‘The Great Game of Improvement’: Reşid Paşa and Reform

  • Jack Fairey
Part of the Histories of the Sacred and the Secular 1700–2000 book series


Early in the morning on Sunday, 3 November 1839, a living tableau of the Ottoman imperial elite assembled outside the Topkapı Palace in the rose bower (gülhane) of a large wooded park. An outdoor auditorium had been erected with a raised dais facing a semi-circular enclosure of pavilions and tents that protected the audience from the elements. Seated on the second story of the imperial kiosk was the new sultan, Abdülmecid I, who despite his youth looked distinguished and solemn in a dress uniform, black cloak, and red fez with tall, diamond- encrusted aigrette.2 The first floor of the kiosk was reserved for the representatives of the European diplomatic corps at Istanbul. In the place of honour among them sat the third son of King Louis- Philippe I of France, the Prince de Joinville, who happened to be visiting Istanbul. From the window of Joinville’s section of the kiosk, he looked out upon:

a broad space, surrounded by beautiful umbrella pines and sloping gently down to the sea. Beyond is the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus and the pretty village of Kadi- Keuy. This space is full of troops, twelve splendid battalions of the Imperial Guard, Lancers and Artillery. These form a circle, in the centre of which rises a pulpit covered with some yellow stuff, and around it the pashas and the whole body of Ulemas and Mollahs, …3


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    Prince de Joinville, Mémoires (NY and London: Macmillan, 1895), pp. 153– 6.Google Scholar
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© Jack Fairey 2015

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  • Jack Fairey

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