Debate on the Origin of Evrenos Beg and a Re-evaluation
Keywords: Evrenos Beg, Pranko Lazarat, the origin of Evrenos Beg, Prankı İsa
The purpose of this paper is to examine the origin and the identity of Evrenos Beg (?-1417), who was one of the most important uc begs (frontier lords), by analyzing mainly Byzantine and Ottoman sources, and by re-examining secondary sources. Through this investigation, it is hoped that this paper will shed some light on the scholarly discussions about the origin of him. Evrenos Beg played an important role in the Rumelian conquests during the second half of the XIVth century and thus the expansion process of Ottomans into the Balkans. His military achievements are especially mentioned in the early Ottoman sources. It is obvious that the study of Evrenos Beg will alsa contribute much on the Early Ottoman and Balkan Historiography since the identity of Evrenos Beg has been used as one of the evidences in theories formulated to explain the construction of the Ottoman state. However, the origin Evrenos Beg has not been thoroughly investigated due to lack of sources dating early period of the Ottoman State. This paper re-examines some primary documents about the origin of Evrenos Beg. Among them a wakfiye dated 1457 (re-approved (tecdid) in 1902-1903) is especially important. In this document, the name of the father of Evrenos Beg was first recorded as Pranko Lazarat. Moreover, it is possible that the origin of this name is Pranko in spite of different spelling variations in those different documents. The author believes that Pranko was the real name of the father of Evrenos Beg rather than a pseudonym which has been a controversial issue for long years. At the same wakfiye, the name of Evrenos was written as Evraniz/Avraniz letting us to think about his origin. If the first vowel was thrown away, making easier its spelling in Turkish, it would spell as Vraniz, which is still being used among the Slavic nations as Vranis/Vranes. This document, of course, is not enough to make certain conclusions about Evrenos Beg's Slavic origin. However, together with the re-examination of other secondary sources, this study will re-open a scholarly discussion about the identity of Evrenos Beg and thus will contribute much on the historiography of early Ottoman period.