Battle of Zlatitsa
Part of Crusade of Varna

Sredna Gora
Date12 December 1443
Result Ottoman victory
Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Poland
Serbian Despotate
Papal States
Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Władysław III of Poland
John Hunyadi
Đurađ Branković
Julian Cesarini

Murad II

40,000+[1] 16.000[2]
Casualties and losses
unknown unknown

The Battle of Zlatitsa was fought on 12 December 1443[3][4] between the Ottoman Empire and Serbian and Hungarian troops in the Balkans.[5] The battle was fought at Zlatitsa Pass (Bulgarian: Златишки проход) (Turkish: Izladi Derbendi) near the town of Zlatitsa in the Balkan Mountains, Ottoman Empire (modern-day Bulgaria). The impatience of the king of Poland and the severity of the winter then compelled Hunyadi (February 1444) to return home, but not before he had utterly broken the Sultan's power in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania.


In 1440 John Hunyadi became the trusted adviser and most highly regarded soldier of the king Władysław III of Poland. Hunyadi was rewarded with the captaincy of the fortress of Belgrade and was put in charge of military operations against the Ottomans. The king Władysław recognized Hunyadi's merits by granting him estates in Eastern Hungary. Hunyadi soon showed and displayed extraordinary capacity in marshalling its defenses with the limited resources at his disposal. He was victorious in Semendria over Isak-Beg in 1441, not far from Nagyszeben in Transylvania he annihilated an Ottoman force and recovered for Hungary the suzerainty of Wallachia. In July 1442 at the Iron Gates he defeated a massed Ottoman formation of 80.000 led by Sehabbedin. These victories made Hunyadi a prominent enemy of the Ottomans and renowned throughout Christendom, and were prime motivators for him to undertake in 1443, along with King Władysław, the famous expedition known as the long campaign with the Battle of Niš as one of the battles of this campaign. Hunyadi was accompanied by Giuliano Cesarini during this campaign.[6] The battle took place in the plain between Bolvani and Niš on November 3, 1443.[4] Ottoman forces were led by Kasim Pasha, the beglerbeg of Rumelia, Turakhan Beg and Isak-Beg.[7] After the Ottoman defeat, the retreating forces of Kasim Pasha and Turakhan Beg burned all of the villages between Niš and Sofia.[8] The Ottoman sources justify an Ottoman defeat by lack of cooperation between the Ottoman armies led by different commanders.[9]


Until the Battle of Zlatica, crusaders had not meet a major Ottoman army, only town garrisons along their route toward Adrianople.[10] Only at Zlatica they met strong and well-positioned defence forces of the Ottoman army.[10] The severe winter cold weather favored the position of the Ottoman defenders.[11] The Ottoman forces were commanded by Kasim Pasha.[12] The crusaders intended to continue their advance toward Adrianople through the forests of Sredna Gora.[12] When they reached Zlatica, they were unable to continue their advance because the pass was blocked by the very strong Ottoman army, the weather was bitterly cold, it was very hard for them to obtain regular supplies of their forces and Ottoman forces of Kasim Pasha repeatedly attacked them.[12]


After the Battle of Zlatica and subsequent retreat of the crusaders, the battlefield and surrounding region were completely destroyed. Serbia was devastated while Sofia was destroyed and burnt, turned into "black field" with its surrounding villages being turned into "black charcoal".[13] Only Đurađ Branković gained from 1443 campaign.[14]

As they marched home, however, the crusaders ambushed and defeated a pursuing Turkish force in the Battle of Kunovica, where Mahmud Bey, son-in-law of the Sultan and brother of the Grand Vizier Çandarlı Halil Pasha, was taken prisoner.[15]

Historical sources

There is debate amongst historians as to the victor of the battle.[16][17] According to Halil Inalcik "İzladi ve Varna Savaşları (1443–1444) Üzerinde Gazavatnâme" of unknown author is most reliable of all Ottoman chronicles about the events related to Battle of Zlatica and Battle of Varna.[18]


  1. ^ Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches (I-V, Gotha 1908-1913) IORGA, Nicolae
  2. ^ Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches (I-V, Gotha 1908-1913). IORGA, Nicolae
  3. ^ Mellersh, H. E. L.; Williams, Neville (1999). Chronology of World History. ABC-CLIO. p. 527. ISBN 978-1-57607-155-7.
  4. ^ a b Setton, Kenneth M.; Hazard, Harry W.; Zacour, Norman P., eds. (1989). A History of the Crusades, Volume VI: The Impact of the Crusades on Europe. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-299-10740-X. the most important battle of the whole campaign took place at Bolvani, in the plain of Nish on November 3, 1443
  5. ^ "Battle of Zlatica". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  6. ^ Babinger, Franz (1992), Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time, Princeton University Press, p. 25, ISBN 978-0-691-01078-6, John Hunyadi accompanied by the cardinal-legate Giuliano Cesarini.
  7. ^ Babinger, Franz (1992), Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time, Princeton University Press, p. 25, ISBN 978-0-691-01078-6, The combined host met Ottoman forces first on November 3, 1443, between the castle of Bolvan (near Aleksinac) and the city of Niš. Here Kasim Bey, then governor of Rumelia, Ishak Bey and other standard bearers were defeated.
  8. ^ Imber, Colin (2006), The Crusade of Varna, 1443-45, Aldershot ; Burlington (Vt.) : Ashgate, cop., p. 16, ISBN 978-0-7546-0144-9, OCLC 470458159, In the course of their flight Kasim and Turahan burned all villages between Niš and Sofia.
  9. ^ Imber, Colin (2006), The Crusade of Varna, 1443-45, Aldershot ; Burlington (Vt.) : Ashgate, cop., p. 270, ISBN 978-0-7546-0144-9, OCLC 470458159, The Ottoman sources in general emphasize the disagreement and lack of cooperation between frontier Ottoman forces under Turakhan and sipahi army under Kasim
  10. ^ a b Fine, John V. A. Jr. (1994) [1987]. The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. p. 548. ISBN 0-472-08260-4.
  11. ^ Stadtmüller, Georg (1988). Ungarn-Jahrbuch. Hase und Koehler Verlag. p. 16. ISBN 9783878281832.
  12. ^ a b c Babinger, Franz (1992). Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time. Princeton University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-691-01078-1.
  13. ^ Boyar, Ebru; Fleet, Kate (15 April 2010). A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul. Cambridge University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-139-48444-2.
  14. ^ The Cambridge Medieval History Series volumes 1-5. Plantagenet Publishing. p. 1728. GGKEY:G636GD76LW7.
  15. ^ Imber, Colin (July 2006). "Introduction". The Crusade of Varna, 1443-45. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 9–31. ISBN 0-7546-0144-7. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
  16. ^ Mustafa Serdar Palabiyik (2012). "The Changing Ottoman Perception of War: From the Foundation of the Empire to its Disintegration". In Avery Plaw (ed.). The Metamorphosis of War. New York, United States of America. p. 129.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  17. ^ T. C. F. Hopkins (2007). Empires, Wars, and Battles. New York, United States of America. p. 207.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. ^ Blagojević, Božidar (1984). Zbornik radova sa naučnih skupova u Negotinu i Kladovu povodom obeležavanja 170 godina od pogibije Hajduk-Veljka Petrovića i 150 godina oslobođenja od Turaka. Izd. Međuopštinska konferencija SSRN Zaječar, Balkanološki institut SANU. p. 35.