Battle of Ankara

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Battle of Ankara
Battle of Ankara (Mughal Empire painting)
Battle of Ankara ( Mughal Empire painting)
date July 20, 1402
place Ankara
output Decisive victory for the Timurids
Parties to the conflict

Timurid.svg Timurids

Fictitious Ottoman flag 1.svg Ottoman Empire Serbia
Civil flag of Serbia.svg



Bayezid I.
Stefan Lazarević

Troop strength

other source: 140,000


other source: 85,000




In the Battle of Ankara , also known as the Battle of Angora ( Ankara Muharebesi in Turkish ), on July 20, 1402 , the Turkish -Mongolian army led by Tamerlane defeated that of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I. In this battle, the Ottoman troops suffered one of the worst defeats in history added. The Ottoman Sultan was captured, where he died in 1403. The Ottoman Empire disintegrated as a result of the dispute between the four sons of Bayezid and only became a great power again after a decade of constant fighting.


In previous years, Bayezid had gradually subjugated the Turkmen Beyliks in Anatolia, but some of them fled to the court of Tamerlan. Bayezid, for his part, protected Tamerlan's enemies, the Qara Qoyunlu ("Black Mutton") and Jalairid rulers .

In August 1400 Tamerlane occupied Sivas in central Anatolia, and Bayezid then imprisoned the ruler of Erzincan in eastern Anatolia.

The military historian David Nicolle points out the importance of the changes in the Ottoman army for the tactics chosen or necessary in the battle:

“While Timur's army was still a highly mobile Turkish-Mongolian force, there were already large infantry units in the Ottoman army that ... played a central military role. Bayezit's men therefore had to take long marches ... "

A similar difference between the opponents had already influenced the outcome of the Battle of Köse Dağ (1243) 160 years earlier .

Course of the battle

On July 20, 1402, the armies met on the plain of Çubuk , north of Ankara . Tamerlane was almost blind at this point. Thousands of soldiers died of thirst before they even reached the battlefield because all the wells far and wide had been destroyed. The number of fighters on both sides is controversial in historical studies, the numbers given by contemporary chroniclers are considered greatly exaggerated. These (presumed) exaggerations by earlier chroniclers speak of 200,000 Turks against 400,000 Mongols . After the exhausting march, apparently only 20,000 men, including 5,000 Janissaries and the mainly mounted troops of the Serbian ally Stefan Lazarević, were fully capable of fighting. Tamerlan's troops were outnumbered, but the fighting strength of his multi-ethnic force was based on the Mongol cavalry , which was only a fraction of his army. Both armies were originally equally strong. Bayezid's Turkmen vassals defected to the Mongols and decided the battle in Tamerlan's favor.

After almost twenty hours of fighting, the sultan's Serbian troops, whom Nicolle attests to be characterized by “skill and determination”, gave up and fled. Their commander, Stefan Lazarević, also escaped from the battlefield. Bayezid was captured, making Tamerlane famous in Europe. Three of the sultan's sons fled while a fourth son was captured with him.

Consequences of the battle

Sultan Bayezid I as Timur's prisoner (history painting by Stanislaus von Chlebowski , 1878)

Bayezid died in a Mongolian captivity in 1403. According to a legend, the Sultan committed suicide because he could not bear the defeat and the shame it suffered. One factor that might support this thesis is the fact that Bayezid was only 42 years old when he died.

Tamerlane pushed further west, installed emirs along the Aegean coast, as in Aydin , and even Smyrna (Izmir), held by the Hospitallers , was occupied. However, Tamerlan then turned east again to take up his plans to conquer China .

In the end, the heavy defeat at Ankara was only an episode for the rise of the Ottoman Empire to a world empire, especially since Tamerlane died in 1405. The outcome of the battle and its consequences brought the Byzantine Empire , besieged by the Ottomans, a short respite. For a short time, it was able to use the situation to take away some smaller areas from the Ottomans, especially in southern Greece. After the end of their civil war, however, the resurgent Ottomans were able to resume their expansion and begin to conquer the remaining Byzantine imperial territory.

See also


  • Klaus-Peter Matschke: The Battle of Ankara and the Fate of Byzantium. Studies of late Byzantine history between 1402 and 1422 ( Research on Medieval History 29, ISSN  0071-7673 ). Böhlau, Weimar 1981.
  • Gustav Roloff : The Battle of Angora (1402). In: Historical magazine . Vol. 161, No. 2, 1940, pp. 244-262.

Web links

References and comments

  1. a b c d e f Cf. Gustav Roloff, pp. 254–256.
  2. David Nicolle : The Ottomans. 600 years of the Islamic world empire. Tosa, Vienna 2008, ISBN 3-85003-219-1 , p. 71.
  3. for example in the travel report of Johannes Schiltberger
  4. See also David Nicolle, who gives Tamerlan's troops at 140,000 and the Bayezids at 85,000; David Nicolle: Armies of the Ottoman Turks 1300-1774 (= Osprey military - Men-at-arms series 140). Osprey Publishing, London 1983, ISBN 0-85045-511-1 .
  5. See also: Kenneth M. Setton: The Papacy and the Levant. 1204-1571. Volume 1: The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (= Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society. Vol. 114). The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia PA 1976, ISBN 0-87169-114-0 , p. 376.