The Ottoman Empire Episode 4 Urdu | Battle of Ankara 1402 | امیر تیمور نے عثمانیوں کی اینٹ سے اینٹ بجا دی
We had left the last episode near the boundary of the Ottoman Empire in 1399. Here the two most powerful empires of the world shared their boundaries. One was the Ottoman Empire and the other was the Timurid Empire. The Ottoman Empire was ruled by Bayezid I, while a warrior, Amir Timur was the emperor of the other. One had routed the Romans, and was in Asia now.
The other had conquered land from Baghdad to Uzbekistan. One Sultan had his Sultanate turned into pieces when both powers clashed with each other. And it was not too late when the other Sultanate also had a downfall. How it happened? I will show all this in the series on the Ottoman Empire by ‘Dekho, Suno, Jano.’ Sultan Bayezid had become Sultan of the Ottoman Sultanate after killing his brother, Yaqup. The Ottoman Sultanate had expanded up to Europe. Bayezid needed time to control and establish order in his Sultanate.
To get respite from the war, Bayezid thought of peace with Serbia that had already been defeated by him. He married the daughter of the Serbian emperor for the sake of peaceful co-existence. Now another Muslim state in the East, the Karaman Empire, was the most threatening to the Ottomans. The powerful Mamluk Sultanate fully backed the Karaman empire. In another move for peace, Bayezid married his sister to the Ameer of the Karaman Sultanate, Alaeddin Bey. This move brought peace to Europe yet the Karaman Sultanate did not accept supremacy of the Ottomans.
At a time when Bayezid was in Edirne to prepare for attack on Hungary, the Karamanid Head Aleddin Bey… occupied some areas of the Ottoman Sultanate. At the same time, Alaeddin also captured his neigbouring state, Jurmain, of the Kurds. On it, Sultan Bayezid came out with an army, against the Karamid Sultanate He inflicted a crushing defeat on Allaeddin Bey. Allaeddin saved his life in this battle with the help of his wife who also sister of Bayezid.
Yet both of his sons, Muhammad and Ali were arrested by the Ottomans In this situation, a complete downfall of the Karamanid empire was looking certain But suddenly a storm appeared from Uzbekistan and threatened survival of the Ottoman Sultanate. It was Amir Timur or Timur-e-Lung who came out like a revolution Amir Timur was a great warrior who through sheer war strategy had captured Samarkand. He captured land up to the present Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Syria and Turkey.
Timur conquered over 40 states of different sizes or their vast areas to establish a big Sultanate. Timur proved his war acumen by creating a great Sultanate. He also earned the reputation of a brutal ruler. He inspired his fear among the innocent people and wherever he went, killed them in a huge number. He did not shirk setting the whole city on fire. His did not spare even women, children and the old-aged who were burnt alive, buried or decapitated. Then this callous ruler would erect minaret with their skulls.
Timur enjoyed burning the dead bodies with human fat. In order to instill his fear in the mind of others Timur let the news of his oppression spread. Hence striking fear in others became the most lethal weapon of Timur. He wanted his enemies surrendering before him instead of fighting. By 1399, the boundaries of the Timurid Sultanate touched the land the Ottoman Sultanate. The Ottomans and the Timurids Sultans were clearly anticipating their imminent clash. As both these rulers were swayed by pride and tremendous arrogance.
This fact was also reflected by the contents of the letters they wrote to each other. What obliged them to write letters? It happened so when Amir Timur was attacking and occupying the Muslims lands. In that attacks, he turned Baghdad into rubles and captured Iraq after massacring thousands of people. During that attacks, Prince Tahir of Baghdad reached the Ottoman Sultanate for asylum and it was given. Similarly the rulers of those areas of Anatolia which were occupied by the Ottomans… reached Amir Timur and got the asylum.
Obviously it was not tolerable for both Sultans that their rivals get asylum by the opponent. So they secretly began planning to teach lesson to each other. Amir Timur sent a letter to Sultan Bayezid through his messengers. He asked Bayezid to retain the areas seized from the ‘unbelievers’. But return the others to their respective heads, or face him as avenger of God This letter was an open threat to the world super power of the time. As no-one dared address ruler of the Ottoman Empire like this.
