Battle of Savra
Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe
Date18 September 1385
Saurian field, near Lushnjë
Result Ottoman-Thopia Albanian victory[1]

Ottoman Sultanate

Principality of Albania
Principality of Zeta
Commanders and leaders

Hayreddin Pasha

Karl Thopia
Balša II 
Ivaniš Mrnjavčević 
40,000[2] Unknown

The Battle of Savra (Albanian: Beteja e Savrës, Serbian: Bitka na Saurskom polju, Turkish: Savra Muharebesi; "Battle on the Saurian field") or the Battle of the Vjosë[3] was fought on 18 September 1385 between Ottoman and much smaller Zetan forces,[4] at the Savra field near Lushnjë (in modern-day southern Albania). The Ottomans were invited by Karl Thopia to support him in his feud against Balša II.[5]


In 1372, Balša II married Komnina, the daughter of John Komnenos Asen, the Despot of Valona.[A] As a dowry, Balša gained the cities of Valona (modern Vlorë), Berat, and Kanina (in modern-day southern Albania), located in Asen's province.[6] In 1385 Balša II conquered Durazzo (modern Durrës), presumably from Karl Topia. In a charter to Ragusa issued in April 1385, he called himself "Duke of Durazzo". The expansion of Balšić's realm into Epirus brought him to the frontline against the Ottomans. Aware of Ottoman aspirations to his territory, on 8 August 1385 Balša II asked Venetians to support him with four galleys.[7][8]


Karlo Thopia invited the Ottomans to support him in conflict with Balša II. Thopia's invitation was accepted and Hayreddin Pasha[9] brought his forces from the region of Ohrid (modern-day Macedonia)[10] to Saurian field, near Lushnjë. News about the incursion of the Ottoman forces into the region of Berat reached Balša II while he was in Durrës.[11] According to Mavro Orbini, Balša II rounded up 1,000 men in Durrës and, ignoring the advice of his nobles, headed out to take on the Ottoman raiders.[12] Unsurprisingly, Balša's small forces had little success and Balša II was killed. Orbini's work is the only source that mentions Ivaniš Mrnjavčević as participating in this battle. Some scholars believe he did not even exist, while others believe that he was not an independent medieval lord, but a loyal member of the Balšić family.[13] Another person mentioned only by Orbini is Balša's voivode Đurađ Krvavčić, described as a brave warrior who also died in this battle. Mavrini explains that the body of Balša II was decapitated and his head taken to Hayreddin Pasha.


Since the Ottomans were victorious, most of the local Serbian and Albanian lords became vassals.[14] Immediately after this battle Thopia recaptured Durrës,[15] probably under the Ottoman suzerainty.[12] The Ottomans captured Krujë, Berat, and Ulcinj but soon retreated from them, keeping only Kastoria under their permanent control.[16][10]

The work of Mavro Orbini (The Realm of the Slavs) is one of the main primary sources about this battle. It contains many incorrect and imprecise data.[17] Another primary source about the Battle of Savra is Marin Barleti who says that Balša II was brave and idealistic.[18]

This battle set the foundation for centuries-long Ottoman presence in this part of the Balkans. Serbian historian Stojan Novaković emphasized that the battle's importance for these Serbian and Albanian lords was comparable to that of the Battle of Marica and Battle of Kosovo together.[19] The important result of this battle was the influx of Albanians into Ottoman forces who had been a significant source of its strength during the next 527 years.[10]


  1. ^ Sedlar, Jean W., East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, (University of Washington Press, 1994), 385.
  2. ^ TBR. TBR Company. 2000. p. 41.
  3. ^ Kiel 1990, p. 17.
  4. ^ Група аутора. Историја српксог народа II. Српска књижевна задруга. p. 40.
  5. ^ Somel, Selcuk Aksin (2010). The A to Z of the Ottoman Empire. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8108-7579-1. ...the Ottomans supported Lord Karl Thopia against Balsha II, defeating the latter...
  6. ^ Fine 1994, p. 372
  7. ^ Ivić et al. 1987, p. 102.
  8. ^ Ecrits historiques. 1987. p. 31.
  9. ^ Houtsma, M. Th. (1993). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936. BRILL. p. 556. ISBN 90-04-09791-0.
  10. ^ a b c Gibbons, Herbert Adam (21 August 2013). The Foundation of the Ottoman Empire: A History of the Osmanlis Up To the Death of Bayezid I 1300-1403. Routledge. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-135-02982-1.
  11. ^ Recueil des travaux de la Faculté de philosophie: Les sciences historiques. Univerzitet. 1994. p. 164.
  12. ^ a b Fine 1994, p. 390.
  13. ^ Veselinović, Andrija & Ljušić, Radoš (2001). СРПСКЕ ДИНАСТИЈЕ, СРЕДЊОВЕКОВНЕ ДИНАСТИЈЕ
  14. ^ Sedlar, Jean W. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, University of Washington Press, p. 385
  15. ^ Jovetić, Jovan (1985). Odjeci Srpske prošlosti: eseji, govori, polemike. Jovan Jovetić. p. 29.
  16. ^ Pitcher, Donald Edgar (1968). An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire: From Earliest Times to the End of the Sixteenth Century. Brill Archive. p. 45. GGKEY:4CFA3RCNXRP.
  17. ^ Орбин 1968, p. 321.
  18. ^ Barleti, Marin (2012). The Siege of Shkodra: Albania's Courageous Stand Against Ottoman Conquest, 1478. David Hosaflook. p. 60. ISBN 978-99956-87-77-9.
  19. ^ Istorija: spisanie na Sojuzot na društvata na istoričarite na SR Makedonija. Sojuz na društvata na istoričarite na SR Makedonija. 1980. p. 183. Тука беше и Марица и Косово за господата српско-албанска.


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