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Osman I, Osman Gazi or Othman I El-Gazi (1258, Söğütmarker, Anatoliamarker, Turkeymarker – 1324, Söğütmarker) Ottoman: عثمان بن أرطغرل, or Osman Bey or I.Osman or Osman Sayed II) was the leader of the Ottoman Turks, and the founder of the dynasty that established and ruled the Ottoman Empire. The Empire, named after him, would prevail as a worldpower for over six centuries.

Osman declared the independence of his own small kingdom from the Seljuk Turks in 1299. The westward drive of the Mongol invasions had pushed scores of Muslims toward Osman's Anatolianmarker principality, a power base that Osman was quick to consolidate. As the Byzantine Empire declined, the Ottoman Empire rose to take its place.

Origins of empire

Ertuğrul, Osman's father, led the Turkic Kayi tribe west into Anatoliamarker, fleeing the Mongol onslaught. His mother was named Khaima. He pledged allegiance to Sultan Kayqubad I of the Seljuk principality of Rum, who gave him permission to establish an emirate and expand it if he could, at the expense of the neighboring Byzantine provinces. This location was auspicious, as the wealthy Byzantine Empire was weakening to his West, while in the east, Muslim forces under the Seljuk Turks were splintered and distracted in the face of relentless Mongol aggression and internal bickering. Baghdad had been sacked by Hulagu Khan in 1258, the very year Osman I was born. In 1231, Ertuğrul conquered the (Nicean) Byzantine town of Thebasion, which was renamed to Söğütmarker and became the initial capital of his territory.

Osman became chief, or Bey, upon his father’s death in 1281. By this time, mercenaries were streaming into his realm from all over the Islamic world to fight against and hopefully plunder the weakening Orthodox empire. In addition, the Turkic population of Osman's emirate were constantly reinforced by a flood of refugees, fleeing from the Mongols. Of these, many were Ghazi warriors, or fighters for Islam, border fighters who believed they were fighting for the expansion or defense of Islam. Under the strong and able leadership of Osman, these forces quickly proved a formidable force, and the foundations of the Empire were quickly laid.

24 years of age at his accession, Osman had already proven his skill as a leader and warrior. His early fortunes and exploits are favorite subjects of Oriental writers, especially in love stories of his wooing and winning the fair Mal Hatun. These legends have been romanticized by the poetical pens which recorded them in later years. The Ottoman writers attached great importance to this legendary, dreamlike conception of the founder of their empire.

Ottoman historians often dwell on the prophetic significance of his name, which means "bone-breaker", signifying the powerful energy with which he and his followers appeared to show in the following centuries of conquest. "Osman" also refers to a large species of vulture, commonly called the royal vulture, which is considered the emblem of sovereignty and warlike power in the East, comparable to the eagle in the nations of the West. On the other hand, the name Osman is the Turkish variation of the Muslim name Othman, or Uthman.

After the last prince of the family of Alaeddin, to whom Osman's empire was indebted for its foundation in Asia Minormarker, died, there was no one to compete with Osman for the headship of the Turkish people of the region and dominion over the whole peninsula, save the Emir of Karamanoğullari. A long and fierce struggle between the descendants of Osman and Karamanogullari princes for ascendancy commenced in Osman’s lifetime, extending through the reigns of many of his successors. Osman himself had gained some advantages over his Karamanli rival; but the weak and wealthy possessions of the Byzantine Emperor in northwest Asia Minor were more tempting marks for his ambition than the Karamanoglu plains, and it was over the cities and armies of the ailing Byzantine Empire that the triumphs of the last 26 years of Osman’s life were achieved.

