Battle of Ankara 1402 Ottoman – Timurid War DOCUMENTARY

Battle of Ankara 1402 Ottoman – Timurid War DOCUMENTARY


There is a tendency to show the
expansion of the Muslim empires as a continuous march towards the west and
the north. But there was as much infighting within the Islamic lands as
there was outward movement. Many grandiose battles were forged between
the Muslim states, but none was more significant in terms of numbers of
participants and historical implications than the Battle of Ankara in 1402
between Sultan Bayezid I and Emir Timur. In 1396 the Ottoman Sultan
Bayezid I first defeated a abroad Alliance of European Crusaders led by
the Burgundian lord Joan of Never and the King of Hungary
Sigismund I at the Battle of Nicopolis. Seemingly very little was
stopping Bayezid from taking Constantinople or invading Central
Europe, however the Sultan knew that soon he would have to face a threat from the
east. The Mongol domains declined in the 14th century: the Yuan Dynasty lost
China, the Ilkhanate that previously controlled Iran, the Caucuses and part of
Iraq was split between a number of dynasties and the Golden Horde that held
domain over a third of modern Russia was stagnating. Central Asia was in turmoil
due to the rapid dissolution of the Chagatai khanate and many warlords vied
for power. One of them was Timur who was born in 1336 into the Turkified
Mongolian Barlas tribe. He was a small-time raider, but a capable fighter
in his youth, and by 1358 became the leader of his tribe. During this period
Timur suffered an injury that crippled his leg and he received the nickname “leng” –
lame or slow in Persian. That is why he is known as Tamerlane in the west. By
1370 Timur was ruling most of Central Asia and started planning his invasion. in 1378 he helped Tokhtamysh to rise to
the throne of the Golden Horde. Timur then continued with the invasion
of the rest of Central Asia and in 1381 started the conquest of Iran which was
occupied by 1386. Most of the Caucasus came under his control in the next three
years. Timur’s invasions were based on terror: any city that tried to resist him
was reduced to ashes and its population was massacred or enslaved. Towers made of
skulls were erected to prevent any form of defiance. Taking the Caucasus meant
that Timur’s domain was neighbouring the Golden Horde and conflict with Tokhtamysh became inevitable. Between 1391 and 1395 Tokhtamysh was defeated twice and lost
his realm. Meanwhile the situation to the West was changing rapidly: the Ottoman
Sultan took control of small Turkic Beyliks in 1398 and 1399 the rulers of
these lands left for the court of Timur, while some of the leaders dethroned by
Timur in Iran and Iraq found refuge in the Ottoman capital. Bayezid’s and
Timur’s domains were now bordering each other.
Timur didn’t want to start a war against a fellow Muslim superpower, hence a long
letter correspondence between the two leaders began. One of Timur’s letters said:
Be wise and repent, avert our vengeance, you are nothing more than an ant, don’t provoke the elephants or you will get trampled. And Bayezid answered:
If I run from your armies may all my wives divorce me, but if you dare to run
away from mine may all your wives belong to other men. This war of words was
leading nowhere and Timur moved to the west yet again. Armenia and Georgia were
conquered in 1400 and thousands were massacred. Timur was worried that the
Mamluk Sultanate of Syria and Egypt might ally itself with the Ottomans, so
in the next two years he sacked Damascus and Aleppo to take control of the land
route between the two empires. By the end of 1401 Timur took Sivas from the
Ottomans and turned it into his base. That was the beginning of the war. When
Timur besieged Ankara, Bayezid lifted the siege of Constantinople and moved
his troops to Anatolia reaching the city by June of 1402. Timur retreated to
draw Bayezid away from his defensible position. The Ottoman sultan knew that
Timur’s forces would raid the lands to the east and that forced Bayezid to
leave a small garrison and march his troops towards the enemy. The Ottoman
army mounted a road between Sivas and Tokat as Bayezid hoped to use the dense
forests of the area to diminish any advantage Timur’s
horse archers may give him. This maneuver meant that Timur would either have to
fight at a location not suited to the strength of his forces or retreat from
Anatolia. However Timur chose a third option. His huge army vanished and
ottoman scouts failed to find it. Timur moved to the southwest and took Kayseri, while Bayezid was still sure that he would find his enemy to the north
