Osman, the great Turkish leader of the thirteenth century, was born between 1258 and 1259 where he is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History. His family belonged to the Kayi tribe of the Oghuz Turks. He was known for his conquests of a great part of the restored Byzantine Empire in the fourteenth century. His heir, Orhan, later named his empire Ottoman in honor of his father.
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The Turks in West Asia and in Anatolia
The Turks lived on the fringes of great empires before they first appeared in Mesopotamia as soldiers of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutasim (833-842) in the ninth century. These ghilman (Turkic slave soldiers) made up the bulk Al-Mutasim’s army which he used to attack the Byzantine Empire. Other Turks, at the same time, also served the Byzantine emperors as guards or warriors.
The Turks became stronger as the years went by. They started to carve out empires of their own (Ghaznavid and Seljuk Empires). Many of them flowed into Asia Minor in the eleventh century when Oghuz Turks took large parts of eastern Anatolia from the Byzantines. They were led by Chaghri Beg. He (along with the Seljuk sultan Toghrul) later defeated the Ghaznavids in 1040.
Their dominance in the region cleared the way for their migration from Central Asia to West Asia. Others lived near the frontiers of Anatolia and began large-scale raids in the region. The Seljuks, by then, had grown so powerful that they defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert (1071). The Sultanate of Rum (a vassal state of the Seljuks) was founded in 1077 after the Byzantine Empire’s humiliating loss to the Turks.
The Birth of Osman
The Seljuk ruler Malik Shah then encouraged his people to resettle west into Anatolia now that the Byzantine Empire had become so weak. Although the Turks belonged to different tribes, they were formidable as a people. During the early 1200s, they started to capture and occupy most of Eastern Anatolia. The Seljuk Sultanate started its slow decline during the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century.
The rulers that followed the Sultan of Rum, Kaykhusraw II, became puppets for the Mongols Ilkhans. Different Turkish tribes built their own states or beyliks. The most important of these beyliks was the one occupied by the Kayi tribe of the Oghuz Turks. Their beylik was centered in Sogut which was wedged between the Byzantine border and other Turkish beyliks. Out of this beylik came the great Ottoman rulers Toghrul and his son Osman.
Osman was born between 1258 and 1259. At the time of his birth, his father, Ertugrul, was already a powerful tribal chief of the Kayi tribe. Ertugrul had led his tribe from Central Asia to Anatolia. They lived near the ancient city of Doryleaum. Osman’s real name was probably Ataman (Osman was the Arabic version of his name). He became a great warrior during his youth, and he was later known as Osman Gazi (the Warrior). He started his conquests in 1290 and one by one, the Byzantine cities fell into his hands.
Picture By Gabagool – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link
Finkel, Caroline. Osman’s Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
Fleet, Kate. The New Cambridge History of Islam: The Western Islamic World, Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries. Edited by Maribel Fierro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Uyar, Mesut, and Edward J. Erickson. A Military History of the Ottomans: From Osman to Ataturk. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International/ABC-CLIO, 2009.
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