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Ottomans Take Gallipoli

By the time of Sultan Osman’s death, the Ottomans had conquered most of the cities on the southwestern coast of Asia Minor. Osman was succeeded by his son Orhan, and he continued his father’s expansionist policies. He led the Ottomans in conquering the last Greek holdouts on the coast of the Sea of Marmara during his reign as Bey. But an earthquake on the Aegean Sea destroyed the Gallipoli Peninsula (along with much of Thrace) in 1354. The Ottomans later took advantage of the chaos in the aftermath of the earthquake by taking Gallipoli. This is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History during 1253.

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The Unstoppable Conquerors

In the early fourteenth century, Osman led the Turks westward and conquered territories in the coast of the Sea of Marmara. His son, Orhan, continued this task when his father died in 1326. In the years that followed, Orhan gained an ally in the Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos after he gave his daughter in marriage to the Turkish Bey. However, the alliance did not stop the Turkish Bey in his conquest spree. The Turks captured the city of Nicaea in 1331, and the city of Nicomedia soon fell to them after a long siege in 1337.

“Satellite image of the Gallipoli peninsula and surrounding area”

Civil War and the Occupation of Thrace

John VI Kantakouzenos had agreed to make the son of Emperor Andronikos III, John V, as his co-emperor. John V was angry that he had to settle as a junior emperor, so in 1352, he and his troops attacked the Thracian city of Adrianople. The city was ruled by John VI’s son Matthew who immediately asked his father for additional men to defend the city. Since Orhan was the emperor’s son-in-law, John VI turned to him for help. The Ottoman Bey agreed to send his troops (led by his son Suleyman Pasha) to help Matthew against John V in Thrace.

John V, meanwhile, had asked the Serbian king Stefan Dušan for help. Stefan gave him as much as 4,000 men to bolster his own troops, and they met in battle outside of Adrianople. John V and his Serbian soldiers, however, were defeated by the Ottomans led by Suleyman Pasha. The Ottomans then captured John V, and he was exiled by his co-emperor to a far-off island.

An Earthquake and the Fall of Gallipoli

The troubles of John VI seemed never-ending as the Turks also raided the villages around Adrianople. They then occupied the fortress of Tzympe on the north coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The devil’s bargain between the emperor and the bey worsened when a massive earthquake shook the Aegean Sea in 1354. Almost all the cities in Thrace crumbled during the earthquake, and the city of Gallipoli itself was not spared.

Thousands of people died when the earthquake struck. The Greek survivors needed to go elsewhere for shelter. Suleyman Pasha took advantage of the bleak situation by ordering his own people to travel to the affected cities. The Turks then rebuilt the houses and announced that the cities were theirs. Some Turks also travelled to the surrounding villages and claimed them as Turkish lands. The Greeks appealed to their Emperor John VI who, in turn, pleaded with Orhan. The bey did not take action, so the elderly John VI finally left the Byzantine throne on the 10th of December 1354. Meanwhile, the Turks had occupied most of Thrace which drove out many of the former Greek inhabitants.

Picture by: Public Domain, Link
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.
Setton, Kenneth M., Harry W. Hazard, and Norman P. Zacour, eds. A History of the Crusades: The Impact of the Crusades on Europe. Vol. VI. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1990.
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 Atatürk. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International/ABC-CLIO, 2009.
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