Timur continued towards Ankara and ended up behind the Ottoman forces. The Sultan
learned about the brilliant maneuver of his enemy, when Ankara
was besieged. Bayezid couldn’t allow Timur to ransack his lands and so had no
other choice but to force march his tired troops to Ankara. The Battle of
Ankara took place on July 28th 1402. Timur’s army was a traditional Mongol-Tatar force with a significant number of horse
archers. He also had a few dozen armored elephants captured during his invasion
of India. Meanwhile the Ottoman army was a mix of old Seljuq irregular forces,
Tatar mercenaries, a small professional army corps created by the earlier
Sultan’s and Eastern European Knights led by a Serbian vassal of Bayezid
Stefan Lazarevich. At the beginning of the campaign Timur and Bayezid had
similar numbers with more than 100,000 troops, but it is said that the Ottoman
Sultan lost at least 20,000 during the forced march from Sivas to Ankara. Timur divided his horse archers into
four groups with one in the center, two on the flanks and one more in reserve,
while his elephants were positioned in the vanguard. Bayezid had a strong
center with archers in front, janissaries in the second line and sipahi cavalry in
reserve. On the left he placed the Serbian cavalry of Stefan, while his
right was manned by the troops from Anatolia and Tatar mercenaries. Bayezid hoped that his flanks, who had a defensible position would hold so that
he would be able to counter-attack with his center. The accounts of the battle
are very different between sources so we present the one that made the most sense
to us. Timur moved his wings forward, while his center lag behind. The battle
started on the Ottoman left, as their Serbian troops were attacked by the
enemy cavalry, but they managed to stop them and inflict substantial damage. One
more wave was sent against the Serbs. This time an attempt to outflank them
was made, but Stefan’s forces stood their ground. Meanwhile Timur’s left
flank attacked the Ottoman right commanded by prince Suleiman. Timur also
sent his center forward to tie down Bayezid’s Janissaries. Something unexpected
for Bayezid happened on his right flank, as all eighteen thousand of his
tartar mercenaries changed sides and joined Timur’s attack on the Ottoman
right. Suleiman was encircled and Bayezid had to send his reserve to help. On
the left flank Serbian units were now attacked by even
more enemies, but despite increasing casualties held them off. Sources claimed
that Stefan sent a messenger to the Sultan suggesting a retreat, while it was
still possible but Bayezid rejected it. At this point
Prince Suleiman was ordered to withdraw to save his life, while Stefan was told
to hold the flank with a portion of his forces and cover the retreat with the
rest. Timur sent his reserve on a deep
flanking maneuver and both the right and left flank of the Ottoman army were
overrun by their foes. Still the Serbian forces managed to use their advantage in
armor to break out of the encirclement and join Suleiman in his retreat. The
remainder of the Ottoman center was slowly pushed towards a hill called
Cataltepe. It is said that Bayezid along with his sipahis and
janissaries was able to hold off the enemy for hours, despite being severely
outnumbered. Later he was able to break the encirclement with his bodyguards, but
an arrow killed his horse and for the first time in history an Ottoman Sultan
was imprisoned. Although both armies lost a significant number of warriors, it was
a decisive victory for Timur. There are conflicting theories on what happened
with Bayezid once he was in captivity, but in any case he died a few months
later. In 1404 Timur started an invasion of China, but he would die in early 1405.
The Ottomans entered an extended period of internal war between the sons of
Bayezid, but these events, the fates of Stefan, the Timurids and the Byzantines
and the battles of Varna and Kosovo will be covered in our next video in this
series. Thanks for watching our documentary on the Battle of Ankara. We
would like to express our gratitude to our patreon supporters who make the
creation of these videos possible. Also patreon is the best way to suggest a new
video, learn about our schedule and so much more.
This video was narrated by me Officially Devin – don’t forget to stop by my channel
for some narrative Let’s Plays. This is the Kings and Generals channel and we
will catch you on the next one.

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