|Battle of Kosovo|
|Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe and the Serbian-Ottoman Wars|
Battle of Kosovo, by Adam Stefanović (1870)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Yakub Çelebi||Dhimitër Jonima|
higher estimate up to 40,000
higher estimate up to 25,000
|Casualties and losses|
|Very heavy losses||Very heavy losses|
The Battle of Kosovo took place on 15 June 1389[A] between an army led by the Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović and an invading army of the Ottoman Empire under the command of Sultan Murad Hüdavendigâr.
The battle was fought on the Kosovo field in the territory ruled by Serbian nobleman Vuk Branković, in what is today Kosovo, about 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) northwest of the modern city of Pristina. The army under Prince Lazar consisted mostly of his own troops, a contingent led by Branković, and a contingent sent from Bosnia by King Tvrtko I, commanded by Vlatko Vuković. However, Lazar was also supported by a Christian coalition from various European ethnic groups. Prince Lazar was the ruler of Moravian Serbia and the most powerful among the Serbian regional lords of the time, while Branković ruled the District of Branković and other areas, recognizing Lazar as his overlord.
Reliable historical accounts of the battle are scarce. The bulk of both armies were wiped out, and Lazar and Murad were killed. The battle marked the only time in history an Ottoman Sultan was killed in a battlefield. Serbian manpower was depleted and had no capacity to field large armies against future Ottoman campaigns, which relied on new reserve forces from Anatolia. The Serbian principalities that were not already Ottoman vassals, became so in the following years.
The mythologization of the battle and writings began shortly after the event, though the legend was not fully formed immediately after the battle but evolved from different originators into various versions. In Serbian folklore, the Kosovo Myth acquired new meanings and importance during the rise of Serbian nationalism in the 19th century as the Serbian state sought to expand, especially towards Kosovo which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. In modern discourse, the battle would come to be seen as integral to Serbian history, tradition and national identity. Vidovdan is celebrated on June 28 and is an important Serbian national and religious holiday as a memorial day for the Battle of Kosovo.
Emperor Stefan Uroš IV Dušan "the Mighty" (r. 1331–55) was succeeded by his son Stefan Uroš V "the Weak" (r. 1355–71), whose reign was characterized by the decline of central power and the rise of numerous virtually independent principalities; this period is known as the fall of the Serbian Empire. Uroš V was neither able to sustain the great empire created by his father nor repulse foreign threats and limit the independence of the nobility; he died childless in December 1371, after much of the Serbian nobility had been destroyed by the Ottomans in the Battle of Maritsa earlier that year. Prince Lazar, ruler of the northern part of the former empire (of Moravian Serbia), was aware of the Ottoman threat and began diplomatic and military preparations for a campaign against them.
After the defeat of the Ottomans at Pločnik (1386) and Bileća (1388), Murad I, the reigning Ottoman sultan, moved his troops from Philippoupolis to Ihtiman (modern Bulgaria) in the spring of 1388. From there they traveled across Velbužd and Kratovo (modern North Macedonia). Though longer than the alternative route through Sofia and the Nišava Valley, this led the Ottoman forces to Kosovo, one of the most important crossroads in the Balkans. From Kosovo, they could attack the lands of either Prince Lazar or Vuk Branković. Having stayed in Kratovo for a time, Murad and his troops marched through Kumanovo, Preševo, and Gjilan to Pristina, where he arrived on June 14.
While there is less information about Lazar's preparations, he gathered his troops near Niš, on the right bank of the South Morava. His forces likely remained there until he learned that Murad had moved to Velbužd, whereupon he moved across Prokuplje to Kosovo. This was the best place he could choose as a battlefield, as it gave him control of all the routes that Murad could take. The historiographical examination of the battle is challenging. No first-hand accounts from participants in the battle exist. Contemporary sources are written from widely diverging points of view and not much is discussed in them about battle tactics, army size and other battleground details.
