"Carefully sifting through court documents, journalistic accounts, memoirs, and earlier historical studies, the author places the trial at Yildiz Palace within the framework of newly developing legalism and the sultan's determination to rid himself of the Ottoman Empire's leading exemplar of constitutionalism. Recommended."—Choice
"A fascinating and detailed micro-history of the trialof Midhat Pasa."—James E. Baldwin, author of Islamic Law and Empire in Ottoman Cairo
"A tour de force of socio-legal history of the late Ottoman Empire. Rubin leads the reader into a breathtaking journey through the history and historiography of one of the most serious political crises in late Ottoman history, the Yildiz Trial (1881), turning it into a thrilling microhistory."—Iris Agmon, author of Family and Court: Legal Culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman Palestine
In 1876, a recently dethroned sultan, Abdülaziz, was found dead in his cham- bers, the veins in his
arm slashed. Five years later, a group of Ottoman senior officials stood a criminal trial and were
found guilty for complicity in his murder. Among the defendants was the world-famous
statesman former Grand Vizier and reformer Ahmed Midhat Pasa, a political foe of the autocratic
sultan Abdülhamit II, who succeeded Abdülaziz and ruled the empire for thirty-three years.
The alleged murder of the former sultan and the trial that ensued were political dramas that
captivated audiences both domestically and internationally. The high-profile personalities
involved, the international politics at stake, and the intense newspaper coverage all rendered
the trial an historic event, but the question of whether the sultan was murdered or committed
suicide re- mains a mystery that continues to be relevant in Turkey today. Drawing upon a wide
range of narrative and archival sources, Rubin explores the famous yet understudied trial and its
representations in contemporary public discourse and subsequent historiography. Through the
reconstruction and analysis of various aspects of the trial, Rubin identifies the emergence of a
new culture of legalism that sustained the first modern political trial in the history of the Middle East.
Avi Rubin is senior lecturer in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of
the Negev. He is the author of Ottoman Nizamiye Courts: Law and Modernity.
6 x 9, 264 pages, 5 black and white illustrations