He officially outlawed the turban and introduced the fez as the official headgear for men. The Court also adopted European fashionable dress.
Abdül Mecit was sixteen years old when he became sultan, succeeding his father Mahmut II. He was the first son to succeed his father in two hundred years and, therefore, never spent time in the Cage like his predecessors.
Abdül Mecit was committed to the Tanzimat, or reform movement, that had been started by his father. He wanted to reform all aspects of life at that time ensuring security of life and property for all classes of his subjects; that taxes should be fairly imposed and justice impartially administered; and that all should have full religious liberty and equal civil rights. Needless to say these very ambitious reforms were never fully implemented but he did achieve:
• Introduction of the first Ottoman paper banknotes (1840)
• Reorganisation of the army (1843-44)
• Adoption of an Ottoman national anthem and Ottoman national flag (1844)
• Reorganisation of the finance system according to the French model
• Reorganisation of the Civil and Criminal Code according to the French model
• Establishment of the Meclis-I Maarif-I Umumiye (1845) which was the prototype of the first Ottoman Parliament (1876)
He also officially outlawed the turban and introduced the fez as the official headgear for men. The Court also adopted European fashionable dress.
He tried to forge alliances with the major powers of Western Europe, namely the United Kingdom and France, who fought alongside the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War against Russia (1854 – 56).
In keeping with his commitment to reform and change, he built Dolmabahce Palace on the shores of the Bosphorus. Construction started in 1842 and was finally completed in 1853, at a cost of five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tons of gold. 14 tons of gold was used only to adorn the interior ceilings of the Palace. The world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria, hangs in the Palace which has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world – there is even a staircase with a balustrade made of Baccarat crystal.
Abdül Mecit went on to build other palaces along the shores of the Bosphorus, in fact his grandiose building schemes did much to bankrupt the Empire. He suffered from tuberculosis and died on 25th June 1861 aged a mere thirty eight and having ruled for 22 years. He was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz.