Today in European history: the Battle of Sinop (1853)

and that's the way it was

Apart from the Charge of the Light Brigade (the actual charge, but also the poem), the Crimean War (1853-1856) is perhaps best known (at least by some of us) as the first “modern” war, in that it was during the Crimean War when later military staples like rail, telegraphs, trenches, and rifled firearms and artillery first got tested on a major battlefield. Oh, and it also led to the development of modern professional nursing, triage, and anesthetics, but who’s counting? The 1853 Battle of Sinop is perhaps most noteworthy for the way it helped pioneer another development in military technology, although it’s also important in that it was the war’s first major battle, and Russia’s victory in this battle paved the way for it to eventually lose the war.

A Russian stamp commemorating the Battle of Sinop, issued in 2003 (Wikimedia)

The Battle of Sinop, named for…

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

and that's the way it was

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 namesake, led his fighters (it would be exaggerating to call it an “army” at this point) on an invasion (“raid” might be the better term) of Nicomedia, which was under Byzantine control at the time (and would remain so until 1337). This may have been the first Ottoman raid into Byzantine territory.

“Osman I,” a portrait by British engraver John Young (d. 1825), via Wikimedia

The date is worth marking as much as a curiosity as anything else, because while Gibbon’s work is a landmark of Enlightenment scholarship, it’s really not much…

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

The Ottoman Empire of 1713 wasn't the Ottoman Empire of 1513 or even 1613, but it was still a formidable enough power that it could play an active role in European affairs. The so-called "Skirmish at Bendery" (known in Swedish as the Kalabaliken i Bender, from the Turkish word kalabalık or "crowd") shows that the … Continue reading Today in European history: the Skirmish at Bender (1713)

Today in World War I: the Battle of Sarikamish ends (1915)

The Battle of Sarikamish was an overwhelming Russian victory whose outcome put the Ottomans on the defensive in World War I's Caucasus theater of operations right up until the 1917 October Revolution took Russia out of the war altogether. Its military impact was fairly substantial--World War I might have been much different if the Ottomans … Continue reading Today in World War I: the Battle of Sarikamish ends (1915)