Battle of Frenkyazisi – Expansion in Anatolia

Battle of Frenkyazisi – Expansion in Anatolia. In the aftermath of the Battle of Maritsa, a  sizable portion of the Balkans had fallen either under the direct control or vassalage of the Ottomans, as the armies of Murad I reigned supreme in the region. After the political treaties of 1372 and 1373 with his new Balkan vassals, Murad had successfully built a network of allies in the southeastern European peninsula in which he could request levies for his ever-growing military.

To shore up the loyalty of his newly acquired Balkan vassals, Murad, during the spring of 1373, would request the participation of Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos and a portion of his armies in the recent border skirmishes against the Turkic Candarid Beylik in Anatolia. Seeing no way to escape his helpless situation, John V appointed his eldest son Prince Andronikos  Palaiologos to administer the Byzantine capital while he joined the main Ottoman host under Murad in Anatolia.

Ottoman Empire

However, upon the departure of his emperor-father, the young Byzantine prince, who was discontent with being a vassal of Murad, would conduct a successful palace coup against his family and declare himself Emperor.  As the Palaiologos Dynasty was again in civil war, tensions within the House of Osman would also be boiling. By the time of the Byzantine palace coup, Murad I had three sons from his various marriages, the eldest to youngest being Şehzade Bayezid, Şehzade Yakup, and Şehzade Savcı.  

Perhaps seeing that he had no real chance of succeeding to the Ottoman Empire throne, the youngest of these sons, Şehzade Savcı, would mirror Andronikos IV, rebelling against his father and seizing the Ottoman Empire capital city of Bursa, where he declared himself Sultan. Hearing the news of their rebellious sons, Murad  I and John V would halt their Anatolian campaign and proceed to march their armies against their respective disobedient children.  

Ottoman-Byzantine Civil Wars

The simultaneous Ottoman-Byzantine civil wars would see Murad first marching on and capturing the city of Bursa in a short siege. However, Savcı would successfully escape the siege and make his way down to the village of Kite to meet up with the bulk of his newly recruited army. This host consisted primarily of Anatolian Turkomans displeased with Murad’s policy of recruiting new Muslim converts from the Balkans into the Ottoman Empire army.

In an engagement near Kite, the numerically superior forces of Murad would defeat the forces of Savcı, thus capturing the Ottoman Empire prince in the process. Although Murad kindly advised his rebellious son to confess and repent for his guilt for his failed revolt, which resulted in his blinding and later execution on the orders of his father. Meanwhile, back in Europe, with the help of Ottoman Empire troops, John V forced his usurper son’s hand into surrendering the imperial throne after only a one-month reign.

History of Sultan Murad

Although Murad implored him to blind his rebellious son, John, in the act of mercy, would instead settle for the imprisonment and partial blinding of Andronikos, thus officially bringing an end to the simultaneous Ottoman-Byzantine civil wars of 1373.  However, conflicts between the Palaiologos household would persist into the foreseeable future. Between 1366 and 1369, John V went on a series of European tours to gather military and fiscal support against the recently expanding Ottomans in the Balkans.

The desperate Byzantine Emperor would first visit the Kingdom of Hungary and seek the support of King Louis I, to no avail.  He then made his way west to Rome to meet with Pope Urban V. Proposing to end the schism between the Western-Catholic and  Eastern-Orthodox churches as a last-ditch way to gather up Western support against the Ottomans, John V converted to Catholicism in St Peter’s Basilica and recognized the Pope as the supreme head of the church.

The Byzantine Emperor

However, on his journey back home to Constantinople, the Byzantine Emperor was detained by Venetians, whom he was in serious debt. The Venetians forced him to concede the Island of Tenedos, a strategic island near the mouth of the Dardanelles. However, this action would place the Byzantine   Emperor in the middle of the Venetian-Genoese rivalry over the hegemony of the Mediterranean, which would strain both crucial maritime trading cities’ relationship with Constantinople. 

After years of failed promises from the West, being surrounded by the armies of Murad, and facing economic strains at home, the Orthodox populace of Constantinople had begun to feel alienated by their now Catholic monarch. During the March of 1376, ten Venetian ships had arrived at the gates of Constantinople to conclude the long-awaited annexation of Tenedos in return for paying the emperor 30,000 ducats in cash as well as returning the prestigious Byzantine crown jewels.

Savoyard Crusade

Which were given to the Doge back in 1343 by Emperor John’s’ late mother to secure finances during a previous Byzantine civil war. Hearing the news of their rivals’ recent actions to acquire Tenedos, the Genoese,   based in their colony in Galata near Constantinople, would engineer the escape of Andronikos from prison and whisk the former emperor over to Galata. After hearing the news of Andronikos’s escape, Sultan Murad decided to play factions in Constantinople off one another.  

