On July 20, 1402, one of the most important battles in the world took place near Ankara. stories, which entailed unprecedented consequences. Timur's army defeated the troops of the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid, who was also taken prisoner. The war between the two Islamic superpowers, which could last for several months, and maybe even years, was ended on that day with one spectacular blow. The corps of the Ottoman Janissaries, who inspired everyone with their fanaticism and military exploits, was almost completely destroyed - and those who will then bear this name will never be compared with these Janissaries. The Ottoman state fell apart. And for eleven years, until 1413, a fierce internecine war between the sons of Bayazid continued, the winner in which was the youngest of them - Mehmed elebi. Young Europe, gaining strength, breathed a sigh of relief, having received a respite, and the whole 50 years of its existence were presented to Byzantium, dying of old age.
But why did this war suddenly begin between the sovereigns, each of whom officially proclaimed himself the defender of Islam and all the faithful? In a short series of articles, we will try to answer this question. We will also talk about the background of this confrontation, talk about the great battle at Nikopol (1396) and finally about the battle at Ankara, which took place in July 1402.
First, we will get to know a little about the heroes of the great confrontation.
Tamerlane and Bayezid were very different people and they came to power in different ways.
Portrait of Timur. XNUMXth century miniature
Born in 1336, Timur was a Turkic barlas, the son of a petty bek. Nothing pointed to the bright future that awaited him. Having started his career as a robber-bek, Timur "made himself", step by step creating a state that had no equal then in wealth and military power in the whole world. A descendant of nomads, who led the country ruled by the Chingizids, he turned it into a kind of reincarnation of the Khorezmshah state and actively fought against other fragments of the great empire of Genghis Khan, inflicting terrible defeats on them.
All wars of Tamerlane can be divided into conquest, defensive (there were some), predatory and preventive.
Timur's campaigns, maps
An example of defensive wars can be the military campaigns against Tokhtamysh - the very one who became a khan thanks to Timur's help and who burned Moscow in 1382.
Siege of Moscow by Tokhtamysh. Miniature of the Observational Codex. XVI century
Timur's struggle with Tokhtamysh. Miniature of the Observational Codex. XVI century
The retaliatory blows inflicted by Timur were so strong that the Golden Horde became depopulated and ceased to be a great state.
Timur defeats Tokhtamysh and the Golden Horde, miniature
It was then that the army of Tamerlane, pursuing one of the detachments of the steppe inhabitants, appeared on the border of Russia and captured Yelets. After making sure that the Russian vassals of Tokhtamysh were not going to fight for him, Timur accepted gifts from them and left - he then had much more important things to do and a trip to the relatively poor Russian lands was not part of his plans. Sheref ad-Din and Nizam ad-Din report on the ambassadors of the Moscow prince in their writings. It is alleged that they presented Tamerlane
"ore gold and pure silver, eclipsing the moonlight, and canvas, and Antiochian homespun fabrics ... shiny beavers, a myriad of black sables, ermines ... lynx fur ... shiny squirrels and ruby-red foxes, as well as and stallions who have not yet seen horseshoes. "
An example of a predatory war is the campaign in India.
Timur's wars of conquest were limited only to the territory that he considered necessary to unite into a single state - Maveranakhr, Khorezm, Khorasan.
Quite often, one has to see maps on which all territories that the feet of his warriors have ever stepped on, even Delhi, are included in the composition of Tamerlane's state. This map, for example, can be seen in the Amir Timur Museum in Samarkand:
It must be said that the compilers of this map were still modest: some include the lands of the Golden Horde, which he had defeated, into the empire of Timur. This is not true: outside the above-mentioned regions (Khorezm, Maverannahr, Khorasan) lay lands that Timur did not consider his own and to which his laws did not apply. This map looks more reliable - here the lighter color marks the areas that were hit by Timur, but were not included in his power:
However, its compiler got carried away a little, having included Armenia, Georgia and part of Iraq with Baghdad in the state of Tamerlane. But Timur was a realist and therefore did not try to unite in one state culturally and mentally alien Muslims of Central Asia, Hindus, Georgians, Armenians and other peoples.
Having conquered the regions of interest to him and uniting them into one whole, Timur began to restore order here. The lands of his power were to become a territory of peace and prosperity, and all neighboring countries - "territory of war", where no laws were in force. It was there that cities were burned and pyramids of heads were built.
The ruler Timur turned out to be very extraordinary, and his methods of government are very surprising. The fact is that Timur began to build in his lands something very similar to a welfare state: the spoils obtained during the campaigns were so great that Timur could afford "a little socialism."
