Battle of Demotika
Part of the Byzantine civil war of 1352–1357

Walls of old Demotika
DateOctober 1352

Ottoman victory

  • Kantakouzenos retaining power, Palaiologos exiled
Byzantine Empire John V Palaiologos
Serbian Empire Serbian Empire
Second Bulgarian Empire Second Bulgarian Empire
Byzantine Empire John Kantakouzenos
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Beylik
Commanders and leaders
Serbian Empire Gradislav Borilović Ottoman Empire Orhan
4–6.000 Serbian cavalry,
unknown number of Bulgarian troops
10.000 Ottoman cavalry
Casualties and losses
4.000-7,000 killed Unknown

The Battle of Demotika took place during the Byzantine civil war which began in 1352 between the forces of the Ottoman Empire and those of the Serbian Empire and Second Bulgarian Empire.


John Palaiologos obtained the help of Serbia, while John Kantakouzenos sought help from Orhan, the Ottoman bey.[1] Kantakouzenos marched into Thrace to rescue his son, Matthew, who was attacked by Palaiologos shortly after being given this appanage and then refusing to recognize John Palaiologos as heir to the throne.[1] Ottoman troops retook some cities that had surrendered to John Palaiologos, and Kantakouzenos allowed the troops to plunder the cities, including Adrianople. Thus it seemed that Kantakouzenos was defeating John Palaiologos, who now retreated to Serbia.[1]


Emperor Stefan Dušan sent Palaiologos a cavalry force of 4,000[1] or 6,000[2] under the command of Gradislav Borilović[3][2] while Orhan provided Kantakouzenos 10,000 horsemen.[1] Also Bulgarian tsar Ivan Alexander sent an unknown number of troops to support Palaiologos and Dušan. The two armies met at an open-field battle near Demotika (modern Didymoteicho) in October 1352,[1] which would decide the fate of the Byzantine Empire, without the direct involvement of the Byzantines.[4] The more numerous Ottomans decisively defeated the Serbs and Bulgarians, and Kantakouzenos retained power, while Palaiologos fled to Venetian Tenedos.[4] According to Kantakouzenos about 7,000 Serbs fell at the battle (deemed exaggerated), while Nikephoros Gregoras (1295–1360) gave the number as 4,000.[3]


The battle was the first major battle of the Ottomans on European soil, and it made Stefan Dušan realize the major threat of the Ottomans to Eastern Europe.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Fine 1994, p. 325.
  2. ^ a b Vizantološki institut 1986, p. 553.
  3. ^ a b Fajfrić 2000, 40. Turci nadiru na Balkan; Ćorović 2001, VIII. Дело цара Душана
  4. ^ a b c Fine 1994, p. 326.