Estimates about army size vary, but the Ottoman army was larger. It is likely that the army led by Lazar had 12,000/15,000 to 20,000 troops against 27,000–30,000 led by Murad. A higher estimate places the size of Murad's army up to 40,000 and Lazar's up to 25,000 troops. Ottoman historian Mehmed Neşri who authored the first detailed report in Ottoman historiography about the battle of Kosovo in 1521 represents the Ottoman imperial narrative. As an Ottoman Sultan died before or during the battle, the size of the Christian army is presented as significantly larger in Ottoman sources. Neşri placed it at around 500,000, double the size of the Ottoman army. Regardless of the exact army size, the battle of Kosovo was one of the largest battles of late medieval times. In comparison, in the battle of Agincourt (1415) even by assuming the higher estimate of army size as correct, around 10,000 less soldiers were engaged. The Ottoman army was supported by auxiliary troops from the Anatolian Turkoman Beylik of Isfendiyar, and comprised no more than 2,000 Janissaries,
Lazar's main forces included the Serbian contingent from his principality, troops of Vuk Branković his son in law and Bosnian forces under Vlatko Vuković, sent by Lazar's ally King Tvrtko of Bosnia. Lazar's Christian coalition also included Albanians, Croatians, Hungarians and Bulgarians. Teodor II Muzaka, Dhimitër Jonima and other Albanian lords and aristocrats participated in the battle on the side of the Christian coalition, bringing a large band of Albanians to join Lazar's army. Albanian historiography claims that the Albanians accounted for around a quarter of the total number of troops in Lazar's coalition, primarily under the command of Dhimitër Jonima and Teodor II. Of those Albanian lords, Teodor II Muzaka actually died during the battle, alongside a number of fellow Albanians.
According to historian Dejan Djokić, It is improbable that Lazar commanded a broad coalition composed of Albanians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Hungarians, Germans and Vlachs, in addition to his and Vuk Branković’s armies and reinforcements from Bosnia.
Groups of crusaders linked to the Knights of Rhodes under a Domine Johanne Bano are mentioned as fighting in the battle in Annales Forolivienses. Domine Johanne Bano most probably refers to John of Palisna, although identification with a John Horvath has also been proposed. Both armies contained soldiers of various origins. Contemporary Greek authors list among participants Northern Albanians, those of Himarë, Epirus and the coast. Based on Neşri's account, Đurađ II Balšić has also been linked to the Christian coalition which fought in the battle of Kosovo. The hypothesis about his participation is considered to be "almost entirely false" as he had become an Ottoman vassal; he was in hostility with Lazar's ally Tvrtko I; and at the time of the battle he was most likely in Ulcinj.
The armies met at the Kosovo field. Murad headed the Ottoman army, with his sons Bayezid on his right and Yakub on his left. Around 1,000 archers were in the front line in the wings, backed up by azap and akinci; in the front center were Janissaries, behind whom was Murad, surrounded by his cavalry guard. The supply train at the rear was guarded by a small number of troops. One of the Ottoman commanders was Pasha Yiğit Bey.
The Serbian army had Prince Lazar at its center, consisting of Serbian, Bosnian, Vlach and Czech troops. Vuk on the right, consisting of Serbian and Albanian troops and Vlatko on the left, consisting of Bosnian and Bulgarian troops. At the front of the army were the heavy cavalry and archer cavalry on the flanks, with the infantry to the rear.
Serbian and Turkish accounts of the battle differ, making it difficult to reconstruct the course of events. It is believed that the battle commenced with Ottoman archers shooting at Serbian cavalry, who then made ready for the attack. After positioning in a wedge formation, the Serbian cavalry managed to break through the Ottoman left wing, but were not as successful against the center and the right wing.
The Serbs had the initial advantage after their first charge, which significantly damaged the Ottoman wing commanded by Yakub Çelebi. When the knights' charge was finished, light Ottoman cavalry and light infantry counterattacked and the Serbian heavy armor became a disadvantage. In the center, Serbian troops managed to push back Ottoman forces, except for Bayezid's wing, which barely held off the Bosnians commanded by Vlatko Vuković. Vuković thus inflicted disproportionately heavy losses on the Ottomans. The Ottomans, in a ferocious counterattack led by Bayezid, pushed the Serbian forces back and then prevailed later in the day, routing the Serbian infantry. Both flanks still held, with Vuković's Bosnian troops drifting toward the center to compensate for the heavy losses inflicted on the Serbian infantry.
