Born into a relatively poor Tokat family in 1833, Gazi Osman grew up to become one of Turkey’s most famous soldiers, serving in the army in Thessaly, Crete, Bosnia-Herzogovina and Yemen. After a great victory in the Ottoman-Serbian War of 1875-76 he became a marshal.

Later when the Russians crossed the Danube during the Ottoman-Russian War, Osman was ordered to defend Pevne in Bulgaria in 1877. He did this by surrounding the town with earthworks and attempting to sit out a five-month siege by a Russian force twice the size of his own. When the siege showed no sign of being lifted, he was forced to try and fight his way out of Plevne. Taken captive with serious injuries. he was treated as a great hero by a Russian tsar astonished at his fortitude.

Equally impressed, Sultan Abdülhamid II bestowed the title of “gazi (conqueror)” on him and gave him a sword encrusted with diamonds. Osman became commander-in-chief and then marshal of the sultan’s household.

Gazi Osman Paşa died in İstanbul in 1900 and there’s hardly a Turkish town that doesn’t commemorate him in a street name. He’s buried in an impressive tomb the graveyard attached to the Fatih Cami.


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