Mustafa Reşit Paşa
CKM 2018-19 / Aziz Yardımlı



Mustafa Reşit Paşa


  Mustafa Reşid Pasha (1800-1858)

Mustafa Reşid Pasha

Mustafa Reşid Pasha (1800-1858) (W)

Mustafa Reşid Pasha in court uniform.

Koca Mustafa Reşid Pasha (literally Mustafa Reşid Pasha the Great; 13 March 1800 – 7 January 1858) was an Ottoman statesman and diplomat, known best as the chief architect behind the Ottoman government reforms known as Tanzimat.

Born in Constantinople in 1800, Mustafa Reşid entered public service at an early age and rose rapidly, becoming ambassador to France (1834) and to the United Kingdom (1836), minister for foreign affairs (1837), and once again ambassador to the United Kingdom (1838) and to France (1841). In the settlement of the Oriental Crisis of 1840, and during the Crimean War and the ensuing peace negotiations, he rendered important diplomatic services to the Ottoman state. He returned a third time as ambassador to France in 1843. Between 1845 and 1857, he held the office of Grand Vizier six times.

One of the greatest and most versatile statesmen of his time, thoroughly acquainted with European politics and well-versed in national and international affairs, he was a convinced partisan for reform and the principal author of the legislative remodeling of the Ottoman administration known as Tanzimat. His efforts to promote reforms within the government led to the advancement of the careers of many other reformers, such as Fuad Pasha and Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha.

Early life


Mustafa Reşid was born on 13 March 1800. His father, Mustafa Efendi, worked as a civil servant, but died when Mustafa Reşid was only ten. Mustafa had been attending a madrasa in hopes of becoming a religious leader. However, when his father died, Reşid was forced to end his education in the madrassa in order to live with his uncle, Ispartalı Ali Pasha, who at the time was a court chamberlain under Sultan Mahmud II. Reşid would then study at a scribal institution. When Ali Pasha was promoted to governor of Morea Eyalet in 1816, Reşid traveled with him.


Early political life


Greek War of Independence

During the Greek War of Independence between 1820 and 1822, which occurred during his uncle’s second term as governor of Morea and had the support of major European countries, Reşid acted as the seal carrier for the Grand Vizier and commander-in-chief, Seyyid Ali Pasha. During the war, Reşid noted for the first time several key points that would majorly influence his later political life. First, he noted that Ottoman institutions required major reform, especially needing

  • a modernized army like that of Muhammad Ali Pasha, who had led the Egyptian army in support of the Greek rebels against the Ottomans. Secondly,
  • he realized that foreign European assistance and support was essential for the continuation of the empire.


In the office of the Foreign Minister

After being removed from his position, along with all the followers of Seyyid Ali Pasha following his rout and dismissal as commander-in-chief, Mustafa Reşid landed a job in the Ottoman Porte working as a clerk under the Foreign Minister. He quickly found the respect and praise of his superiors and rose up the ranks. During the Russo-Turkish War (1828-29), Reşid worked sending reports to Istanbul on the war. His good work during the war found him the attention of the Sultan, Mahmud II, who promoted Reşid into the Amedi Odasi, where he worked as the secretariat for incoming correspondence to the Porte. At the conclusion of the war, Mustafa Reşid was appointed as secretary to the Ottoman delegation to the Peace talks in Edirne in 1829.

During this time, he became a follower of Pertew Pasha, his superior in the office of incoming correspondence. Pertew Pasha held strong pro-British policies and relationship with the British ambassador Lord Ponsonby. Reşid, would also accompany Pertew during the negotiations in Egypt with the rebellious Muhammad Ali Pasha. Muhammad Ali took notice of Reşid’s prowess as a diplomat and scribe and offered the young bureaucrat a superior position among the Egyptian administration, but Reşid denied the offer. By 1832, Reşid had been appointed to the position of amedçi, or Receiver, which was the head of the incoming correspondence secretariat. His familiarity with Egyptian affairs landed him the role of talking with Muhammad Ali’s son, Ibrahim Pasha, after he routed Ottoman forces at Konya and reached Kütahya in western Anatolia by 1833. However, Reşid faced backlash after appointing Ibrahaim Pasha as the tax collector for the district of Adana, along with making him governor of Damascus and Aleppo.


Foreign interaction

Ambassador to Paris, 1834-1836

Mustafa Reşid was first sent to Paris in 1834 with the task of regaining Algeria from the recent French occupation. Although he ultimately failed, he would remain in Paris as a permanent ambassador until being transferred to London in 1836.]

