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1302 Battle of Bapheus ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: The first victory of the Ottoman Turks against a Byzantine mercenary army 27 July 1302
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Ottoman Turks
Byzantine-Ottoman Wars
Battle Type:
Pitched Battle
The Battlefield Bapheus Location:
Near Nicomedia, modern Izmit in northwestern Minor Asia at the Marmara sea
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Andronikos II Palaiologos) The Enemies
Commander: George Mouzalon Osman I
Forces: 2,000 5,000
Background story: The weakening of the Byzantine Empire and the political rivalry between the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm and the Fatimids in Egypt and southern Syria were the main factors that helped the rise of the various Turkish Beyliks to the state of independent principalities.
One of these Beyliks was a principality called Sogut, founded and led by Ertugrul, which settled in the river valley of Sakarya. When Ertugrul died in 1281, his son Osman became his successor and over the next two decades launched a series of raids into the Byzantine borderlands of Bithynia, exploiting the power vacuum there. Osman declared himself a Sultan and established the Ottoman Dynasty, becoming the first Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1299.
By 1301, the Ottomans were besieging Nicaea, the former imperial capital, and harassing Prusa. The Turkish raids also threatened the port city of Nicomedia with famine, as they roamed the countryside and prohibited the collection of the harvest.
In the spring 1302, Byzantine Co-emperor Michael IX (r. 1294–1320) launched a campaign which reached south up to Magnesia. The Turks, awed by his large army, avoided battle. Michael sought to confront them, but was dissuaded by his generals. The Turks, encouraged, resumed their raids, virtually isolating him at Magnesia. His army dissolved without battle, as the local troops left to defend their homes and the Alans too left to rejoin their families in Thrace. Michael was forced to withdraw by the sea, followed by another wave of refugees.
The Battle:
To contain the threat to Nicomedia, Michael's father and senior emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos sent a Byzantine force of some 2,000 men (half of whom were recently hired Alan mercenaries), under the megas hetaireiarches George Mouzalon, to cross over the Bosporus and relieve the city from the barbarians.
At the plain of Bapheus (Greek: ??????; an unidentified site, perhaps to the east of Nicomedia but within sight of the city) on 27 July 1302, the Byzantines met a Turkish army of some 5,000 light cavalry under Osman himself, composed of his own troops as well as allies from the Turkish tribes of Paphlagonia and the Maeander River area. The Turkish cavalry charged the Byzantines, whose Alan contingent notably did not participate in the battle. The Turks broke the Byzantine line, forcing Mouzalon to withdraw into Nicomedia under the cover of the Alan force. The Turks advanced to the Asian shore of Bosporus but they did not take Nicomedia.
Noteworthy: It was because of this battle that Michael IX decided to hire the Catalan Company to fight the Turks. A really bad choice.
Aftermath: A minor battle with dramatic implications. The Byzantines lost control of the countryside of Bithynia, withdrawing to their forts, which, isolated, fell one by one. The defeat also sparked a massive exodus of the Christian population from the area.