Today in European history: the Siege of Thessaloniki ends (1430)

The city of Thessaloniki (formerly Thessalonica) always struck me as one of the ultimate urban runners up in history. It became the most important city in Macedonia…right before the Romans showed up. It became an important Roman city…because it was a way point on the main route from Rome to Byzantium. When the Roman Empire … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Thessaloniki ends (1430)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Fall of Baghdad (1917)

Forewarning: this post is mostly outsourced. For background you’ll want to read Michael Collins Dunn’s account of the Second Battle of Kut from late February. April 1916’s First Battle of Kut, as we know, was a complete Ottoman victory and one of the low points for Britain in the whole war. Following that disaster, the British … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Fall of Baghdad (1917)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Massacre at the Citadel (1811)

Because the Mamluk dynasty wasn’t a “dynasty” in the traditional sense, when the Ottomans toppled it in 1516-1517, there were a lot of important mamluk aristocrats and officials still running around Egypt and Syria who had no particular loyalty to the sultan (Tuman Bey) who had just been overthrown. It was much simpler for the … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Massacre at the Citadel (1811)

Today in European history: the Skirmish at Bendery (1713)

The so-called “Skirmish at Bendery” (known in Swedish as the Kalabaliken i Bender, from the Turkish word kalabalık or “crowd”) shows that, even in 1713, the Ottomans were still capable of the occasional muscle flexing in Europe. It’s actually a chapter in the 1700-1721 Great Northern War, which otherwise didn’t involve the Ottomans at all, … Continue reading Today in European history: the Skirmish at Bendery (1713)

Today in European history: the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699)

(Actually yesterday in European history, but oh well) You know that old joke about how the “Holy Roman Empire” was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire? Here’s another one for you: the 1683-1699 Great Turkish War was neither great (especially if you were in the Ottoman army), nor “Turkish” (Turkish nationalism was still more than … Continue reading Today in European history: the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Capture of Damascus (1918)

The Egyptian Expeditionary Force’s capture of Damascus in early October, 1918, marks the end of World War I in the Middle East. Some scattered fighting continued around Aleppo, but it took only two weeks after losing Damascus for the Ottoman Empire to undergo a complete political upheaval and reach out to the British government to … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Capture of Damascus (1918)

Today (sort of) in Middle Eastern/European history: the Ottomans get started (1299, or 1302)

If you’ve read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire–and, you know, who hasn’t–then you may know that Edward Gibbon marks July 27, 1299, as the date of the founding of the Ottoman Empire. It was on this date, according to Gibbon, that Osman I (d. 1326), the Ottomans’ founder and … Continue reading Today (sort of) in Middle Eastern/European history: the Ottomans get started (1299, or 1302)