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AHMED CEVDET PAŞA

Historian (b. 1822, Lofcha / Bulgaria - d. 25 May 1895, İstanbul). He completed his primary and secondary education in his country and came to İstanbul (1839). He received Arabic, Persian and reason lessons at Murat Mullah’s dervish lodge, which he attended in İstanbul, and mathematics lessons at the College of Mathematics. In addition, he learnt French and obtained a diploma of Madrasah Muslim Theological School. He was interested in politics due to the friendship of Raşit Paşa, to whom he was introduced by the Head of Religious Affairs of that period. He was appointed as a member of the Council of Education and as director of the Teachers Training School (1950). He prepared the work of literature called Kavâid-i Osmaniye (Grammar of the Ottoman Language), which is regarded as the first Ottoman grammar book that explains the grammar of three languages (Turkish, Arabic and Persian).

He was appointed as a member of the İstanbul Academy of Science, the establishment of which he played a significant role in. With the decision of this board, he undertook the task of writing Tarih-i Cevdet (History of Cevdet), which is his most famous work of literature narrating Ottoman history between 1774 and 1826, and undertook the task of translating İbn-i Haldun’s work Mukaddime (Prologue). When he completed the first three volumes of his history, he was appointed as an historiographer (1855). Authorities admit that his work was prepared with a keen understanding of modern history. He was appointed as a member of the Supreme Tanzimat* Council in 1837 and a member of the Supreme Council of Justice in 1864. He resigned from his office as a historiographer and served as the Governor of Aleppo and as the Chairman of the Supreme Council of State in 1866. Four volumes of Mecelle (civil code promulgated in the nineteenth century and in force until 1926) were published by the Civil Code Society, which was founded under his chairmanship.

Although he was dismissed from his office by the Head of Religious Affairs, with whom he had a difference of opinion, and was appointed to the post of Governor of Bursa, he was reappointed to the chairmanship of the commission when the 5th and 6th volumes of Mecelle (Civil Code) were exposed to severe criticisms. These volumes were rewritten. He served as the Minister of Education and the Minister of Justice (1875). After working as the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Minister of Foundations to which he was appointed for the second time (1876), he became Governor of Syria (1878). After his service as Governor of Syria, he was appointed to the office of the Ministry of Commerce and again to the post of Ministry of Justice for the 4th and 5th times (1886). He took part in the negotiations during the “Crete Problem”. He was appointed as a member of the Supreme Assembly (1890) by Abdülhamit II. He spent his later years mainly on scientific studies.

Although Ahmet Cevdet worked as an assistant of M. Raşit Paşa for a long time, he supported Islamic thought and traditions against the support for westernization. He was appreciated and respected by Abdülhamit II. He was continuously in conflict with Mithat Paşa. He argued against the supporters of westernization who wanted to fill the deficiency in the civil code by adapting the civil code of France. He coordinated preparations of 16 books of Mecelle (Civil Code) by the Civil Code Society, of which he was chairman (1868-76). His work Tarih-i Cevdet, (History of Cevdet), where he dealt with Ottoman history between 1774 and 1826, was considered one of the greatest successes of Ottoman history text. He evaluated the events that took place between 1839 and 1976 in Maruzat (Reports), which he wrote upon the request of Abdülhamit II.

He narrated the lives of all the prophets from Adam to Muhammed and the history of Islam until the period of Murat II with a simple language and in a sincere style in his famous 6-volume work called Kısas-ı Enbiya (Retaliation of the Prophets) and Tevarih-i Hulefa (Histories of the Caliphs). Kavâid-i Türkiye (Turkish Grammar, 1873), which he prepared together with Fuat Paşa and which is the simplified version of the work describing the grammar of Arabic, Persian and Turkish, was used as a textbook in schools for years. Upon the insistence of Abdülhamid II, he collected his poems in a Divançe (Small Divan*) in his later years. In addition, he compiled and published Sürûrî Mecmuası (Review of Sürûrî, 1883).

WORKS:
Mukaddime-i İbn-i Haldun (Prologue of İbn-i Haldun, translation, 1860), Kavâid-i Osmaniye (Grammar of the Ottoman Language, together with Fuad Paşa. 1864; simplified version: Kavâid-i Türkiye - Turkish Grammar, 1873), Tezâkir (Memoir, 1853-87), Mecelle-i Ahkâm-ı Adliye (Civil Code, Judgment and Administration, 16 volumes, 1868-76), Adâb-ı Sâdat (Etiquette of Princes, 1877), Tarih-i Cevdet (History of Cevdet, written over thirty years, 1854-1885; selected works from the first six volumes were published under the title Seçmeler I, II-Selected Works I, II by the Ministry of Education’s Cultural Publications, 1973; it was reprinted with the title Tarih-i Cevdet-History of Cevdet in 6 volumes by Üç Dal Neşriyat, 1983), Belâgat-ı Osmaniye (Ottoman Rhetoric, rules of literature, 1881), Kısas-ı Enbiya ve Tevârih-i Hulefa (Retaliation of the Prophets and the History of the Caliphs, 1884-1889; was simplified by Mahir İz and was published by the Ministry of Education, 1973), Mâruzat (Reports, narrates the events that took place between 1839-1876, 1890), Kırım ve Kafkas Tarihçesi (Crimean and Caucasian History of 1890), Divançe (Booklet of Poems, unpublished), İki Cihan Güneşi Hz. Muhammed (Prophet Muhammed, the Sun of Two Worlds, simplified by Ali Eren, 2003).