Osman I, also known as Osman Ghazi, was the leader of the Kayi tribe. He founded the Ottoman dynasty at the end of the 13th century in Sogut, an area in present-day north-western Turkiye, from which it would expand and rise to become the Ottoman Empire.
Founded in 1299 by Muslim Oghuz Turks in the present-day Sogut district of Turkiye’s western Bilecik province led by Osman Ghazi (the warrior), the Ottoman Empire gradually became a world power spanning Africa, Asia and Europe, lasting over 600 years, and wielded influence over the Middle East, Balkans and the world.
Osman I was a nominal vassal to the Seljuks — ruled from their capital city of Konya in central modern-day Turkiye — until he declared his independence and started taking over Byzantine land in 1299, following the disintegration of the Seljuk dynasty.
Osman I, a descendant of the Kayi tribe, established a small principality, or principality, and formed a new order in the region. The word Ottoman is derived from Osman’s name.
Muslim Oghuz Turks migrating from Central Asia established the Seljuk dynasty, known as the Great Seljuk Empire, which included modern-day Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Iran in the mid-11th century. In the 1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks defeat a Byzantine army and opened up Anatolia for Turkish domination.
By the early 12th century, Turkish tribes spread across most of Anatolia. Even the Crusades, between 1095 and 1291, and Mongol invasions of the 13th century could not displace the Turks from their new homeland.
Following the Mongol defeat of the Seljuks in 1293, Seljuk territories quickly divided into small beyliks, led separately by various tribes, including the Kayi.
Taking advantage of the disintegration of the Seljuk dynasty, Osman I quickly expanded his territory through Anatolia. The Ottomans were, at the time, a chief rival to the Byzantine Empire, which was based in the city of Constantinople — today’s Istanbul — roughly 150 kilometres (about 93 miles) north-west of Sogut on the other side of the Sea of Marmara.
Born in 1258 in Sogut, Osman was the son of Ertugrul, a chieftain from the Kayi tribe under the command of the Seljuks, and grandson of Suleyman Shah, both of whom from the Kayi tribe of Oghuz Turks.
After the death of his father in 1280, Osman inherited his position as bey, or chief, formed his forces, and began marching towards small settlements in Byzantine territory.
In 1298, Osman captured the town of Yarhisar, as well as Bilecik, where he moved the centre of his principality.
He gained control of the Inegol region in 1299 and a sermon was delivered in his name in Karacahisar castle. This is widely accepted as the date when the Ottoman Empire was founded.
Osman laid siege on the city of Iznik (also known as Nicaea) in 1301 and on Bursa, a year later. Iznik, fortified with a city wall, and protected by a large garrison as an important administrative hub and former Byzantine capital, was conquered in 1330.
Due to illness, he handed over the leadership of the principality to his son Orhan Ghazi in 1324. Osman I died just before the capture of Bursa city in 1326, following a siege of 24 years.
By the end of his reign, Osman had almost doubled the size of the Ottoman realm. His last wish as a ruler was to take Bursa.
Osman Bey’s body was buried in Sogut and reinterred in Bursa in 1326, in line with his will.
The father of seven sons, Osman was married twice in his life. Succeeding him, his son Orhan Ghazi captured more major cities in present-day north-western Turkiye.
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