Battle of Ankara

Battle of Ankara

Infobox Military Conflict

conflict=Battle of Ankara
partof=the Ottoman-Timurid wars
date=July 20, 1402
place="Çubuk" field, near Ankara
result=Decisive Timurid victory
commander2=Beyazid I#
Stefan Lazarević
strength1=140,000 Turco-Mongols
strength2=85,000 men [David Nicolle & Angus McBride, "Armies of the Ottoman Turks, 1300-1774", Osprey Publishing, p. 29 "...The size of the two armies are reliably estimated at 140,000 on Timur's side and no more than 85,000 under Sultan Bayezit I..."]
*65,000 Turks
*20,000 Serbs
casualties1=15,000-25,000 killed and woundedFact|date=February 2007
casualties2=15,000-40,000 killed and woundedFact|date=February 2007

The Battle of Ankara or Battle of Angora, fought on July 20 [Grousset 1991, pp.451] or July 28 [Finkel 2005, pp.27] 1402, took place northeast of Ankara at the field of "Çubuk" between the forces of the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I - the Thunderbolt- and the Turko-Mongol forces of Timur -the Lame- (Tamerlane), ruler of the Timurid Empire.


Timur came from a branch of a minor Turkish noble family in Turkestan and by long and relentless fighting he sought to rehabilitate the Mongol Empire. He was born in Transoxiana near Samarkand in the 1320s or 1330s [Forbez Manz 1989, pp.1] . Building up a mighty army, he rode at the head of it in a career of spectacular conquest. Within a generation Timur had extinguished nine dynasties to reign from Samarkand as lord, in the name of Islam, of a great part of Asia that included Persia, Turkestan, and India. [Kinross 1977, pp. 71] He "saw himself as the succesor of Genghis Khan and inheritor, therefore, of the Seljuk-Ilkhanid territories in Anatolia - which put him in a poweful position to exploit the divisions rife among the patchwork of local dynasties who were still independent." [Finkel 2005, pp.28]

Timur had conquered Georgia and Azerbaijan in 1390, expanding his empire to the borders of the Ottoman Empire. The two powers soon came into direct conflict. On his march to invade Syria in 1398 Timur was met by a deputation of exiled Anatolian emirs, along with ambassadors from Constantinople, Genoa, Venice, and even Charles VI of France, who urged him to attack the Ottoman Empire. [Goodwin 1998, pp.25] Beyazid demanded tribute from one of the Turkish emirates who had pledged loyalty to Timur and threatened to invade. Timur interpreted this action as an insult to himself and in 1400 sacked the Ottoman city of Sebaste (modern Sivas). Beyazid was stung into furious action and when Timur invaded Anatolia from the east, Beyazid summoned his forces and confronted Timur's forces near Ankara. The conflict, overall, was the culmination of years of insulting letters exchanged between Timur and Beyazid.


The armies were about equal in size. Even though some eyewitnesses reported over one million troops in Timur's horde, the real number is probably closer to 200,000. While Bayezid's army was approximately equal to Timur's, it was mainly infantry and 20,000 Serbian heavy knights led by Despot Stefan Lazarevic. Timur's forces were almost entirely mounted with a few Indian war elephants. []

The battle

The battle began with a large-scale attack from the Ottomans, countered by swarms of arrows from the Timurid horse archers. Several thousands were killed and many surrendered to Timur. During the battle the main water supply of both armies, Cubuk Creek, was diverted to an off-stream reservoir near the town of Cubuk by Timur, which left the Ottoman army with no water. The final battle took place at Catal hill, dominating the Cubuk valley. The Ottoman army, both thirsty and tired, was defeated, though Bayezid managed to escape to the nearby mountains with a few hundred horsemen. However, Timur had the mountains surrounded and, heavily outnumbering Bayezid, soon captured him. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Ottoman army was further weakened by the desertion of the Tatars and the Sipahis from the Anatolian Beyliks, who left Bayezid alone and joined Timur's forces.


European nations had, at first, encouraged the Timurid invasion and the Genoese were said to be flying the Mongol standard from the walls of Galata in support of Timur. However, after a few months following his destruction of the Ottoman power in Anatolia, fear of being the next target had gripped the European people.Fact|date=February 2007 Fearing the devil they knew to one they did not, Italian ships ferried the beaten Ottoman soldiers into Thrace to safety. At least one Muslim writer complained that despite being Muslims, Timurs soldiers ravaged in Asia Minor like barbarians.

The Battle of Ankara had a temporary effect on the political ground of the Balkans, where at the time the Ottomans had the initiative. Because of the Timurid invasion, the siege of Constantinople was lifted and Ottoman troops were withdrawn from the Balkans to counter the new threat.

This event had split the Ottomans into factions since Bayezid's sons were still alive and free after he himself was captured. Most of the Ottoman Turks had fled into Europe. The result was a civil war among Bayezid's four sons. This temporary weakening of the Ottomans resulted in delaying the end of the Byzantine Empire and the eventual Ottoman conquest of the Balkans.

According to Findey "The Battle of Ankara proved the value of the slave elite. The Ottomans' ability to survive and reunify the empire by 1413 has been attributed to the commitment of this slave elite, who would have lost its identity and high status without a powerful master." [Findely 2005, pp. 112]



* Finkel, C., "Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire", 2005, Basic Books, ISBN 13 978-0-465-02396-7
* Findley, C.V., "The Turks in World History", 2005, Oxford University Press
* Forbes Manz, B., "The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane", 1989, Cambridge University Press
* Goodwin, J., "Lords of the Horizons", 1998, Henry Holt and Company
* Grousset, R., "The Empire of the Steppes", 1991, Rutgers University Press
* Kinross, Lord, "The Ottoman Centuries", 1977, Morrow Quill

External links

* [ Encyclopedia Britanica: Ankara, Battle of]
* [ DBA Battle Scenario: The Battle of Angora]
* [ Military- Engineering Strategy used by Timur at the Battle of Ankara (1402)]

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