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The Transcultural Dimension of the Ottoman Constitution

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the potential sources of inspiration for the first Ottoman Constitution promulgated on December 23, 1876 and contextualizes it within the framework of earlier legal reforms, namely the 1839 Imperial Rescript of Gülhane and the 1856 Reform Edict (Islahat Fermani), which initiated a constitutional debate in the Empire. The Ottoman constitutional movement incorporated, from local authorities to foreign powers, a plurality of agents with different ethno-religious, cultural, ideological, and legal backgrounds. The chapter emphasizes the shaping of the first Ottoman Constitution as a transcultural encounter in the Ottoman Empire. This means paying attention to a rich variety of foreign channels through which new currents of political ideas flowed into the sultan's domains, the non-Muslim sources of inspiration, as well as the discourses of domestic actors that reflect the intellectual trajectories of Ottoman constitutional thought.

Keywords: Britain; Ottoman constitution; Ottoman Empire; Ottoman non-Muslims; Russian; sultanic law



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