Mehmed Namik Pasha

Mehmed Namik Pasha

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Mushir Mehmed Emin Namık Pasha (Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, 1804 – Istanbul, 1892) was a major Ottoman statesman of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. He served under five sultans
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 and acted as counsellor to at least four of them. He founded the Mekteb-i Harbiye (The Ottoman Military Academy), was twice viceroy of the province of Bagdad
Baghdad Eyalet
Baghdad Eyalet was an Iraqi eyalet of the Ottoman Empire centered around Baghdad. Its reported area in the 19th century was .-History:Ismail I took the Baghdad region from the Aq Qoyunlu in 1508. After the Safavid takeover, Sunni Muslims, Jews and Christians became targets of persecution, and were...

, was the first ambassador of the Sublime Porte at Saint-James's Court, was appointed Serasker
Serasker
Serasker or Seraskier is a title formerly used in the Ottoman Empire for a Vizier who commanded the army, and later for the National Minister of Defence....

(Commander-in-chief / Minister of War), became a Cabinet minister, and was conferred the title of Şeyh-ül Vüzera (Head of Imperial Ministers). During a long career that spanned a long lifetime (he lived to be eighty-eight), he was one of the personalities who shaped, as well as were themselves shaped by what historian İlber Ortaylı called “the longest century” of the Ottoman state (see his İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı, 1983).

Biography


Namık was born in Istanbul, the son of Halil Ramis Agha, an instructor at the Ottoman Court, whose grandfather, Ümmeti Konevî (Ümmet from Konya) had migrated from Konya
Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

. He was taught privately by his father until the age of fourteen, when, in 1816, he was appointed (as şakird - student apprentice) to the secretariat of the Divanı Hümayun (Imperial Cabinet) where he polished his education with courses in Arabic, Persian, grammar, Turkish elocution, and religious studies, as well as in French and English. He was sent to Paris when Sultan Mahmud II
Mahmud II
Mahmud II was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 until his death in 1839. He was born in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, the son of Sultan Abdulhamid I...

 (1785-1839, reign 1808-1839). selected him as one of the Divanı Hümayun şakirds to be sent to study in Europe, and attended the École Militaire
École Militaire
The École Militaire is a vast complex of buildings housing various military training facilities located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, southeast of the Champ de Mars....

 there, improving at the same time the French he had already acquired.

On his return, one of the duties of Namık Efendi, as a member of the secretariat of the Divanı Hümayun, was to join as second interpreter the Ottoman delegation which signed in 1826 the Akkerman Convention
Akkerman Convention
The Akkerman Convention was a treaty signed on October 7, 1826 between the Russian and the Ottoman Empires in the Budjak citadel of Akkerman . It imposed that the hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia be elected by their respective Divans for seven-year terms, with the approval of both Powers...

 with the Russians. In 1826 also, the Order of Janissaries was dissolved, and in preparation for the restructuring of the military, he was given the job of translating French texts concerning military rules and regulations. As he did a good job, Sultan Mahmud II
Mahmud II
Mahmud II was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 until his death in 1839. He was born in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, the son of Sultan Abdulhamid I...

, who gave great importance to these texts, rewarded him in 1827 with the rank of alayemin, an act which, beyond being a token of appreciation, signaled Namık Efendi's entry into the ranks of the military. A year later Namık Bey
Bey
Bey is a title for chieftain, traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups. Accoding to some sources, the word "Bey" is of Turkish language In historical accounts, many Turkish, other Turkic and Persian leaders are titled Bey, Beg, Bek, Bay, Baig or Beigh. They are all the same word...

 was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and was sent to Saint-Petersburg as military attaché with the duty first and foremost of studying the organization of the Russian army. He returned a year later, to be appointed as colonel to a regiment which he succeeded to turn into an exemplary regiment. He was made brigade-general for his efforts in 1832.

Namık Pasha was sent the same year as special envoy to London, with the rank of ambassador plenipotentiary, to ask for naval assistance against the insurgent Khedive Mohammed Ali of Egypt whom France was protecting. He was received by King William IV
William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

 in due pomp but the British proved ultimately unable to provide what he requested. He did however, take advantage of the opportunity: he secured arms from the U.K., and obtained the possibility of fourteen students to be sent by the Ottoman government to study in artillery, infantry and naval schools in the U.K. In fact, he spent all the time left from visits of courtesy he was obliged to make, on touring military schools, factories, and shipyards—although he also befriended the likes of Talleyrand, French ambassador in London at the time. For example, one of the technological advancements he brought back word of was of an improved lamp for Lighthouses.

