Orkhan, son of Othman, early Ottoman ruler (1326-1361)

Son of Othman, the founder of Ottoman power, Orkhan doubled the area of his realm, through the conquest of Nicea and Nicomedia from the Byzantines and the conquest of the neighbouring state of Karasi. His main contribution to the rapid expansion of Ottoman empire in the fifty years after his death appears to have been the creation of a non-hereditary system of landholding. Conquered land was split into 'Timars', each of which was to provide a fully equipped horseman on demand, with no time limit as was the case in western Europe. When the holder of the Timar died, his sons did not automatically receive the same land. Not only that, each Timar was too small to support more than a single warrior and his family, and so the Sultan was always supplied with thousands of young fighters demanding newly conquered lands to settle. Not only did this system provide a steady stream of willing soldiers, it also provided its own garrisons for the newly conquered lands. However, it was only workable while the Ottoman empire was expanding, and when that expension stopped, the system became unworkable. During his reign the Ottomans gained their first foothold in Europe, when his son Soliman captured the important city of Gallipoli while in theory serving the Byzantine empire.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (10 October 2000), Orkhan, son of Othman, early Ottoman ruler (1326-1361), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_orkhan.html

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