Tanzimat is Turkish for "reorganization", and was a program that based itself on the changes started by sultan Mahmud 2. The actual program was started under sultan Abdülmecid 1, and corrupted and destroyed by sultan Abülaziz. The Tanzimat program was one of highest importance to the Ottoman Empire. It was initiated by reformists who understood why the empire was growing weaker while neighbour countries were growing stronger. The situation was clearly illustrated by numerous military defeats. Inside the empire also, there were many dangerous tensions that could lead to conflicts and demands of autonomy. This had already happened in Egypt, when Muhammad Ali achieved autonomy. But high in the empire there were many people with conservative ideas, as well as many who (accurately) feared for their own positions, and who opposed the reform processes. One characteristic of the Tanzimat that made it hard to accept for many, was that it had been formed upon European ideas and ideals. And Europe was considered the lands of the infidels. The reforms of the Tanzimat was administered under the Grand Vizier. The most known of the Tanzimat viziers was Mustafa Resid Pasha, who served altogether 6 terms. While the Tanzimat program might have saved the Ottoman Empire, or at least prolonged its existence, one may assert that it came too late. But even more grave, it was discontinued by sultan Abdülaziz' abuse of politics and little respect for the reforms. And there was even less hope for the reforms when Abdülhamid 2 ascended the sultan throne in 1876, and as among the first of many despotic acts stopped the Tanzimat.
The program was defined in a document of 1839 called Hatt-i Serif (Noble Edict of the Rose Chamber). It contained new regulations in several fields:
New administration: Provincial representative assemblies (nothing to do with democracy in modern terms, of course) were established,...