Co-founder of Mekteb-i Harbiye


Once back in Istanbul, Namık Pasha reintegrated his post as brigade-general. When the establishment of a military college for officers became indispensable, it is to Namık Pasha, alongside Marshal Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, already the director of a military school in Selimiye, that the Sultan turned to entrust in 1834 the organization and administration of the Mekteb-i Harbiye. Today the College, which boasts of having had Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) as student, has been moved from Istanbul to Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

 and is called Kara Harp Okulu
Kara Harp Okulu
The Turkish Military Academy, , is a four year co-educational military academy located in the center of Ankara. Its mission is to develop cadets mentally and physically for service as commissioned officers in the Turkish Army...

 (School of War for Ground Forces), but is still functioning.

Ambassador to London


On his dispatches from London, Namık Pasha had indicated the necessity of a permanent representative of the Sublime Porte in such capitals as Paris and London. When an embassy was indeed opened in London, it fell to Namık Pasha to be the first to fill the post. He remained in London from 1834 to 1836, and had contacts with such statesmen as Palmerston and Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

. Namık Pasha was well received in London, and displayed both fluency with language but also at adapting to local social customs.

Naval Commander


On his return to the Ottoman capital, and once again serving as general, he was made ferik (a rank between general and marshal, instituted after the dismantling of the Janissary
Janissary
The Janissaries were infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguards...

 Order), and was sent to Trablus (Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

 in today's Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

) alongside Tahir Pasha to fight rebellious troops. Fifteen months later the rebellion had been crushed and for his valor Namık Pasha was promoted (1837/1838). (Sultan Abdülmecit
Abdülmecid I
Sultan Abdülmecid I, Abdul Mejid I, Abd-ul-Mejid I or Abd Al-Majid I Ghazi was the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and succeeded his father Mahmud II on July 2, 1839. His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories...

 began reigning in 1839.) This military success was a turning point in his career as it paved the way for his many positions as army commander and imperial administrator, and steered him away from diplomacy.

Commander of the Arabian Army


Various other posts followed and in 1843, elevated to being a vezir
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

(imperial minister), Namık Paşa was appointed Commander of the Arabian Army, with the rank of Müşir (Marshall), a position he would assume a year later and would carry for five years.

Viceroy of the Province of Baghdad


In 1851 he was made Marshall of the Iraqi and Hejaz armies and viceroy of the province of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 — only to be called back a year later (in 1852) because the way he had dealt with one of the cases of rebellion had displeased — to his own immense satisfaction however, as he wrote in his letters, since he had been away from Istanbul for nine consecutive years. British Major General Henry Rawlinson in a letter dated 1852 to then Foreign Secretary Malmesbury
James Howard Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury
James Howard Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury GCB, PC , styled Viscount FitzHarris from 1820 to 1841, was a British statesman of the Victorian era.-Background and education:...

, strongly criticizes Namık Pasha's harsh approach to maintaining order.

Minister of Commerce


Awarded a medal of the second rank of the Mecidî Order, Namık Pasha was made on his return, first, Marshall of Tophane (1852); then, Minister of Commerce (1853).

The Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 saw the Ottoman state in dire need and it was to Namık Paşa, as Minister of Commerce, that fell the duty of looking for funds — begging for money from bankers — in Europe, a venture which took him to Paris and London for the whole of the winter season of 1853-1854 (from November to May) and during which he was received by Napoleon III. Yet, had this seasoned diplomat run out of practice during a decade spent in the Arabian desert? He famously came back empty-handed. Commentators are at variance in interpreting this outcome: the directives he was given were too rigid and he was not vested with sufficient authority to make the necessary decisions, for some; he was too proud on behalf of the Ottoman state, for others; the interest rates insisted by the European bankers were too high and the parties were mutually too hesitant, and too distrustful, according to some others. “It had become very clear that the Porte would not be able to borrow without the guarantees of the allied governments. Thus it was rather the Porte's instructions, the international conjuncture
Conjuncture
In general, a conjuncture is a period marked by some watershed event which separates different epochs.In economics, conjuncture is a critical combination of events....

, problems with the credibility of the Porte and attitudes of the British ministers that ... really prevented the loan's materialization rather than Namık Pasha's 'amateurishness' and unwillingness. Under such conditions, anyone in his place could be equally unsuccessful,” according to one commentator (see Badem, p. 273). History would nevertheless record his name as the man who initiated the search for the debts, as these would be secured very soon after, as a result of the steps he had taken and the paths he had opened.

