sarayi palace



End of the Reforms and Rise of the Young Turks

The Young Turks wanted the political and economic modernization of their country, but failed with their policies.

After the death of 8 Sultan Abdulmecid I, his brother Abdulaziz ascended the throne in 1861, but he was forced to abdicate in 1876 and was replaced by Abdulhamid II.

He put a constitution in force, guaranteed freedom of religion and the press, and installed a 11 parliament in 1877—which he then dissolved again when the empire had to defend itself against the pressure of the Europeans.

8 Sultan Abdulmecid

11 The first Turkish parliament meets
in the year 1877

Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire. By the Treaty of San Stefano of 1878, Turkey surrendered Bessarabia. The Congress of Berlin (1878) marked a further loss of Ottoman territory. Abdulhamid's reign soon became a dictatorial and centralized one.

The 10 mass murder of 200,000 Armenians in 1896 occurred during his reign.

10 Massacre of the Armenians in the Turkish part of Armenia, 1896

Although the sultan was able to improve the economic situation, his autocratic regime stirred up resistance from liberals, who organized in the Young Turk movement. A revolt took place in 1909 with the support of General 9 Enver Pasha.

The Young Turks assumed power, restored the constitution and parliament, and ruled for ten years under the nominal regency of 12 Mehmed V.

They attempted to modernize the country by curtailing the influence of religion in schools and the legal system while seeking to kick-start industrialization. But even this couldn't save the "sick man of Europe."

The two 13 Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 further weakened the declining empire and left it only a small piece of land—Eastern Thrace—in Europe.

The Turkish government tried to remain neutral during World War I, but was pulled in on the side of the Central Powers by a promise of German support and funding and the need for allies against Russia.

9  Enver Pasha

12 Prince Reshad is proclaimed Sultan
Mehmed V

13 The Turks flee from the conquered areas
of the Balkan states



The Young Turks

This movement had been formed by Midhat Pasha in 1868, with the aim of reforming Turkish institutions. Around the 1880s, many officers, officials, and intellectuals, mostly young, who were not in agreement with the autocratic running of the Turkish state and sought a revitalization of the country, began uniting.

The Young Turks advocated a strategy of liberalization, with the goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy, but were still forced at first to act from abroad. Various groups joined together and were able to depose Sultan Abdulhamid II and install Mehmed Von the throne.

The Young Turks were not able to put the Ottoman Empire back on its feet, however, and were forced to hand over the government in October 1918.

Young Turk Revolution Declaration - Armenian, Greek & Muslim Leaders




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