Osman I

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"Osman Gazi" redirects here. For the municipality, see Osmangazi. For other uses, see Osman Gazi (disambiguation).
Osman Gazi
عثمان غازى
Osman Gazi2.jpg
An imagined portrait of Osman I
Bey of the Kayi tribe
Reign 1281 – c. 1299
Predecessor Ertuğrul
1st Ottoman Sultan (Bey)
Reign c. 1299 – 1323/4
Successor Orhan
Born Unknown[1]
Died 1323/4[2]
Bursa, Ottoman Beylik
Consort Malhun Hatun
Rabia Bala Hatun
Full name
Osman bin Ertuğrul bin Süleyman Şah
Dynasty House of Osman
(Osmanlı Hanedanı)
Father Ertuğrul
Mother Halime Hatun
Religion Islam

Osman Gazi (Ottoman Turkish: عثمان غازىʿOsmān Ġāzī; or Osman Bey or Osman Alp); (died 1323/4),[1][2] sometimes transliterated archaically as Othman or Ottoman or Atman (from the contemporary Byzantine Greek version of his name, Άτμαν) and nicknamed "Kara" ("dark" in Turkish), was the leader of the Ottoman Turks and the founder of the Ottoman dynasty. He and the dynasty bearing his name later established and ruled the nascent Ottoman Empire (then known as the Ottoman Beylik or Emirate). The state, while only a small principality (beylik) during Osman's lifetime, transformed into a world empire in the six centuries after his death.[3] It existed until the abolition of the sultanate in 1922, or alternatively the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 or the abolition of the caliphate in 1924.

Due to the scarcity of historical sources dating from his lifetime, very little factual information is known about him. Not a single written source survives from Osman's reign.[4] The Ottomans did not record the history of Osman's life until the fifteenth century, more than a hundred years after his death.[5] Because of this, it is very challenging for historians to differentiate between fact and myth in the many stories told about him.[6] One historian has even gone so far as to declare it impossible, describing the period of Osman's life as a "black hole."[7]

According to Ottoman tradition, Osman's ancestors were descendants of the Kayı tribe of Oğuz Turks.[8][9] The Ottoman principality was just one of Anatolian Turkish beyliks (many small Turkish principalities in Anatolia) that emerged after the dissolution of the Seljuks, all of which the Ottomans would eventually conquer to reunite Anatolia under Turkish rule. The westward drive of the Mongol invasions had pushed scores of Muslims toward Osman's principality, a power base that Osman was quick to consolidate. As the Byzantine Empire declined, the Ottoman Beylik rose to take its place.

Origin of the name[edit]

Ottoman miniature painting depicting Osman I.
Statue of Osman I.

Since the classical era of the Ottoman, it has been assumed that Osman I was named after Uthman ibn Affan, the third Rashidun caliph of Islam and one of the companions of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. But some scholars have argued that his original name was Turkish, probably Atman or Ataman, and was only later changed to ʿOsmān. The earliest Byzantine sources, including Osman's contemporary George Pachymeres, spell his name as Ατουμάν (Atouman) or Ατμάν (Atman), whereas Greek sources regularly render both the Arabic form ʿUthmān and the Turkish version ʿOsmān with θ, τθ, or τσ. An early Arabic source mentioning him also writes ط rather than ث in one instance. Osman may thus have adopted the more prestigious Muslim name later in his life.[10]

Origins of empire[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Rise of the Ottoman Empire.

The date of Osman's birth is unknown.[1] Ottoman tradition states that his father, Ertuğrul, led the Turkic Kayı tribe[8][9][11] west from Central Asia into Anatolia, fleeing the Mongol onslaught.[12] His mother was named Halime. He pledged allegiance to Sultan Kayqubad I of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, who gave him permission to establish a beylik and expand it if he could, at the expense of the neighboring Byzantine provinces.

Area of the Ottoman Beylik during the reign of Osman I.

