Battle of Kosovo (1448)
|Second Battle of Kosovo|
|Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe and Ottoman-Hungarian Wars|
An Akıncı irregular defeating a Hungarian knight.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Murat II||Vladislav II|
|Casualties and losses|
The Second Battle of Kosovo (Hungarian: második rigómezei csata, Turkish: İkinci Kosova savaşı) (17 October–20 October 1448) was fought at Kosovo Polje between a coalition of the Kingdom of Hungary and Wallachia led by John Hunyadi, against an Ottoman-led coalition under Sultan Murad II. The result of the battle was a decisive Ottoman victory.
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In 1448, John Hunyadi saw the right moment to lead a campaign against the Ottoman Empire. After the defeat at the Battle of Varna (1444), he raised another army to attack the Ottomans. His strategy was based on an expected revolt of the Balkan people, a surprise attack, and the destruction of the main force of the Ottomans in a single battle.
In September 1448 Hunyadi led the Hungarian forces across the Danube river and camped them in Serbia next to Kovin, just outside the Serbian capital of Smederevo. For a full month the Hungarians were encamped there awaiting the German crusaders, the Wallachian Duke as well as the Bohemian and Albanian army. The Albanian army under Skanderbeg did not participate in this battle as he was prevented from linking with Hunyadi's army by the Ottomans and their allies. It is believed that he was delayed by Serbian despot Đurađ Branković, then allied with Sultan Murad II, although Branković's exact role is disputed. As a result, Skanderbeg ravaged Branković's domains as punishment for deserting the Christian cause.
Branković reacted ambiguously at the trespassing and negotiated the terms of joining the Crusade against the Ottomans over that period of time. Hunyadi had told Branković that he had brought 20,000 of his own men, awaiting additional reinforcements, and that he [Branković] with his light cavalry was the only ally necessary to make this a decisive victory. Branković was weary, having had his realm restored after a full-scale Ottoman occupation only in 1444, and, fully aware of the strength of the Ottoman military force, wanting to keep his throne. Despot Branković was also unwilling to set himself under Hunyadi's command under any condition, as he personally disliked him, considering him of lower stature.
The central point of the dispute between Hunyadi and Branković was their personal quarrel. After the Peace of Szeged in 1444, which restored the Serbian Despotate and Branković's reign in it, the Serbian despot had worked on achieving peace in the region, hoping to remove his country from jeopardy. This had included gifting Hunyadi with the his possessions in the Hungarian Kingdom in favor of a pacifist approach. After Hunyadi eventually joined the warmongering side, Branković had asked for the return of his properties, which Hunyadi rejected. This led to Branković straining away from Hungary and getting into a closer relationship with the Ottoman Empire, in an effort to protect his realm, as well as to a strong hostility towards Hunyadi and the negotiations ended as a failure.
The Serbian rejection and positioning as a neutral side had led to Hunyadi's fury and the Crusaders' decision to treat Serbia as hostile territory. At the end of the negotiations, Hunyadi had threatened to kill Branković in person after his country was occupied. In late September 1448, Hunyadi had amassed 30,000 men and moved southwards. The Crusaders pillaged and burned across Serbia, but the Serb Despot gave an explicit order of free passage, refusing to mount a reaction. However, he not only informed Sultan Murad II of the Crusaders' advance, out of both personal interest of friendship with the sultan and anger towards Hunyadi, but also gave him tactical strategic advice regarding the best way to defeat the Crusaders, a plan which the Ottomans followed. The idea included letting the Europeans advance deep into Serbian territory, far away from their homeland, and then cut off their supply routes, effectively closing them in from all sides and trapping them.
The Crusaders, numbering possibly 24,000, arrived at Kosovo Field – the site of the first Battle of Kosovo in 1389, between Serbs and Ottomans – and faced an Ottoman army of up to 60,000. Sultan Murad personally commanded a large section of cannons and janissaries, while his son and successor Mehmed, who faced battle for the first time, led the Anatolian troops at the right wing. Hunyadi commanded the center of his army in the battle, while the Crusaders right wing was under the Wallachians. The Hungarians had long barrage cannons.
