Some skilled and ambitious Europeans fleeing persecution or seeking a more prosperous life found that the Ottoman Empire and North Africa provided good career opportunities.
Since the onset of their rule in the 16th century, the Ottoman sultans had not only ruled over a multicultural empire but had regularly employed governmental officials and military officers from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. During the 19th century, their ranks were joined by European professionals, some having fled their home countries for political reasons. Further opportunity for such individuals arose in the years 1839–76, a period known as “Tanzimat” (lit. reorganisation). Throughout those years, the Ottoman Empire underwent extensive reform, its administration and military increasingly opened up to European and non-Muslim professionals. In 1856 a government decree granted Muslims and non-Muslims equal obligations in terms of military service and equal opportunities for state employment.