This location was auspicious, as the wealthy Byzantine Empire was weakening to his West, while in the east, Muslim forces under the Seljuk Turks were splintered and distracted in the face of relentless Mongol aggression as well as internal bickering.[13] Baghdad had been sacked by Hulagu Khan in 1258, about the time Osman was born. In 1251, Ertuğrul conquered the Nicean (Byzantine) town of Thebasion, which was renamed to Söğüt and became the first capital of his territory—and where Osman was born.[12]

Ottoman historians often dwell on the prophetic significance of his name, which means "bone-breaker", signifying the powerful energy with which he and his followers appeared to show in the following centuries of conquest. The name Osman is the Turkish variation of the name Uthman, of Arabic origin.

Osman became chief, or Bey, upon his father’s death (c. 1280). By this time, mercenaries were streaming into his realm from all over the Islamic world to fight against and hopefully plunder the weakening Byzantine empire. In addition, the Turkic population of Osman's emirate were constantly reinforced by a flood of refugees, fleeing from the Mongols. Of these, many were Ghazi warriors, or fighters for Islam, border fighters who believed they were fighting for the expansion or defense of Islam. Under the strong and able leadership of Osman, these warriors quickly proved a formidable force, and the foundations of the Empire were quickly laid.

Osman appears to have followed the strategy of increasing his territories at the expense of the Byzantines while avoiding conflict with his more powerful Turkish neighbors.[12] His first advances were through the passes which lead from the barren areas of northern Phrygia near modern Eskişehir into the more fertile plains of Bithynia; according to Stanford Shaw, these conquests were achieved against the local Byzantine nobles, "some of whom were defeated in battle, others being absorbed peacefully by purchase contracts, marriage contracts, and the like."[14]

These early victories and exploits are favorite subjects of Ottoman writers, especially in love stories of his wooing and winning the fair Mal Hatun. These legends have been romanticized by the poetical pens which recorded them in later years. The Ottoman writers attached great importance to this legendary, dreamlike conception of the founder of their empire.

Osman's Dream[edit]

Main article: Osman's Dream

Osman I had a close relationship with a local religious leader of dervishes named Sheikh Edebali, whose daughter he married. A story emerged among later Ottoman writers to explain the relationship between the two men, in which Osman had a dream while staying in the Sheikh's house.[15]

One night, when Osman was a guest in Edebali’s dergah, he had a dream. As the sun rose, he went to Edebali and told him, “My Sheik, I saw you in my dream. A moon appeared in your breast. It rose, rose and then descended into my breast. From my navel there sprang a tree. It grew and branched out so much, that the shadow of its branches covered the whole world. What does my dream mean?”

After a brief silence, Edebali interpreted:

“Congratulations Osman! God Almighty bestowed sovereignty upon you and your generation. My daughter will be your wife, and the whole world will be under the protection of your children.”[16][17]

"He saw that a moon arose from the holy man's breast and came to sink in his own breast. A tree then sprouted from his navel and its shade compassed the world. Beneath this shade there were mountains, and streams flowed forth from the foot of each mountain. Some people drank from these running waters, others watered gardens, while yet others caused fountains to flow. When Osman awoke he told the story to the holy man, who said 'Osman, my son, congratulations, for God has given the imperial office to you and your descendants and my daughter Malhun shall be your wife."[18]

The dream became an important foundational myth for the empire, imbuing the House of Osman with God-given authority over the earth and providing its fifteenth-century audience with an explanation for Ottoman success.[19] The dream story may also have served as a form of compact: just as God promised to provide Osman and his descendants with sovereignty, it was also implicit that it was the duty of Osman to provide his subjects with prosperity.[20]

Military victories[edit]

Illustration of Osman rallying Gazi warriors into battle.

