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Selim III

Selim III, 1761–1808, Ottoman sultan (1789–1807), nephew and successor of Abd al-Hamid I to the throne of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). He suffered severe defeats in the second of the Russo-Turkish Wars with Catherine II, but suffered no major territorial losses when peace was made at Jassy in 1792. An ardent reformer, Selim set out to rebuild the Turkish navy on European lines, to reform the army, and to curb the Janissaries. In 1798 Selim joined the second coalition against France in the French Revolutionary Wars. Turkish forces lost Jaffa to Napoleon Bonaparte, who had invaded (1799) Syria after taking Egypt, but they held out at Acre and forced Napoleon to retreat. In 1801 the French left Egypt, which was restored to the sultan. In 1804 the Serbs under Karageorge revolted. In 1806 war with Russia broke out again. A revolt of the Janissaries and conservatives who opposed his reforms led to Selim's deposition and imprisonment in 1807. Mustafa IV was placed on the throne. A loyal army marched on Constantinople to restore Selim. It entered the city in 1808, just after Selim had been strangled on Mustafa's orders. Mustafa was executed and another of Selim's cousins, Mahmud II, was put on the throne. During Selim's reign Egypt became virtually independent under Muhammad Ali, as did Albania under Ali Pasha. Selim's well-intentioned and efficient reforms came too late to arrest the decay of the Ottoman Empire.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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