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Battle of Bapheus
Part of the Byzantine–Ottoman Wars
Date27 July 1302
LocationBetween Nicomedia and Nicaea, Bithynia
Result Ottoman victory[1]
 Byzantine Empire Ottoman Empire Ottoman sultanate
Commanders and leaders
George Mouzalon Osman I
~2,000[2][3] ~5,000 [3]

The Battle of Bapheus occurred on 27 July 1302 between an Ottoman army under Osman I and a Byzantine army under George Mouzalon. The battle ended in a crucial Ottoman victory, cementing the Ottoman state and heralding the final capture of Byzantine Bithynia by the Turks. According to Halil İnalcık, the Ottomans achieved its characteristics and qualities of state after this battle (Bafeus Savaşı) near Yalova.[4]

Strategic context

Osman I had succeeded in the leadership of his clan in ca. 1282, and over the next two decades launched a series of ever-deeper raids into the Byzantine borderlands of Bithynia. By 1301, the Ottomans were besieging Nicaea, the former imperial capital, and harassing Prussa.[5] 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, Emperor MichaeI 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.[6][7][8]


To counter the threat to Nicomedia, Michael's co-emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328) 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.[3][9][10]

At the plain of Bapheus (Greek: Βαφεύς; 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.[2][3][10][11]


Bapheus was the first major victory for the nascent Ottoman Beylik, and of major significance for its future expansion: the Byzantines effectively lost control of the countryside of Bithynia, withdrawing to their forts, which, isolated, fell one by one. The Byzantine defeat also sparked a massive exodus of the Christian population from the area into the European parts of the Empire, further altering the region's demographic balance.[2] Coupled with the disaster of Magnesia, which allowed the Turks to reach and establish themselves on the coasts of the Aegean Sea, Bapheus thus heralded the final loss of Asia Minor for Byzantium.[12] The Ottoman conquest of Bithynia was nonetheless gradual, and the last Byzantine outpost there, Nicomedia, fell only in 1337.[13]


  1. Nicol, Donald M., Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 223.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kazhdan (1991), p. 251
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Bartusis (1997), p. 76
  4. "Prof. İnalcık: Osmanlı 1302'de kuruldu: Ünlü tarihçi Prof. Dr. Halil İnalcık, Osmanlı'nın devlet niteliğini 1302 yılında Yalova'daki Bafeus Zaferi sonrası kazandığını söyledi.", NTVNSMBC, 27 July 2009. (Turkish)
  5. Kazhdan (1991), pp. 1539–1540
  6. Nicol (1993), pp. 125–126
  7. Bartusis (1997), pp. 76–77
  8. Laiou (1972), p. 90
  9. Kazhdan (1991), pp. 251, 1421
  10. 10.0 10.1 Nicol (1993), p. 126
  11. Laiou (1972), pp. 90–91
  12. Laiou (1972), pp. 91, 122
  13. Kazhdan (1991), p. 1484


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