Mahmoud II, sultan of Turkey, the younger son of Abdul Hamed, born in Constantinople, July 20, 1785, died there, July 1, 1839. During his youth, passed in the seraglio, he became familiar with Persian and Turkish literature, and is said to have manifested at an early age a character of great firmness not un-mingled with cruelty. His elder brother Mustapha IV., who ascended the throne in 1807, had ordered him to be put to death as a possible rival, when Ramir Effendi, paymaster of the army, rescued him. Bairaktar, the pasha of Rustchuk, raised an insurrection, deposed Mustapha, and placed Mahmoud on the throne, July 28,1808. Bairaktar became grand vizier, and with the sultan boldly attempted to carry out those European military reforms for promoting which Selim III., the predecessor of Mustapha, had been deposed. The janizaries, whose organization was threatened by this, rose in rebellion, and stormed the seraglio. Bairaktar blew himself up with his enemies, and Mahmoud as a desperate measure ordered Mustapha IV. and his infant son to be strangled, and his four pregnant sultanas to be sewn in sacks and thrown into the Bosporus. After a long struggle amid pillage and conflagrations, the rebels gained a victory, and the sultan was obliged to submit to their demands.

As he was however the only living descendant of Osman, they recognized him as their ruler, dreading the anarchy which must ensue should the royal family become extinct. Ho now, under very unfavorable circumstances, and without resources, continued the war with Russia and the Servians, until, when totally exhausted, his divan concluded a treaty with the Russians at Bucharest, May 28,1812, by which the Pruth became the boundary of the two empires, the Servians receiving the promise of an amnesty. From this time the daring and despotic character of Mahmoud manifested itself with striking effect, both in reforms at home and in wars abroad. The Wahabees of Arabia were subdued by Ibrahim Pasha, the son of the viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali. Dreading the increasing power of Ali Pasha of Janina, Mahmoud made war on him and crushed him in 1822. In 1821 his Greek subjects revolted. By the aid of Mehemet Ali he carried on a successful war against them, but with such extreme cruelty that France, Russia, and Great Britain remonstrated.

Their mediation being disregarded by Mahmoud, they attacked and destroyed his fleet at Navarino, Oct. 20, 1827: In 1826, after a desperate struggle, in which he displayed great courage and ability, he had overthrown the janizaries, and organized an army on European principles. With full confidence in its power, he did not shrink from a war against Russia, but was defeated, Diebitsch even crossing the Balkan; and in consequence of the mediation of England, France, and Prussia, he signed the treaty of Adrianople, Sept. 14, 1829. In 1832, Mehemet Ali having refused to withdraw his troops from Syria, which he had occupied, Mahmoud made energetic preparations against him, but was defeated by Ibrahim Pasha at Hems and Konieh, and was only saved by Russian intervention from being dethroned. The result was an alliance for mutual defence between Turkey and Russia. In the mean time Mahmoud had done much to improve the domestic condition of his kingdom. Roads were made, postal communication was established, ambassadors were appointed to the European courts, and women were allowed to appear in public; measures which did not fail to make him many enemies among the conservative party.

Justice was speedily and severely administered, and an energetic though unscrupulous police, often aided by the sultan himself, disguised, did much to establish order. But his oppression of all the higher officers of his kingdom, and the frequency with which he plundered, displaced, or slew them, sacrificing men of ability to unworthy favorites, deprived him of trustworthy aid, and his reign was a succession of revolts and treasonable attempts. In 1839, being still determined to reduce Mehemet Ali, he drove him into a new rebellion. His army was again defeated by Ibrahim at Nizib, but he died before the news reached him. He was succeeded by his son, Abdul Medjid.