11 September 2018

BOOK: Avi RUBIN, Ottoman Rule of Law and the Modern Political Trial - The Yildiz Case (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2018). ISBN 978-0-8156-3601-4, $29.95

Syracuse University Press is publishing a new book on the Yildiz Case in 19th century Ottoman law.


In 1876, a recently dethroned sultan, Abdülaziz, was found dead in his chambers, 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 Paşa, a political foe of the autocratic sultan Abdülhamit II, who succeeded Abdülaziz and ruled the empire for thirtythree 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 remains 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.

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