According to Shaw, Osman's first real conquests followed the collapse of Seljuk authority when he was able to occupy the fortresses of Eskişehir and Karacahisar. Then he captured the first significant city in his territories, Yenişehir, which became the Ottoman capital.[14]

In 1302, after soundly defeating a Byzantine force near Nicaea, Osman began settling his forces closer to Byzantine controlled areas.[21] Large numbers of Ghazi warriors, Islamic scholars and dervishes began settling in Osman-controlled areas, and migrants composed the bulk of his army. The influx of Ghazi warriors and adventurers of differing backgrounds into these lands spurred subsequent Ottoman rulers to title themselves "Sultan of Ghazis".[21]

Alarmed by Osman's growing influence, the Byzantines gradually fled the Anatolian countryside. Byzantine leadership attempted to contain Ottoman expansion, but their efforts were poorly organized and ineffectual. Meanwhile, Osman spent the remainder of his reign expanding his control in two directions, north along the course of the Sakarya River and southwest towards the Sea of Marmora, achieving his objectives by 1308.[14] That same year his followers participated in conquest of the Byzantine city of Ephesus near the Aegean Sea, thus capturing the last Byzantine city on the coast, although the city became part of the domain of the Emir of Aydin.[21]

Osman's last campaign was against the city of Bursa.[22] Although Osman did not physically participate in the battle, the victory at Bursa proved to be extremely vital for the Ottomans as the city served as a staging ground against the Byzantines in Constantinople, and as a newly adorned capital for Osman's son, Orhan.

Last testament[edit]

In directing his son to continue the administrative policies set forth by Sheik Edebali, Osman stated:

Son! Be careful about the religious issues before all other duties. The religious precepts build a strong state. Do not give religious duties to careless, faithless and sinful men or to dissipated, indifferent or inexperienced people. And also do not leave the state administrations to such people. Because the one with fear of God the Creator, has no fear of the created. One who commits a great sin and continues to sin can not be loyal. Scholars, virtuous men, artists and literary men are the power of the state structure. Treat them with kindness and honour. Build close relationship when you hear about a virtuous man and give wealth and grant him...Put order the political and religious duties. Take lesson from me so I came to these places as a weak leader and I reached to the help of God although I did not deserve. You follow my way and protect Din-i-Muhammadi and the believers and also your followers. Respect the right of God and His servants. Do not hesitate to advise your successors in this way. Depend on God's help in the esteem of justice and fairness, to remove the cruelty, attempts in every duty. Protect your public from enemy's invasion and from the cruelty. Do not behave any person in an unsuitable way with unfairness. Gratify the public and save all of their sake.

The Sword of Osman[edit]

Main article: Sword of Osman

The Sword of Osman (Turkish: Taklide-Seif)[23] was an important sword of state used during the coronation ceremony of the Ottoman Sultans.[24] The practice started when Osman was girt with the sword of Islam by his mentor and father-in-law Sheik Edebali.[25] The girding of the sword of Osman was a vital ceremony which took place within two weeks of a sultan's accession to the throne. It was held at the tomb complex at Eyüp, on the Golden Horn waterway in the capital Constantinople. The fact that the emblem by which a sultan was enthroned consisted of a sword was highly symbolic: it showed that the office with which he was invested was first and foremost that of a warrior. The Sword of Osman was girded on to the new sultan by the Sharif of Konya, a Mevlevi dervish, who was summoned to Constantinople for that purpose. Such a privilege was reserved to devout religious leaders from the time Osman had established his residence in Konya in 1299, before the capital was moved to Bursa and later to Constantinople.[26]


Türbe (tomb) of Osman Gazi in Bursa

Due to the scarcity of sources about his life, very little is known about Osman's family relations. According to certain fifteenth-century Ottoman writers, Osman was descended from the Kayı branch of the Oğuz Turks, a claim which later became part of the official Ottoman genealogy and was eventually enshrined in the Turkish Nationalist historical tradition with the writings of M. F. Köprülü.[27] However, the claim to Kayı lineage does not appear in the earliest extant Ottoman genealogies. Thus many scholars of the early Ottomans regard it as a later fabrication meant to shore up dynastic legitimacy with regard to the empire's Turkish rivals in Anatolia.[28]

