Battle of Ankara
The Battle of Ankara was fought on 20 July 1402 at the Çubuk plain near Ankara between the forces of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I and Timur, ruler of the Timurid Empire. The battle was a victory for Timur, and it led to a period of crisis for the Ottoman Empire. Timur, a Turco-Mongol from Transoxiana, had built an empire in Central Asia over the years and he sought to rebuild the once great Mongol Empire. In the 1380s and 1390s, he invaded and conquered parts of Persia, ravaged southern Russia and Ukraine, in 1400–01 Timur took Sivas from the Ottomans, parts of Syria from the Mamluks, and next directed towards Anatolia. Meanwhile, in 1402, the Ottomans had been campaigning in Europe, Bayezid broke off the blockade of Constantinople and marched to Ankara after Timur again moved his army to the southeast in the summer of 1402. It is estimated that the Timurid army counted 140,000, mostly cavalry, historical sources exaggerated the number of troops, Ahmad ibn Arabshah claimed 800,000 Timurid troops, while a German witness claimed 1,6 million, for instance.
The Ottoman force included contingents under his sons, Janissaries, Anatolian Muslim vassals, among Serbian vassals participating were Stefan Lazarević and Đurađ Branković, and among Albanian were Koja Zakarija, Demetrius Jonima, Gjon Kastrioti, and probably Tanush Major Dukagjin. Christian vassals that did not participate were Wallachian Mircea and Zetan Konstantin Balšić, a quarter of the Ottoman troops were recently conquered Tatars. Bayezid reluctantly withdrew his forces from the blockade of Constantinople and marched them through the midsummer heat, when they arrived, they were tired and thirsty, but were allowed no time to rest or recuperate. Bayezid instead chose to take a stance and marched eastward. Advancing Ottoman scouts found no traces of the Timurids, who secretly marched southwest, the Timurids encamped in the same locations that the Ottomans had previously occupied, making use of abandoned tents and water sources. In the Timurid army, Timur commanded the centre, his sons Miran and Rukh the right and left, 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, Stefan Lazarević and his knights together with Wallachian forces successfully fought off the Timurid assaults and cut through the Mongol ranks three times. Each time Stefan advised Bayezid to break out with him, Bayezid declined to do so, but the Serbians managed to save one of Bayezids sons and the treasury from the Mongols and made their way to Constantinople. The Serbian troops wore heavy black plate armour which was effective against the Timurid arrows. Timur admired the Serbian troops who according to him fight like lions, during the battle the main water supply of both armies, Çubuk creek, was diverted to an off-stream reservoir near the town of Çubuk by Timur, which left the Ottoman army with no water. The final battle took place at Catal hill, dominating the Çubuk 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 and he died in captivity three months later
Battle of Maritsa
Before the Battle of Maritsa, Vukašin had the intention to recapture Skadar for the Serbian Empire. The Serbian army numbered 20, 000–70,000 men, most sources agree on the higher number. Despot Uglješa wanted to make an attack on the Ottomans in their capital city, Edirne. Thousands of Serbs were killed, and thousands drowned in the Maritsa river when they tried to flee, after the battle, the Maritsa ran scarlet with blood. Macedonia and parts of Greece fell under Ottoman power after this battle, the battle preceded the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, and was one of many in history of the Serbian-Turkish wars. Battle of the Maritsa River Encyclopædia Britannica
Halil Rifat Pasha
Halil Rifat Pasha was an Ottoman statesman and a grand vizier for six years between 1895 till his death 1901, under the reign of Abdülhamid II. He was born at Serres and received education in an islamic type parish school in Thessaloniki, after his education years, he started to work as a mailing clerk in Vidin, worked as secretary in the office of the Governor of Salonika. He advanced by degrees and was appointed to official positions by passage of time. In 1882 he was appointed as mutasarrıf of Vidin, in 1886 he was appointed as governor of Sivas and he was subsequently appointed governor of Aidin and of Monastir, where he fought brigandage units which was rife in the province. He was appointed as minister of internal affairs in 1893, he was appointed as grand vizier in November 1895. The most important events in his era as grand vizier were the riots of Sason and in Crete, as well as the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 which ended with Ottoman victory
Edhem Pasha was an Ottoman military commander. Edhem was born in Trabzon in present-day Turkey and he was the deputy of Gazi Osman Pasha during the siege of Plevna in 1877. He was the commander of the Ottoman army that defeated the Greek army on the Thessalian front during the Greco-Turkish War. Edhem Pasha was especially successful in the Battle of Domokos on the front and he captured Larissa and Trikala, but other European states intervened in favor of Greece because of the danger that Turks again could once again capture the rest of the Morea. As a result, the Greco-Turkish War resulted in a strategic stalemate despite Turkish military victory, edhem Pasha died in Constantinople in 1909
Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, historically known as Hellas, is a country in southeastern Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2015. Athens is the capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. Greece consists of nine regions, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Crete. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km in length, featuring a vast number of islands, eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as polis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea.
Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming a part of the Roman Empire and its successor. The Greek Orthodox Church shaped modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World, falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence. Greeces rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe, Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. Greeces unique cultural heritage, large industry, prominent shipping sector. It is the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor, the names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages and cultures.
The earliest evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, all three stages of the stone age are represented in Greece, for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries and these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC and this ushered in a period known as the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent. The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, in 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the worlds first democratic system of government in Athens
Battle of Kosovo (1448)
The Second Battle of Kosovo was fought at Kosovo Polje between a coalition of the Kingdom of Hungary and Wallachia led by John Hunyadi, against an Ottoman-led coalition under Sultan Murad II. The result of the battle was a decisive Ottoman victory, in 1448, John Hunyadi saw the right moment to lead a campaign against the Ottoman Empire. After the defeat at the Battle of Varna, he raised another army to attack the Ottomans and his strategy was based on an expected revolt of the Balkan people, a surprise attack, and the destruction of the main force of the Ottomans in a single battle. In September 1448 Hunyadi led the Hungarian forces across the Danube river and camped them in Serbia next to Kovin, for a full month the Hungarians were encamped there awaiting the German crusaders, the Wallachian Duke as well as the Bohemian and Albanian army. The Albanian army under Skanderbeg did not participate in battle as he was prevented from linking with Hunyadis army by the Ottomans. It is believed that he was delayed by Serbian despot Đurađ Branković, allied with Sultan Murad II, as a result, Skanderbeg ravaged Brankovićs domains as punishment for deserting the Christian cause.
Branković reacted ambiguously at the trespassing and negotiated the terms of joining the Crusade against the Ottomans over that period of time. Branković was weary, having had his realm restored after a full-scale Ottoman occupation only in 1444, Despot Branković was unwilling to set himself under Hunyadis command under any condition, as he personally disliked him, considering him of lower stature. The central point of the dispute between Hunyadi and Branković was their personal quarrel and this had included gifting Hunyadi with the his possessions in the Hungarian Kingdom in favor of a pacifist approach. After Hunyadi eventually joined the side, Branković had asked for the return of his properties. The Serbian rejection and positioning as a side had led to Hunyadis fury. At the end of the negotiations, Hunyadi had threatened to kill Branković in person after his country was occupied, in late September 1448, Hunyadi had amassed 30,000 men and moved southwards. The Crusaders pillaged and burned across Serbia, but the Serb Despot gave an order of free passage.
The Crusaders, numbering possibly 24,000, arrived at Kosovo Field – the site of the first Battle of Kosovo in 1389, between Serbs and Ottomans – and faced an Ottoman army of up to 60,000. Sultan Murad personally commanded a section of cannons and janissaries, while his son and successor Mehmed. Hunyadi commanded the center of his army in the battle, while the Crusaders right wing was under the Wallachians, the Hungarians had long barrage cannons. The next day the battle opened when Hunyadi attacked the Ottoman flanks with mixed cavalry, the Turkish flanks, consisting of soldiers from Rumelia and Anatolia, were losing until Turkish light cavalry arrived to reinforce them. The Christian flanks were subsequently routed and the survivors retreated back to Hunyadis main force, when Hunyadi saw the defeat of his flanks, he attacked with his main force, composed of knights and light infantry
Thermopylae is a place in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs, the Hot Gates is the place of hot springs and in Greek mythology it is the cavernous entrances to Hades. Thermopylae is the land route large enough to bear any significant traffic between Lokris and Thessaly. This passage from north to south along the east coast of the Balkan peninsula requires use of the pass and for this reason Thermopylae has been the site of several battles. In ancient times it was called Malis which was named after the Malians, the Malian Gulf is named after them. In the western valley of the Spercheios their land was adjacent to the Aenianes and their main town was named Trachis. In the town of Anthela, the Malians had an important temple of Demeter, the land is dominated by the coastal floodplain of the Spercheios River and is surrounded by sloping forested limestone mountains. There is continuous deposition of sediment from the river and travertine deposits from the hot springs which has altered the landscape during the past few thousand years.
