Osman I

Osman I

Osman I or Othman I, 1259-1326, leader of the Ottoman Turks and founder of the dynasty that established and ruled the Ottoman Empire. The Osmanli or Ottoman Turks derive their name from Osman. He proclaimed (1290) his independence from his overlord, the Seljuk Turks, upon the collapse of their empire. Aided by an influx of Muslim warriors, he expanded his state in NW Asia Minor at the expense of the petty Christian lords who were his neighbors. He nevertheless inaugurated a policy of religious tolerance. Just before his death in 1326, his son and successor, Orkhan, took the city of Bursa from the Byzantines.

Osman I (1258, Sogut, Anatolia, Turkey –1326, Sogut) Ottoman: عثمان بن أرطغرل, Turkish:Osman Gazi 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 Anatolian 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

Ertugrul, Osman's father, led his Kayi tribe west into Anatolia, fleeing Mongol belligerence. Under the auspices of the Seljuks of Rum, he founded a town known as Sogut. This location was auspicious, as the wealthy Byzantine Empire was reeling in the West, and Muslim forces in the East were splintering under Mongol aggression. Baghdad had been sacked by Hulagu Khan in 1258, the very year Osman I was born.

Osman became chief, or Bey, upon Ertuğrul’s death in 1281. At this time, mercenaries streamed into his realm from all over the Islamic world to fight against and hopefully plunder the weakening Orthodox empire. Turkic numbers 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.

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 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 Minor, died, there was no one to compete with Osman for the headship of the whole Turkish population 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 northeast Asia Minor were more tempting marks for his ambition than the Karamanoglu plains, and it was over Greek cities and armies 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 1301, 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 Ephesus near the Aegean Sea. Further galvanized by the influx of migrants into his territory, Osman also moved eastward and seized Byzantine domains in the Black Sea region of Anatolia.

Osman's last campaign, before dying of old age, was against the Byzantines in the city of Bursa. 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 Constantinople, 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. Because of his loyalty to Islam, his sharpness, his courage and generosity, he was nominated to be the ruler of the Kayi Clan.

Last testament

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

Son! Be careful about the religious issues before all other duties. The religious precepts build a strong the state. Do not give the religious duties to careless, faithless and sinful men or to dissipated, indifferent or inexperienced people. And also do not leave the state administrations such people. Because the one without fear of God the Creator, does not afraid of the created. The one committing a great sin and continuing to sin can not be loyal...Scholars, virtue men, artists, literary men are the power of the state structure. Treat with kindness and show honor to these men. Make close relationship when you hear about a virtuous man and give wealth and grant him...Put order the political and religious duties. Take lesson from me so I came to these places as a weak leader and I reached to the help of God although I did not deserve. You follow my way and protect Din-i Muhammedi and the believers and also your followers. Respect the right of God and his servants. Do not hesitate to advise your successors in this way. Depend on God's help in the esteem of justice and fairness, to remove the cruelty, attempts in every duty. Protect your public from enemy's invasion and from the cruelty. Do not behave any person in an unsuitable way with unfairness. Gratify the public and save all of their sake.

Literature about Osman Ghazi

Osman has been celebrated by Oriental writers for his physical beauty, and for “his wondrous length and strength of arm.” Like Artaxerxes Longimanus of the old dynasty of Persian kings, Liu Bei in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Gautama the Buddha, and the Highland chieftain of whom William Wordsworth sang, Osman is said to have been able to touch his knees with his hands when standing upright.

He was often depicted as unsurpassed in skill and grace as a horseman; and the jet black color of his hair, his beard, and eyebrows, gained him in youth the title of “Kara” (“Black”) Osman. The epithet “Kara,” a frequent occurrence in Turkish lore, implies the highest degree of manly beauty, when applied to a person. He dressed simply, in the tradition of the first warriors of Islam, and like them he wore a turban of white linen, wreathed round a red center. His loose flowing kaftan was of one color and had long open sleeves.


See also


  • Incorporates text from History of Ottoman Turks (1878)

External links


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