"Long have we wished for war with you. Now, the praise be to God, it is at hand. If you do not come seek us, we shall pursue you to Sultaniah. Then we will see who will be exalted by victory and cast down by defeat."
July 20, 1402- Timur, Tamerlane, decisively defeats the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid at the Battle of Ankara. Timur’s army outnumbered the Sultan’s 2:1 and was exclusively cavalry, one hundred and a half thousand mounted archers. Tensions had been building between the two rulers for years, with many insulting letters going between Bursa and Samarkand. While Bayezid was campaigning in Hungary, Timur invaded Anatolia, sacking and burning everything in his path and slaughtering the Ottoman forces arrayed against him. Bayezid wheeled around to meet the threat, but only the Serbs and Wallachian knights serving the Sultan were immune to the Tartar arrows. Timur had the nearby creek diverted and the Ottoman army, beaten, bloody, tired, and thirsty finally surrendered.
Bayezid himself, once know as Yıldırım, the Thunderbolt, became the only Ottoman Sultan to be captured in battle. Various accounts proclaim that Timur carried the sultan around in a golden cage and Bayezid eventually bashed his own head in on the bars in despair, but most evidence supports that Timur treated his foe with respect and even mourned his passing the following year. With Bayezid’s capture and death, the Ottoman Empire was thrown into the Interregnum, an 11 year civil war between four of Bayezid’s sons that threatened to destroy the nascent empire.
Europe breathed a sigh of relief at such a monumental defeat for the Turks. Timur was hailed as a hero and savior and his banners were even flown over the town of Galata. The Kings of France and England praised him for his respectful behavior towards Christians. Bayezid’s siege of Constantinople was broken and the Byzantine Empire was allowed a respite from the Turks. Admiration soon turned to horror as this new conqueror out of Asia decimated Anatolia in fury at the Italian sailors who carried Turks across the water to Europe. Still, it was this event that planted the image of Tamerlane into the minds of Europeans. Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great was one of the first high-Elizabethan dramas and influenced English plays for the next century.
Picture- The Battle of Ankara, unknown date and author