Battle of Bapheus | First Battle & Victory of Ottoman Empire against the Byzantines

First Battle between the Ottoman Empire & the Byzantines Empire

Background

Fall of the Byzantines Empire and the rivalry between the Seljuk Empire and the Fatimid’s in Syria and Egypt became the main causes of rising of the Turkish tribes to independent states. As we discussed earlier in the article about Ertugrul Ghazi, leader of the Kayi Tribe, that how he struggled and founded a base of the emerging Empire. When Ertugrul died in 1281 CE, Osman Ghazi while following the footsteps of his father, kept on expanding the state and established the Ottoman Empire in 1299 CE by becoming the first Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1301 CE, Ottomans besieged Nicaea and Prussa. Also took the control of Nicomedian port city by threatening them of famine. They abandoned the collection of the harvest. In 1302 CE, the Byzantines Emperor Michael IX, while conquering the small states reached Magnesia. Ottomans while seeing this huge host decided not to indulge in any war but Michael IX wanted to confront them. But his generals suggested not to do so. Because of this reason, Ottomans had encouraged and moved into Magnesia. There wasn’t any battle started yet but Michael’s army was dispersed. Some of his local warriors went to defend their families. Michael was also compelled to flee towards the sea.

Battle of Bapheus

After this threat, Michael’s father, Andronikos II Palaiologos prepared a host of 2,000 warriors under the command of George Mouzalon. Most of these warriors were recently hired Alan mercenaries. This host was sent with the purpose to cross the Bosporus River and rescue the city. On 27th July 1302 CE, in between Nicomedia and Nicaea, they faced the Ottoman’s host in the field of Bapheus presently Izmir. The Ottomans host was consisting of 5,000 warriors commanded by Osman Ghazi himself. Most of them were their local troops while some were ally tribes of Paphlagonia and Maeander River.

The Ottomans host fought with valor. The Byzantines were compelled to flee from the battlefield. Byzantines commander, George Mouzalon was forced to withdraw into Nicomedia. Ottomans got a major decisive victory, which was very much important relative to its future expansion.

Aftermath

The control of Byzantines over Bithynia was lost. This defeat also forced the Christians residing in those areas to move towards other areas of Europe. As discussed in the start, along with the defeat in Magnesia, Byzantines lost control of the Aegean Sea and the Asia Minor. After this victory, Ottomans achieved all the qualities of a state and emerged as a Great Empire of the World.

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