The Last Sultan

The Grand National Assembly in Ankara voted to abolish the Ottoman sultanate on November 2, 1922. The debate and vote was contentious. Ottoman generals, having wrested from Britain the right to renegotiate the Treaty of Sevres at Lausanne, insisted that the sultan, whose government had surrendered, would not benefit from their struggle. Other delegates resisted vehemently the presumption that the assembly could separate the office of the sultanate from the Caliph of Islam. Mustafa Kemal Pasa delivered the coup de grace in a decisive speech declaring the sultan a traitor to the nation, its people, and to Islam. The news of the abolition astounded Muslims within the former Ottoman realms and outside.

A bit more than two weeks later, the last sultan of the house of Osman fled Istanbul aboard a British naval ship with a few suitcases and the members of the royal family.104 He died three-and-a-half years later in Italy. He is buried in an ordinary grave at Damascus. Like the Royal Houses of the Hohenzollerns, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburgs, and the Romanovs, the Ottoman monarchy did not survive the transformations of the long nineteenth century and the world war.

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