Boğaziçi University, Atatürk Institute of Modern Turkish History
The Rescript of Gülhane – Gülhane
3 November 1839
All the world knows that in the first days of the Ottoman monarchy, the
glorious precepts of the Kuran and the laws of the empire were always honored.
The empire in consequence increased in strength and greatness, and all
its subjects, without exception, had risen in the highest degree to ease
and prosperity. In the last one hundred and fifty years a succession of accidents
and divers causes have arisen which have brought about a disregard for the
sacred code of laws and the refulations flowing therefrom, and the former
strength and prosperity have changed into weakness and poverty; an empire
in fact loses all its stability so soon as it ceases to observe its laws.
These considerations are ever present to our mind, and ever since the day
of our advent to the throne the thought of the public weal, of the improvement
of the state of the provinces, and of relief to the (subject) peoples, has
not ceased to engage it. If, therefore, the geographical position of the
Ottoman provinces, the fertility of the soil, the aptitude and intelligence
of the inhabitants are considered, the conviction will remain that by striving
to find efficacious means, the result, which by the help of God we hope to
attain, can be obtained within a few years. Full of confidence, therefore,
in the help of the Most High, and certain of the support of our Prophet,
we deem it right to seek by new institutions to give to the provinces composing
the Ottoman Empire the benefit of a good administration.
These institutions must be principally carried out under three heads, which
1. The guarantees insuring to our subjects perfect security
for life, honor, and fortune.
2. A regular system of assessing and levying taxes.
3. An equally regular system for the levying of troops
and the duration of their service.
And, in fact, are not life and honor the most precious gifts to mankind
? What man however much his character may be against violence, can prevent
himself from having recourse to it, and thereby injure the government and
the country, if his life and honor are endangered ? If, on the contrary,
he enjoys in that respect perfect security, he will not depart from the ways
of loyalty, and all his actions will contribute to the good of the government
and of his brothers.
If there is an absence of security as to one’s fortune, everyone remains
insensible to the voice of the Prince and the country; no one interests
himself in the progress of public good, absorbed as he is in his own troubles.
If, on the contrary, the citizen keeps possession in all confidence of all
his goods, then, full of ardor in his affairs, which he seeks to enlarge
in order to increase his comforts, he feels daily growing and bubbling in
his heart not only his love for the Prince and country, but also his devotion
to his native land.
These feelings become in him the source of the most praiseworthy actions.
As to the regular and fixed assesment of the taxes, it is very important
that it be regulated; for the state which is forced to incur many expences
for the defense of its territory cannot obtain the money necessary for its
armies and other services except by means of contributions levied on its
subjects. Although, thanks be to God, our empire has for some time past been
delivered from the scourge of monopolies, falsely considered in times of
war as a source of revenue, a fatal custom still exists, although it can
only have disastrous consequences; it is that of venal concessions, known
under the name of “iltizam”.
Under that name the civil and financial administration of a locality is
delivered over the passions of a single man; that is to say, sometimes to
the iron grasp of the most violent and avaricious passions, for if that contractor
is not a good man, he will only look to his own advantage.
It is therefore necessary that henceforth each member of Ottoman society
should be taxed for a quota of a fixed tax according to his fortune and
means, and that it should be impossible that anything more could be exacted
from him. It is also necessary that special laws should fix and limit the
expenses of our land and sea forces.
Although, as we have said, the defense of the country is an important matter,
and that it is the duty of all the inhabitants to furnish soldiers for that
object, it has become necessary to establish laws to regulate the contingent
to be furnished by each locality according to the necessity of the time,
and to reduce the term of military service to four or five years. For it
is at the same time doing an injustice and giving a mortal blow to agriculture
and to industry to take, without consideration to the respective population
of the localities, in the one more, in the other less, men that they can
furnish; it is also reducing the soldiers to despair and contributing to
the depopulation of the country by keeping them all their lives in the service.
In short, without the several laws, the necessity for which has just been
described, there can be neither strength, nor riches, nor happiness, nor
tranquility for the empire; it must, on the contrary, look for them in the
existence of these new laws.
From henceforth, therefore, the cause of every accused person shall be
publicly judged, as the divine law requires, after inquiry and examination,
and so long as a regular judgement shall not have been pronounced, no one
can secretly or publicly put another to death by poison or in any other
No one shall be allowed to attack the honor of any other person whatever.
Each one shall possess his property of every kind, and shall dispose of
it in all freedom, without let or hindrance from any person whatever; thus,
for example, the innocent heirs of a criminal shall not be deprived of their
legal rights, and the property of the criminal shall not be confiscated.
These imperial concessions shall extend to all our subjects, of whatever
religion or sect they may be; they shall enjoy them without exception. We
therefore grant perfect security to the inhabitants of our empire in their
lives, their honor, and their fortunes, as they are secured to them by the
sacred text of the law.
As for the other points as they must be settled with the assistance of
enlightened opinions, our council of justice (increased by new members as
shall be found necessary), to whom shall be joined, on certain days which
we shall determine, our ministers and the notabilities of the empire,
shall assemble in order to frame laws regulating the security of life and
fortune and the assesment of the taxes. Each one in those assemblies shall
freely express his ideas and give his advice.
The laws regulations the military service shall be discussed by a military
council holding its sittings at the palace of Serasker. As soon as a law
shall be passed, in order to be forever valid, it shall be presented to us;
we shall give it our approval, which we will write with our imperial sign-manual.
As the object of those institutions is solely to revivify religion, government,
the nation, and the empire, we engage not to do anything which is contrary
In testimony of our promise we will, after having deposited these presents
in the hall containing the glorious mantle of the prophet, in the presence
of all the ulemas and the grandees of the empire, take oath thereto in the
name of God, and shall afterwards cause the oath to be taken by the ulemas
and the grandees of the empire.
After that, those from among the ulemas or the grandees of the empire,
or any other persons whatsoever who shall infringe these institutions, shall
undergo, without respect of rank, position, and influence, the punishment
corresponding to his crime, after having been well authenticated. A penal
code shall be compiled to that effect.
