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Young Turks

Andrew J. Waskey

Subject History » Political History

Place Middle and Near East » Turkey

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics nationalism, revolution, student movements

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01633.x


The Young Turks was one of the secret societies that arose in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923) to oppose the absolutist rule of Sultan Abdulhamit II (1842–1918). While ultimately able to depose Sultan Abdulhamit, their program to return the Ottoman Empire to its glory days failed. In 1876 the Ottoman Empire adopted a constitution that provided for a representative legislature and increased personal freedoms. Although the newly installed Sultan Abdulhamit signed this new constitution, he eventually set it aside and instituted autocratic policies that grew repressive through the use of state-sponsored violence. The response to Abdulhamit's rule by fear was the formation of secret societies. Some of these were nationalist, others were secular, and still others were religious. The nationalist groups promoted Turkish nationalism in order to transform society from a multi-ethnic empire to a society of Turkish nationalists. The secret societies were composed of students, military cadets, military officers, and others. The most influential of these was a coalition group called the Young Turks, their name taken from their journal, La Jeune Turquie. The Young Turks were a revolutionary coalition committed to modernizing and reforming government in the Ottoman empire. The Young Turk Revolution was predominantly composed of student activists and military cadets willing to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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