Sultan Bayezid got greatly angered by this insulting letter from Timur. So he also paid Timur in the same coin. Bayezid shaved beards of the Tumirid messengers and turned them out with disgrace. This action was a message to Timur that Sultan Bayezid was not afraid of anyone. What Bayezid did was also the drumbeat of an impending war. But this fire was to be flared up further before the two could enter the actual war. Bayezid learnt that Amir Timur was preparing to attack the Ottomans with the help of the Mamluks.
So Sultan Bayezid wrote a letter to Amir Timur to showed his strong anger. He wrote, “since the ship of your unfathomable ambition has been shipwrecked in the abyss of self-love. It would be wise for you to lower the sails of your rashness and cast the anchor of repentance… which is also the port of safety; lest, by the tempest of our vengeance you should perish in the sea of punishment which you deserve.” Amir Timur received this letter. Now there was no way to avoid the war.
European Christians were describing this sure war as between Islam and Christianity. The Christians who were already fighting the Ottomans, announced their support to Amir Timur. So much so that the Byzantine Empire also secretly assured its support to Amir Timur. After mustering support from others, Timurid army moved towards the Ottoman Sultanate. And in 1401, the Timurids besieged Sivas that was a part of the Ottoman Sultanate. Timur took the pretext that Sivas was a Muslim land and the Ottomans held it by force.
Sivas was encircled by a very strong fort that could endure the besiege for a long time. As Sultan Bayezid heard about the besiege of Sivas, he sent his son Ertugrul fot the protection of the city. It appeared impossible to conquer the fort that was built on very heavy walls. But Amir Timur made a very clever move and excavated foundations of the fort. The walls of the fort fell down and Amir Timur entered Sivas and occupied the city. After that Amir Timur took revenge from the arrested Turks and spread his fear everywhere.
Timur buried alive 4000 Turks prisoners in the foundations of the fort. Amir Timur also killed the son of Bayezid and other Turks notables of city. Bayezid had the only option of war with Timur after he heard about the death of his son and defeat to his army. At that time Bayezid army had besieged Constantinople. But it was not possible for Bayezid to ignore the victories of Amir Timur and the loss of his city, Sivas. So, leading an army of 90,000, Bayezid came out to face Timur and his forces.
Bayezid encamped his army at a place near Ankara where the Timurid army could not attack the Turks. Amir Timur when reached that place with his army he realized the difficulty in defeating the Ottomans. So he hit a plan and began to move backward with his army. Bayezid with his troops chased the Timurid army but they got uprooted from the safe place. Timur pulled back to near the borders of his Sultanate but he failed to get a suitable location to face the Turks. Rather Bayezid continued to have a strategic advantage after he had pushed Timur and his forces to a jungle.
Bayezid was not allowing Timur to get a field of his choice so Amir Timur again opted for an escape. An unexpected happened as Amir Timur along with his 150,000 troops suddenly disappeared. Bayezid could not understand for a long time as to where the huge Timurid army had vanished. After all, on July 14, 1402, Bayezid came to know where the Timurid army was present. But this news startled him as Timurid army taking a long route, had reached behind the Ottomans in Ankara. And the Timurids had besieged the City.
The Timurid army had also burnt the crops and the food go-downs that fell in the way-back of Bayezid. The situation was such that forced Bayezid and his army to go back to Ankara. And Bayezid and his troops had to go through the same path where they would get no food and water. By this time, the Timurid army had positioned itself at a suitable location. At this site, Amir Timur found three main advantages. First, it provided the battlefiled of his choice and second, his army was 60,000 surplus of the Ottoman army.
And the Indian elephants in his forces. The third advantage was the time Timurid army got to relax and get fresh for the fight. Look at the army of Bayezid against Timurids. Bayezid on the contrary had three disadvantages. First, his army had exhausted and had covered a long distance without food and water. Second, 20000 Turk soldiers had died while passing through the long distance without food. The third and the most harmful was lack of discipline in the army of Bayezid.
It was the reason that Ottoman army was consisted of three types of soldiers. Which failed to make it a united and compact force. One was the Janissary army which was the special security force of the Sultan. The Janissaries were the most powerful and trusted force of Sultan Bayezid. The others were Turk and Tartar mercenaries who were vulnerable to change their loyalty any time for money. The third were the European Serbs and the troops from the vassal states in the Ottoman army.