It is very difficult for historians to determine what is factual and what is legendary about the many stories the Ottomans told about Osman and his exploits, and the Ottoman sources do not always agree with each other.[29] According to one story, Osman had an uncle named Dündar with whom he had a quarrel early in his career. Osman wished to attack the local Christian lord of Bilecik, while Dündar opposed it, arguing that they already had enough enemies. Interpreting this as a challenge to his leadership position, Osman shot and killed his uncle with an arrow.[29] This story does not appear in many later Ottoman historical works. If it were true, it means that it was likely covered up in order to avoid tarnishing the reputation of the Ottoman dynasty's founder with the murder of a family member. It may also indicate an important change in the relationship of the Ottomans with their neighbors, shifting from relatively peaceful accommodation to a more aggressive policy of conquest.[30]




  • Fatma

In popular media[edit]

Osman is portrayed by Oğuz Oktay in 2012 film Fetih 1453. Osman appears in Mehmed II's (Devrim Evin) dream and tells him that Mehmed is the commander prophesied by Muhammad as Constantinople's conqueror. In movie 1299 Kuruluş/Osmancık Osman is portrayed by Cihan Ünal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kermeli, Eugenia (2009). "Osman I". In Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. p. 444. Reliable information regarding Osman is scarce. His birth date is unknown and his symbolic significance as the father of the dynasty has encouraged the development of mythic tales regarding the ruler’s life and origins 
  2. ^ a b Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. 16. By the time of Osman's death (1323 or 1324)... 
  3. ^ The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1999, Donald Quataert, page 4, 2005
  4. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. xii. There is still not one authentic written document known from the time of ʿOsmān, and there are not many from the fourteenth century altogether. 
  5. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. 93. 
  6. ^ Finkel, Caroline (2005). Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. Basic Books. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-465-02396-7. Modern historians attempt to sift historical fact from the myths contained in the later stories in which the Ottoman chroniclers accounted for the origins of the dynasty 
  7. ^ Imber, Colin (1991). Elizabeth Zachariadou, ed. The Ottoman Empire (1300-1389). Rethymnon: Crete University Press. p. 75. Almost all the traditional tales about Osman Gazi are fictitious. The best thing a modern historian can do is to admit frankly that the earliest history of the Ottomans is a black hole. Any attempt to fill this hole will result simply in more fables. 
  8. ^ a b Shaw, Stanford (1976). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge University Press. p. 13. The problem of Ottoman origins has preoccupied students of history, but because of both the absence of contemporary source materials and conflicting accounts written subsequent to the events there seems to be no basis for a definitive statement. 
  9. ^ a b "Ottoman Empire". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  10. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. 124. 
  11. ^ http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Turkey2.html
  12. ^ a b c Stanford Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Cambridge: University Press, 1976), vol. 1 p. 13
  13. ^ For an overview of the period following the decisive Battle of Köse Dağ, see Claude Cahen, Pre-Ottoman Turkey: A general survey of the material and spiritual culture and history c. 1071-1330 (New York: Taplinger, 1968), pp. 269—325
  14. ^ a b c Shaw, Ottoman Empire, p. 14
  15. ^ Kermeli, Eugenia (2009). "Osman I". In Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. p. 445. Apart from these chronicles, there are later sources that begin to establish Osman as a mythic figure. From the 16th century onward a number of dynastic myths are used by Ottoman and Western authors, endowing the founder of the dynasty with more exalted origins. Among these is recounted the famous “dream of Osman” which is supposed to have taken place while he was a guest in the house of a sheikh, Edebali. [...] This highly symbolic narrative should be understood, however, as an example of eschatological mythology required by the subsequent success of the Ottoman emirate to surround the founder of the dynasty with supernatural vision, providential success, and an illustrious genealogy. 
    • Imber, Colin (1987). "The Ottoman Dynastic Myth". Turcica. 19: 7–27. The attraction of Aşıkpasazade's story was not only that it furnished an episode proving that God had bestowed rulership on the Ottomans, but also that it provided, side by side with the physical descent from Oguz Khan, a spiritual descent. [...] Hence the physical union of Osman with a saint's daughter gave the dynasty a spiritual legitimacy and became, after the 1480s, an integral feature of dynastic mythology. 
