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Ottomans Take Epirus

The city of Epirus was one of the oldest cities in Greece. It was the home of Pyrrhus, the renowned Greek general who lent his name to the phrase “Pyrrhic victory.” The Romans later conquered it and gave it to the Eastern Empire during the division. The Ottomans took some cities of Epirus from the Greeks starting in 1430 and ruled them afterwards. It is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History around that time.

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Epirus is located in the northwestern part of modern-day Greece. It was an ancient and powerful region where groups of Greek-speaking people called the Molossians, Chaonians, and Thesprotians lived. It was the home of the Greek general Pyrrhus who became famous after he led his troops in attacking and defeating the Romans. Rome conquered Epirus in 167 BC, and it became a Byzantine territory when the Roman Empire was split into two in AD 285.

“Pyrrhus of Epirus”

Epirus continued to be a Byzantine territory until the arrival of the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. The Byzantine Empire briefly disappeared, while independent states appeared which included the Despotate of Epirus. The despotate held the city of Thessaloniki (Salonika) until 1246 until it became a Byzantine territory once again in 1336.

The Arrival of the Ottomans in Epirus

The Ottoman sultan Murad II was the son of Mehmed I and the grandson of Bayezid. Murad II became Sultan after his father’s death in 1421. He immediately started the Ottomans’ First Siege of Constantinople in 1422. The siege of Constantinople did not succeed, so he turned east and conquered other Turkish beyliks (states) in Anatolia. He defeated the Venetians in the Siege of Thessalonica in 1430, and turned west to conquer the city of Ioannina in Epirus that same year.

Murad II briefly retired in 1444 after the death of his eldest son. The Turkish throne passed to his young son, Mehmed II, but the boy was unpopular among the janissaries (elite soldiers). To avert the rebellion of the janissaries, Murad II returned to rule once again two years after his retirement. He won the second Battle of Kosovo in 1448 and capped off his last years on the Turkish throne by conquering the Epirote city of Arta in 1449. After his brief break from the throne, Mehmed II returned to rule after his father’s death in 1451. The Ottomans continued to rule Epirus until 1913 when it was returned to Greece after the First Balkan War.

Picture By CatalaonOwn work, 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.
Mikaberidze, Alexander. Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO Interactive, 2011.
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