Bayezid I

Bayezid I (Ottoman: بايزيد الأول, Turkish: Beyazıt, nicknamed Yıldırım (Ottoman: ییلدیرم), "the Thunderbolt"; 1354 March 8, 1403, Akşehir, Turkey) was the sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1389 to 1402. He was the son of Murad I who was of Turkish origin and Gülçiçek Hatun who was of ethnic Greek descent.

Consolidation of power

Bayezid ascended to the throne following the death of his father Murad I in the first Battle of Kosovo, who was killed by Serbian noblemen on June 29 1389.

One year later, faced with a Hungarian threat from the North, the Serbs agreed to become his vassals and he took as a wife Olivera Despina, the daughter of Prince Lazar of Serbia, allying himself with Serbs, and enabling his offspring to claim Serbia as a dynastic privilege. He recognized Stefan Lazarević, the son of Lazar, as the new Serbian leader, with considerable autonomy.

See also: Battle of Kosovo

Danubian campaign

In 1394 Bayezid crossed the Danube river attacking Wallachia, ruled at that time by Mircea the Elder. The Ottomans were superior in number, but on October 10, 1394 (17 May 1395 ?), in the Battle of Rovine, which featured a forested and swampy terrain, the Wallachians won the fierce battle and prevented Bayezid from conquering the country.

See also: Battle of Rovine

The Crusade of Nicopolis

In 1394, Bayezid laid siege to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Anadoluhisarı fortress was built between 1393 and 1394 as part of preparations for the Second Ottoman Siege of Constantinople, which took place in 1395. On the urgings of the Byzantine emperor John V Palaeologus a new crusade was organized to defeat him. This proved unsuccessful: in 1396 the Christian allies, under the leadership of the King of Hungary and future Holy Roman Emperor (in 1410) Sigismund, were defeated in the Battle of Nicopolis. Bayezid built the magnificent Ulu Camii in Bursa, to celebrate this victory.

Thus, the siege of Constantinople continued, lasting until 1401. The Emperor left the city to seek aid. The beleaguered Byzantines had their reprieve when Bayezid fought the Timurid Turks on the East.

See also: Battle of Nicopolis

Tamerlane and the Battle of Ankara

In 1400, the Central Asian warlord Timur Lenk (or Tamerlane) had succeeded in rousing the local Turkic beyliks that had been vassals of the Ottomans to join him in his attack on Bayezid. In the fateful Battle of Ankara, on 20 July 1402, Bayezid was captured by Timur. His sons, however, escaped, and latter they would start civil war (see also Ottoman Interregnum). Some contemporary reports claimed that Timur kept Bayezid chained in a cage as a trophy. Likewise, there are many stories about Bayezid's captivity, including one that describes how Timur used him as a footstool. Another one describes how Timur made Bayezid's wife dance naked at his court. However, these accounts are thought to be false, as writers from Timur's court reported that Bayezid was treated well, and that Timur even mourned his death. Likewise, Timur's own history with other rulers demonstrated that he was true to his word when he later claimed to have aimed at re-establishing Bayezid on the Ottoman throne. One year later, Bayezid died — some accounts claim that he committed suicide by smashing his head against the iron bars of his cage. Other more credible accounts claimed that he committed suicide by taking the poison concealed in his ring.

See also: Battle of Ankara

In Fiction

The defeat of Bayezid became a popular subject for later western writers, composers and painters. They revelled in the legend that he was taken by Tamerlane to Samarkand, and embellished it with a cast of characters to create an oriental fantasy that has maintained its appeal. Christopher Marlowe's play Tamburlane the Great was first performed in London in 1587, three years after the formal opening of the English-Ottoman trade relations when William Harborne sailed for Istanbul as agent of the Levant Company. In 1648 there appeared the play Le Gran Tamerlan et Bejezet by Jean Magnon, and in 1725 Handel's Tamerlano was first performed in London; Vivaldi's version of the story, Bayezid, was written in 1735. Magnon had given Bayezid and intriguing wife and daughter; the Handel and Vivaldi renditions included, as well as Tamerlane and Bayezid and his daughter, a prince of Byzantium and a princess of Trebizond (Trabzon) in a passionate and incredible love story. A cycle of paintings in Schloss Eggenberg, near Graz in Austria, translated the theme to a different medium; this was completed in the 1670s shortly before the Ottoman army attacked the Habsburgs in central Europe.

Marriages and Progeny

Marriages of Bayezid I:

Issue of Bayezid I:

  • Ertuğrul - son
  • Emir Süleyman (d. 1411) - son
  • Musa Çelebi (d. 1413) - son of Devlet Shah Hatun
  • Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi (1389-1421)- son of Devlet Hatun
  • Kasım - son
  • Isa - son of Devlet Shah Hatun
  • Mustafa (d. 1401) - son of Devlet Shah Hatun
  • Erhondu - daughter
  • Hundi - daughter
  • Fatma - daughter



  • Goodwin, Jason - Lords of the Horizons (book)

See also

The only complete recording of this opera was released by Virgin Classics on May 10, 2005

  • Georg Friedrich Haendel - Tamerlano - English Concert with Trevor Pinnock

External links


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