website of Jelle Verheij, historian

Historical Photos

H.F.B. Lynch, "Armenia. Travels and Studies" (1901)

The Hamidiye was Sultan Abdulhamid II's version of the Russian cossacks. Tribes (mainly Kurds, but also Arabs and some Turcoman) furnished regiments of cavalry to assist the regular army. The hamidiye got a very bad reputation for harrassment of the civilian population, particularly Armenians, since it gave the tribes a kind of blank authorization to do what they want with the weapons supplied by the government. The formation of the hamidiye prompted also many intertribal conflicts.

The members of the hamidiye thought highly of their high commander, the Sultan, but they rarely obeyed orders, let alone of the powerless local civil authorities.

Lynch, who took a particular interest in the hamidiye, thought they were pretty useless in time of war.

Reading suggestions: Janet Klein, The margins of Empire: Kurdish militias in  the Ottoman tribal zone (Stanford University Press, 2011)

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left: "Group of Kurd Hamidiyeh cavalry", picture taken in Karakilise (currently Ağrı, capital of Ağrı→ province).

below: "Hamidiyeh Cavalry at Gumgum" (presently Varto, district of Muş province)

Hamidiye regiments