Historical and Commemorative
Collection of Benjamin Weiss
RECEPTION OF ABDUL AZIZ, SULTAN OF TURKEY, TO THE CITY OF LONDON
WYON, Joseph Shepherd & Alfred Benjamin: Turkey, 1867, Bronze, 76 mm
Abdul Aziz (1830-1876) was the second son of Sultan Mahmud II. He succeeded his brother Abdul-Mejid and became Sultan of Turkey in 1861. In 1870 he created the Bulgarian exarchate (an administrative district of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire), thus separating the Bulgarian church from the Greek church at Constantinople. He acquired great wealth but squandered it extravagantly; he built, for example, the Beylerbeyi Palace, a fantasy in white marble amid magnolia filled gardens, on the Bosphorus' Asian shore. Used as the Sultan's summer residence and hunting lodge, it was offered to the most distinguished foreign dignitaries during their visits. Empress Eugenie of France was among its residents. The sultan's incapacity and extravagance in Turkey led to an outbreak of Moslem discontent and fanaticism and culminated in Bulgarian atrocities. Abdul Aziz was deposed in 1876 by a group of prominent politicians. His death is attributed to suicide. Abdul Aziz was the first Ottoman sultan to travel to western Europe, an important part of which was his visit to the City of London in 1867, the event commemorated by this medal.
The Mosque of Sultan Ahmed, depicted on the reverse of this medal, is incorrectly identified as the Mosque of St. Sophia in Welch's Numismata Londinensia, despite the reference to "the Mosque of Sultan Achmet" inside the medal's original casing. [The spelling of Ahmed has changed through the years: Achmet is an antiquated English spelling, the one used on the case of this medal; the old Turkish is Ahmed, and the current spelling is Ahmet (Edhem Eldem, personal communication)]. The mosque is noted for its predominantly blue Iznik tilework — whence it derives the name more common to foreigners, 'The Blue Mosque'.
The Blue Mosque was completed in 1616 by Sultan Ahmet I, and is famous for being the first mosque in Turkey to have six minarets. Facing Hagia Sophia, from which it borrows certain stylistic elements, the Blue Mosque combines the two great influences of Byzantine and Ottoman religious architecture.
The photograph used as a model for this medal was provided by Bahattin Öztuncay.
LINK to photo of Mosque of Sultan Ahmed (Blue Mosque)(from GreatBuildings.com)
LINK to photo of Hagia Sophia