In Timur's state, cash offices were created to help the poor, organized points for the distribution of free food to all those in need, people incapable of self-service were placed in almshouses. Huge funds were spent on the improvement and decoration of cities. After the final defeat of Tokhtamysh, taxes were canceled for three years. It was strictly forbidden to use any form of physical violence against ordinary citizens of Timur's state. On the other hand, they regularly beat the governors of provinces and cities who did not fulfill their duties and careless officials, making no exceptions even for the closest relatives of the all-powerful ruler. Tamerlane's grandsons Pir-Muhammad and Iskender, who ruled in Fars and Fergana, respectively, were deprived of their posts and beaten with sticks, the son of Miran Shah, the governor in the former ulus Hulagu, was imprisoned.
"He (Timur) was at the same time the scourge of his enemies, the idol of his soldiers and the father of his peoples,"- asserted a contemporary of the conqueror, the historian Sheref ad-Din.
Timur himself said:
"A good king never has enough time to reign, and we are forced to work for the benefit of the subjects whom the Almighty has entrusted to us as a sacred pledge. This will always be my main occupation; for I do not want the poor to pull me for the hem of the garment, asking for vengeance against me. "
Dying, he said:
"God showed me mercy, giving me the opportunity to establish such good laws that now in all the states of Iran and Turan, no one dares to do anything wrong to his neighbor, the nobles do not dare to oppress the poor, all this gives me hope that God will forgive me my sins , although there are many of them; I have the consolation that during my reign I did not allow the strong to offend the weak. "
Finally, there were preventive wars, in which Timur tried to defeat potential rivals of his state in order to protect his successors from war with them, none of whom, as he saw, had the talent of a great commander. Well, and how to rob the vanquished was also, of course, useful. The war with China (which Timur also considered as expiatory for the blood of Muslims shed in previous campaigns), which did not take place due to the death of the conqueror in February 1405, was supposed to be a preventive war. And the defeat of the young and aggressive Ottoman state, which reached the borders of Timur's state, can be considered a preventive war. A fairly detailed story about the personality of Tamerlane, his army and state can be found in the articles Iron Timur. Part of 1. and Iron Timur. Part of 2... We will now talk about his enemy in the great battle of Ankara - the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I.
Bayazid was significantly younger than Timur, by 21 years. He was born around 1357 and was the youngest son of Sultan Murad I and the Greek woman Gulchichek Khatun.
Mourad khan i
Married to the daughter of the German emir Suleiman, Bayezid became the ruler of Kutahya: at that time this city in the province of the same name was the center of the Anatolian possessions of the Ottomans.
Kutahya on the map of modern Turkey
The main duty of Shahzade Bayazid was to guard the eastern borders of the Ottoman state.
The proclamation of Bayezid by the sultan
On June 15, 1389, Bayezid took part in the famous battle on the Kosovo field.
Battle of Kosovo on modern Serbian icon
In this battle, the Serbian prince Lazar and the Ottoman Sultan Murad I, who in the Ottoman tradition bears the nickname Devoted to God, died.
Traditionally, it is believed that Murad died at the hands of Milos Obilich (Kobilich), whose existence, however, is being questioned.
Milos Obilic on the fresco of a Serbian monastery, Athos
Turkish sources speak of the death of the Sultan at the very end of the battle or even after the battle. The most reliable seems to be the message about a nameless bloodied Serb, who suddenly rose from a pile of dead bodies, past which the victorious sultan was passing, and dealt him a fatal blow.
Serbian sources insist that Murad was killed by a false defector, but it is hard to believe that the Ottomans were so frivolous and careless that they did not search from head to toe some suspicious deserter, eager to communicate closely with the Sultan.
Moreover, the very name of the hero appears only in the sources of the 1413th century. A number of studies believe that two images have merged in the popular consciousness: an unnamed Serb who killed Murad I and a certain Milos, who killed his grandson (and son of Bayazid I) Musa elebi in XNUMX, fighting in the internecine war of claimants to the throne on the side of another grandson - Mehmed, the future sultan.
One way or another, the death of Murad I did not have any effect on the course of the battle, and Bayazid was proclaimed sultan after the victory. Stefan Vulkovich, the son of the deceased Serbian prince Lazar, was forced to recognize himself as a vassal of the Ottomans and to marry Bayazid his sister (who, it is said, became the beloved wife of the Sultan). Stefan also pledged to provide Bayezid with Serbian troops at his first request. The Serbs will play a huge role in the victory of the Ottoman army over the army of the crusaders at Nikopol (1396) and will surprise Tamerlane with their valor and fortitude in the battle of Ankara (1402).