As all the public servants of the empire receive a suitable salary, and
as the salaries of those whose duties have not up to the present time been
sufficiently remunerated are to be fixed, a rigorous law shall be passed aganst
the traffic of favoritism and bribery (rüşvet), which the Divine law
reprobates, and which is one of the principal causes of the decay of the
The above dispositions being a thorough alteration and renewal of ancient
customs the imperial rescript shall be published at Istanbul and in all
places of our empire, and shall be officially communicated to all the ambassadors
of the friendly powers resident in Istanbul, that they may be witnesses
to the granting of these institutions, which, should it please God, shall
last forever. Wherein may the Most High have us in His holy keeping. May
those who shall commit an act contrary to the present regulations be the
object of Divine malediction, and be deprived forever of every kind of (protection)
Islahat Fermanı – Rescript of Reform
18 February 1856
The guarantees promised on our part by the Hatt-ı Hümayun of Gülhane,
and in conformity with the Tanzimat, to all the subjects of my Empire, without
distinction of classes or of religion, for the security of their persons
and property and the preservation of their honour, are today confirmed and
consolidated, and efficacious measures shall be taken in order that they
may have their full and entire effect.
All the privileges and spiritual immunities granted by my ancestors ab
antiquo, and at subsequent dates, to all Christian communities or other
non-Muslim persuasions established in my empire under my protection, shall
be confirmed and maintained.
Every Christian or other non-Muslim community shall be bound, within a
fixed period, and with the concurrence of a Commission composed ad hod of
members of its own body, to proceed, with my high approbation and under
the inspection of my Sublime Porte, to examine into its actual immunities
and privileges, and to discuss and submit to my Sublime Porte the reforms
required by the progress of civilization and of the age. The powers conceded
to the Christian Patriarchs and Bishops by the Sultan Mehmed II and his
successors shall be made to harmonize with the new position which my generous
and beneficent intentions ensure to these communities.
The principle of nominating the Patriarchs for life, after the revision
of the rules of election now in force, shall be exactly carried out, conformable
to the tenor of their Firmans of Investiture.
The Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Archbishops, Bishops, and Rabbis shall take
an oath on their entrance into office according to a form agreed upon in
common by my Sublime Porte and the Spritual heads of the different religious
communities. The ecclesiastical dues, of whatever sort or nature they be,
shall be abolished and replaced by fixed revenues of the Patriarchs and heads
of communities, and by the allocation of allowances and salaries equitably
proportioned to the importance, the rank, and the dignity of the different
members of the clergy.
The property, real or personal, of the different Christian ecclesiastics
shall remain intact; the temporal administration of the Christian or other
non-Muslim communities shall, however, be placed under the safeguard of
an Assembly to be chosen from among the members, both ecclesiastics and
laymen, of the said communities.
In the towns, small boroughs and villages, where the whole population is
of the same religion, no obstacle shall be offered to the repair, according
to their original plan, of buildings set apart for religious worship, for
schools, for hospitals, and for cemeteries.
The plans of these different buildings, in case of their new erection,
must, after having been approved by the Patriarchs or heads of communities,
be submitted to my Sublime Porte, which will approve of them by my Imperial
order, or make known its observations upon them within a certain time.
Each sect, in localities where there are no other religious denominations,
shall be free from every species of restraint as regards the public exercise
of its religion.
In the towns, small boroughs, and villages where different sects are mingled
together, each community, inhabiting a distinct quarter, shall, by conforming
to the above-mentioned ordinances, have equal power to repair and improve
its churches, its hospitals, its schools, and its cemeteries. When there
is a question of the erection of new buildings, the necessary authority must
be asked for through the Sublime Porte, which will pronounce a Sovereign
decision according to that authority, except in the case of adminitrative
obstacles. The intervention of the adminitrative authority in all measures
of this nature will be entirely gratuitous. My Sublime Porte will take energetic
measures to ensure to each sect, whatever be the number of its adherents,
entire freedom in the exercise of its religion.
Every distinction or designation tending to make any class whatever of
the subjects of my Empire inferior to another class, on account of their
religion, language, or race, shall be for ever effaced from the Administrative
Protocol. The laws shall be put in force against the use of any injurious
or offensive term, either among private individuals or on the part of the
As all forms of religion are and shall be freely professed in my dominions,
no subject of my Empire shall be hindered in the exercise of the religion
that he professes, nor shall be in any way annoyed on this account. No one
shall be compelled to change their religion.
The nomination and choice of all functinaries and other employees of my
Empire being wholly dependent upon my Sovereign will, all the subjects of
my Empire, without distinction of nationality, shall be admissible to public
employments, and qualified to fill them according to their capacity and merit,
and conformably with rules to be generally applied.
All the subjects of my Empire, without distinction, shall be received into
the Civil and Military Schools of the Government if they otherwise satisfy
the conditions as to age and examination which are specified in the organic
regulations of the said schools. Moreover, every community is authorized
to establish Public Schools of Science, Art, and Industry. Only the method
of instruction and the choice of professors in schools of this class shall
be under the control of a Mixed Council of Public Insturiction, the members
of which shall be named by my Sovereign command.
All commercial, correctional, and criminal suits between Muslims and Christian
or other non-Muslim subjects, or between Christians or other non-Muslims
of different sects, shall be referred to mixed tribunals.
The proceedings of these tribunals shall be public. The parties shall be
confronted, and shall produce their witnesses, whose testimony shall be
received, without distinction, upon an oath taken according to the religious
law of each sect.
Suits relating to civil affairs shall continue to be publicly tried, according
to the laws and regulations, before the Mixed Provincial Councils, in the
presence of the Governor and Judge of the place. Special civil proceedings,
such as those relating to successions of others of that kind, between subjects
of the same Christian or other non-Muslim faith, may, at the request of
the parties, be sent before the Councils of the Patriarchs or of the communities.