First, the Sultan lent a cavalry force to the escapee Byzantine Emperor to overthrow his father. During a short summer siege, Andronikos IV’s forces would storm into Constantinople and imprison John V and his second eldest son and co-emperor  Manuel in the dungeons of the tower of Anemas. As a reward for their assistance in reclaiming his throne, Andronikos would award the Genoese the disputed island of Tenedos and the Ottomans the peninsula of Gallipoli, which Murad had lost during the Savoyard Crusade back in 1367. 

Battle of Frenkyazisi

With war with Venice looming over him over the issue of Tenedos and facing supply issues in the capital, the reigns of Andronikos IV and his son and newly crowned co-emperor, John VII, were a time of crisis for the Byzantine Empire. By the end of 1376, an alliance of Venetian warships and pro-John V Byzantine forces would successfully capture the Island of Tenedos in a straightforward military operation before making an ambitious naval attack on Constantinople the following summer.

Although unsuccessful, the attack on the capital worsened Andronikos’s hold on power within the city, as Constantinople faced a major food shortage. Events in the capital would only get worse for the Byzantine Emperor, as in the summer of 1379, John V and his son Manuel II had successfully escaped their captivity in the capital and made their way to the court of Murad as a last resort to regain their prominence.


The Sultan of the Ottomans would once again take on the role of kingmaker, deciding to help John V.  The latter offered him a larger yearly tribute in addition to the last remaining Byzantine possession in Anatolia, the town of Philadelphia. Accepting the desperate John’s most generous offer, Murad would supply the exiled emperor with an army. By the end of the summer, the forces of John V and Manuel II would storm into Constantinople after a short standoff with the city’s garrison.  

However, before the fall of the city, Andronikos  IV and his household escaped to Genoese Galata. There, the deposed emperor would continue to press his claim for the throne until a political agreement was settled between the two Byzantine factions in 1381, granting Andronikos IV and his son John VII jurisdiction over the town of Selymbria near the imperial capital.   In the following years, Venice and Genoa would also agree to depopulate the island of Tenedos and destroy its fortifications, thus effectively creating a neutral zone.

Sultanate of Rum

In the grand scheme of things, this latest round of Byzantine civil wars would benefit the young Ottoman state. It had squeezed major concessions from Constantinople in the form of the Gallipoli peninsula, which would give Murad I the opportunity to once again move his armies freely between Asia and Europe. As the wars in Europe settled, for the time being, Murad would turn his gaze to Anatolia and its complex domestic scene.

Ever since the fall of the  Sultanate of Rum at the beginning of the century, the region of Anatolia had been ruled by a  collection of Turkic Beyliks ranging from the Aegean coast to the west to the Taurus  Mountains to the east. Although border skirmishes between states were quite common, a new informal political consensus was formed in Anatolia by these various Turkic Beyliks during the century, which assured a steady peace between their ruling families.

The Seljuk Empire

Initially, the Ottomans were merely one of these petty Beyliks among many, but by the reign of Murad I, this was no longer the case.  As they now owned large swaths of territories in   Europe, the sons of Osman had become the most prestigious Turkic noble family in the region.  By the start of the 1370s, the Karamanid  Beylik, who saw themselves as the inheritors of the Sultanate of Rum from their former Seljuk capital of Konya, had begun a series of military operations against their weaker neighbors:  the Germiyanid, Hamidid, and Eretnid Beyliks.  

Seeing an opportunity to make gains in  Anatolia without disrupting the informal political consensus of the region, Murad opted to marry his eldest son Şehzade Bayezid to the daughter of the Bey of the Germiyanid  Beylik as part of a pact of friendship.   As a dowry from his daughter to the Ottoman Empire, the  Germiyanid ruler, Suleyman Bey, would also offer   Murad the towns of Kütahya, Tavşanlı, Emet,  and Simav.

The Ottoman Leader

In addition to creating a steady relationship with the region’s most powerful ruler of the Turkic states, Suleyman Bey also gained a physical buffer in the form of the Ottoman Empire against his openly hostile neighbor to the east.  During the large wedding reception in Bursa,  Murad and his household would be greeted by the major Turkic noble families of Anatolia, many of whom sought protection from the Ottoman ruler against the Karamanids. For example, the Bey of the Hamidids.

Huseyin Bey would also offer   Murad the towns of Akşehir, Yalvaç, Beyşehir,  Seydişehir, and Isparta in exchange for 80,000   gold ducats and protection from the Karamanids,  which the Ottoman leader eagerly accepted.   Overnight the Ottomans would become the guarantors of peace in Western Anatolia, as Murad’s domains now split off the region from the Karamanids.  Still wishing to keep the peace in Anatolia,   Murad I would offer his daughter’s hand to the leader of the Karamanids, Alaeddin Ali Bey. 

The Ottoman Army

Securing peace in Anatolia for the time being, Murad would once again turn his attention to Europe as he planned to expand his rule further into the Balkans.   Justified or not, Murad believed that his network of vassals in the region was plotting against him and that they were too weak to provide for his armies. Whether or not Bulgarian Tsar Ivan   Shishman was still loyal to Murad as his vassal did not matter, for, during 1381,   Ottoman raids into Bulgaria were resumed by local  Ottoman border lords.