However, Bayezid had an older brother, Yakub. Fearing his claim to the throne, Bayazid sent his executioners to the unsuspecting Yakub, who strangled him with a bowstring. Since then, the killing of his brothers by the new sultan has become a tradition of the Ottoman Empire. The subjects and the courtiers were quite calm about this: after all, in this way a civil war between the applicants was prevented, the victims of which could become tens of thousands of people.
In Turkey, Bayazid is also known under a different name - Yildirim (Lightning), which in Russian sources became the nickname Lightning. Most often this name is explained by the speed and decisiveness of the actions of this sultan: they say, he was impetuous in campaigns and appeared where he was not expected. Some believe that Bayazid received his middle name in the Kosovo field - for decisive and administrative actions after the death of his father. Others argue that he deserved it after the Battle of Nikopol in 1396, when the army of the crusaders, consisting of the army of the King of Hungary Sigismund of Luxembourg and troops of knights from many European countries, was defeated.
Some associate the appearance of the second name with the battle of Konya in 1386, where Shahzade Bayazid fought against the Karamanids (the dynasty of the most powerful Anatolian beylik, the main rivals of the Ottomans in Asia Minor).
But there are supporters of the version that Bayazid was nicknamed Lightning for the order to kill his brother: that is, this is an analogue of the nickname of the Russian Tsar Ivan IV - the Terrible.
The Ottoman historian of the XVII century Bostanzade Yahya Efendi writes about the same, arguing in the book "Tarikh-i Saf" that the Sultan Yildirim was nicknamed for his angry and arrogant disposition.
Sultan Bayezid I
Meanwhile, having learned about the death of Murad, the Anatolian regions (beyliks) that he recently annexed revolted. But Bayezid immediately showed that the Ottoman forces did not weaken with his accession, and during the winter campaign of 1389-1390. not only led the rebellious regions to obedience, but also captured new ones, reaching the coast of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. It was after this that Ottoman warships first went to sea, which attacked the shores of Attica and the island of Chios.
In 1390, Konya was captured, then the important port of Sinop on the Black Sea. The Ottoman state was turning into a major maritime power before our very eyes.
At the same time, the Ottomans attacked their neighbors in the Balkan Peninsula, seriously disturbing the Kingdom of Hungary and Bulgaria, which King Sigismund considered his sphere of influence and considered as a buffer zone between his state and the Ottomans. The Wallachian rulers, under pressure from the Hungarians, for some time became allies of the Turks.
Finally, in 1393, the Hungarians entered Bulgaria and captured the Nikopol fortress. However, the large Ottoman army forced them to retreat, while the Turks occupied the Bulgarian capital Tarnovo. In 1395, the king of Bulgaria, John Shishman, was executed, part of the country became an Ottoman province, but the remnants of the independence of the region around Vidina still preserved.
The emperor of Byzantium, which was losing its last strength, John V Palaeologus, trying to avoid the invasion, sent Bayazid to the court as a hostage of his son Manuel. But after the death of his father, the prince managed to escape. He ascended the throne as Manuel II.
Manuel II Palaeologus
The new emperor could only observe how in 1393 the Ottomans began to build the Anadoluhisar fortress on the Asian coast of the Bosphorus. Constantinople now divided the European (Balkan) and Asian (Anatolian) possessions of Bayezid, and during the 13 years of his reign, this sultan besieged him 4 times, but never managed to capture it.
This time, the Turkish army stood at the walls of Constantinople for 7 months until Manuel agreed to an increase in tribute, the creation of an Islamic court in the city over the Muslims living in it and the construction of two mosques.
In 1394 Bayezid's army went to Wallachia and Thessaly, attacked Morea. In the same year, a significant part of Bosnia was captured, but the Albanians still fiercely resisted.
A terrible threat looming over Europe led to the fact that in 1394 Pope Boniface IX called for a crusade against the Ottomans. The Pope's decision was probably greatly facilitated by Bayezid's letter to the Hungarian king Sigismund, in which he promised to capture Rome and feed his horse with oats on the altar of St. Peter's Cathedral. This decision was supported by the then antipope Clement VII of Avignon. In addition, in 1389, peace was concluded between France and England, and free soldiers appeared in these countries, ready to fight in the Balkans.
In the following articles we will talk about the Battle of Nikopol Bayazid with the crusaders, try to find out the reasons for his war with Timur, talk about the battle of Ankara and the fate of the defeated Sultan.