Penal, correctional, and commercial laws, and rules of procedure for the
mixed tribunals shall be drawn up as soon as possible, and formed into a
Code. Translation of them shall be published in all the languages current
in the Empire.
Proceedings shall be taken, with as little delay as possible, for the reform
of the penitentiary system as applied to houses of detention, punishment,
or correction, and other esteblishments of like nature, so as to reconcile
the rights of humanity with those of justice. Corporal punishment shall
not be administered, even in the prisons, except in conformity with the
disciplinary regulations established by my Sublime Porte, and everything
that resembles torture shall be entirely abolished.
Infractions of the law in this particular shall be severely repressed,
and shall, besides, entail, as of right, the punishment, in conformity with
the Civil Code, of the authorities who may order and of the agents who may
The organization of the police in the capital, in the provincial towns
and in the rural districts shall be revised in such a manner as to give
to all the peaceable subjects of my empire the strongest guarantees for
the safety both of their person and property.
The equality of taxes entailing equality of burdens, as equality of duties
entails that of rights, Christian subjects and those of other non-Muslim
sects, as it has been already decided, shall, as well as Muslims, be subject
to the obligations of the Law of Recruitment. The principle of obtaining
substitutes, or of purchaing exemption, shall be admitted. A complete law
shall be published, with as little delay as possible, respecting the admission
into and service in the army of Christian and other non-Muslim subjects.
Proceedings shall be taken for a reform in the constitution of the Provincial
and Communal Councils, in order to ensure fairness in the choice of the
deputies of the Muslim, Christian, and other communities, and freedom
of voting in the councils. My Sublime Porte will take into consideration
the adoption of the most effectual means for ascertaining exactly and for
controlling the result of the deliberations and of the decisions arrived
As the laws regulation the purchase sale, and disposal of real property
are common to all the subjects of may empire, it shall be lawful for foreigners
to possess landed property in my dominions, conforming themselves to the
laws and police regulations, and bearing the same charges as the native inhabitants,
and after arrangements have been come to with foreign powers.
The taxes are to be levied under the same denomination from all the subjects
of my empire, without distinction of class or of religion. The most prompt
and energetic means for remedying the abuses in collecting the taxes, and
especially the tithes, shall be cosidered. The system of direct collection
shall gradually, and as soon as possible, be substituted for the plan of
farming, in all the branches of the revenues of the State. As long as the
present system remains in force, all agents of the Government and all members
of the Meclis shall be forbidden, under the severest penalties, to become
lessees of any farming contracts which are announced for public competition,
or to have any beneficial interest in carrying them out. The local taxes
shall, as far as possible, be so imposed as not to affect the sources of
production or to hinder the progress of internal commerce.
Works of public utility shall receive a suitable endowment, part of which
shall be raised from private and special taxes levied in the Provinces,
which shall have the benefit of the advantages arising from the establishment
of ways of communication by land and sea.
A special law having been already passed, which declares that the budget
of the revenue and expenditure of the State shall be drawn up and made known
every year, the said law shall be most scrupulously observed. Proceedings
shall be taken for revising the emoluments attached to each office.
The heads of each community and a delegate designed by my Sublime Porte
shall be summoned to take part in the deliberations of the Supreme Council
of Justice on all occasions which might interest the generality of the subjects
of my Empire. They shall be summoned specially for this purpose by my Grand
Vezir. The delegates shall hold office for one year; they shall be sworn on
entering upon their duties. All the members of the Council, at the ordinary
and extraordinary meetings, shall freely give their opinions and their votes,
and no one shall ever annoy them on this account.
Steps shall also be taken for the formation of roads and canals to increase
the facilities of communication and increase the sources of the wealth of
the country. Everything that can impede commerce or agriculture shall be
abolished. To accomplish these objects means shall be sought to profit by
the science, the art, and the funds of Europe, and thus gradually to execute
Such being my wishes and my commands, you, who are my Grand Vezir, will,
according to custom, cause this Imperial Firman to be published in my capital
and in all parts of my Empire; and you will watch attentively, and take
all the necessary measures that all the orders which it contains be henceforth
carried out with the most rigorous punctuality.
The Ottoman Constitution
23 December 1876
The Ottoman Empire
Art. 1. The Ottoman Empire comprises present territory and possessions,
and semi-dependent provinces. It forms an indivisible whole, from which no
portion can be detached under any pretext whatever.
Art. 2. Istanbul is the capital of the Ottoman Empire. This city possesses
no provilege or immunity peculiar to itself over the other towns of the
Sultan, “Supreme Caliph”
Art. 3. The Ottoman sovereignty, which which includes in the person of
the Sovereign the Supreme Caliphat of Islam, belongs to the eldest Prince
of the House of Osman, in accrodance with the rules established ab antiquo.
Art. 4. His Majesty the Sultan, under the title of “Supreme Caliph,” is
the protector of the Muslim religion. He is the sovereign and padişah (emperor)
of all the Ottomans.
Art. 5. His Majesty the Sultan is irresponsible; his person is sacred.
Art. 6. The liberty of the members of the Imperial Ottoman Dynasty,
their property, real and personal, ad their civil list during their lifetime,
are under the guarantee of all.
Sovereign Rights of the Sultan
Art. 7. Among the sovereign rights of His Majesty the Sultan are the following
prerogatives: - He makes and cancels the appointments of ministers; he confers
the grades, functions and insignia of his orders, and confers investiture
on the chiefs of the privileges provinces, according to forms determined
by the privileges granted them; he has the coining of money; his name is
pronounced in the mosques during public prayer; he concludes treaties with
the powers; he declares war and makes peace; he commands both land and sea
forces; he directs military movements; he carries out the provisions of the
Şeriat (the sacred law), and of the other laws; he sees to the administration
of public measures; he respites or commutes sentences pronounced by the criminal
courts; he summons and prorogues the General Assemly; he dissolves, if deems
it necessary, the Chamber of Deputies, provided he directs the election of
the new members.
