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Ljubica D. Popović
can imagine the Battle of Kosovo through the pages of these illuminated manuscripts.
especially relevant to the topic under consideration are the illustrations from the chronicle written by john Scylitzes. Covering the period of Byzantine history be- tween the years 811 and 1057, Scylitzes wrote the original text in Constantinople toward the end of the eleventh cen- tury.21 Numerous surviving copies affirm its immense popularity. However, a manuscript in the National Library in Madrid is the only fully illustrated one. This manu- script, studied and published not long ago, is believed to have been painted during the second half of the thirteenth century, possibly in Palermo.22 The illustrations in this man- uscript predate the Battle of Kosovo by at least a hundred years and represent the histories of various Byzantine rul- ers from the Macedonian dynasty. Here, however, one finds images which exactly parallel many military episodes as- sociated specifically with the Battle of Kosovo as described in written sources. are these verbal-visual coincidences, or, as this author would like to hypothesize, a series of generalized topoi, common to this genre of historical writ- ing and illustration? if the latter were true, would such topoi be equally applicable to any battle of the medieval period, including the one fought at Kosovo?
examining specific images from the illustrated Scyl- itzes Chronicle helps one imagine certain episodes from the Battle of Kosovo. The representation of the feast at edessa corresponds with the verbal description of the gathering of Prince Lazar’s council for dinner on the eve of the Battle of Kosovo.23 The seated arrangement around the C-shaped table is also a common iconographical fea- ture for religious scenes depicting a meal. The same folio provides a vivid image of an arab camp: men seated on the ground, camels arranged in a tight group, and their unloaded burden on the ground. This illustration is re- markably similar to Konstantin Mihailović’s description of the Ottoman supply camp at Kosovo.24 Numerous rep- resentations of tents in this chronicle evoke the images of the sultan’s tent at the battle—the tent guarded by foot soldiers—or the one possibly erected to shelter either the mortally wounded Murad i or his remains.25 in the siege
21 Karl Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litterratur von Justinian bis zum Ende des Ostromischen Reiches (527–1453), ii ed., (München, 1897; reprinted in New York: Burt Franklin Biblio- graphical Series Xiii, n.d.), v. i, No 151, 365–68.
22 andré Grabar and M. Manoussacas, L’illustration du manu- scrit de Skylitzes de la Bibliotheque National de Madrid (Venice, 1979), passim.
23 Grabar and Manoussacas, L’illustration, p. 110, pi. XXXViii and fig. 250.
24 P. Tomac, Kosovska Bitka, p. 144.
25 Grabar and Manoussacas, L’illustration, fol. 97 a: 61, pi. XVi,
and fig. 98; fol. 163: 92, fig. 212; fol. 20lv.: 104, fig. 238; fol. 153: 88, fig. 196. it is also interesting to note the similarities of topics found in Western illustrated chronicles in spite of the differences in the style of paintings. an illuminated Hungarian Chronicle can be cited as a typical example. The manuscript which dates from the second half of
of a city26 the encamped arabs could serve as a depiction of the Ottoman forces gathered on the Kosovo field or as an illustration of an epic poem fragment describing the same:
...all was covered with the Turkish army: horse next to horse, warrior next to warrior.
The battle spears were like a dark mountain, and the banners like clouds, and the tents like snow drifts...27
archers and foot soldiers, which, according to Petar Tomac,28 provided one of the strengths of the Ottoman army at Kosovo, also play a visible part in various battle scenes in the Scylitzes illustrations.29 This chronicle fre- quently depicts equestrian clashes which visually evoke the descriptions given by the written sources about eques- trian engagements at the Battle of Kosovo.30 The Scylitzes manuscript graphically renders the gore of battle. Heavily armed horsemen decapitate fallen enemies and the bat- tlefield is a crimson lake of blood, precisely as the Battle of Kosovo was described.31 This illustrated Byzantine chronicle even depicts the decapitation of a foe,32 remind- ing one of Prince Lazar’s death.
The miniatures in the Madrid Skylitzes chronicle, which illustrate conflicts of the Middle Byzantine period in a
the fourteenth century is now in the National Szechenyi Library (Clmae 404), in Budapest. See Marcus de Kalt, The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (Chronicle de Gestis Hungarorum) Budapest: Corvina Press, 1969), where one finds various representations of battle scenes (fol. 44), and most interestingly, a depiction of a dead ruler under his tent (Ladislas the Kumanian) with his assassins (fol. 129). The latter, except for the style, could have served as a depiction of the Death of Sultan Murad i.
26 Grabar and Manoussacas, L’illustration, p. 214, fig. 254.
27 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 263: Kosančić Ivan Uhodi Тиrке (odlo- mak) (Kosančić ivan Scouting the Turks) (fragment):
...“sve je turska vojska pritisnula: / konj do konja, / junak do junaka, / bojna koplja kao čarna gora, / sve barjaci kao i oblaci, / a čadori kao i snjegovi...”
28 Tomac, Kosovska Bitka, pp. 73–76; 195–98.
29 Grabar and Manoussacas, L’illustration, archers and foot sol- diers fol. 32vb: 35, fig. 21; fol. 97a: 61. pi. XVi. fig. 98; fol. 135a: 79, pi. XXViii, fig. 165; fol. 217vb: 112, fig. 259; fol. 220: 113, fig. 260; fol. 220va: 114, pi. XL, fig. 261; equestrian clashes fol. 19: 28, pi. iii, fig. 8; fol. 30: 33, pi. iV, fig. 16; fol. 54v=45, fig. 57; fol. 217b: 111, fig. 257.
30 One can imagine the equestrian forces of Prince Lazar through the poetic text inscribed on the marble column at the Kosovo battle- field, as quoted in: jevtić, Zadužbine Kosova, p. 190:
Mužije dobri, mužije hrabri, / mužije, vaistinu, va slave i va dele / jakože zvezdi svetli blstešte se, / jakože zemlja cvetci preispaštreni, / odejani zlatom i kamenijem častnim ukrašeni, / množajši konji isa- brani i zlatosedlani, / vasedivni i krasni vasadnici ih.
Good men, courageous men, / men who truly in words and deeds / shone like bright stars, / or like earth covered with multicolored flowers, / dressed in gold and decorated with precious stones; / many chosen horses with golden saddles, / and their admirable and beautiful riders. also: Tomac, Kosovska Bitka, pp. 195–96; 203–4.
31 Grabar and Manoussacas, L’illustration, p. 33, pi. V, fig. 19. De- scriptions of the bloody Battle of Kosovo are found, for example, in fifteenth-century Turkish (Oruç) and Persian (Sukrullah) sources as quoted in: Kosovska Bitka: mit, legenda i stvarnost, pp. 80–81.
32 Grabar and Manoussacas, L’illustration, p. 61, fig. 99.

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