Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

oil, but the chief industry is sardine fishing, largely in the hands of Italians.

Mahdia occupies the site of a Phoenician settlement and by some authorities is identified with the town called Turris Hannibalis by the Romans. Hannibal is said to have embarked here on his exile from Carthage. After the Arab conquest of North Africa the town fell into decay. It was refounded in 912 by the first Fatimite caliph, ’Obaidallah-al-Mahdi, after whom it was named. It became the port of Kairawan and was for centuries a city of considerable importance, largely owing to its great natural strength, and its position on the Mediterranean. It carried on an active trade with Egypt, Syria and Spain. The town was occupied by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th century, but after holding it for about twelve years they were driven out in 1159 by the Almohades. In 1390 a joint English and French force vainly besieged Mahdia for sixty-one days. In the early part of the 16th century the corsair Dragut seized the town and made it his capital, but in 1550 the place was captured by the Spaniards, who held it until 1574. Before evacuating the town the Spaniards dismantled the fortifications. Under the rule of the Turks and, later, the beys of Tunis Mahdia became a place of little importance. It was occupied by the French in 1881 without opposition, and regained some of its former commercial importance.

During 1908 numbers of bronzes and other works of art were recovered from a vessel wrecked off Mahdia in the 5th century A.D. (see Classical Review, June 1909).

MAHÉ, a French settlement in the Malabar district of Madras, India, situated in 11° 43′ N. and 75° 33′ E., at the mouth of a river of the same name. Area, 26 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 10,298. It is the only French possession on the west coast of India, and is in charge of a chef de service, subordinate to the governor general at Pondicherry. It is now a decaying place.

MAHESHWAR, a town in Indore state, Central India, on the N. bank of the Narbada (Nerbudda). Pop. (1901), 7042. Though of great antiquity and also of religious sanctity, it is chiefly noted as the residence of Ahalya Bai, the reigning queen of the Holkar dynasty during the last half of the 18th century, whose ability and munificence are famous throughout India. Close by her cenotaph stands the family temple of the Holkars.

MAHI, a river of western India, which rises in Central India and, after flowing through south Rajputana, enters Gujarat and falls into the sea by a Wide estuary near Cambay; total length, 300 m.; estimated drainage area, 16,000 sq. m. It has given its name to the Mahi Kantha agency of Bombay, and also to the mehwasis, marauding highlanders often mentioned in Mahommedan chronicles.

MAHI KANTHA, a political agency or collection of native states in India, within the Gujarat division of Bombay. Over half the territory is covered by the native state of Idar. There are eleven other chiefships, and a large number of estates belonging to Rajput or Koli thakurs, formerly feudatories of Baroda. Several of the states are under British administration. Total area, 3125 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 361,545, showing a decrease of 38% in the decade, due to famine; estimated revenue, £76,000; tribute (mostly to the gaekwar of Baroda), £9000. Many of the inhabitants belong to the wild tribes of Bhils and Kolis. In 1897 a metre-gauge railway was opened from Ahmedabad through Parantij to Ahmednagar. At Sadra is the Scott College for the education of the sons of chiefs on the lines of an English public school. There are also Anglo-vernacular schools at Sadra, Idar and Mansa. The famine of 1899–1900 was severely felt in this tract.

MAHMUD I. (1696-1754), sultan of Turkey, was the son of Mustafa II., and succeeded his uncle Ahmed III. in 1730. After the suppression of a military revolt the war with Persia was continued with varying success, and terminated in 1736 by a treaty of peace restoring the status quo ante bellum. The next enemy whom Turkey was called upon to face was Russia, later joined by Austria. War went on for four years; the successes gained by Russia were outweighed by Austria’s various reverses, terminating by the defeat of Wallis at Krotzka, and the peace concluded at Belgrade was a triumph for Turkish diplomacy. The sultan, throughout desirous for peace, is said to have been much under the influence of the chief eunuch, Haji Beshir Aga. In 1754 Mahmud died of heart-disease when returning from the Friday service at the mosque. He had a passion for building, to which are due numberless kiosques, where nocturnal orgies were carried on by him and his boon companions. In this reign the system of appointing Phanariote Greeks to the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia was instituted. (See Phanariotes.)

MAHMUD II. (1785-1839), sultan of Turkey, was the son of Abu-ul-Hamid I., and succeeded his brother, Mustafa IV., in 1808. He had shared the captivity of his ill-fated cousin, the ex-sultan, Selim III., whose efforts at reform had ended in his deposition by the janissaries. Mahmūd was thus early impressed with the necessity for dissembling his intention to institute reforms until he should be powerful enough to carry them through. The reforming efforts of the grand vizier Bairakdar, to whom he had owed his life and his accession, broke on the opposition of the janissaries; and Mahmud had to wait for more favourable times. Meanwhile the empire seemed in danger of breaking up. Not till 1812 was the war with Russia closed by the treaty of Bucharest, which restored Moldavia and the greater part of Wallachia to the Ottoman government. But though the war was ended, the terms of the treaty left a number of burning questions, both internal and external, unsettled. This was notably the case with the claim of Russia to Poti and the valley of the Rion (Phasis), which was still outstanding at the time of the congress of Vienna (1814-1815) and prevented the question of a European guarantee of the integrity of Turkey from being considered.

Meanwhile, within the empire, ambitious valis were one by one attempting to carve out dominions for themselves at the expense of the central power. The ambitions of Mehemet Ali of Egypt were not yet fully revealed; but Ali (q.v.) of Jannina, who had marched to the aid of the sultan against the rebellious pasha Pasvan Oglu of Widdin, soon began to show his hand, and it needed the concentration of all the forces of the Turkish empire to effect his overthrow and death (1822). The preoccupation of the sultan with Ali gave their opportunity to the Greeks whose disaffection had long been organized in the great secret society of the Hetaeria Philike, against which Metternich had in vain warned the Ottoman government. In 1821 occurred the abortive raid of Alexander Ypsilanti into the Danubian principalities, and in May of the same year the revolt of the Greeks of the Morea began the war of Greek Independence (see Greece: History). The rising in the north was easily crushed; but in the south the Ottoman power was hampered by the defection of the sea-faring Greeks, by whom the Turkish navy had hitherto been manned. After three abortive campaigns Mahmud was compelled, infinitely against his will, to summon to his assistance the already too powerful pasha of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, whom he had already employed to suppress the rebellious Wahhabis in Arabia. The disciplined Egyptian army, supported by a well organized fleet, rapidly accomplished what the Turks had failed to do; and by 1826 the Greeks were practically subdued on land, and Ibrahim was preparing to turn his attention to the islands. But for the intervention of the powers and the battle of Navarino Mahmud’s authority would have been restored in Greece. The news of Navarino betrayed Mahmud into one of those paroxysms of rage to which he was liable, and which on critical occasions were apt fatally to cloud his usual good sense. After in vain attempting to obtain an apology for “the unparalleled outrage against a friendly power” he issued on the 20th of December a solemn hatti sheriff summoning the faithful to a holy war. This, together with certain outstanding grievances and the pretext of enforcing the settlement of the Greek Question approved by the powers, gave Russia the excuse for declaring war against Turkey. After two hardly fought campaigns