Abdul Hamid II (Ottoman Turkish: عبد الحميد ثانی, `Abdü’l-Ḥamīd-i sânî; Turkish: İkinci Abdülhamit) was the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the last Sultan to exert effective autocratic control over the fracturing state.
He oversaw a period of decline in the power and extent of the Empire, including widespread pogroms and government-sanctioned massacres of Armenians, as well as an assassination attempt, ruling from 31 August 1876 until he was deposed shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, on 27 April 1909. Although expected to be a progressive ruler before his coronation, Abdul Hamid suspended the short-lived Ottoman constitution and parliament in 1878 and seized absolute power, ending the first constitutional era of the Ottoman Empire. Abdul Hamid's 1909 removal from the throne was hailed by most Ottoman citizens, who welcomed the return to constitutional rule after three decades.
Despite his conservatism and despotic rule, some modest modernisation of the Ottoman Empire occurred during Abdul Hamid's long reign, including reform of the bureaucracy, the extension of the Rumelia Railway and Anatolia Railway and the construction of the Baghdad Railway and Hejaz Railway, the establishment of a system for population registration and control over the press, the founding of the first modern law school in 1898, and the modernisation of the army. Between 1871 and 1908, the Sublime Porte thus reached a new degree of organizational elaboration and articulation, although Abdul Hamid's absolutism led him to reduce most of his government ministers to secretaries.
Often known as the Red Sultan or Abdul the Damned due to the atrocities committed against the Empire's minorities under his rule and use of a secret police to silence dissent, Abdul Hamid became more reclusive toward the end of his reign as his worsening paranoia about perceived threats to his personal power and life led him to shun public appearances.