THE BATTLE OF KOSOVO

 

PRINCE LAZAR

 

 

 

 

After the Turkish defeats at the battle’s of Plocnik ( 1386 ) and Bileca ( 1388 ) the Ottoman Sultan Murad I, began preparations for a final offensive to crush Serbia and occupy the entire Balkan peninsula. Prince Lazar, ruler of Moravian Serbia was well aware of the coming invasion and began forming the necessary military - diplomatic alliance's needed to defeat the Ottoman's.

On June 20th 1389, Murad was observed marching his troops from Bulgaria towards Kosovo, which at the time was the most important crossroads in all Serbia. Its capture would allow the inevitable Ottoman advance on the nation's of Southern Europe.

Upon learning that Murad's army was on the move, Lazar began marching his forces from Nis' towards the Kosovo fields. Both armies began arriving during the early afternoon hours of June 27th and would spend the remainder of the day and evening assembling their forces.

On the morning of  the 28th, both combatant’s slowly became visible to one another across the Field of  Blackbirds. The Serbian army numbered 26,000 men ( 6,000 Cavalry and 20,000 Infantry ). Lazar arrayed his forces in two staggered lines with the Heavy Cavalry to the front and the Infantry in support.

Lazar placed his 10,000 Infantry and 2,000 Cavalry along with himself in the center. His right  flank amounted to 7,000 fellow Serbs ( 2,000 Cavalry - 5,000 Infantry ) from the Kosovo region commanded by Provincial Lord Vuk Brankovic. The 7,000 strong left wing ( 2,000 Cavalry - 5,000 Infantry ) was a mixture of allied troops comprising Bosnian, Croatian and Albanian's from King Tvrtko of Bosnia under the command of Nobleman Vlatko Vukovic.

The 40,000 strong Ottoman Army (10,000 Cavalry and 30,000 Infantry) was also formed in two staggered lines  with the Infantry to the front and the Cavalry in support.

In overall command was Sultan  Murad l, who occupied the center with 12,000 Infantry which included his personal body guard of 5,000 Elite Janissarie’s and 4,000 Cavalry. The Ottoman flanks  composed 1,000 archers, 8,000 Infantry and 3,000 Cavalry under both Murad's son's Prince Bayezid on the right with Prince Yakub to the left.

 

 

                                                                                

                                                             Vuk Brankovic                                                                                     Vlatko Vukovic

 

 

BATTLE LINES

 

 

 

 

Lazar opened the battle ordering the entire Serbian coalition of Heavy Cavalry Lancers forward. The chargers soon came under plunging fire from the Turkish archers and although suffering hundred's of casualties per volley, this did not achieve the desired break up nor slow the speed of the charge.

One thousand yards from the enemy, the cavalry formed into V-shaped wedges and impacted the Ottoman front lines. Despite hard fighting and heavy casualties, the Turkish center and right wing had bent back upon itself but had not broken.

On the Ottoman left flank Brankovic's cavalry easily brushed aside the enemy archers and pushed through the Turkish lines. Within moments the Turkish left wing Infantry had completely disintegrated.

Lazar then ordered Brankovic's cavalry to left wheel and strike at the Ottoman center. Prince Yakub now took command of the Turkish left wing cavalry and launched a fierce assault against the breakthrough. The counterattack hit hard into the exposed flank of the Serbian Knights, these fresh Turkish saber’s quickly cut down and annihilated the exhausted Christian horsemen to a man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly afterwards, Murad ordered his son Prince Bayezid to lead the central - right wing Turkish cavalry and attack the now unsupported Serbian infantry. This initial charge completely wiped out what Serbian cavalry remained and continued onward across the battlefield.

The Ottoman charge hit the unprotected flanks of the Serbian center and left wing with deadly effect. With the arrival of re - formed Turkish Infantry, Vukovic's hard pressed troops began to fall back on the Serbian center to compensate for the heavy losses suffered.

With Vukovic's flank now disintegrating and the Serbian army effectively being ground up, Lazar ( with his personal bodyguard ) charged into the fray to rally his remaining troops. Exhibiting a fanatical hatred for the enemy and love of country, it was now the Turks who suffered immense losses for every inch of Serbian ground.

During this fierce engagement, Prince Lazar was wounded and thrown from his horse. Turkish soldiers then captured him, where he was quickly brought before  the Sultan, identified and summarily beheaded.

On the Serbian right flank, Brankovic saw Lazar being removed from the battlefield and knew they could no longer win. He therefore decided to save his 5,000 soldiers and retreated from the battlefield. ( Probably needing the troops to continue ruling his province - Even if it would be under the thumb of the Ottoman's )

As word spread throughout the Serbian ranks that Lazar was dead and that Brankovic had deserted, all hope for victory was lost and the entire army almost to a man was routed.

After the battle had ended. In full view of Lazar's decapitated corpse the remaining captured Serbian Nobles were presented before the victorious Sultan for summary execution. It was during this parade of the defeated that a young Nobleman by the name of Milos¡ Obilić, broke free of his chains and with a hidden dagger Repeatedly stabbed Murad until death, before meeting his own gruesome demise.

 

                                                                                    

                                          SULTAN MURAD l                                                       MILOS' OBILIC

 

Both Armies had suffered great losses during the battle. The Serbian's lost  all 6,000 of their Heavy Cavalry along with 14,000 Infantry and 1,000 taken prisoner. The Ottoman’s faired little better with 5,000 Cavalry lost and 20,000 Infantry.

Shortly after receiving word of his father's death, Prince Bayezid in the tradition of Turkish succession, secured the support of the Janissarie’s for ascension to the Ottoman throne and then ordered the murder of his younger brother Yakub.

The newly crowned - Sultan Bayezid, then ordered a general withdrawal back to Istanbul to reorganize his army for future expansion into Europe. Despite the Ottoman victory and the Horrific casualties inflicted on Serbia, it would be another seventy two years until 1459, when the last vestige of the Serbian nation finally succumbed and absorbed into the Ottoman Empire.

 

 

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