Public Law of the Ottomans
Art. 8. All subjects of the empire are called Ottomans, without distinction
whatever faith they profess; the status of an Ottoman is acquired and lost
according to conditions specified by law.
Art. 9. Every Ottoman enjoys personal liberty on condition of non interfering
with the liberty of others.
Art. 10. Personal liberty is wholly inviolable. No one can suffer punishment,
under any pretext whatsoever, except in cases determined by law, and according
to the forms prescribed by it.
Art. 11. Islam is the state religion. But, while maintainig this principle,
the state will protect the free exercise of faiths professed in the Empire,
and uphold the religious privileges granted to various bodies, on condition
of public order and morality not being interfered with.
Art. 12. The press is free, within limits imposed by law.
Art. 13. Ottomans have the power of forming commercial companies, industrial
or agricultural, within limits imposed by law and statute.
Right of Petition
Art 14. One or more persons of ottoman nationality have the right of presenting
petitions in the proper quarter relating to the breaking of law and regulation,
done either to their own or public detriment, and may likewise present in
protest signed petitions to the General Ottoman Assembly, complaining of
the conduct of state servants and functionaries.
Art. 15. Education is free. Every Ottoman can attend public or private
instructions on condition of conforming to the law.
Art. 16. All schools are under state supervision. Proper means will be
devised for harmonizing and regulating the instruction given to all the
Ottomans, but without interfering with the religious education in the various
Equality before the Law, Public Offices
Art. 17. All Ottomans are equal in the eyes of the law. They have the same
rights, and owe the same duties towards their country, without prejudice
Art. 18. Eligibility to public office is conditional on a knowledge of
Turkish, which is the official language of the State.
Art. 19. All Ottomans are admitted to public offices, according to their
fitness, merit, and ability.
Art. 20. The assessment and distribution of the taxes are to be in proportion
to the fortune of each taxpayer, in conformity with the laws and special
Art 21. Property, real and personal, of lawful title, is guaranteed. There
can be no dispossession, except on good public cause shown, and subject
to the previous payment, according to law of the value of the property in
Inviolability of Domicile
Art. 22. The domicile is inviolable. The authorities cannot break into
any dwelling except in cases prescribed by law.
Art. 23. No one is bound to appear before any other than a competent tribunal,
according to statutory form of procedure.
Property. Forced Labour. Contributions in Time of War
Art. 24. Confiscation of property, forced labour (“corvée”), and
taking temporary possession of property are prohibited. Nevertheless, contributions
lawfully levied in time of war, and measures rendered necessary by the exigencies
of war, are exempt from this prevision.
Taxes and Imports
Art. 25. No sum of money can be exacted under the name of a tax or impost,
or under any other title whatever, except by virtue of law.
Torture and Inquisition
Art. 26. Torture and inquisition, under any form, are wholly and absolutely
Ministers of the Crown
Art. 27. His Majesty may appoint as Grand Vizier and Şeyhü’l-İslam
whomsoever he confides in, and thinks right to nominate to those posts.
The other ministers are appointed by Imperial Decree (İrade)
Art. 28. The Council of Ministers meets under the presidency of the Grand
Vizier. All weighty state affairs, whether domestic or foreign, come within
the competency of the Council of Ministers. Those of their measures, which
must be submitted for the approval of His Majesty, are made law by Imperial
Art. 29. Each head of department, within the limits of his powers, carries
out the measures, which appertain to his Department. In matters without
this limit he must have recourse to the Grand Vizier. The Grand Vizier
takes action on the measures presented to him by the heads of departments,
either by referring them, if need be, to the Cabinet, and then presenting
them for the Imperial sanction; or, on the other hand, by deciding on them
himself, and referring them to the decision of His Majesty the Sultan. Special
enactments will, in the case of each department, determine under which of
the preceding heads the various business is to be distributed.
Art. 30. The ministers are responsible for decisions or acts under their
Art. 31. If one or more members of the Chamber of Deputies wish to lodge
a complaint against any Minister, by reason of his responsibility, and with
reference to matters within the Province of the Chamber, the petition and
complaint must be handed to the President, who will refer it within three
days to the Committee appointed by the rules of the House to investigate
the charge, and determine whether it be right to submit the same to the decision
of the Chamber. When the necessary investigation has taken place, and explanations
have been laid before them by the Minister interested, the decision of the
Committee will be taken by the vote of the majority. If the Committee advise
that the complaint be laid before the Camber, their report containing this
decision is to be read at a public sitting, and the Chamber, after hearing
the explanations of the accused Minister who shall be summoned to appear,
or of his representative, will vote on the question at issue, a majority
of two-thirds being requisite for a decision. In the event of the adoption
of Committee’s Report, an address praying for the trial of the Minister is
to be transmitted to the Grand Vizier, who will submit it for the sanction
of His Majesty the Sultan, and remit it to the High Court by virtue of an
Art. 32. A special law will settle the forms of procedure to be followed
for the trial of Ministers.
Art. 33. There shall be no distinction between Ministers and private individuals
in respect of private suits, which do not relate to their functions. Causes
of such nature are to be referred to the ordinary Tribunals.
Art. 34. The Minister whose trial has been decreed by the Chamber of Accusation
of the High Court is to be suspended from his functions until he has been
acquitted of the charges brought against him.
Art. 35. In the event of the Chamber of Deputies throwing out a Bill, and
assigning its reasons therefor, upon the adoption of which Bill the Minister
is of opinion he ought to insist, His Majesty the Sultan, in the exercise
of his sovereignty, orders either a change of Ministers or a dissolution
of the Chamber, subject to the re-election of Deputies within the period
appointed by the law.
Art. 36. In case of urgent necessity, if the General Assembly be not in
session, the Minister may adopt measures to protect the State against danger
or to preserve the public safety.
These measures, sanctioned by an Imperial Irade, have provisionally the
force of law if they be not contrary to the Constitution. They must be submitted
to the General Assembly immediately upon its meeting.