Ambassador to London, 1836-1838

Reşid transferred to the Ottoman Embassy in London where he created strong ties with the British Government, especially the London Diplomat Ponsonby who his Mentor, Pertew Pasha, had strong ties with as well. However, his major achievement during his stint as ambassador was gaining the support of the British Government for the Sultan against Muhammad Ali in Egypt. After being appointed Foreign Minister in 1838, as well as given the title of pasha, Reşid Pasha returned again to London in order to form a defensive alliance against the Muhammad Ali and his Egyptian forces. Although the talks materialized into nothing, on 16 August Reşid Pasha did manage to negotiate the Treaty of Balta Liman which was a commercial treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Britain. The treaty allowed for British goods within the Ottoman markets and also promised to end state monopolies within the Ottoman Empire.


Oriental Crisis of 1840

When Muhammad Ali moved to occupy Syria with his Egyptian army led by his son Ibrahim, then Grand Vizier of Egypt, Hüsrev Pasha conceded not only Syria but also Egypt and Adana as well. Mustafa Reşid quickly realized the errors in Hüsrev Pasha's actions, which would have led to the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and inevitable Russian domination, and gained the support of the British due to his strong ties from his previous ambassadorship. The French, who supported the Egyptians due to their desire to gain more inf luence in the region after the conquest of Algeria, went up against the other Great Powers: England, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, who supported the Ottoman Empire. Mustafa Reşid, now Foreign Minister, played a key role in the crisis. Throughout the crisis, Mustafa Reşid remained on the side of the Great Powers and consistently refused a direct settlement without the involvement of the Great Powers, much to the disappointment of Egypt and France.

However, unbeknownst to the Great Powers, Mustafa Reşid, with approval from the Sultan, had drafted a settlement by the summer 1840 due to his impatience with the Great Powers' inability to reach an agreement. This secret settlement would grant Egypt to Muhammad Ali as a hereditary state along with the provinces of Acre, Saida, and Tripoli, a position that could be passed down to his sons and grandsons. The condition was that none of them could accumulate any more provinces, and after their deaths the provinces would return to Ottoman control. This plan was never put into place due to the London Convention of 1840, however.

After the London Crisis, Mustafa Reşid received threats from the French embassy that if they were to ratify it, France would actively support the rebellious Egyptian Governor. Reşid ignored the threats and the Sublime Porte went on to sign the conference. After Muhammad Ali's refusal to sign the London Convention of 1840, all the Great Power diplomats met with Reşid Pasha in order to draft Ali Pasha’s removal from office much to the dismay of their respective countries. After a swift military intervention that led to the defeat of Egyptian forces in Syria, Commodore Napier, leader of the allied forces, held a peace convention of his own with Muhammad Ali, which was met with great reprisal from Mustafa Reşid and the other diplomats. On 11 December 1840, Muhammad Ali Pasha finally submitted to the sultan and pledged his allegiance to the Sublime Porte.

Ambassador to Paris, 1841-1845

After the conclusion of the Oriental Crisis, Muhammad Ali Pasha bribed the Ottoman Porte to remove Mustafa Reşid Pasha from his post as Foreign Minister. He returned to his post as Ambassador to Paris soon after where he mainly focused his efforts on solving the Lebanon Question, which resulted from a dispute between a Christian group called the Maronites based out of Lebanon and an extremist Shia group called the Druzes who came from Syria and Lebanon.

Crimean War

Escalation of crisis

At the start of 1853, Mustafa Reşid held no political office. In 1852–53, tensions rose between Russia and France over the Holy Lands in Palestine. Russian diplomat Alexander Menshikov, who had been sent on special mission to Istanbul in 1853 to restore the privileges inside the Ottoman Empire that Russia had enjoyed for centuries, used Reşid Pasha, who he thought to be favorable to Christians due to the Rose Garden Edict of 1839 but was currently out of office, to talk with the Sultan. Yet, Menshikov failed to realize that Reşid Pasha had remained close with his British ties, especially Ambassador Stratford, and held anti-Russian beliefs. After the presentation of the Russian demands to the Sublime Porte on 5 May 1853 and the subsequent rejection of them on 10 May, Reşid, with the help of Ambassador Stratford as well as that of Menshikov, gained back his position of Foreign Minister. Reşid immediately tried stalling the Russian diplomat in order to ensure the support of his fellow ministers. After another five-day delay, on 15 May the Sublime Porte again rejected the Russian proposition which led to the evacuation of the Russian embassy and the end of Russian-Ottoman diplomacy on 21 May. During this time, Reşid met one-on-one several times with while also writing to both Menshikov and Stratford. In Menshikov’s writings, he described Reşid as being almost embarrassed to talk about the unanimous rejection of the Russian proposal and had also given the Russians a Turkish counter proposal, on which he seemed ashamed to present since he explained that he had no ability to revise them. Also according to Menshikov, Reşid had clearly wanted to renew negotiations, but had been advised otherwise by Lord Stratford.

