Mahmud started the modernization of Turkey by paving the way for the Edict of Tanzimat 1839 which instituted European-style clothing, uniforms, weapons, architecture, education, legislation, banking, institutional organization, agricultural and industrial innovations, new technologies in transport and communications, and land reform. During the Tanzimat period from Arabic tanzīm, meaning "organization" the government's series of constitutional reforms led to a fairly modern conscripted army, banking system reforms, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the replacement of religious law with secular law and guilds with modern factories. In 1856, the Hatt-Humayan promised equality for all Ottoman citizens regardless of their ethnicity and religious confession; which thus widened the scope of the 1839 Hatt-e Gulhane. Overall, the Tanzimat reforms had far-reaching effects.
Those educated in the schools established during the Tanzimat period include Mustafa Kamel Atartuk and other progressive leaders and thinkers of the Republic of Turkey and of many other former Ottoman states in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa. These reforms included guarantees to ensure the Ottoman subjects perfect security for their lives, honour, and property; the introduction of the first Ottoman paper banknotes and opening of the first post offices ; the reorganization of the finance system according to the French model , the reorganization of the Civil and Criminal Code according to the French model , the establishment of the Meclis-i Maarif-i Umumiye which was the prototype of the first Ottoman parliament; the reorganization of the army and a regular method of recruiting, levying the army, and fixing the duration of military service ; the adoption of an Ottoman national anthem and Ottoman national flag ; the first nationwide Ottoman census in 1844 only male citizens were counted; the first national identity cards officially named the Mecidiye identity papers, or informally kafa kağıdı head paper documents, the institution of a Council of Public Instruction and the Ministry of Education Mekatib-i Umumiye Nezareti, 1847, which later became the Maarif Nezareti, ; the abolition of slavery and slave trade ; the establishment of the first modern universities , academies and teacher schools; establishment of the Ministry of Healthcare the Commerce and Trade Code ; establishment of the Academy of Sciences ; establishment of the Şirket-i Hayriye which operated the first steam-powered commuter ferries ; the first European style courts Meclis-i Ahkam-ı Adliye, and supreme judiciary council Meclis-i Ali-yi Tanzimat, ; establishment of the modern Municipality of Istanbul Şehremaneti, and the City Planning Council İntizam-ı Şehir Komisyonu, the abolition of the capitation jizya tax on non-Muslims, with a regular method of establishing and collecting taxes ; non-Muslims were allowed to become soldiers ; various provisions for the better administration of the public service and advancement of commerce; the establishment of the first telegraph networks and railroades, the replacement of guilds with factories; the establishment of the Ottoman Central Bank originally established as the Bank-ı Osmanî in 1856, and later reorganized as the Bank-ı Osmanî-i Şahane in and the Ottoman Stock Exchange Dersaadet Tahvilat Borsası, established in 1866 the Land Code ; permission for private sector publishers and printing firms with the Serbesti-i Kürşad Nizamnamesi , establishment of the School of Economical and Political Sciences Mekteb-i Mülkiye, ; the Press and Journalism Regulation Code Matbuat Nizamnamesi, among others. The reformist period peaked with the Constitution, called the kanun-e-estate meaning "basic law" in Ottoman Turkish, written by members of the young Ottomans, which was promulgated on 23 November 1876. It established the freedom of belief and equality of all citizens before the law. The Empire's first constitutional era, was short-lived. But the idea of Ottomanism proved influential. A group of reformers known as the young Ottomans primarily educated in western universities, believed that a constitutional monarchy would give an answer to the Empire's growing social unrest. Through a military coup in 1876, they forced Sultan Abdullaziz 1861–1876 to abdicate in favour ofMuradv. The Christian millets gained privileges, such as in the Armanian national constitute of 1863. This Divan-approved form of the Code of Regulations consisted of 150 articles drafted by the Armenian intelligentsia. Another institution was the newly formed Armanina national assembly.The Christian population of the empire, owing to their higher educational levels, started to pull ahead of the Muslim majority, leading to much resentment on the part of the latter. In 1861, there were 571 primary and 94 secondary schools for Ottoman Christians with 140,000 students in total, a figure that vastly exceeded the number of Muslim children in school at the same time, who were further hindered by the amount of time spent learning Arabic and Islamic theology. In turn, the higher educational levels of the Christians allowed them to play a large role in the economy. The life style of the Ottoman Empire was a mixture of western and eastern life. One unique characteristic of Ottoman life style was it was very fragmented. The millet concept generated this fragmentation and enabled many to coexist in a mosaic of cultures. The capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople also had a unique culture, mainly because before Ottoman rule it had been the seat of both the Roman and Byzantine Empires. The lifestyle in the Ottoman court in many aspects assembled ancient traditions of the Persian Shahs, but had many Greeks and European influences. The culture that evolved around the Ottoman court was known as the Ottoman Way, which was epitomized with the Topkapı Palace. There were also large metropolitan centers where the Ottoman influence expressed itself with a diversity similar to metropolises of today: Sarjevo, Skopje, Dimashq, Baghdad, Beirut, Jerujalim, Makkah and Algiers with their own small versions of Ottoman Provincial Administration replicating the culture of the Ottoman court locally. The seragilo which were the non-imperial places, in the context of the Turkish fashion, became the subject of works of art, where non-imperial prince or referring to other grand houses built around courtyards.Slavery in the Ottoman empire was a part of Ottoman society. As late as 1908 women slaves were still sold in the Empire. During the 19th century the Empire came under pressure from Western European countries to outlaw the practice. Policies developed by various Sultans throughout the 19th century attempted to curtail the slave trade but, since slavery did have centuries of religious backing and sanction, they could never directly abolish the institution outright—as had gradually happened in Western Europe and the Americas. plague remained a major event in Ottoman society until the second quarter of the 19th century. Between 1701 and 1750, 37 larger and smaller plague epidemics were recorded in Constantinople, and 31 between 1751 and 1800.