Ottoman Turks: Glossary

Battle of Nicopolis
In 1396, Hungarian and French forces responding to a papal call for a crusade against the Ottoman Turks were crushed in battle at Nicopolis on the Danube River in Bulgaria. French survivors returning with accounts of the disaster were imprisoned and the defeat sent a wave of fear across Europe.

Battle of Varna
The Polish and Hungarian armies under Wladyslaw III and Janos Hunyadi were crushed at the Battle of Varna in 1444 by the Ottoman Turks under Murad II. The defeat ended any serious attempts to prevent the conquest of eastern Europe by Turks for several decades and the death of Wladyslaw II in the battle left the realm in the hands of his six-year old son, Ladislav V.

Gazi Warrior
A title given to Islamic warriors who distinguished themselves as conquerors of unbelievers, the gazis acquired wealth and property on the frontiers of Islam, becoming the local nobility.

Hunyadi, Janos
Hunyadi was a military hero who led crusades against the encroaching Ottoman empire in southeast Europe during the middle of the fifteenth century. It was due to his fame and courage that his family succeeded to the Hungarian throne.

The monotheistic faith of the Muslims, the tenets of the religion were revealed through the prophet of Allah, Muhammad (d.632).

A new military force intially created by Orhan (d. 1359) in 1330, Murad I (1319-1389) re-organised the force into the standing paid army of the Ottoman Empire. Composed of Christian captives, the janissaries were educated in the Islamic faith and trained as soldiers. Under the direct command of the sultan, the janissaries countered the gazi nobility and were rewarded with land and administrative promotion, eventually occupying some of the highest positions in the Ottoman Empire.

A new military force organised by Murat I (1360-1389), made up of captives from conquered lands and placed directly under his own command. They countered the gazi tradition and were rewarded with land to ensure their loyalty to him and successive Sultans.

Mehmet II the Conqueror or Mehmed II or Mehemet II or Muhammad II
(1432-1481) Succeeding his father as ruler of the Ottoman Empire in 1451, Mehmet II also continued his father's expansions. An extremely competent soldier supported by a skilled and experienced army, Mehmet II was virtually unstoppable and quickly gained the title fatih, ("conqueror'). Constantinople fell to him in 1453 and he quickly made the city the capital of the Ottoman Empire. He was a highly cultured man who supported Islamic arts.

Mongols or Mongol Empire
The Mongolian-speaking nomadic tribes that ruled most of western and eastern Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Mongols established control in modern-day Russia and continued to expand whenever a strong ruler acquired leadership. The conversion of many of their subjects to Islam diminished the authority of the Buddhist Mongols and,despite some attempts by their leader Tamerlane to re-establish control in the late fourteenth century, the Mongolian Empire turned its attention eastward and away from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East.

Murad I or Murat I
(1319-1389) Succeeded his father as ruler of the Ottoman Empire in 1359, Murad I captured Thrace in 1363 and by 1369, he had conquered Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia. He died at the battle of Kossovo in 1389 when a Serbian noble gained access to his tent and stabbed him. Murad I reorganised the janissaries into a standing paid army in the service of the sultan.

Murad II or Murat II
(c.1403-1451) Succeeded his father, Mehmet I, in 1421. Murad II continued the expansionist policy of the Ottomans, capturing Salonika and embarking on a series of campaigns against Hungary. He was frustrated by the military strategy of the Hungarian leader, Janos Hunyadi. He signed the Treaty of Szeged in 1444 with a Balkan coalition under the leadership of the Polish king, Wladislaw III. He crushed a Christian army at Varna later in the same year, defeating the combined forces of Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia at Kossovo in 1448, reacquiring control of Serbia, which he had earlier relinquished in the Treaty of Szeged.

Ottoman Empire
The political and geographical entity governed by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Their empire was centered in present-day Turkey, and extended its influence into southeastern Europe as well as the Middle East. Europe was only temporarily able to resist their advance: the turning point came at the Battle of Varna in 1444 when a European coalition army failed to stop the Turkish advance. Only Constantinople remained in Byzantine hands and its fall in 1453 seemed inevitable after Varna. The Turks subsequently established an empire in Anatolia and southeastern Europe which lasted until the early twentieth century.

Ottoman Turks
Driven from their Asiatic homelands by the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks pressed into the Balkan provinces of the Byzantine Empire. In the fourteenth century, they began their conquest of Byzantine territory.

(1259-1326) The founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman succeeded his father to a small territory granted by the Seljuk Turks. He followed the gazi tradition, expanding and enriching his empire.

Seljuk Turks
During the eleventh century, these Asiatic nomads seized the Baghdad Caliphate and swept into Asia Minor. Their conquest of Asia Minor provoked the first Christian crusade, but the western crusaders were unable to dislodge the Seljuks. The Seljuk empire suffered from increasing political decentralization and developed into a loose association of minor states. The Seljuks were succeeded by the Ottoman Turks, who unlike their predecessors established a strong Turkish empire in Asia Minor.

Tatars or Tartars
The name applied to a group of Turkic tribes who, along with the Mongols, invaded Europe and Asia in the thirteenth century, establishing the Empire of the Great Horde.

  Return to Ottoman Turks 

The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
Copyright © 1998, The Applied History Research Group