The land surface on which the famous Battle of Thermopylae was fought in 480 BC is now buried under 20 metres of soil, the shoreline has advanced over the centuries because of the sedimentary deposition. The level of the Malian Gulf was higher during prehistoric times. Its shoreline advanced by up to 2 kilometers between 2500 BC and 480 BC but still has several extremely narrow passages between the sea and the mountains. The narrowest point on the plain, where the Battle of Thermopylae was probably fought, a main highway now splits the pass, with a modern-day monument to King Leonidas I of Sparta on the east side of the highway. It is directly across the road from the hill where Simonides of Ceoss epitaph to the fallen is engraved in stone at the top. Thermopylae is part of the horseshoe of Maliakos known as the horseshoe of death, it is the narrowest part of the highway connecting the north. It has many turns and has been the site of vehicular accidents. The hot springs from which the pass derives its name still exist close to the foot of the hill, Thermopylae translated to English means hot gates and the name is related with its hot sulphur springs.
This is also, in Greek mythology, the place of the entrance to Hades. The first mentioned Amphictyony was centered on the cult of Demeter which was located at the city of Anthela near Thermopylae, the river has become hot and stayed that way ever since
Battle of Varna
The Battle of Varna took place on 10 November 1444 near Varna in eastern Bulgaria. The Ottoman Army under Sultan Murad II defeated the Hungarian-Polish and Wallachian armies commanded by Władysław III of Poland, John Hunyadi and it was the final battle of the Crusade of Varna. Đurađ Branković contributed to Ottoman victory by giving the Sultan information on the Christian advance, the Hungarian Kingdom fell into crisis after the death of King Sigismund in 1437. His son-in-law and successor, King Albert, ruled for two years and died in 1439, leaving his widow Elizabeth with an unborn child, Ladislaus the Posthumous. The Hungarian noblemen called the young King Władysław III of Poland to the throne of Hungary, after his Hungarian coronation, he never went back to his homeland again, assuming rule of the Hungarian Kingdom next to the influential nobleman John Hunyadi. After failed expeditions in 1440–42 against Belgrade and Transylvania, and the defeats of the campaign of Hunyadi in 1442–43. After he had made peace with the Karaman Emirate in Anatolia in August 1444, on receipt of this news, Mehmet II understood that he was too young and inexperienced to successfully fight the coalition.
He recalled Murad II to the throne to lead the army into battle, angry at his father, who had long since retired to a contemplative life in southwestern Anatolia, Mehmed II wrote, If you are the Sultan and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan I hereby order you to come and it was only after receiving this letter that Murad II agreed to lead the Ottoman army. The Hungarian advance was rapid, Ottoman fortresses were bypassed, while local Bulgarians from Vidin, Oryahovo, on October 10 near Nicopolis, some 7,000 Wallachian cavalrymen under Mircea II, one of Vlad Draculs sons, joined. Late on November 9, a large Ottoman army of around 50,000 men approached Varna from the west, at a supreme military council called by Hunyadi during the night, the Papal legate, cardinal Julian Cesarini, insisted on a quick withdrawal. However, the Christians were caught between the Black Sea, Lake Varna, the wooded slopes of the Franga plateau. Cesarini proposed a defense using the Wagenburg of the Hussites until the arrival of the Christian fleet, the Hungarian magnates and the Croatian and Czech commanders backed him, but the young Władysław and Hunyadi rejected the defensive tactics.
Hunyadi declared, To escape is impossible, to surrender is unthinkable, let us fight with bravery and honor our arms. Władysław accepted this position and gave him the command, andreas del Palatio states that Hunyadi commanded the Wallachian army indicating a large Romanian component in Hunyadis personal army. In the morning of November 10, Hunyadi deployed the army of some 20,000 –30,000 crusaders as an arc between Lake Varna and the Franga plateau, the line was about 3.5 km long. Two banners with a total of 3,500 men from the kings Polish and Hungarian bodyguards, Hungarian royal mercenaries, the Wallachian cavalry was left in reserve behind the center. The right flank that lined up the hill towards the village of Kamenar numbered 6,500 men in 5 banners, Bishop Jan Dominek of Varadin with his personal banner led the force, Cesarini commanded a banner of German mercenaries and a Bosnian one
The Evzones, or Evzoni, is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Presidential Guard, a ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Presidential Mansion. An Evzone is known, colloquially, as a Tsoliás, though the Presidential Guard is a primarily ceremonial unit, all Evzones are volunteers drawn from the Hellenic Armys Infantry Corps. Prospective Evzones are initially identified at the Infantry Recruit Training Centres during Basic Training, the unit is known for its uniform, which has evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts who fought the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The most visible item of uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment. Their distinctive dress turned them into an image for the Greek soldier. The word evzōnos is first attested in Homers Iliad and derives from εὖ and ζώνη, the word was used by ancient writers for centuries to describe a type of light infantry of unidentified equipment, probably used as a generic term to denote light infantry.
