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The Battle of Angora,
Friday, July 28, 1402 AD

By Vincent Tsao

The Ottoman Sultan Bayezit addressed the Byzantine Basilius (Emperor) Manuel II thus: "Shut the gates of the city and govern within, for everything beyond the walls is mine." Shortly after, in 1394, he began a desultory siege of Constantinople. In 1396, Bayezit smashed an army of Hungarians and French crusaders at Nicopolis. Manuel II traveled through Western Europe, begging for assistance. It was to come from the East.

Tamerlaine (born 1336) sent an embassy demanding that the Sultan raise the siege of Constantinople and restore all of Manuel's lands to him. Rather than a love of the decrepit Byzantine Empire, this was an excuse for conquest. While there had been earlier friction between the Ottomans and the Mongols, Tamerlaine had been busy conquering his other neighbors. But in 1402, (and over sixty years old) he was ready to take on the Ottoman Turks.

Bayezit did indeed raise the siege by marching his army into Anatolia. The army reached Angora (modern Ankara) and camped. Scouts reported the Mongol host at Sivas, to the east. Bayezit decided to advance, in order to protect the ripe crops in the area. Tamerlaine deftly slipped around the Turkish southern flank and besieged Angora. He also had agents contact Bayezit's Tartar horse archers and spread dissension. The Turks now counter marched through the hot Anatolian summer, only to find the Mongol host on their old camp ground, drinking from their wells and streams. The only well near the new Turkish position had been fouled.

Bayezit could have withdrawn to the hills and observed the siege, and found other sources of water and fodder. But true to form, Bayezit, nicknamed "the Thunderbolt", decided to attack immediately.

Both armies were huge, said by the chroniclers to be 600,000 men each. Somewhere over 100,000 is probably more like it. The Mongols had elephants and naphtha hurling troops present, although neither had much effect. The Ottomans had some catapults hurling Greek fire, but seem to have out marched their artillery park.

The Ottomans deployed with Anatolian troops on the left, under Bayezit's son Sulieman. The center had Janissaries under the Sultan, and elite Sipahis under another son, Mohammed. The right included 20,000 armored Serbian knights under Bayezit's brother-in-law Stephan Lazarevitch, Despot of Serbia. The Mongols formed in three divisions and a reserve, under the aging Tamerlaine's personal command.

The Turks marched to attack. The Serbs rode down the light horse archers before them and crashed into the Mongol cavalry. The Mongols gave ground, some taking to their heels. On the Turkish left, their leading Tartar light horse changed sides and enveloped the Turkish left. They were displeased with the Sultan's tax policies, and Tamerlaine's agents had promised large bonuses. The Mongol cavalry on the right charged, and combined with the flank pressure of the turncoat Tartars broke Sulieman's wing. The Serbs lost heart when they saw the Anatolians fleeing, and left the field. Bayezit was left with his Janissaries and reserve Sipahis, fighting bravely against the Mongol tide. The Sultan slew many with his axe. In time, the cavalry fled, and Janissaries began drifting away.

When only 300 remained standing, Bayezit turned and fled. But the Mongol horse archers were too swift for him. He was led in chains to Tamerlaine's tent. Some 15,000 of his troops lay dead on the field.

Tamerlaine treated Bayezit with respect at first, but soon took to carrying him in a cage and using him as a foot stool. Bayezit's Serbian wife Despina was forced to serve at Tamerlaine's table naked. After eight months of such treatment, Bayezit had a stroke, and died a few days later in March of 1403.

Tamerlaine's hordes burned and raped their way through the Ottoman capitol, Brusa. Smyrna was taken from the Knights of St. John and destroyed. Most of the non-Ottoman Emirs who had been driven out of Anatolia and taken refuge with the Mongols were re-instated. Just a little more, and the House of Othman would be no more. But Tamerlaine seems to have had a very short attention span. He began planning an invasion of China. Fortunately for the Chinese, he died en route. Manuel II was able to rip up the surrender agreement he had been preparing. Indeed, he befriended Bayezit's oldest surviving son, Sulieman, and began playing politics in Anatolia. Within 50 years, the Ottomans regained their grip in Anatolia and finally resumed the siege that Bayezit had begun in 1394. Mehmet II finally breached the Land Walls of Constantinople in 1453, and taught Europe fear.

DBA Armies

Timurids (#159b) -- 6x Cavalry, 2x Light Horse, 2x Bow, 1x Elephant, 1x Psiloi

Later Ottomans (#160b) -- I suggest using this modified list: 4x Cavalry, 2x Light Horse, 2x Knights (Serbian), 2x Bow (Janissaries), 1x Artillery (Greek fire catapults), 1x Psiloi. Or use the DBA list: 4x Cav, 2x LH, 1x KN or LH, 2x Art, 2x Bw, 1x Psiloi.

It is suggested that the more experienced player should take the Ottoman Turks.


The available terrain is limited to three or four gentle hills.

The Ottoman player sets terrain, and the Mongol picks which side, as per normal DBA. The Mongol deploys second and moves second.

[Note: Here is a shot of the terrain and army deployments used by Bob Beattie for Angora in the 1999 Historicon Matched Pairs DBA Tournament.]

Special Rules

During the first three turns of the game, if the Mongol gets a pip roll higher than 3, one Ottoman light horse element (selected by the Ottoman player) changes sides for the rest of the game. This element can be used immediately, costing normal pips. Only one element can be suborned during the game.

The Mongol player may opt to wait for another turn, but must then roll a pip higher than three on the turn the element turns coat. If the Mongol defers but then does not roll higher than 3 in the remainder of the first 3 turns, the Tartars remain loyal to the Turks.

Victory Conditions

Normal DBA.

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Last Updated: May 15, 2000

My thanks to Vincent Tsao for this scenario. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to my attention at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.