Serbian nobility conflict (1369)

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Serbian nobility conflict
Part of Fall of the Serbian Empire
Date 1369
Location near Zvecan, Kosovo, Serbian Empire
Result New Nobility victory
Altomanović supporters Mrnjavčević supporters
Commanders and leaders
Nikola Altomanović
Lazar Hrebeljanović
Stefan Uroš V  (POW)
Mrnjavčević brothers
Low High

There was a conflict between two powerful sides of the Serbian nobility, one supporting magnate Nikola Altomanović, and one supporting the Mrnjavčević family in Macedonia. In 1369, a battle was fought between the two sides at the Kosovo field, ending in the victory of Vukašin Mrnjavčević.


Emperor Dushan was succeeded by his son Emperor Urosh whose reign was characterized by decline of central power and rise of numerous virtually independent principalities. Stefan Uroš V was not able to sustain the great empire created by his father neither to limit the independence of the nobles.


Since the Mrnjavcevic family desired to succeed the Nemanjic as the new rulers of Serbia, Emperor Uros started supporting a coalition of Serbian nobility loyal to him. One of them was Lazar Hrebeljanovic, who was married to Milica from the Nemanjic family. Lazar and the Emperor managed to persuade the young Nikola Altomanovic to join their coalition. But, since Nikola was at war with Bosnia, he was only able to bring a small part of his army, because he had to keep most of his army on his lands, to protect them from the possible Bosnian attack.


The armies met near Zvecan, in Kosovo. During the battle, the much larger New Nobility army defeated the Old Nobility, and even managed to capture the Emperor. After seeing that the battle could not be won, Lazar Hrebeljanovic retreated from the battlefield, and it is also possible that his army did not even take part in the combat. Nikola Altomanovic fought till the very end and was carried off the field heavily wounded by his men. At that time it was even speculated that he did not survive the battle.


The Mrnjavcevic family did not manage to make the most of the battle because of the threat even more serious than the local Serbian rulers - the Ottoman Turks. On September 26, 1371, they met the Turks at the Battle of Maritsa, but were heavily defeated. Both Vukashin and Uglesha lost their lives in that battle. Two months later, on 4 December 1371, Urosh, the last Serbian Emperor died at the age of 35.

The battle was the place where the hatred between Nikola Altomanovic and Lazar Hrebeljanovic was born. Nikola felt that Lazar had betrayed him, and in the future he would even try to kill him face to face. That would trigger a coalition of Nikola's enemies: Lazar Hrebeljanovic, Tvrtko of Bosnia, Djuradj I Balsic, Nicholas Garay and the Hungarian King Louis I of Hungary.

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