Who's Who - Sultan Mehmed VI

Sultan Mehmed VI Sultan Mehmed VI (1861-1926) served as the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1918 until his overthrow in 1922.

Born on 14 January 1861 Mehmed - original name Mehmed Vahideddin - was unlike the brother he succeeded as Sultan, Mehmed V, in that he was both intelligent and politically capable of ruling the Ottoman Empire of his own accord without the backing of the Young Turks.

Succeeding his brother on 3 July 1918 Mehmed VI presided over the terminal decline of the Ottoman Empire.  Determined to assumed personal control over government and, crucially, to ensure the continued survival of the Ottoman dynasty, Mehmed co-operated with the Allies in suppressing all nationalist groups in the wake of the unconditional surrender and armistice of 30 October 1918.

In this he was fortunately unencumbered by the Young Turk administration with many of its leaders seeking exile on a German ship bound for Germany following Turkey's military defeat.  Instead an Allied military administration was formed in Istanbul a month later on 8 December 1918.  Parliament was dissolved on 21 December with the Sultan publicly affirming his determination to suppress nationalist ideologies of all colours.

The nationalists nevertheless remained active in Anatolia.  After prolonged negotiations they secured the Sultan's agreement to hold elections late in 1919.

The results were predictable in returning a majority of nationalists to the new Parliament.  Equally predictably the Allies took fright at the nationalist gains and extended their own military zone in Constantinople, simultaneously arresting and exiling nationalist leaders.

On 11 April 1920 Mehmed dissolved Parliament, causing the nationalists to establish a provisional government in Ankara.  However it was the Sultan's signing of the Treaty of Sevres on 10 August 1920 that sparked the ire of the nationalists under the leadership of Kemal Pasha.  Under the terms of the treaty the Ottoman Empire was reduced to little more than Turkey itself.

The treaty served only to notably boost the nationalists' popularity.  With victory over the Greeks the nationalists held firm sway over Turkey and, on 1 November 1922, the Sultanate was formally abolished by the Grand National Assembly.  Mehmed VI consequently fled to Malta aboard a British warship.

His subsequent attempts to re-establish himself as caliph in the Hejaz proved a failure.  He died on 16 May 1926 in San Remo at the age of 65.

Click here to read the text of Mehmed VI's proclamation issued on 6 December 1918 in the wake of Turkey's surrender to the Allies.

A "creeping barrage" is an artillery bombardment in which a 'curtain' of artillery fire moves toward the enemy ahead of the advancing troops and at the same speed as the troops.

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