Art. 37. Each Minister has the right to be present at the sittings of the
Senate and of the Chamber of Deputies, or to be represented there by one
of the chief officials of his Department. He has also a right to be
heard before any member of the Chamber who may have leave to speak.
Art. 38. When, in consequence of a decision adopted by a majority of votes,
a Minister is requested to appear in the Chamber to give explanations, he
is bound to reply to the questions addressed to him either by appearing
there in person or by delegating this duty to one of the heads of his Department.
He has, nevertheless, the right to postpone his reply, if he shall deem
it necessary to do so, by assuming the responsibility for such postponement.
Art. 39. All appointments to various public functions shall be made in
conformity with the regulations which shall determine the conditions of
merit and capacity required for admission to employment under the state.
No functionary appointed under these conditions can be dismissed or transferred;
unless it can be proved that his conduct legally justified such removal;
unless he shall have resigned, or unless his retirement is considered indispensable
by the government. Officials who may have given proof of good conduct
and uprightness, as well as those whom the Government may have thought it
indispensable to place on half-pay, shall have a right either to promotion,
or to a pension, or to half-pay, according to the terms which will be laid
down in a special regulation.
Art. 40. The duties of the several offices will be settled by special regulations.
Each functionary is responsible within the limit of his duties.
Art. 41. Every functionary is bound to pay respect to his superior, but
obedience is only due to orders given within the limits defined by the law.
In respect of acts contrary to law, the fact of having obeyed a superior will
not relieve the official who has carried them out from responsibility.
The General Assembly
Art. 42. The General Assembly is composed of two chambers: the Chamber
of Notables or Senate, and the Chamber of Deputies.
Art. 43. The two chambers will meet on the 1st of November of each year,
the opening to take place by imperial decree (irade), the closing, fixed
for the following 1st March, also to take place following an imperial decree.
Neither of the two chambers can meet while the other chamber is not sitting.
Art. 44. His Majesty the Sultan according to the exigencies of circumstances,
may anticipate the date of the opening or may abridge or prolong the session.
Art. 45. The opening of the session shall take place in the presence of
His Majesty the Sultan, either in person or represented by the Grand Vizier,
and in the presence of the Ministers and the Members of the two Chambers.
An Imperial Speech will be read, giving an account of the internal position
of the Empire and the state of its foreign relations during the past year,
and setting forth the measures the adoption of which for the following year
is deemed to be necessary.
Art 46. All the members of the General Assembly shall take an oath of fidelity
to His Majesty the Sultan and to the country, shall bind themselves to observe
the Constitution, to perform the duties entrusted to them, and to abstain
from all acts opposed to those duties. This oath shall be taken by
new members at the opening of the Session in the presence of the Grand Vizier,
and after the opening in the presence of their respective Presidents and
at a public sitting of the Chamber of which they are members.
Art. 47. Members of the General Assembly are free to express their opinions
and to vote as they like. They cannot be bound by conditions or promises,
nor influenced by threats. They cannot be prosecuted for opinions or votes
delivered in the course of debate, unless they have contravened the Standing
Orders of the Chamber, when they are amenable to the provisions of the regulations
Art. 48. Any member of the General Assembly who, by an absolute majority
of two-thirds of the Chamber of which he is a member, is accused of treason,
or attempting to violate the Constitution, or of peculation (“concussion”),
or has been condemned to imprisonment or exile, loses his status as Senator
or Deputy. He will be tried and sentence passed by the competent tribunal.
Art. 49. Every member of the General Assembly must vote in person. He can
refrain from voting.
Art. 50. No one can at the same time be a member of both Chambers.
Art. 51. No business can be done in either of the Chambers unless one member
more than the majority of the Chamber be present. Except in cases
where a majority of two-thirds is requisite, all resolutions must be carried
by an absolute majority of members present. When the votes are equally
divided, the President shall have the casting vote.
Art. 52. All private petitions presented to either Chamber shall be rejected
if in the course of inquiry it should be shown that the petitioner did not
apply in the first instance to the public officers concerned, or to their
Art. 53. The initiative of bringing forward a bill or altering an existing
law lies with the Ministry.
The Senate and Chamber of Deputies may also originate
a new law, or the modification of an existing one, with reference to matters
within their own province. In the latter case, the demand is submitted by
the Grand Vizier to His Majesty the Sultan, and, if occasion requires, the
Council of State is empowered by an Imperial Decree to prepare the proposed
Project of Law, aided by information and details from the proper quarter.
Art. 54. Drafts of Bills elaborated by the Council of State are in the
first instance laid before the Chamber of Deputies, and after that before
the Senate. Though passing both Chambers, no Bill will become law until
it has been sanctioned by the Imperial İrade. No draft Bill, once thrown
by either of the Chambers, can be brought forward a second time in the course
of the same session.
Art. 55. A Bill is not regarded as carried if it has not been successively
passed both by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate by a majority of votes,
voting article by article, and if the whole Bill has not been voted by a
majority in each of the two Chambers.
Art. 56. With the exception of the Ministers, of their deputies, and the
functionaries summoned by a special call, no one can be introduced in either
Chamber, nor allowed to make any communication whatever, whether he present
himself in his own name or as the representative of a body.
Art. 57. The debates of the Chambers are conducted in the Turkish language.
The Bills are printed and circulated before the day fixed upon for discussion.
Art. 58. The votes are given at the call of the House (“par appel nominal”),
by show of hands or by ballot. The vote by ballot is subject to the decision
of a majority of the members present.
Art. 59. The maintenance of order in each Chamber is entrusted to its President.
Art. 60. The President and members of the Senate are nominated directly
by His Majesty the Sultan. The number of senators cannot exceed a third of
the members of the Chamber of Deputies.
Art. 61. To be nominated a senator it is necessary to have shown by one’s
acts that one is worthy of public confidence, or to have rendered signal
services to the State, and to be, at least, forty years of age.