Viceroy of Jeddah


Several other posts, administrative or diplomatic, ensued. He was appointed viceroy of Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

 in 1856, then was made President of the Military Council in 1860, and later Serasker
Serasker
Serasker or Seraskier is a title formerly used in the Ottoman Empire for a Vizier who commanded the army, and later for the National Minister of Defence....

(Commander in chief). During Namık Pasha's term as Viceroy of Jeddah, a blundering move by the local British Vice-Consul and ham-fisted military intervention by the British marines in a property dispute led to events that ended in the death of 22 foreigners including the British Consul and his wife. Namık Pasha was away on mission during the events, and dealt swiftly with the aftermath on his return. However he would nevertheless be held responsible in the eyes of England.

In 1860 Namık Pasha was nominated by the Ottoman Empire to be the Ottoman special envoy to Syria. However, France and England opposed this appointment, in part possibly due to resentment over the events in Jeddah, and the Porte accepted to appoint Fuad Pasha instead.

Viceroy of Baghdad, Basra and Mosul


A year later, in 1861 (the year Sultan Abdülaziz ascended the throne), he was sent on his second and longer post as viceroy to the province of Baghdad, to which were added the provinces of Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 and Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 — in fact, the present-day Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. He succeeded in quieting down rebellious tribes and accomplished much in the way of construction. He replenished the Basra shipyard with ships he ordered from Istanbul, increased the traffic on the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 and Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 Rivers, had bridges built, and made the land arable through irrigation. He had various government buildings, military barracks, schools and roads constructed. He made sure the customs revenue would enter the Baghdad treasury, increased commerce, put a stop to fraudulent practices in title deeds and thus was able to regularize tax revenue. In 1867, when he returned, he brought to the public purse in Istanbul a considerable amount of money his office had amassed in Baghdad.

For his achievements in Baghdad, he received the medal of the first rank of the Order of Osman. The Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 also presented him with a medal.

Namık Pasha commissioned the construction, with his own savings, of a building to house the Ministry of War, the edifice which now functions as Istanbul University's main building in Beyazit and has come to symbolize “university” in Turkey.

Minister of Naval Forces


In 1872 he was made Minister of Naval Forces, and selected as a member of the Ayan Meclisi (Ottoman Senate) in 1877. (Sultan Abdülhamid II acceeded to the throne in 1876). He was a member of the delegation which signed the Edirne Armistice with the Russians after the 1877-1878 war.

Among the various titles he held was also that of yaver-i ekrem (aide de camp to His Imperial Majesty), and it is in that capacity that he carried a note from the Sultan to Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

. He received from the latter the medal of the Alexander Nevsky Order.

He was made Şeyh-ül Vüzera in 1883.

Namık Pasha spent the last years of his life in retirement in the konak he owned that extended from Ayapaşa to Kabataş
Kabatas, Istanbul
Kabataş is a quarter of Beyoğlu municipality in Istanbul, Turkey. It is situated on the European shore of the Bosphorus, between Beşiktaş and Karaköy.-References:* Istanbul.com - -External links:*...

. It is in that mansion that he played host to Empress Eugénie
Eugénie de Montijo
Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales; 5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo , was the last Empress consort of the French from 1853 to 1871 as the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of...

 when she came to Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

. The "Namık Paşa Yokuşu" street in the area where his estate had been is named after him.

His death marked the end of an epoch.

As befits an Ottoman grandee, he was married four times but divorced one of his wives. From the other three, he had eleven children.

His descendants live today mostly in Turkey (although some are located in the U.S.A, the U.K., France, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia), and many are prominent personalities in the Turkish mainstream. His late great-grandson, Ahmet Sinaplı, authored Şeyhül Vüzera, Serasker
Serasker
Serasker or Seraskier is a title formerly used in the Ottoman Empire for a Vizier who commanded the army, and later for the National Minister of Defence....

Mehmet Namık Paşa,
the only monograph so far dedicated to this Ottoman statesman who had represented throughout his life the proud and refined face of the Ottoman Empire.

Sources

  • Akalın, Şehabeddin. “Mehmed Namık Paşa.” Tarih Dergisi ıv(1953)7:127-145.
  • Badem, Candan. “The Ottomans and the Crimean War.” Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Sabancı University, 2007.
  • Cetinsaya, Gokhan. Ottoman Administration of Iraq, 1890-1908. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Ortaylı, İlber. İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı. 1983. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2000.
  • Sinaplı, Ahmet Nuri. Şeyhül Vüzera, Serasker Mehmet Namık Paşa. İstanbul: Yenilik Basımevi, 1987.