In 1833, after the arrival of King Otto, the Greek Army was organized along new lines, the Bavarian soldiers that had come with Otto formed the majority of the European Line Infantry battalions. Each of these included one rifle company, designated as Skirmishers or Evzone. In addition, ten light Skirmisher battalions were formed from Greeks, in 1836 these battalions were reduced to four, and eight Mountain Guard battalions were formed in their stead, they were grouped into four regiments in 1843. These units were engaged in patrolling the frontier, combating insurgents. The Mountain Guard was incorporated in the strengthened Skirmisher battalions in 1854, in December 1867, the first four elite Evzone light battalions were formed, of four companies each, with the task of guarding the frontier. On 12 December 1868, the Royal Guard detachment, initially named Agema, the Palace Guard, in 1880-1881, the Evzone units were expanded to nine battalions. They participated in the disastrous 1897 war with Turkey as elements of the infantry divisions.
At the time of the Balkan Wars, eight Evzone battalions were in existence and they operated independently on the vanguard or the flanks of the army. They distinguished themselves for their fighting spirit suffering high casualties, especially among officers, subsequently the Evzone units were increased to five regiments, which fought with distinction as elite shock troops in the First World War, the Asia Minor Campaign and the Greco-Italian War. The young soldier did so, but refused to hand over the Greek flag to the Germans and they were derisively known as Germanotsoliades or Tagmatasfalites, and were disbanded after liberation in 1944. After the war, the reconstituted Hellenic Army did not re-establish the Evzone regiments, their elite status, several regular Army Infantry units have been given the numbers and names of the post-1913 Evzone Regiments, these names are only honorific
Greco-Turkish War (1897)
The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, called the Thirty Days War and known in Greece as the Black 97 or the Unfortunate War, was a war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Its immediate cause was the question over the status of the Ottoman province of Crete and this was the first war effort in which the military and political personnel of Greece were put to test since the Greek War of Independence in 1821. For the Ottoman Empire, this was the first war effort in which the military personnel were put to test. The Ottoman army was under the guidance of a German military mission under Colmar von der Goltz who had reorganized it after the defeat in the Russo-Turkish War, the Ottoman commissioners, repeatedly ignored the convention, causing three successive rebellions in 1885,1888 and 1889. To quell the unrest, Ottoman military reinforcements arrived while Greek volunteers landed on the island to support the Greek population, at the same time the fleets of the Great Powers patrolled the Cretan waters, leading to further escalation.
Nevertheless, an agreement was reached with the Sultan and the tensions receded, in January 1897 inter-communal violence broke out as both sides tried to consolidate their grip on power. The Christian district of Chania was set on fire and many fled to the fleet anchored outside the city. A struggle for independence and union with Greece was declared by Cretan revolutionaries, Greek Prime Minister Theodoros Deligiannis was subjected to fierce criticism by his adversary Dimitrios Rallis over his alleged inability to handle the issue. Continuous demonstrations in Athens accused King George I and the government of betrayal of the Cretan cause, the National Society, a nationalistic, militaristic organization that had infiltrated all levels of the army and bureaucracy, pushed for immediate confrontation with the Ottomans. On 25 January 1897 the first troopships, accompanied by the battleship Hydra, sailed for Crete, on 2 February, despite the guarantees given by the Great Powers on the Ottoman sovereignty over the island, Vassos unilaterally proclaimed its union with Greece.
The Powers reacted by demanding that Deligiannis immediately withdraw Greek forces from the island in exchange for a statute of autonomy, the Greek army was made of three divisions, with two of them taking positions in Thessaly and one in Arta, Epirus. Crown Prince Constantine was the general in the army. He took command of the forces on 25 March, the Greek army in Thessaly consisted of 45,000 men,500 cavalry and 96 guns, while that of Epirus comprised 16,000 men and 40 guns. The opposing Ottoman army consisted of eight divisions and one cavalry. In the Thessaly front it consisted of 58,000 men,1,300 cavalry and 186 guns, Edhem Pasha had overall command of the Ottoman forces. Apart from the difference in numbers, the two sides had significant differences in the quality of armaments. The Ottoman army was already being equipped with its generation of smokeless powder repeater rifles. There was the potential for a naval contest, in 1897 the Greek navy consisted of three Hydra class small battleships, one cruiser, the Miaoulis, and several older small ironclads and gunboats