This raiding snowballed into a full-scale war between Edirne and Tarnovo.  After that, Murad I led an Ottoman Empire army into Shishman’s territories, defeating his forces near the town of Zlatitsa, before ordering his much-trusted tutor Lala Şahin Pasha to besiege the major Bulgarian city of Sofia.   Moreover, after the Byzantine Emperor’s son and co-monarch Manuel II seized the city was put under siege in 1383 by the forces of Grand Vizier Candarli Halil Pasha the Elder. 

Battle of Savra

After a lengthy siege, Sofia’s garrison surrendered to Ottoman forces in 1385, and another wave of Turkic migrants from  Anatolia made their way into the region. It would be after this military campaign that the first Ottoman timars, military fiefdoms, were distributed in the Balkans, thus paving the way for creating a Balkan military class within the Ottoman Empire government. Ottoman successes on the battlefield would continue in 1387, thus depriving John V of his second-largest city.

In addition to major cities in the Balkans falling to   Ottoman rule, Murad’s armies pushed into modern-day Serbia and Albania, capturing   Niş in 1386. An Albanian army was defeated at the Battle of Savra in 1385, and the Ottomans temporarily occupied the towns of Kruje, Berat,  and Ulcinj and permanently the town of Kastoria.  However, during this period, the Sultan faced his first military roadblock, as the newly formed   Principality of Moravian Serbia became the center for resistance in the Balkans against his rule.  

Serbian Empire

Born from the ashes of the former Serbian Empire, Moravian Serbia, led by its Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, had become the strongest of the petty Serbian successor states in the region. With acquiring the domains of his fellow Serbian lords, Vuk Brankovic and Nikola Altomanovic, Lazar looked poised to construct a Balkan coalition to push the Ottomans back to Anatolia. He had already defeated a major Ottoman raiding party during the  Battle of Dubravnica during the winter of 1381.  

However, after the sudden fall of Niş, the  Serbian prince, perhaps in an attempt to buy time for the formation of his coalition, concluded a temporary deal with Murad, which would see him supply the Sultan’s armies with 2,000 of his troops, and begin paying tribute to Edirne. The relatively sudden rise of Ottoman hegemony had seen the political scene in the region steadily become unstable, as minor Turkic beys sought to play off the Ottomans against the number two power in the area, the Karamanids.  

Ottoman Empire Town of Beyşehir

Since the dynastical marriages of 1381, the political borders in Anatolia had not changed except for the eastern quadrant of the Candarid  Beylik, whose beys declared for Murad in 1384. However, the steady peace would be broken in 1386 when Alaeddin Ali Bey began his invasion of Western Anatolia by capturing the Ottoman Empire town of Beyşehir. Hearing the news of his treacherous son-in-law, Murad called forth his banners and formally declared war against the Karamanids.  

Accompanied by his two sons, Bayezid and Yakup,  the Ottoman Empire forces of Kara Timurtaş Pasha,   a contingent of vassal troops from Constantinople led by John V,   and forces from his Serbian vassals, Murad now had a grand army numbering around 40,000-70,000 men. In command of the largest  Ottoman Empire force ever, Murad wintered with his troops in Bursa before marching on the Karamanid capital of Konya during the spring of 1387. 

Expansion in Anatolia

The forces of Alaeddin Ali and Murad I would meet on the Konya plain just near the Karamanid capital itself. Murad I and his retinue of Kapikulu soldiers were positioned in the middle of the Ottoman battle line alongside the forces of Timurtaş Pasha. At the same time, his sons Bayezid and Yakup led the left and right flanks accompanied by Serbian and Byzantine vassal troops and Ottoman cavalry. The following engagement, which would later be known as the Battle of Frenkyazisi, would begin with a general Ottoman charge on the disorganized and ill-disciplined forces of the Karamanid bey. 

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Within minutes, the Karamanid lines would break from the weight of the Ottoman Empire charge, and a full-scale Karamanid rout was underway.   Easily routing the Karamanid army, Murad stormed into the Karamanid capital city of Konya, where his son-in-law had locked himself with his household in the city’s fortress. The now disgraced and defeated Alaeddin Ali Bey called forth his Ottoman wife, Melek Hatun, to negotiate with her father to ask for forgiveness for his actions.

After much pleading from his daughter, Murad reluctantly pardoned the Karamanid bey and returned to   Bursa after collecting his war concessions from Konya. In a single military campaign, the sons of Osman had showcased to the rest of Anatolia that they were the new premier power of the region. As Sultan Murad I and his forces reigned supreme in Anatolia, a new threat in the Balkans in the form of a certain enthusiastic Serbian Prince would arise in the region.

Battle of Kirkdilim 1391 - Ottoman Empire
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