Historical facts say that Vuk Branković saw that there was no hope for victory and fled to save as many men as he could after Lazar was captured. In popular oral tradition, however, Branković is said to have fled and betrayed Lazar, a theory which was first presented by the writer Mavro Orbini in a 1601 work but is largely seen as unfounded. Sometime after Branković's retreat from the battle, the remaining Bosnian and Serb forces yielded the field, believing that a victory was no longer possible.
It is said that one of Serbian knights, later identified as Miloš Obilić, pretended to have deserted to the Ottoman forces. When brought before Murad, Obilić pulled out a hidden dagger and killed the Sultan by slashing him. He was then killed by the Sultan's bodyguards. There are differing versions of the assassination however, with another version describing Obilić playing dead on the battlefield and stabbing the Sultan as he walked. It is also unclear when the assassination occurred, as some sources suggest it happened once the battle turned against the Serbs or in the immediate aftermath of the battle, while others describe it happening early on as Miloš sought to prove his loyalty to Prince Lazar after he was accused of treachery. The battle marked the only time in history an Ottoman Sultan was killed in a battlefield.
The event of the battle quickly became known in Europe. Not much attention was paid to the outcome in these early rumors which circulated, but they all focused on the fact that the Ottoman Sultan had been killed in the battle. Some of the earliest reports about the battle come from the court of Tvrtko of Bosnia who in separate letters to the senate of Trogir (August 1) and the council of Florence claimed that he had defeated the Ottomans in Kosovo. The response of the Florentines to Tvrtko (20 October 1389) is an important historical document as it confirms that Murad was killed during the battle and that it took place on June 28 (St. Vitus day/Vidovdan). The killer is not named, but it was one of 12 Serbian noblemen who managed to break through the Ottoman lines:
Fortunate, most fortunate are those hands of the twelve loyal lords who, having opened their way with the sword and having penetrated the enemy lines and the circle of chained camels, heroically reached the tent of Murat himself. Fortunate above all is that one who so forcefully killed such a strong vojvoda by stabbing him with a sword in the throat and belly. And blessed are all those who gave their lives and blood through the glorious manner of martyrdom as victims of the dead leader over his ugly corpse.
Another Italian account, Mignanelli's work of 1416, asserted that it was Lazar who killed the Ottoman sultan.
Both armies were destroyed in the battle. Both Lazar and Murad lost their lives, and the remnants of their armies retreated from the battlefield. Murad's son Bayezid killed his younger brother, Yakub Çelebi, upon hearing of their father's death, thus becoming the sole heir to the Ottoman throne. The Serbs were left with too few men to defend their lands effectively, while the Turks had many more troops in the east. The immediate effect of the depletion of Serbian manpower was a shift in the stance of Hungarian policy towards Serbia. Hungary tried to exploit the effects of battle and expand in northern Serbia, while the Ottomans renewed their campaign in southern Serbia as early as 1390-91. Domestically, the Serbian feudal class in response to these threats split in two factions. A northern faction supported a conciliatory, pro-Ottoman foreign policy as a means of defence of their lands against Hungary, while a southern faction which was immediately threatened by Ottoman expansion sought to establish a pro-Hungarian foreign policy. Some Serbian feudal lords continued to fight against the Ottomans and others were integrated in the Ottoman feudal hierarchy. Consequently, some of the Serbian principalities that were not already Ottoman vassals became so in the following years. These feudal lords - including the daughter of Prince Lazar - formed marriage ties with the new Sultan Bayezid.
In the wake of these marriages, Stefan Lazarević, Lazar's son, became a loyal ally of Bayezid, and contributed significant forces to many of Bayezid's future military engagements, including the Battle of Nicopolis, where Vuk Branković another Serbian magnate who ruled in parts of Kosovo had joined the anti-Ottoman coalition. As a reward for his contribution to the Ottoman victory, Lazarević was given a large part of Branković's lands. Branković himself died as an Ottoman prisoner, although in all later "Kosovo myth" narratives first created by Stefan Lazarević, he is portrayed as a betrayer of the Christians. Lazarević's success as an Ottoman vassal was such that eventually his lands encompassed a territory bigger than his father's and matched the territories of the Nemanjic dynasty in the 13th century. After Mehmed's death in 1421, Lazarević was one of the vassals who strongly supported the coalition against the future Mehmed the Conqueror who ultimately prevailed. This move led Mehmed to punish the Serbian and all other vassals who supported the other claimants to the throne by campaigning against them to directly annex their lands. In a series of campaigns from this era onward Serbia formally became an Ottoman province. The capture of Smederevo on June 20, 1459 marks the end of medieval Serbian statehood.
