The Turkish leader Osman rose to prominence after he conquered a great part of the territories of the Byzantine Empire starting in 1299. This is recorded on the Biblical Timeline with World History during that time. The Byzantine emperor, Andronikos II Palaiologos, tried his best to contain Osman and the Turks. But in the end, the Byzantine defences were helpless against the mighty Ottoman army. By the time of Osman’s death, the Ottomans had conquered much of the western coast of Anatolia. They added these territories to their own beylik that was centered in Sogut.
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The Mighty Osman
Osman Gazi (the Warrior) was the son of Ertugrul, the bey (leader) of the Turkish Kayi tribe who migrated from Central Asia. Osman inherited leadership when his father died in 1280. Since then, the young bey started to conquer one territory after another in Asia Minor. He began his raids on small Greek settlements near Sogut and Nicomedia between 1299 and 1301. Nicomedia itself remained free from Ottoman rule well beyond Osman’s death in 1326. On the 27th of July 1302, Osman defeated the Byzantine army in the Battle of Bapheus. The Turks then pushed into the southwest coast of Anatolia and conquered many Byzantine cities.
In Constantinople, Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos knew that Osman would try to press into the Byzantine capital. He inherited a weak, unstable, and impoverished empire from his father, Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. Andronikos was also a poor strategist, so the Byzantines lost more territories during his time. He placed his son as the commander of an army that he hoped would defeat the Turks. His son, however, lost heart even before the battle began because his army was outnumbered.
Roger de Flor and the Catalan Company
Andronikos then hired European mercenaries to counter the Turkish threat. The emperor learned from the disastrous results of the Crusades two centuries before. Roger de Flor, a Sicilian mercenary was booted out of the Knights Templar after he was accused of robbery. Many Aragonese men joined him as mercenaries for hire. They were later called the Catalan Company. As much as 6,000 to 8,000 men led by Roger de Flor arrived in Constantinople in September 1302. This turned out to be a big mistake.
The Catalan Company defeated the Turks led by Osman and pushed them back to their beylik. But to Andronikos’ dismay, they also raided Greek settlements in Anatolia. The regretful emperor refused to pay the mercenaries because of this, so Roger threatened to attack the Byzantines instead. The emperor sent another set of mercenaries to follow Roger and the Catalan Company to the island of Gallipoli where they spent winter of 1304. They killed Roger de Flor. Then the Byzantine army appeared to kill the remaining men of the Catalan Company.
His latest venture had ended in failure, so Andronikos was at wit’s end. He offered his daughter in marriage to the Ilkhan ruler Oljeitu in order to gain a powerful ally. Oljeitu accepted his offer and in return, he provided the troops Andronikos needed. Although they were successful in pushing the Turks back temporarily, Osman and his men were unstoppable. He continued to conquer one Byzantine territory to another. His ultimate prize was the city of Brusa (Bursa) in 1326. He died the same year, and was succeeded by his son, Orhan, as bey.
Picture By Bilinmiyor – , Public Domain, 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.
Muntaner, Ramon. The Chronicle of Muntaner. Translated by Anna Goodenough. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010.
Shepard, Jonathan. The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire C. 500-1492. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
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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