The battle of 1389, which became legendary

So death did not come to his native land – to the 630-th anniversary of the battle on Kosovo field

Битва 1389 года, ставшая легендарной

In a series of clashes, the history of the Balkans, highlights the battle that is preserved in people’s memory, regardless of their military value. So in the minds of many generations of Serbs began the battle of Kosovo 1389.

While in combat against this battle was over for the Slavs defeat, in people’s memory, she remains a symbol of heroic deeds, for centuries, inspired to fight the enemy. The battle on Kosovo field not only has historical context, but also poetic meaning, preserved in folk tales, the symbolism is imprinted in the national memory.

In the XIV century the Slavic monarchy fought for supremacy in the Balkans. Gradually at first put forward by the Serbian rulers. The greatest success accompanied Stefan Dusan (1331-1355). In 1346 he was crowned as “Emperor of Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians and Albanians”. Under his scepter temporarily unite the land of Serbia, Macedonia, Albania and Northern Greece (Epirus, Thessaly).

The Imperial title, selected by Stefan Dusan, was talking about what he aspired to be the successor of the Byzantine Vasileva. By the time the Byzantine Empire was finally eliminated from the list of great powers, but continued to draw the splendor of her former greatness and great culture. Serbian and Bulgarian rulers saw in the glare of a role model, but to create a strong state out of conquered areas, they have failed: after the death of one or another strong ruler established his power was broken. It happened after the sudden death of Stephen dušan, who died at the age of 46. His successor, Stefan Uros V was a pious Christian, but a weak king, at which the Serbian nemanjic state was divided into self-governing Principality.

Meanwhile in the East there was a new formidable force. At the junction of the fragmented possessions of the Seljuk Turks and the Byzantine Empire began to intensify, the princedom (beylik) of Osman (1290-1326), later founder of the celebrated Turkish dynasty. His domain expanded at the expense of neighboring Turkish principalities and Asian possession of Byzantium. In 1331, the son of Osman, Orkhan conquered the city of Nicea and came to the shores of the sea of Marmara opposite Constantinople.

In Byzantium the danger is not felt immediately. In 1345 the Emperor John cantacuzene invited the Ottomans as allies in the internecine struggle against the Empress Anna. So the Turks first entered the territory of Europe. In 1349 the Emperor has again called on the Ottomans for help against the Serbian ruler Stefan Dusan. Soon the Ottomans of the allies became dangerous rivals of Byzantium when Murad I (1359-1389) firmly entrenched in European territory. They captured Adrianople, renamed it Edirne, and moved his capital. Weak Byzantium actually came under the control of the Ottoman ruler. In the years 1369-1372 Murad I conquered Eastern Bulgaria, and in 1385 won Sofia. Turkish troops went through Macedonia and reached Albania. Genoese and Venetian Republic signed a peace Treaty with the Ottomans. On the way of Turks to Europe was lying Serbian land, ruled by Prince Lazar I Hrebeljanovic. Both sides prepared for a decisive battle.

In 1389 the Ottomans made the first and camped at Kosovo field. Here came the Union army of Serbs, led by Prince Lazar and Bosnians led by the Governor, Vlatko vuković. The forces of the local Serbs and the Albanians led by the Kosovo ruler Vuk Brankovic, the son-in-law of Prince Lazar. Numerical advantage was on the side of the Ottomans, but encouraged by the Serbs decided to join the battle and fight to the end.

The battle began on 15 June (St. Vitus day). The battle was very bloody, defeated the Turks were so weakened that they were unable to continue the advance and retreated. According to one version, the Sultan Murad was killed penetrated into the Turkish camp, the Serbian hero Milos Obilic. Anyway, killed the Sultan, and his son Jakub, and bosses over the Turkish army and the state passed to another son of Murad – to Istanbul.

Prince Lazar was captured on the battlefield and executed. Without waiting for the end of the battle, stepped (or ran) Vuk Brankovic. The Bosnian Governor, Vlatko Vukovich remained alive and heralded the victory of the Slavs. The death of the Sultan and the departure of the Turks was regarded by the Serbs as a victory, but the Ottomans, after the defeat of the Serbian forces were confident that they won. Bayezid retreated to the capital for the early recognition of its power after the death of his father and brother, and the new Serbian ruler Stefan Lazarevic (1389-1427) was forced to accept a dependent position from the Ottomans.

In 1391-1398. the Ottomans made their first siege of Constantinople, and only the appearance of Tamerlane on the Eastern borders have distracted them from the capture of the Byzantine capital. The city in 1402 Bayezid was defeated by the Mongols under Ankara and captured. The state of the Ottomans for ten years plunged into civil war, then to return in even greater force. In 1453 Constantinople fell, in 1459 Serbia was finally conquered by the Turks and included into the Ottoman Empire.

On the Kosovo battle and other battles won by Ottoman during the promotion in Europe (near Nicopolis in 1396, near Varna in 1444), you can see the circumstances that contributed to their success. The Ottomans were able to assemble a large army, relying on professional soldiers and thirsty prey hunters. The troops of Christian rulers alone could not compete with a numerous army of the Ottomans and came together. The main difficulty of these allied forces were unified command: the leaders were fighting for the championship, not trusting each other. Lack of coordination in battle leads to defeat. Probably this became the reason for the defeat of the Union army at Kosovo field.

There was one more important circumstance. Catholic States agreed to provide military assistance only upon the acceptance of the Orthodox Church Union with Rome. John kantakuzin in 1369 was willing to pay that price for a promise of Western rulers to assist against the Turks. In 1439, Emperor John VIII not only went down the same path, but led for a higher Greek clergy who signed the Unia with the Catholics in Florence. However, the West was in no hurry to help. The Hungarians and the Venetians, taking advantage of the weakness of the Orthodox countries in the Balkans, they have taken the border area, when the Turkish danger was a threat to Hungary, and Venice. The conflict of economic interests prevented the Union to repel the Ottoman offensive in the Balkans.

In such circumstances, the performance of the Union army of the Serbian Prince Lazar and the battle of Kosovo is not only a courageous act, but the real victim.

The Serbian Church canonized Prince Lazar and the brave Milos. In folk poetry had become widespread songs praising the heroes of Kosovo (“Weeping Kosovo girl”) and sacrifice of Prince Lazar, who chose death for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. In these works, imprinted the nation’s hope for the future liberation from the Turkish slavery. Battle of Kosovo, covered with legends, acquired national importance.

Whenever the Serbs are acutely aware of the need to protect their country, Kosovo has become a sacred symbol, a rallying cry. So it was during the Serbian rebellions of the first half of the XIX century, during the Balkan wars of 1912-1913…

Битва 1389 года, ставшая легендарной

A monument on the site of the battle of Kosovo

Incorrectly interpret the memory of the Kosovo battle, just as the “Kosovo myth”, calling for vengeance and struggle. In Serbian folk poetry on the subject and in the Church and the hagiographical literature of the idea of nationalism, mixed with the image of a collective enemy. In the foreground are Christian motives – the belief in immortality, glorification of the sacrificial feat, reward for martyrdom. Politics often distorts spiritual truths, but in the ecclesiastical sense of the battle of Kosovo the limit is put gospel words: “No greater love than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (Jn., 15:13). There is a difference between glorifying war, which is unacceptable for the Christian consciousness, and honoring the heroes who gave their lives for the sake of the death did not come to his native land.Alex Khoteev

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