Siege of Nicaea (1328–1331)
The siege of Nicaea by the forces of Orhan I from 1328 to 1331, resulted in the conquest of a key Byzantine Greek city by the Ottoman Turks. It played an important role in the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.
|Siege of Nicaea|
|Part of the Byzantine-Ottoman wars|
|Byzantine Empire||Ottoman Emirate|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Andronicus III||Orhan I|
|Casualties and losses|
Following the recapture of Constantinople from the Latins, the Byzantines concentrated their efforts on restoring their hold on Greece. Troops had to be taken from the eastern front in Anatolia and into the Peloponnese, with the disastrous consequence that what land the Nicaean Empire held in Anatolia was now open to Ottoman raids. With the increasing frequency and ferocity of raids, Byzantine imperial authorities pulled back from Anatolia.
By 1326, lands around Nicaea had fallen into the hands of Osman I. He had also captured the city of Bursa, establishing a capital dangerously close to the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. In 1328, Orhan, Osman's son, began the siege of Nicaea, which had been in a state of intermittent blockade since 1301. The Ottomans lacked the ability to control access to the town through the lakeside harbour. As a result, the siege dragged on for several years without conclusion.
In 1329, Emperor Andronicus III attempted to break the siege. He led a relief force to drive the Ottomans away from both Nicomedia and Nicaea. After some minor successes, however, the force suffered a reverse at Pelekanon and withdrew. When it was clear that no effective Imperial force would be able to restore the frontier and drive off the Ottomans, the city proper fell in 1331.
Nicaea had been in Turkish hands before. It was reconquered by the First Crusade through Byzantine diplomacy in 1097. It had served as the capital of the Greek emperors during the period of the Latin Empire from 1204 to 1261. It was the most important Asian city in the Empire at the time of its fall to Osman. The Ottoman conquests continued apace and Nicomedia fell in 1337. Hence, this long-held history of Nicaea in the Greco-Roman hands since the Alexandrian Conquest, including several milestone Christian councils, irreversibly ended.
- A History of the Byzantine State and Society, Treadgold, W., Stanford Press, 1997
- R.G. Grant, Battle: A Visual Journey Through 5,000 Years of Combat, Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd, 2005. ISBN 0-7566-1360-4