Several years after the death of the Turkish Bey Osman, his people swept westward and entered Europe. Their goal was to conquer the territories the Byzantines still kept in Thrace. The Byzantines had no choice but to watch helplessly as the Turks took these territories away from them during the middle part of the 1300s. One by one, Thracian cities fell into the hands of the Turks until finally, the Ottomans took Adrianople (capital of Thrace) in 1362. This event is recorded in the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History around that time.
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From Orestias (Odrysus) to Edirne
The city of Adrianople in Thrace was founded during the antiquity. Its first recorded name was Uskudama. It was also known to the Greeks as Orestias or Odrysus. The Roman Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138) developed this prosperous Thracian city and named it Hadrianople. The city became the capital of the Roman province of Thracia. Its name later turned to Adrianople. Thrace was given to Byzantium when Emperor Diocletian split the Roman Empire in two.
Its location near Constantinople made it the site of several battles during the Medieval Period. One of the major battles in Adrianople was between the Roman co-emperors Constantine I and Licinius in AD 323. The Roman soldiers led by Emperor Valens were also defeated in Adrianople when they fought against the Goths in 378. It became a battleground once again in 1205 when the Latin Emperor Baldwin I and his troops were defeated by the Bulgarians led by Tsar Kaloyan.
The Latin Empire ended in 1261, but the restored Byzantine Empire still struggled afterwards. It never recovered as Ottoman Turks who settled in Anatolia rose up and pushed their territory westward into Europe. They were led by their bey Osman, and his son Orhan continued his conquests after the bey’s death.
Civil War and Displacement
Orhan made an alliance with the Byzantine ruler John VI Kantakouzenos by marrying the emperor’s daughter Theodora. When his co-emperor John V Palaiologos rebelled against him, John VI immediately called on his new son-in-law Orhan to help him. John V had attacked Adrianople with the help of allied Serbian soldiers, so Orhan sent thousands of Turkish troops to support Thrace’s governor and John VI’s son Matthew Kantakouzenos. However, the Turks led by Suleyman Pasha had more soldiers, so they defeated John V’s troops in Thrace.
While they were in Thrace, the Ottomans started to occupy the fortress of Tzympe near Gallipoli in 1352. The Turks gained a better foothold in Europe after the huge earthquake on the Aegean Sea in 1354. Most of the cities in Thrace were destroyed, and thousands of the Greeks who lived there became homeless after the earthquake. The Turks led by Suleyman Pasha arrived in droves in Thrace and rebuilt the houses. They later declared the Thracian cities as their own and resettled the homeless Greeks into Anatolia.
Suleyman Pasha died in 1357 and was succeeded by his brother Murad as military leader of Thrace. With the help of his tutor, Beylerbeyi Lala Sahin Pasha, they conquered the Greek city of Didymoteicho in 1359. The Ottomans led by Lala Sahin Pasha finally took Adrianople in 1362. They renamed it Edirne. The Turkish Bey Orhan also died in the same year. He was honored with the title of Sultan and succeeded by his son Murad I.
Lala Sahin Pasha ruled Thrace on Murad’s behalf, and the seat of the sultan was later moved to Edirne. The Turks also resettled some Arab nomads from Anatolia to Thrace, while the Greeks were sent to Anatolia. Lala Sahin Pasha also ordered for all the fortifications and castles in Thrace to be destroyed so that these would not be used by the rebels against the Turks.
Pictures By Nevit Dilmen – Own Photograph, CC BY-SA 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.
Lemprière, John, 1765?-1824. Bibliotheca Classica: Or, A Classical Dictionary: Containing a Copious Account of the Principal Proper Names Mentioned In Ancient Authors; With the Value of Coins, Weights, And Measures, Used Among the Greeks And Romans; And a Chronological Table. New York: G. & C. & H. Carvill [etc.], 1833.
Smith, William. “HADRIANO´POLIS.” Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854). Accessed December 21, 2016. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0064:id=hadrianopolis-geo.
Uyar, Mesut, and Edward J. Erickson. A Military History of the Ottomans: From Osman to Atatürk. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International/ABC-CLIO, 2009.
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