Battle of Maritsa
Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe and the Serbian-Ottoman Wars

Balkans in September of 1371
Date26 September 1371
Maritsa River (near Chernomen; present-day Ormenio, Greece)
Result Ottoman victory[1]
 Serbian Empire Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Vukašin Mrnjavčević 
Uglješa Mrnjavčević 
Alexander Komnenos Asen 
Lala Shahin Pasha


Modern estimate:

Casualties and losses
Heavy combat losses[8]
thousands drowned[9]

The Battle of Maritsa or Battle of Chernomen (Serbian: Marička bitka / Маричка битка; Turkish: Çirmen Muharebesi, İkinci Meriç Muharebesi in tr. Second Battle of Maritsa) took place at the Maritsa River near the village of Chernomen (present-day Ormenio, Greece) on 26 September 1371 between Ottoman forces commanded by Lala Şahin Pasha and Evrenos, and Serbian forces commanded by King Vukašin Mrnjavčević and his brother Despot Jovan Uglješa.[10][11][12][13]


In 1354, the Ottomans acquired Gallipoli. From there, they expanded into Thrace, taking the important city of Adrianople in 1369. They reached the borders of Uglješa's lands. Uglješa tried to create a coalition against them, but failed to secure support from the Byzantines and the Bulgarians. Most of the Serbian lords were occupied fighting each other and the only Serbian lord who supported Uglješa's ideas was his brother Vukašin.

In the summer of 1371, Vukašin marched to Zeta, to support his relative Đurađ Balšić in his war against Nikola Altomanović. His army was in Skadar, waiting for naval support from the Republic of Ragusa. Uglješa received information that the majority of Ottoman forces left Europe and marched to Anatolia. He decided it was a good time to execute his offensive plans and asked Vukašin for help. Vukašin left Skadar with his army and joined Uglješa. They marched against Adrianople.[11]


The Serbian army numbered between 50,000[2] and 70,000[2][3][4][5][6] men. Despot Uglješa wanted to make a surprise attack on the Ottomans in their capital city, Edirne, while Murad I was in Asia Minor. The Ottoman army was much smaller,[14] Byzantine Greek scholar Laonikos Chalkokondyles[2] and different sources[15] give the number of 800 up to 4,000 men,[16] but due to most of the Serbian soldiers becoming intoxicated, Şâhin Paşha conducted a night raid on the Serbian camp, slaughtering a large part of the Serbian Army, killing King Vukašin and despot Uglješa. Thousands of Serbs were killed, and thousands drowned in the Maritsa river when they tried to flee. After the battle, it was said, the Maritsa ran scarlet with blood.[9][17]


South Serbia fell under Ottoman power after this battle. The battle was a part of the Ottoman campaign to conquer the Balkans and was preceded by the Ottoman capturing of Sozopol (today in Bulgaria) in 1353 and succeeded by the capture of the cities of Drama, Kavala, and Serrai (today in Greece) in the 1380s. The battle also preceded the later 1389 Battle of Kosovo, and was one of many in the Serbian–Turkish wars.

See also


  1. ^ Sedlar, Jean W., East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000–1500, (University of Washington Press, 1994), 385.
  2. ^ a b c d Boskovic, Vladislav (2009). King Vukasin and the disastrous Battle of Marica. GRIN Verlag. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-640-49264-0.
  3. ^ a b The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Micropaedia. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1993. p. 855. ISBN 978-0-85229-571-7.
  4. ^ a b Grumeza, Ion (2010). The Roots of Balkanization: Eastern Europe C.E. 500–1500. University Press of America. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7618-5134-9.
  5. ^ a b DeVos, Julius Emil. Fifteen hundred years of Europe. O'Donnell Press, 1924, p. 110.
  6. ^ a b Kaemmel, Otto. Spamer's Illustrierte Weltgeschichte: mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kulturgeschichte, O. Spamer, 1902, p. 740 (in German)
  7. ^ Boskovic, Vladislav. King Vukasin and the disastrous Battle of Marica (англ.). — GRIN Verlag, 2009. — P. 11. — ISBN 978-3-640-49264-0.
  8. ^ Rossos, Andrew, Macedonia and the Macedonians. Hoover Institution Press Publications, 2008. p. 40.
  9. ^ a b Hertzberg, Gustav Friedrich. Geschichte Griechenlands: Th. Vom lateinischen Kreuzzuge bis zur Vollendung der osmanischen Eroberung (1204–1740). F.A. Perthes, 1877, p. 323 (in German)
  10. ^ Jirecek, Konstantin. History of the Bulgarians, p. 382
  11. ^ a b Fine, J. V. A. The Late Mediaeval Balkan's, p. 379
  12. ^ Stavrianos, L. S., The Balkans since 1453, p. 44
  13. ^ Jirecek, Konstantin. Geschichte der Serben, pp. 437–438
  14. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Micropaedia. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1993. p. 855. ISBN 978-0-85229-571-7.
  15. ^ (missing name), (missing first name) (1971). "(missing essay title)". In Veiter, Theodor (ed.). Volkstum zwischen Moldau, Etsch und Donau: Festschrift für Franz Hieronymus Riedl: Dargeboten zum 65. Lebensjahr. W. Braumüller. p. 294. ISBN 978-3-7003-0007-6.
  16. ^ Donald MacGillivray Nicol, The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261–1453; Hart-Davis, 1972, p. 286.
  17. ^ Temperley, Harold William Vazeille. History of Serbia, H. Fertig, 1917, p. 97.


  • Rossos, Andrew, Macedonia and the Macedonians, Hoover Institution Press Publications, 2008.
  • Sedlar, Jean W., East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000–1500, University of Washington Press, 1994.
  • Stavrianos, L. S. The Balkans Since 1453, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000.
  • Turnbull, Stephen R. The Ottoman Empire 1326–1699, Osprey Publishing, 2003.

Further reading

41°43′N 26°13′E / 41.717°N 26.217°E / 41.717; 26.217