Osman I left his mark on the history of the region. He is remembered as the founder of a powerful empire and one of the symbols of the Ghazi tradition. A considerable portion of the Turkish people called themselves Osmanlı (Ottoman) until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

Military victories

In 1302, after soundly defeating a Byzantine force near Nicaea, Osman began settling his forces closer to Byzantine controlled areas. Large numbers of Ghazi warriors, Islamic scholars and dervishes began settling in Osman-controlled areas, and migrants composed the bulk of his army. The influx of Ghazi warriors and adventurers of differing backgrounds into these lands spurred subsequent Ottoman rulers to title themselves "Sultan of Ghazis".

Alarmed by Osman's growing influence, the Byzantines gradually fled the Anatolian countryside and dedicated their resources to the Navy instead. Byzantine leadership was determined to prevent Osman from crossing into Europe and attempted to contain Ottoman expansion westward. Osman however continued to press westward and captured the Byzantine city of Ephesusmarker near the Aegean Seamarker.Further strengthened by the influx of migrants into his territory, Osman also moved eastward and seized Byzantine domains in the Black Seamarker region of Anatolia.

Osman's last campaign, before dying of old age, was against the Byzantines in the city of Bursamarker. Although Osman did not physically participate in the battle, the victory at Bursa proved to be extremely vital for the Ottomans as the city served as a staging ground against the Byzantines in Constantinoplemarker, and as a newly adorned capital for Osman's son, Orhan.

A sleepless night

There is a well known story about a sleepless night Osman spent before taking the throne. One day, when he was 19-years old, Ertugrul went to visit a distant friend with his family, where he would remain overnight. The host of the house shows Osman his room and everyone retires for the night. Just after he prepares to go to sleep Osman notices the Quran hanging on the wall. His respect for the holy book of Islam keeps him from laying down, and as he is a visitor, he cannot take the Quran out of the room. He decides not to sleep until morning and sits beside the sofa. He cannot bear to stay awake and falls asleep for a short time just before dawn.

As he sleeps, he dreams he sees a crescent coming out of the chest of his mentor, Sheik Edebali, and going into his body. Afterwards an enormous plane tree emerges from his chest and covers all the sky, shading the earth, the people enjoying and benefiting from his shade. He then wakes. When he and his family get back to their village he recounts this dream to his mentor, Sheik Edebali, who smiles after hearing the dream and tells Osman that Allah would grant him and his descendants an enormous empire and he will see the hand of Sheikh Edebali's daughter in marriage.

Last testament

In directing his son to continue the administrative policies set forth by Sheik Edebali, Osman stated:

The Sword of Osman

The Sword of Osman ( ) was an important sword of state used during the coronation ceremony of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. The practice started when Osman was girt with the sword of Islam by his mentor and father-in-law Sheik Edebali. The girding of the sword of Osman was a vital ceremony which took place within two weeks of a sultan's accession to the throne. It was held at the tomb complex at Eyüpmarker, on the Golden Hornmarker waterway in the capital Constantinoplemarker. The fact that the emblem by which a sultan was enthroned consisted of a sword was highly symbolic: it showed that the office with which he was invested was first and foremost that of a warrior. The Sword of Osman was girded on to the new sultan by the Sharif of Konyamarker, a Mevlevi dervish, who was summoned to Constantinople for that purpose. Such a privilege was reserved to devout religious leaders from the time Osman had established his residence in Konya in 1299, before the capital was moved to Bursamarker and later to Constantinople.

Marriages and Children

He married in 1280 Valide Sultan (1324) Mal Hatun, daughter of Abdulaziz Bey. He also married a daughter of Sheikh Edebali.

  • Ala ed-din or Alaeddin, died in 1333
  • Orhan I - son of Kamariya Sultana Mal
  • Kashif
  • Tchioban
  • Melik
  • Hamid
  • Pazarlu

See also


  1. The Fall of Constantinople 1453 by Steven Runciman, pg 32
  2. The Fall of Constantinople 1453 by Steven Runciman, pg. 33
  3. Hasluck 2007, pp. 604–622
  4. Bagley 1969, p. 2
  • Incorporates text from History of Ottoman Turks (1878)

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