The area around Edirne has been the site of no fewer than 15 major battles or sieges, from the days of the ancient Greeks.
According to Greek mythology, Orestes, son of king Agamemnon, built this city as Orestias, at the confluence of the Tonsus (Toundja) and the Ardiscus (Arda) with the Hebrus (Maritza). The city was (re)founded eponymously by the Roman Emperor Hadrian on the site of a previous Thracian settlement known as Uskadama, Uskudama or Uskodama. Hadrian developed it, adorned it with monuments, changed its name to Hadrianopolis, and made it the capital of the Roman province of Haemimont, or Thrace. Licinius was defeated there by Constantine in 323, and Valens killed by the Goths in 378. In 813 the city was seized by Khan Krum of Bulgaria who moved its inhabitants to the Bulgarian lands to the north of the Danube.
During the existence of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, the Crusaders were decisively defeated by the Bulgarian Emperor Kaloyan in the battle of Adrianople (1205). Later Theodore Komnenos, Despot of Epirus, took possession of it in 1227, and three years later was defeated at Klokotnitsa by Asen, Emperor of the Bulgarians. It was captured by Sultan Murat I in 1365, the city served as capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1365 until 1453.
Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, was born in Adrianople.
Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, lived in Edirne from 1863 to 1868. He was exiled there by the Ottoman Empire before being banished further to the Ottoman penal colony in Akka.
In particular, the catastrophic defeat of the Roman Emperor Valens by the Visigoths took place nearby, and the city was a vital fortress defending Ottoman Constantinople and Eastern Thrace during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. The city was, however, occupied by imperial Russian troops in 1829, during the Greek War of Independence, and in 1878, in the war for Bulgarian independence, by the Bulgarians in 1913 after the battle of Odrin and by the Greeks in the early 1920s.
Under Ottoman rule Adrianople was the principal city of a vilayet (province) of the same name (both now renamed Edirne), which has about 960,000 inhabitants. It has a thriving commerce in woven stuffs, silks, carpets and agricultural products. The city suffered greatly in 1905 from a conflagration. In 1905 it had about 80,000 inhabitants, of whom 30,000 were Muslims (Turks and some Albanians, Roma and Circassians); 22,000 Greeks; 10,000 Bulgarians; 4,000 Armenians; 12,000 Jews; 2,000 not classifiable.