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The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 reversed the suspension of the Ottoman parliament by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, marking the onset of the Second Constitutional Era. A landmark in the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Revolution arose from an unlikely union of reform-minded pluralists, Turkish nationalists, Western-oriented secularists, and indeed anyone who accorded the Sultan political blame for the harried state of the Empire.

The Revolution restored the parliament, which had been suspended by the Sultan in 1878. 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 itself, and the periphery of the Empire continued to splinter under the pressures of local revolutions.


Young Turk exiles were Murad Bey, Ahmed Riza, Damad Mahmud Pasha and Prince Sabaheddin, the latter two of whom were defectors from within Sultan Abdul Hamid's own family.

The goal was to unite all parties, including Young Turks, to advance the Revolution. Some differences, however, such as those in regard to nationalism, proved irreconcilable, and no lasting alliance was formed.

Congress of the Ottoman opposition

Two congresses of opposition to the Ottoman regime were held, one in 1902 and the other in 1907. The second occurred in Paris, France. The leadership included Ahmed Riza, Sabahheddin Bey, Khachatur Maloumian. The goal was to unite all parties, including Young Turks, to advance the revolution. However, some differences, such as about nationalism, were great enough to prevent formation of a true alliance.

Two of the most important revolutionary groups trying to overthrow Sultan Abdul Hamid II had been the ARF and the Committee of Union and Progress. In a general assembly meeting in 1907, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) realized that both the Armenian and Turkish revolutionaries shared the same goals. The ARF decided to cooperate with the Committee of Union and Progress. The "Second congress of the Ottoman opposition" took place in Parismarker, Francemarker in 1907. Opposition leaders including Ahmed Riza (liberal), Prince Sabaheddin, and Khachatur Maloumian of the ARF were in attendance. During the meeting, an alliance between the two parties was officially declared. The ARF decided to cooperate with the Committee of Union and Progress, hoping that if the Young Turks came to power, autonomy would be granted to the Armenians.

The Revolution

Flyer for the new constitution


Discontent within the 3rd Army Corps in Macedonia was the main reason for the revolt. Major Ahmed Niyazi, fearing discovery of his political moves by an investigatory committee sent from the capital, decamped from Resen on July 3, 1908 with 200 followers demanding restoration of the constitution. The sultan's attempt to suppress this uprising failed due to the popularity of the movement among the troops themselves. Rebellion spread rapidly. On July 24, Abdül Hamid announced restoration of the constitution.

Reconvening of the Parliament

The alliances of the Young Turks and expatriate organizations of various ethnic groups, such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, began to fracture, and indeed the Young Turks struggled to find consensus even among themselves.

The Committee of Union and Progress's adoption of an aggressive form of Ottomanism failed, its opponents regarding it as tantamount to Turkification, further straining relations among ethnic minorities and their fledgling government.


A significant result of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution was


Additional resources

  • M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908, Oxford University Press 2001, ISBN 0-19-513463-X
  • Esther Benbassa, Un grand rabbin sepharde en politique, 1892-1923 (Paris, 1990), page 27-28

See also

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