Vienna Note

In late July 1853, diplomats of the four major powers, France, Britain, Austria and Prussia met in Vienna and created their own solution to the Russian-Turkish crisis using a previous French proposal that had already been accepted by the Tsar. The Vienna Note, as it was known, was accepted by the governments of all four of the neutral powers and by Russia, but was met with swift outcry in the Sublime Porte, led by Mustafa Reşid Pasha. The Ottomans had already presented their own ultimatum, drafted by Reşid Pasha, to the Russian Ambassador Nesselrode which reached the Vienna Conference a day after the completion of their proposal. Reşid Pasha was furious that the British governments had gone behind their backs, and were now trying to force them to concede their sovereignty. He would also draft several amendments to the Vienna Note after begging for Stratford’s support which stressed the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire against Russian advances, and only with these changes did he and several other Ottoman diplomats agree to the Vienna Note. Russia, who had been waiting for Ottoman acceptance of the Vienna Note, rejected the Ottoman modifications, and peace seemed to be impossible.

Declaration of war

On 26 September, following the Russian advances in the Balkans, the Sublime Porte held a two-day conference to determine a solution to the Russian problem, whether it be war or diplomacy. While many of the officials were favorable to war, Reşid Pasha cautioned them. He warned that the state was not prepared militarily to fight Russia in a war. However, he also added that it was the Porte’s decision even though the European Powers had advised them to refrain from waging war. He also remarked that the European powers are not against war but would need convincing to keep their forces in support of the Ottoman enterprise. When asked about the Christian subjects and their loyalty, Reşid responded that Christians, like Muslims had internal differences and would not support one another solely due to their religion. Although he originally seemed to have been against the war and for diplomacy, by the end of the meetings Reşid is quoted as saying, "It is better to die with arms in hand than to die with tied hands. God willing, we will be victorious and destroy the harmful treaties as well". Stratford had even warned Reşid Pasha that England and France would not stand behind the Ottomans if they started the war. However, it appears that Reşid’s arguments had persuaded the other officials, and at the end of the conference, Reşid drafted a resolution for war which was sent to and accepted by the Sultan on 30 September and 4 October the Ottoman Empire officially declared War on Russia. According to Certev Pasha, Reşid Pasha wrote this on the purpose of the Crimean War, "The unique objective of the Sublime Porte, the salutary aim that she entertains, is to come to the end of the war completely protected from any exterior anxiety, in order to busy herself solely with interior regulations to assure the well-well being of the empire by the perfecting of the progressive system of administration, by the just amelioration of the condition of all classes of the subjects, and by the development of her commerce and industry without any impediment; and as we have obviously just seen that the treaty of the year 1841 doesn’t suffice to give her security in the foreign quarter, the Sublime Porte believes it her duty to submit, as of now, to her allies, the necessity of making another treaty to serve as a complement to that one."

During the war

Reşid Pasha immediately immersed himself in gaining European support. On 8 October 1853, only four days following the declaration of war, he petitioned the British and French Ambassadors for their support in the form of naval vessels in the straits of Dardanelles. On 20 October, the requests were fulfilled and both fleets were sailing to the straits.Two days prior, on 18 October, Reşid Pasha had sent orders for the Ottoman forces to commence fighting which began on 23 October. In December, following an Ottoman naval defeat at the bay of Sinop and rumors of Reşid Pasha’s peace negotiations, students began revolting in the streets of Istanbul forcing Reşid and many of his followers to hide for their lives. Reşid submitted his resignation immediately but it was not accepted. Reşid Pasha’s rivalry with one of his prior proteges, Mehmed Emin Ali, came to fruition during this time period as well. It is believed that Mehmed Ali, who favored the war, had helped instigate the students. Reşid, with the help of Lord Stratford, had Mehmed deposed and even exiled to Kastamonu after it was discovered that he had held large sums of money from the Ottoman government. Over the Spring of 1854, Reşid used his position as Foreign Minister to coordinate Ottoman naval movements with France and Britain. He also was able to officially drag both Britain and France into the war with a military alliance in March 1854. In November of that year, he was rewarded with an appointment as Grand Vizier. However, in May 1855, only a few short months later he was removed from office, leaving him out of the rest of the war and the ensuing peace talks as well.





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