The next day the battle opened when Hunyadi attacked the Ottoman flanks with mixed cavalry (light and heavy). The Turkish flanks, consisting of soldiers from Rumelia and Anatolia, were losing until Turkish light cavalry arrived to reinforce them. The Christian flanks were subsequently routed and the survivors retreated back to Hunyadi's main force. When Hunyadi saw the defeat of his flanks, he attacked with his main force, composed of knights and light infantry. The janissary corps were not successful; the cavalry made progress through the Turkish center but were stopped at the Turkish camp. When the main attack was halted, the Turkish infantry regrouped and successfully drove the Hungarian knights back. The light cavalry, who were now without the knights' support, were also overcome. Hungarian forces retreated to their camp. During the retreat, the janissaries killed most of the Hungarian nobles; Hunyadi fled, but was later captured by the Serbs. During the night, Turkish infantry fired missiles at the Hungarians, who replied with cannons. On the next day, a final assault totally annihilated the remaining Hungarian army.
The Christian Balkan states were unable to resist the Ottomans after this defeat, eventually falling under control of the Ottoman Empire. After the battle Hunyadi was captured by Branković, who did not release him until a ransom of 100,000 florins, the return of the domains that Hunyadi had revocated from Branković, and the engagement of Hunyadi's heir to Branković's daughter were agreed upon. For the remainder of his reign Hunyadi successfully defended the Kingdom of Hungary against Ottoman campaigns. Skanderbeg also successfully continued his resistance in Albania until his death in 1468, but ten years later the country fell under full Ottoman control.
- Bennett, The Hutchinson Dictionary of Ancient & Medieval Warfare, p. 182 "Hunyadi led 24,000 - 30,000 men including 10,000 Wallachians, but should have waited to join Scanderbeg's troops before confronting Murad's force of 40,000."
- Sedlar, East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, p. 248 "Hunyadi,who was now the richest landowner in Hungary, had raised an army of 24,000 men from his private resources, including German and Bohemian infantrymen armed with handguns to supplement his Hungarian cavalry. [...]This time the sultan brought on to the field a force of at least 60,000 men including Janissaries with muskets and a contingent of artillery."
- Turnbull, The Ottoman Empire 1326-1699, p. 36 "Hunyadi led an army of 24,000 men, including 8,000 Wallachians, but suffered another military defeat without even seeing his Albanian allies."
- Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time by Franz Babinger, page 55
- Rogers, Clifford (2010-06-21). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology. Oxford University Press. p. 471. ISBN 9780195334036. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- Frashëri 2002, pp. 160–161
- Vaughan, Dorothy Margaret (1954-06-01). Europe and the Turk: a pattern of alliances, 1350-1700. AMS Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780404563325. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Sedlar, Jean W. (1994). East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500. University of Washington Press. p. 393. ISBN 9780295972909. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Babinger 1992, p. 40
- Kenneth, Setton (1997) . The papacy and the Levant, 1204–1571: The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. II. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-87169-127-9. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
Scanderbeg intended to go “peronalmente” with an army to assist Hunyadi, but was prevented from doing so by Branković, whose lands he ravaged as punishment for the Serbian desertion of the Christian cause.
- Molnár, Miklós (2001-04-30). A Concise History of Hungary. Cambridge University Press. p. 65. ISBN 9780521667364. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Stephen R. Turnbull, The Ottoman Empire 1326-1699, Osprey Publishing, 2003.
- Jean W. Sedlar, East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, University of Washington Press, 1994.
- Matthew Bennett, The Hutchinson Dictionary of Ancient & Medieval Warfare, Taylor & Francis, 1998.
- Babinger, Franz (1992), Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-01078-6
- Frashëri, Kristo (2002), Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu: jeta dhe vepra, 1405–1468 (in Albanian), Botimet Toena, ISBN 99927-1-627-4
- Second Battle of Kosovo – The Encyclopædia Britannica