The Ottoman institution of petitioning when the sultan no longer reigned: A view from post-1908 Ottoman Palestine

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The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 helped transform the time-honored Ottoman petitioning system. The reinstatement of parliamentary life, the reintroduction of the suspended constitution of 1876, and the lifting of the ban on the press and political action all generated profound political and social changes. Subjects' petitions reflected these changes vividly and in often surprising detail. As the sultan became a figurehead with little actual power, petitions which hitherto had been addressed to the sultan either directly or through the grand vizier and had requested his benevolence and mercy, while also granting him much needed legitimacy, now began to be sent instead to the Council of State (Şura-yl Devlet), the parliament, and various government ministries. Their content changed as well, as will be shown in this article through an analysis of dozens of petitions from Ottoman Palestine. Petitions now sought to obtain political rights and ensure civil equity and constitutional rights. In focusing on rights, the rule of law, and the deficiencies of the former system, the petitions echoed changes in popular discourse and mirrored the transformation from justice as a sultanic prerogative to constitutional and civil law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages17
JournalNew Perspectives on Turkey
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press .


  • Grand vizier
  • Ottoman Palestine
  • Ottoman constitution
  • Ottoman ministries
  • Ottoman parliament
  • Ottoman petitions
  • Young Turk Revolution.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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