Main article: Kosovo Myth
The Kosovo Myth has for a long time been a central subject in Serbian folklore and Serbian literary tradition, and for centuries was cultivated mostly in the form of oral epic poetry and guslar poems. The mythologization of the battle occurred shortly after the event. The legend was not fully formed immediately after the battle but evolved from different originators into various versions. The philologist Vuk Karadžić collected traditional epic poems related to the topic of the Battle of Kosovo and in the 19th century, he released the so-called "Kosovo cycle", which became the final version of the transformation of the myth. The modern narrativization of the legend focuses on three main motifs: sacrifice, betrayal and heroism, exemplified respectively by Prince Lazar choosing a "heavenly kingdom" over an "earthly kingdom", Vuk Branković's supposed desertion and Miloš Obilić's assassination of Murad.
In Serbian historiography, the complicated political setting preceding the battle has been simplified in the battle being a clash between Christianity and Islam. However, Miodrag Popović notes that in Ottoman Serbia of the 16th and 17th century, the local population was "Turkophilic" in accordance with the general climate of necessary adaptation to Ottoman rule. Тhey did not give the legend of the Battle of Kosovo an interpretation unfavorable or hostile to the Ottoman Turks. Perceptions about the Battle of Kosovo in Serbian public discourse changed and were "harnessed in earnest in the rise of Serbian nationalism during the 19th century" and acquired new meanings in the context of the Greater Serbia nationalist project. Many of the elements which came to be seen later in Serbian discourse as crucial elements of Serbian tradition appear to have entered the Serbian corpus about Kosovo just a few decades before 19th century Serbian folklorists recorded them. Throughout most of the 19th century it did not carry its later importance, as the Principality of Serbia saw the region of Bosnia as its core, not Kosovo. The Congress of Berlin (1878) was the event which caused the elevation of the narratives about the Battle of Kosovo ("Kosovo myth") in its modern status. The region of Bosnia was effectively handed out to Austria-Hungary and Serbian expansion towards that area was blocked, which in turn left southwards expansion towards Kosovo as the only available geopolitical alternative for the Serbian state. Today, the Battle of Kosovo has come to be seen in public discourse as "particularly important to Serbian history, tradition and national identity". The battle has become a force of historical, political, military and artistic inspiration to date.
The day of the battle, known in Serbian as Vidovdan (St. Vitus' day) and celebrated according to the Julian calendar (corresponding to 28 June Gregorian in the 20th and 21st centuries), is an important part of Serb ethnic and national identity, with notable events in Serbian history falling on that day: in 1876 Serbia declared war on the Ottoman Empire (Serbian–Ottoman War (1876–78); in 1881 Austria-Hungary and the Principality of Serbia signed a secret alliance; in 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was carried out by the Serbian Gavrilo Princip (although a coincidence that his visit fell on that day, Vidovdan added nationalist symbolism to the event); in 1921 King Alexander I of Yugoslavia proclaimed the Vidovdan Constitution; in 1989, on the 600th anniversary of the battle, Serbian president Slobodan Milošević delivered the Gazimestan speech on the site of the historic battle.
The Tomb of Sultan Murad, a site in Kosovo Polje where Murad I's internal organs were buried, has gained a religious significance for local Muslims. A monument was built by Murad I's son Bayezid I at the tomb, becoming the first example of Ottoman architecture in the Kosovo territory.
Thus since the Turks also withdrew, one can conclude that the battle was a draw.
Surprisingly enough, it is not even possible to know with certainty from the extant contemporary material whether one or the other side was victorious on the field. There is certainly little to indicate that it was a great Serbian defeat; and the earliest reports of the conflict suggest, on the contrary, that the Christian forces had won.
