Vahidettin was fifty-seven when he came to the throne in July 1918 and the Ottoman Empire was close to collapse.
Vahidettin was fifty-seven when he came to the throne in July 1918 and the Ottoman Empire was close to collapse. An armistice was signed which took effect on 31 October and called for all strategic points in Turkey to be occupied by the Allies.
At the Paris Peace Conference, which began in January 1919, the Allies considered various plans for dividing up what was left of the Ottoman Empire, with the Greeks claiming Izmir and its environs. Meanwhile a national resistance movement was developing in Anatolia led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha. On 19 March 1920 Kemal announced the establishment of a Turkish parliament in Ankara, the Grand National Assembly (GNA). When the GNA met for the first time on 23 April that year it chose Kemal as president. The sultan responded by condemning Kemal and six other nationalist leaders to death.
The allies agreed the post-war boundaries of the Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of Sevres signed on 10 August 1920. The treaty left only central and north western Anatolia to the Turks, Istanbul would be left under Ottoman rule but the Bosphorus straits would be under international control. The sultan accepted the terms of the treaty but the GNA denounced it and declared all Turks who had signed the agreement to be traitors. Turkish nationalist forces under Kemal Pasha and Ismet Pasha drove the Greek army back to Izmir from where it was evacuated in early September 1922. The War of Independence then officially ended with an armistice signed at Mudanya on 11 October 1922.
On 1 November 1922 the GNA enacted legislation separating the sultanate and the caliphate, with the former being abolished and the latter reduced to a purely religious role. The Allied high commissioners were informed that Istanbul would be under the administration of the GNA, and that Vahidettin was no longer sultan, though he retained the title of caliph. Thus ended a sultanate that had lasted for more than six hundred years, a title that had passed on through thirty-six successive rulers of the Ottoman dynasty. Vahidettin, the last sultan, now clung to a vestige of power through his title of caliph. He appealed to the British high commissioner, claiming he feared for his own life and was duly evacuated on 17 November 1922. He went into exile in Malta. His title of caliph was taken over by cousin, Abdül Mecit, son of Sultan Abdül Aziz.