Art. 62. The senators are nominated for life.
The rank of senator may be conferred on persons “en
disponibilité,” having exercised the functions of Minister, Governor-General
(vali), Commandant of Corps d’Armée, Judge, Ambassador or Minister
Plenipotentiary, Patriarch, Grand Rabbi, General of Division of armies by
land or sea (“terre et de mer”), an generally on persons combining the requisite
Members of the Senate, called at their request to other
functions, lose the position as senator.
Art. 63. The stipend of senators is fixed at 10.000 piastres per month.
A senator receiving from the Treasury salary or pay
in any other capacity is entitled only to the difference if the sum is below
10.000 piastres. If the sum is equal to or above the pay of senator, he
continues to receive it.
Art. 64. The Senate examines the Bills or Budget transmitted to it by the
Chamber of Deputies. If in the course of the examination of a Bill the Senate
finds a provision contrary to the sovereign rights of the Sultan, to liberty,
the Constitution, the territorial integrity of the Empire, the internal
security of the country, to the interests of the defence of the country,
or to morality, it rejects it definitely by a vote, assigning its reasons;
or it sends it back, accompanied by its observations, to the Chamber of
Deputies, demanding that it should be amended or modified in the sense of
Bills adopted by the Senate are invested with its approval, and are transmitted
to the Grand Vizier.
The Senate examines the petitions presented to it; transmits to the Grand
Vizier such as it thinks deserving of reference, accompanying them with
Chamber of Deputies
Art. 65. The number of deputies is fixed at one deputy for every 50.000
males belonging to the Ottoman nationality.
Art. 66. The election is held by secret ballot. The mode of election will
be determined by a special law.
Art. 67. The mission of deputy is incompatible with public functions, except
those of ministers. Any other public functionary elected deputy is free
to accept or refuse; but, in case of acceptance, he must resign his functions.
Art. 68. The following are ineligible as deputies:
1. Those who do not belong to the Ottoman nationality; 2. Those who, by
virtue of the special regulation in force, enjoy immunities attached to the
foreign service to which they belong; 3. Those not understanding Turkish;
4. Those not turned thirty years of age; 5. Persons attached to the service
of a private individual; 6. Bankrupts not rehabilitated; 7. Those notoriously
in disrepute for their conduct; 8. Persons visited with judicial interdiction,
as long as that interdiction is not raised; 9. Those not enjoying their civil
rights; 10. Those who lay claim to a foreign nationality. After the expiration
of the first period of four years, one of the conditions of eligibility will
be ability to read Turkish and, as far as possible, to write in that language.
Art. 69. General elections of deputies are held every four years. The commission
of every deputy lasts only four years, but he is re-eligible.
Art. 70. The general elections commence at the latest four months before
the 1st of November, which is the date fixed for the meeting of the Chamber.
Art. 71. Every member of the Chamber of deputies represents the whole body
of Ottomans, and not exclusively the circumscription which has elected him.
Art. 72. The electors are bound to choose their deputies from among the
inhabitants of the province to which they belong.
Art. 73. In case of the dissolution of the Chamber by Imperial İrade, the
general elections are to commence in such times as that the Chamber may
meet again at the latest within six months of the date of the dissolution.
Art. 74. In the case of death, judicial interdiction, prolonged absence,
loss of the office of Deputy resulting from a condemnation or from
the acceptance of public functions, a substitute shall be elected in conformity
with the prescriptions of the electoral law, and in such time as that the
new deputy will be able to exercise his mandate at the latest in the following
Art. 75. The mandate of deputies elected to vacant places only lasts till
the following election.
Art. 76. The Treasury will allot to each deputy 20.000 piastres Per session
and the expense of this journeys. The amount of these expenses will be established
conformably with the provisions of the regulations dealing with the repayment
of travelling expenses incurred by civil functionaries of the State, and
will be calculated on the basis of a monthly salary of 5.000 piastres.
Art. 77. The President and the two vice-presidents of Deputies are selected
by His Majesty the Sultan from a list of nine candidates elected by the
Chamber by a majority of votes, three for the Presidency, three for the
first vice-presidency, and three for the second vice-presidency. The appointment
of the president and vice-presidents is made by Imperial İrade.
Art. 78. The sittings of the Chamber of deputies are public.
At the same time the Chamber may form itself into secret
committee if the proposition is made by the ministers, or by the president,
or by fifteen members, and that proposition is voted in secret committee.
Art. 79. No deputy can, during the session, be arrested or prosecuted,
except in case of flagrant delinquency, unless a majority of the Chamber
grant an authorization to prosecute.
Art. 80. The Chamber of deputies discusses the Bills submitted to it.
It adopts, amends, or rejects the provisions affecting
finance or the Constitution.
It examines in detail the general expenditure of the
State comprised in the Budget, and settles the amount with the Ministers.
It likewise determines, in accord with the Ministers,
the nature, amount, and mode of assessment and collection of the receipts
destined to meet the expenditure.
The Law Courts
Art 81. The judges nominated in conformity with the special law on this
subject and furnished with the patent of investiture are irremovable, but
they can resign.
The promotion of Judges, their displacement, superannuation,
and revocation, in case of judicial condemnation, are subject to the provisions
of the same law.
That law fixes the conditions and qualities requisite
for exercising the functions of judge or the other functions of a judicial
Art. 82. The sittings of all tribunals are public
The publication of judgments is authorized
Nevertheless, in cases specified by law, the tribunal
may sit with closed doors.
Art. 83. Any person may, in the interest of his defence, make use before
the tribunal of the means permitted by the law.
Art. 84. No tribunal can, under any pretext, refuse to judge an affair
within its competency.
It cannot either arrest or adjourn judgment after having
commenced the examination or instruction, unless the plaintiff desists.
Nevertheless, in penal matters the public prosecution
continues to be carried on conformably to law, even in case the plaintiff
Art. 85. Every affair is judged by the tribunal to whose province it belongs.
