The Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 under the leadership of the Kayi tribal chief (bey) Osman Gazi. It is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History during that time. At first, they only raided Greek settlements in Asia Minor. But these later became military operations that expanded their territory westward. By the time of Osman’s death in 1326, the Ottomans had conquered most of southwestern Asia Minor except for a few Byzantines territories. Osman was so revered by his people that the name of the empire itself was derived from him.
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From Wanderers to Empire-Builders
Large groups of Turkic peoples migrated westward from their homeland in Central Asia during the eleventh century. Over the years, many of them were captured and brought to Mesopotamia and Egypt as slaves. They eventually converted to Islam, and became warriors under the Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphates. As these caliphates weakened, the Turkic ghilman (slave-soldiers) and mamalik (mamluk or slaves) became more powerful. Two former mamalik even ruled their own territories (Ghaznavid Empire and Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt).
The members of the Kayi tribe of the Oghuz Turks were some of the last ones to rise out of their obscure origins in Central Asia. Early records showed that they occupied a beylik (state) near the Byzantine border during the domination of the Mongol Ilkhanate. The Seljuk Empire had crumbled at that time so that independent Turkish beyliks sprouted in Asia Minor during the late thirteenth century.
The Kayi tribe under Osman started to expand its territories in 1299. The raids the Turks organized drove out and pushed the Greeks further into the western coast of Asia Minor. The Ottoman Turks gradually became powerful so that the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos needed to hire mercenaries to counter them. The Turks proved to be unstoppable, and before Osman died in 1326, they had expanded into the coast of the Sea of Marmara.
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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.
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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