The outcome of the battle itself was inconclusive.
Losses on both sides were appalling and the outcome inconclusive although the Serbs never fully recovered.
The battle is remembered as a heroic defeat, but historical evidence suggests an inconclusive draw.
Troops of his emirate seconded Murad I in the battle of Kosovo Polje (1389), as indicated in the "Book of Victory" (Fatih-name) issued by Bayezid the Thunderbolt.
But having been established under Murad I (1362–1389), essentially as a bodyguard, the Janissaries cannot have been present in large numbers at Nicopolis (there were no more than 2,000 at Kosovo in 1389)
But in spite of this a large coalition army led by Serbian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Bosnian and Albanian nobles gathered on the wide plain of Kosovo to confront the Ottoman army. Albanian princes were at that time close allies of the Serbs, the result of their shared desire to oppose the Ottomans. In many districts the Slavonic and Albanian elements existed side-by-side, and numerous examples are known of close economic and political ties between Serbs and Albanians during the medieval period.
Lazar (6), the Despot of Serbia, and King Marko of Bulgaria and Theodore Musachi, the second-born of our family, and the other Lords of Albania united and set off for battle, which the Christians lost (7).
Cette faiblesse a été cependant passagère, car au XIVe siècle, on mentionne de nouveau comme maître de cette aire Andrea Gropa, qui a participé en 1389 à la bataille de la Plaine du Kosovo, aux côtés de Théodore Muzaka.
... is a historical fact that they were on the Serbian side against the Ottoman Empire in that cataclysmic battle of 1389 ( under Albanian counts Balsha and Jonima)
... Vlach contingents of Voyvode Mircea, the troops of Lazar's son-in-law Vuk Brankovic and Albanian forces under George Balsha and Demeter Jonima.
Two years later Gjergj Balsha II , Teodor Muzaka and Dhimitër Jonima fought in the battle of Kosovo... a quarter of the military force in the anti-Ottoman coalition was Albanian...
L'historiographie albanaise quant à elle met davantage l'accent sur la présence albanaise dans ce qui était une grande coalition de principautés chrétienne contre les Ottomans. Selon elle, sur les sept chefs de guerre de cette coalition, deux étaient albanais, Gjergj Balsha II et Dhimiter Jonima. Auraient aussi participé à cette bataille d'autres féodaux albanais, notamment Gjon Muzaka et Teodor Muzaka II. La participation albanaise aurait atteint un quart de la totalité des troupes de la coalition.
... geantwortet haben und sich mit einer Armee von 6.000 Mann nach Kosova aufgemacht haben soll. An der Schlacht auf dem Amselfeld nahmen auch andere mäch- tige albanische Fürsten teil : Demeter Jonima , dessen Reich sich über die..
The famous Albanian prince, Teodor Muzaka II, was killed in this battle, as well as many other Albanian comrades.
Far from arriving in the 'enemies' trucks' the Albanian population, from the lake of Shkodra to Kosova, were one with the other Christian populations At the time of the Ottoman invasion of 1389, Greek authors mention, after the Serbs and the Bulgarians, the Northern Albanians, those of Himarë, Epyrus and the coast.
Paša Jigit- -beg, koji se prvi put pominje kao jedan između turskih komandanata u kosovskoj bici.
Serbian heavy cavalry took V wedge shape charge position breaking through Ottoman infantry and light cavalry.
The most dramatic event of the battle was the assassination of Sultan Murad by a Serbian noble named Miloš Obilić. He pretended to be a deserter from the Serbian side and thus managed to gain access to Murad's tent; there he stabbed him to death.. Obilić himself was killed by members of Murad's bodyguard..
Again, accounts vary depending on the source, although one popular version describes a desperate act of Serb heroism. As the battle turned against the Serbs, one of their noblemen, Milos Obilic pretended to desert to the Turkish forces. When he was brought before Murad, Obilic pulled out a hidden dagger and killed him.
Код Мињанелиjа, кнез је претходно заробл - ен и принуЬен да Мурату положи заклетву верности! и тада је један од њих, кажу да је то био Лазар, зарио Мурату мач у прса