Suits between individuals and the State are within the competency of the
Art. 86. No interference is to be attempted with the tribunals.
Art. 87. Affairs touching the Şeriat are tried by the tribunals of the
Şeriat. The judgment of civil affairs appertains to the civil tribunals.
Art. 88. The various categories of tribunals, their competency, functions,
and the emoluments of the judges are settled by law.
Art. 89. Apart from the ordinary tribunals, there cannot, under any title
whatever, be formed extraordinary tribunals or commissions to judge certain
Nevertheless, arbitration and the nomination of a “muvella” (judge delegate)
are sanctioned in the forms established by law.
Art. 90. No judge can combine his functions with other functions paid by
Art. 91. Public prosecutors will be appointed, charged with acting on behalf
of the public. Their functions and grades will be fixed by law.
High Court of Justice
Art. 92. The High Court is formed of thirty members, of whom ten are Senators,
ten Councilors of State, and ten chosen among the presidents and members
of the Court of Cassation and Court of Appeal. All the members are
nominated by lot. The High Court is convoked, when necessary, by Imperial
İrade, and assembles in the Senate building.
Its functions consist in trying the ministers, the president,
and the members of the Court of Cassation, and all other persons accused
of treason or attempts against the safety of the State.
Art. 93. The High Court is composed of two chambers; the Chamber of Accusation
and the Chamber of Judgment.
The former is formed of nine members, nominated by lot
among the members of the High Court, three of them being senators, three
councilors of State, and three members of the Court of Cassation or Court
Art. 94. The decision of sending before the Chamber of Judgement is pronounced
by the Chamber of Accusation by a majority of two-thirds of its members.
The members belonging of the Chamber of Accusation cannot take part in the
deliberations of the Chamber of Judgment.
Art. 95. The Chamber of Judgement is formed of twenty-one members, seven
of whom are senators, seven members state councilors, and seven members
of the Court of Cassation or Court of Appeal. It judges the cases that are
sent to it by the Chamber of accusation by a majority of two-thirds of its
members, and conformably to the laws in operation. Its decisions are
not susceptible either of appeal or of recourse to Cassation.
Art. 96. Taxes to the profit of the State can only be established, assessed,
or collected in virtue of a law.
Art. 97. The Budget is the law which contains the estimates of the receipts
and expenses of the State.
Taxes to the profit of the State are governed by that
law as to their assessment, their distribution, and collection.
Art. 98. The examination and the vote by the General Assembly of the budget
bill is carried through article by article. The tabular statements to be
annexed, comprising the details of the receipts and expenditure, are to be
divided into sections, chapters, and articles, according to the model defined
by the regulations.
These tables are voted by chapters.
Art. 99. The Bill of the budget is submitted to the Chamber of Deputies
immediately after the opening of the session, in order to make its execution
possible from the commencement of the year to which it applies.
Art. 100. No extra budgetary expense can be defrayed out of the State funds
except by virtue of a law.
Art. 101. In the case of urgency caused by extraordinary circumstances,
the Ministers may, if the General Assembly is not sitting, create by
an Imperial İrade the necessary resources, and defray expenses not provided
for in the budget, on the condition of immediately laying a bill on the
subject before the Assembly at the opening of the next session.
Art. 102. The budget is voted for one year, and has only legal force for
the year to which it refers.
At the same time, if, in consequence of exceptional
circumstances, the Chamber of Deputies is dissolved before the budget is
voted, the Minister may, by a Decree issued in virtue of an Imperial İrade,
apply the budget of the preceding year till the next session, but the application
of this provisional budget shall never extent beyond the term of one year.
Art. 103. The law definitely settling the Budget indicates the amount of
receipts collected and payments made out of the revenue and expenditure
of the year to which it relates. Its form and provisions must be the same
as those of the budget.
Art. 104. The definitive bill is submitted to the Chamber of Deputies at
latest within four months from the end of the year to which it relates.
Art. 105. A Court of Accounts shall be created charged with the examination
of the operations of the finance functionaries, as also of the annual accounts
drawn up by the various ministerial departments.
It will yearly address to the Chamber of Deputies a
special report stating the results of its labors, accompanied by its observations.
At the end of every quarter it will present to
the Sultan, through the Grand Vizier, a report containing the explanation
of the financial situation.
Art. 106. The Court of Accounts shall be composed of twelve irremovable
members, nominated by Imperial İrade.
None of them can be revoked unless the explanatory proposition
for his dismissal be approved by a decision of the majority of the Chamber
Art. 107. The conditions and qualities required of members of the Court
of Accounts, the details of their functions, the rules applicable in case
of resignation, replacement, promotion, and superannuation, as well as the
organization of its bureaus, shall be determined by a special law.
Art. 108. The administration of provinces shall be based on the principle
The details of this organization shall be fixed by a
Art. 109. A special law will settle on wider bases the election of the
administrative councils of provinces (vilayet), districts (sancak), and
cantons (kaza), as also of the Council General, which meets annually in the
chief town of each province.
Art. 110. The functions of the Provincial Council-General shall be fixed
by the same
special law, and shall comprise:
The right of deliberating on matters of public utility,
such as the establishment of means of communication, the organization of
“caisses de crédit agricole,” the development of manufactures, commerce,
and agriculture, and the diffusion of education.
The right of applying to the competent authorities for
the redress of acts committed in contravention of the laws and regulations
as regards assessment or collection of taxes or any other matter.
Art. 111. There shall be in every canton a Council appertaining to each
of the different confessions. This Council will be charged with controlling:
1. The administration of the revenues of the real property
of pious foundations (vakıf), the special destination of which is fixed
by the express provisions of the founders or by custom.
2. The employment of funds or properties assigned by
testamentary provision to acts or charity or beneficence.
3. The administration of funds for orphans, in conformity
with the special regulation governing the matter.
Each Council shall be composed of members elected by the community it represents,
conformably to special rules to be established. These Councils will be subordinated
to the local authorities and the Councils General of provinces.