  16. ^ Köprülü, M. Fuad (1981), Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun Kuruluşu. İstanbul: Ötüken, 1981.
  17. ^ Sakaoğlu, Necdet "Osman I", (1999) Yaşamları ve Yapıtlarıyla Osmanlılar Ansiklopedisi, C.2 s.392-395 İstanbul:Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, ISBN 975-08-0073-7
  18. ^ Finkel, Caroline. Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. p. 2. 
  19. ^ Finkel, Caroline. Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. Basic Books. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-465-02396-7. First communicated in this form in the later fifteenth century, a century and a half after Osman's death in about 1323, this dream became one of the most resilient founding myths of the empire. 
  20. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. pp. 132–3. 
  21. ^ a b c Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453 (Cambridge: University Press, 1969) p. 32
  22. ^ Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople, p. 33
  23. ^ M'Gregor, J. (July 1854). "The Race, Religions, and Government of the Ottoman Empire". The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art. Vol. 32. New York: Leavitt, Trow, & Co. p. 376. OCLC 6298914. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  24. ^ Frederick William Hasluck, [First published 1929], "XLVI. The Girding of the Sultan", in Margaret Hasluck, Christianity and Islam Under the Sultans II, pp. 604–622. ISBN 978-1-4067-5887-0
  25. ^ Frank R. C. Bagley, The Last Great Muslim Empires (Leiden: Brill, 1969), p. 2 ISBN 978-90-04-02104-4
  26. ^ "Girding on the Sword of Osman" (PDF). The New York Times. 1876-09-18. p. 2. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  27. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. pp. 10, 37. 
  28. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. 122. That they hailed from the Kayı branch of the Oğuz confederacy seems to be a creative "rediscovery" in the genealogical concoction of the fifteenth century. It is missing not only in Ahmedi but also, and more importantly, in the Yahşi Fakih-Aşıkpaşazade narrative, which gives its own version of an elaborate genealogical family tree going back to Noah. If there was a particularly significant claim to Kayı lineage, it is hard to imagine that Yahşi Fakih would not have heard of it. 
    • Lowry, Heath (2003). The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. SUNY Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-7914-5636-6. Based on these charters, all of which were drawn up between 1324 and 1360 (almost one hundred fifty years prior to the emergence of the Ottoman dynastic myth identifying them as members of the Kayı branch of the Oguz federation of Turkish tribes), we may posit that... 
    • Lindner, Rudi Paul (1983). Nomads and Ottomans in Medieval Anatolia. Indiana University Press. p. 10. In fact, no matter how one were to try, the sources simply do not allow the recovery of a family tree linking the antecedents of Osman to the Kayı of the Oğuz tribe. Without a proven genealogy, or even without evidence of sufficient care to produce a single genealogy to be presented to all the court chroniclers, there obviously could be no tribe; thus, the tribe was not a factor in early Ottoman history. 
  29. ^ a b Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. 105. 
    • Finkel, Caroline. Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. Basic Books. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-465-02396-7. Modern historians attempt to sift historical fact from the myths contained in the later stories in which the Ottoman chroniclers accounted for the origins of the dynasty 
  30. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. pp. 107–8. 


  • Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters, eds. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-6259-1. 
  • Imber, Colin (1987). "The Ottoman Dynastic Myth". Turcica. 19: 7–27. 
  • Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20600-7. 
  • Lindner, Rudi P. (1983). Nomads and Ottomans in Medieval Anatolia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-933070-12-8. 
  • Lowry, Heath (2003). The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. Albany: SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-5636-6. 
  • Zachariadou, Elizabeth, ed. (1991). The Ottoman Empire (1300-1389). Rethymnon: Crete University Press. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Osman I at Wikimedia Commons

Osman I
Born: Unknown Died: 1323/4
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Leader of the Kayı Turks
1281 – c. 1299
Became Sultan (Bey)
New title
Ottoman Sultan (Bey)
c. 1299 – 1323/4
Succeeded by
Orhan I