Despite all that both Sultans knew well that their fight would be between the two largest powers of the world. Because at that time no powerful empire existed on the Earth except the Ottomans and the Tumirids. It is Town Cubuk of the sparsely populated and beautiful city of Ankara. In the center of Turkey, Ankara saw 150,000 Timurid and 70,000 Ottoman troops face to face 6 centuries ago. Now the phase of hurling threats was over and both Sultans were ready for an actual and dreadful fight.
The Ottoman troops repelled the first attack made by the Timurids. But the Timurid army prevailed the Ottomans as the war progressed. A situation came in the war when Sultan Bayezid ordered his son Suleyman to retreat to Brusa. While Sultan Bayezid, his 3 sons along with the Serbian troops stood against the Timurid army. But the Serbian soldiers also ran after the Suleyman troops as casualties of the Turks soldiers rose up. Now Sultan Bayezid along with a handful of his loyalists was present in the battlefield. This small contingent was under the siege of the Timurid horsemen, yet it fought for hours.
But how long they could resist? When Bayezid was left only with his Janissary guards, he broke the siege and escaped. The Timurid army had won the battle while Sultan Bayezid was also still alive and at large. Still it was not over. A Timurid horseman got down the horse of Sultan Bayezid by the shoot of an arrow. Sultan also came down with the horse and was arrested by the Timurids. It was the worst defeat to the Ottoman Sultanate. The Ottomans were never beaten in its history like this. Ottoman Sultan became prisoner of Sultan Timur while life of his 3 sons was also at the mercy of Amir Timur.
Amir Timur set sons of Bayezid free on the condition they would accept his supremacy. Bayezid had been a great conqueror of Europe and Asia. The European powers paid Bayezid tribute. And prison was a great insult to him so he died after a few months. A few months after that in 1405 AD Sultan Timur also died. After that the Timurid Sultanate got divided into many parts. The Ottoman Sultunate also turned into pieces due to fight among the Sultan’s sons and the civil war. Sons of Sultan Bayezid forgot blood relationship for the sake of power.
The civil war created cracks and division in the Ottoman Sultanate yet it could not be eliminated. What was the reason behind it? The absence of any major power in Europe was one of its main reasons. After the Bayezid rule, no power in Europe was able to expel the Turks from its land or get back Anatolia. Secondly, Amir Timur and his successors also had no mind to stay in Anatolia and rule the Ottomans. Therefore, the Timurid Sultanate also did not take control over the Turkish Sultanate.
The 4 sons of Sultan Bayezid, Mehmed I, Suleyman, Isa and Musa had intra-fight for 11 years for power. Musa and Suleyman lost their life in that fights. Esa fled the Sultanate and only Mehmed I was left. He became Sultan and was known as Sultan Mehmed I. Sultan Mehmed spent most of the time in rule in getting together the divided areas of the Sultanate. He also got written the history of the Ottoman Sultanate. It is the written history of Sultan Mehmed that informs us about the early period of the Ottoman Turks.
After the death of Sultan Mehmed I, his son Murad II, became the Sultan in 1421 and stayed in power till 1451. Sultan Murad II, made the Ottoman soldiers more disciplined and first time introduced gun in his army. These guns were called ‘muskets’ and they were invented in Europe. Murad also crushed the uprising of the European vassal states against the Ottoman Sultanate. He brought a large area of Greece, Albania, and Serbia again under the control of the Ottoman Sultanate.
In order to firm up his hold in Europe, Sultan also tended to a large-scale settlement of the Muslims in Albania. Muslim population is still in majority in Albania. During the rule of Sultan Murad II, the Ottoman Empire became such a super power of the world again… that it was capable of capturing Constantinople that was the symbol of glory of the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople had been the center of Europe for 1000 years and a pride of the Romans.
This city was one of the strongest in the world as such no power could conquer it over the centuries. But the Ottoman Empire had practically surrounded Constantinople from all sides in the 15th Century. After waiting for seven centuries the Ottomans fought a historic war in 1453 for the occupation of this city. ‘Dekho, Suno Jano’ will tell you the account of this war in the next episode of its series on the Ottoman Empire.
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