Art. 112. Municipal business will be administered in Istanbul and in the
provinces by elected municipal councils.
The organization of the municipal councils, their functions,
and the mode of election of their members, will be determined by a special
Art. 113. In the case of the perpetration of acts, or the appearance of
indications of a nature to presage disturbance at any point on the territory
of the Empire, the Imperial Government has the right to proclaim a state of
The state of siege consists in the temporary suspension
of the civil laws.
The mode of administration of localities under a state
of siege will be regulated by a special law.
His Majesty the Sultan has the exclusive right of expelling
from the territory of the Empire those who, in consequence of trustworthy
information obtained by the police, are recognized as dangerous to the safety
of the State.
Art. 114. Primary education will be obligatory on all Ottomans. The details
of application will be fixed by a special law.
Art. 115. No provision of the constitution can, under any pretext whatsoever,
be suspended or neglected.
Art. 116. In case of duly proved necessity, the Constitution may be modified
in some of its provisions. This modification is subordinated to the following
Every proposal of modification, whether presented by
the Minister or by either of the two Chambers, must be, in the first instance,
submitted to the deliberations of the Chamber of Deputies.
If the proposition is approved by two-thirds of the
members of the Chamber it shall be forwarded to the Senate.
In case the Senate also adopts the proposed modification
by a two-thirds majority, it shall be submitted for the sanction of His
majesty the Sultan.
If it is sanctioned by Imperial İrade, it shall have
force of law.
Articles of the Constitution, which it is proposed to
modify, remain in force, until the modification, after having been voted
by the Chambers, shall have been sanctioned by Imperial Irade.
Art. 117. The Court of Cassation will interpret the civil and penal laws;
the Council of State administrative laws; and the Senate the articles of
Art. 118. All the provisions of the laws, regulations, usages, and customs
now in force shall continue to be applied, so long as they shall not have
been modified or abrogated by other laws and regulations.
Art. 119. The preliminary order of 28th October 1876, concerning the General
Assembly, will cease to have effect from the end of the first session.
The Young Turk Constitution
Revised Articles of the 1876 Constitution
Art. 3. The Imperial Ottoman sovereignty, which carries with it the Supreme
Caliphate of Islam, falls to the eldest Prince of the House of Osman, according
to the rule established ab antiquo. On his accession the Sultan shall swear
before Parliament, or if Parliament is not sitting, at its first meeting,
to respect the visions of the Şeriat (canon law) and the Constitution, and
to be loyal to the country and the nation.
Art. 7. Among the sacred prerogatives of the Sultan are the following:
The mention of his name in prayers; the minting of money; the granting
of high public offices and titles, according to the law ad hoc; the conferring
of orders; the selection and appointment of the Grand Vizier and the Şeyhülislam;
the confirmation in their offices of the members of the Cabinet formed and
proposed by the Grand Vizier, and, if need arise, the dismissal and replacement
of Ministers according to established practice; the approval of putting
into force of general laws; the drawing up of regulations concerning the
workings of Government departments and the method of administering the laws;
the initiative in all kinds of legislation; the maintenance and execution
of the canon and civil laws; the appointment of persons to the privileged
provinces according to the terms of their privileges; the command of the
military and naval forces; the declaration of war and the making of peace;
the reduction and remission of sentences passed by penal Courts; the granting
of a general amnesty with the approval of Parliament; the opening and closing
of the parliamentary sessions; the summoning of Parliament before its time
in extraordinary circumstances; the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies
if necessary, with the consent of the Senate, on condition that elections
take place and the Chamber assembles within three months; and the conclusion
of Treaties in general. Only, the consent of Parliament is required
for the conclusion of Treaties which concern peace, commerce, the abandonment
or annexation of territory, or the fundamental or personal rights of Ottoman
subjects, or which involve expenditure on the part of the State. In case
of a change of Cabinet while Parliament is not sitting, the responsibility
arising out of the change rests upon the new Cabinet.
Art. 27. Just as His Imperial Majesty the Sultan entrusts the posts of
Grand Vizier ad Şeyhülislam to men in whom he has confidence, so the
other Ministers, who are approved and proposed by the Grand Vizier entrusted
with the formation of the Cabinet, are confirmed in their offices by Imperial
Art. 28. The Council of Ministers shall meet under the presidency of the
Grand Vizier. It shall deal with affairs of importance, both home and foreign.
Such of its decisions as need the Imperial assent shall be put into force
by Imperial Irade.
Art. 30. Ministers shall be responsible to the Chamber of Deputies collectively
for the general policy of the Government and personally for the affairs
of their respective departments. Decisions which need the Imperial sanction
shall only become valid if signed by the Grand Vizier and the Minister concerned,
who thus accept responsibility, and countersigned by the Sultan. Decisions
arrived at by the Council of Ministers shall bear the signatures of all
the Ministers, and in cases where the Imperial assent is necessary, these
signatures shall be headed by that of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.
Art. 41. Both houses of Parliament shall meet without being summoned on
the 1st (14th) November of every year.
Art. 44. If need arises His Imperial Majesty the Sultan may open Parliament
before the specified time, either on his own initiative or on application
from an absolute majority of the members. He may also prolong the session
either in virtue of a decision of Parliament or on his own initiative.
Art. 54. Bills become law after being examined and accepted by the Chamber
of Deputies and the senate, and sanctioned by Imperial İrade. Bills submitted
for the Imperial sanction must either receive that sanction within two months
or be returned for re-examination. If a bill sent back to be discussed again
is to be accepted, it must be voted by a two-thirds majority. Bills, which
are voted urgent, must either be sanctioned or be returned within ten days.
Art. 120. Ottomans enjoy the right of assembly, on the condition that they
obey the law on the subject.
The societies are forbidden which aim at injuring the
territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire, changing the form of the Constitution
or of the government, acting contrary to the provisions of the Constitution,
or bringing about a separation between the various Ottoman elements, or
which are contrary to public morals.
The formation of secret societies in general is also