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Candaroglu Beylik

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Candaroğlu Beylik (sometimes referred to as Candar, Candaroğulları or İsfendiyaroğulları in Turkish) is an Anatolian Turkoman emirate that ruled in Kastamonu and Sinop regions and partly in Zonguldak, Samsun and Çankırı, between 1292 - 1461, in the Black Sea region of modern day Turkey.

The founder of the beylik is Temür Yaman Candar (also known as Demir Yaman Candar); the beylik collapsed in 1461 when the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II annexed the region.

The flag of Candar may confuse many with what is now known as the Star of David. In medieval times however, this was not solely a Jewish symbol, but was also an Islamic one known as the "Seal of Suleyman", and was extremely popular amongst the Turkish Beyliks of Anatolia. Another state known to use the seal on their flag was the Beylik of Karaman.

The Kastamonu province was given as a sign of goodwill and gratitude to one of the Seljuk commander-of-chiefs and a member of the candar corps Temür Yaman Candar (hence his name) by the Anatolian Seljuk sultan Gıyaseddin Mesud II, for his service and aids in rescuing the sultan from being held captive by the Mongols during the Mongolian occupation of the Seljuk empire. However, this province was under the control of the Çobanoğlu beylik. Following his death, his son Süleyman I conquered the province and annexed Safranbolu and Sinop (ruled by the Pervaneoğlu Beylik) as well to expand his dominion (1322). Süleyman I appointed his son İbrahim I as governor to Sinop, and his other son Ali to Safranbolu. Süleyman I reigned under the authority of the Ilkhanate (İlhanlı) empire until the death of the Ilkhan ruler Abu Sa'id (Ebu Said Bahadır Han).

Following the death of Süleyman I, his son İbrahim I fought his brother Ali for the throne and was victorious (1339) in taking over the rule of Kastamonu. Upon his death, his cousin Adil replaced him (1346 - 1361). When Adil died, his son Bayezid (the Crippled) became the bey. During his reign, Bayezid fought twice with Burhaneddin, the ruler of the Sivas region, and with one of his own sons, Süleyman II, who got military support from the Ottoman sultan Murad I, to lose Kastamonu. Bayezid had to leave to Sinop, and thus the Candaroğlu Beylik was divided into two (1383). Bayezid's son İsfendiyar succeeded him after his death in 1385.

Based in Kastamonu, Süleyman II remained faithful to Murad I, his supporter in his revolt against his father, and aided the Ottoman campaigns in Europe in 1386 and 1389. However, the succeeding Ottoman sultan Beyazid I launched an assault in 1392 on Kastamonu as part of an effort to control all the Anatolian beyliks, eventually resulting in the killing of Süleyman II and the ending of the Candaroğlu reign in Kastamonu.

Meanwhile, fearing of a conflict with the powerful Ottomans, İsfendiyar requested immunity from Beyazid in return for being subject to Ottoman reign. Beyazid granted İsfendiyar autonomy that lasted until his death in Mongol captivity in 1402, upon which İsfendiyar made a deal with the victor, the Mongol khan Timur Lenk. He was granted reign over the traditional Candaroğlu regions Kastamonu, Kalecik, Tosya and Çankırı, although being subject to Timur.

After Timur Lenk left Anatolia, during the Ottoman Interregnum, he stood close to all the four sons of Beyazid avoiding any conflict. When one of his sons, Kasım claimed control over Çankırı and Tosya, and declared the annexation of these areas to the Ottoman empire, the Candaroğlu dominion was divided once more. But İsfendiyar revolted against the new sultan Murad II, only to be defeated, and retreated to Sinop (1423). İsfendiyar died in 1439, to be succeeded by his son İbrahim II, who upon his death was replaced by İsmail in 1443.

After his conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II turned to Anatolia to unite the Anatolian beyliks under his rule. In 1461, joining forces with İsmail's brother Ahmed (the Red), he captured Sinop and ended the official reign of the Candaroğlu dynasty, although he appointed Ahmed as the governor of Kastamonu and Sinop, only to revoke Ahmed's appointment the same year.

Culture and economy
The Candaroğlu beylik was located at a very important region in the northeast of Anatolia. They were quite significant in their area with their high population (420,000 in 1332) and political influence, existing along other beyliks and states in their era. Having reigned for about 170 years, Candaroğlu were quite advanced in architecture, cultural and social life and welfare. Also, many books in Turkish were written during their reign by court scientists and writers, including poems, books on medicine, chemistry, social sciences, and translations from Arabic and Persian.
Many architectural structures have remained from the Candaroğlu era in the region, including hammams, caravanserais, numerous mosques, inns, religious schools (madrassas)and libraries.

The 14th century Persian geographer al-Omari notes that the seat of the beylik, Kastamonu was one of the most prominent provinces in that region, as well as Sinop being one of the most important ports in the Black Sea, maintaining a crucial trade route between other ports, the Genoese who owned a warehouse at the port, and the inner provinces. The nearby province Sivas was then inhabited by many Genoese merchants, transporting the goods that would arrive from the east and the south to their ports in Trabzon, Samsun and Sinop. Venetian archives mention that Candaroğlu had close financial and trade relations with the city states of Venice and Genoa. Kastamonu was also rich in natural resources such as iron ore and copper, which were important industrial raw materials then too.

In their trade with the Genoese, Candaroğlu used copper coins they minted that had two fish, and the inscription Dârü's-saâde-i Sinop (the palace of Sinop) engraved on them.

Candaroğlu beylik had a light cavalry corps of 25,000. This vast military power had often contributed to the Ottoman campaigns in Roumelia as well as in Anatolia, including the siege of Constantinople. Being neighbors with the Byzantines, Candaroğlu aided to campaigns and raids here while preventing them to proceed further towards other beyliks.

Candaroğlu also possessed a shipyard in Sinop that equipped them with a strong naval force. The size of this force is unknown, however, it is known that this force was used in an attack to the Genoese outpost Kefe (Feodosiya today, in Crimea, Ukraine).


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