Page 362 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Sima M. Ćirković
among warriors, than the number of casualties, which is very difficult to define. according to the Mediaeval under- standing, the management over a battlefield, remaining there when the enemy was forced to run away or withdraw, was one of the most impressive signs of a successful end to a battle. This seems very easy to establish. But, if a battle- field was in a country of the enemy side which had been forced to abandon its territory and if the one who remained the owner of the battlefield, after a short period, started moving back to his own country, matters would not be as clear as it seemed, at first sight. Would the conditions im- mediately after the battle be remembered, or the ones es- tablished later, after the departure of the real winner? in that case, there would be the possibility of exchanging roles. if the result was judged according to which side had bene- fited from a battle’s then later events should be taken into consideration; this opens up the possibility of distortion of the battle, under the influence of later perceptions.
These open questions and perplexities remain even af- ter centuries of critical study of the Kosovo battle, and even with a widening of the field of sources and clearer under- standing of the situation after 1389. instead of short and reliable replies, a critical historian is obliged to convey to a reader his doubts and to go through all of them. it is quite certain that a number of the most ancient sources testify generally to the battle, emphasizing Murad’s death. The ruler’s death threw a shadow onto the Ottoman side. But, the Ottoman tradition, emerging much later, was not in- fluenced by it. We have already mentioned that Tvrtko’s letters represented his legislative views, according to which it had been his battle and, as the enemy ruler had been killed and the army, under his successor had withdrew from Ser- bia, Tvrtko didn’t have to “embellish” the affair, so that it was represented as his victory. However, his correspon- dents, informed from other sources, accepted the version of his triumph. Vuk Branković remained in his own country and didn’t reconcile with the Turks up to 1392, so it could be concluded that the battle result hadn’t been questioned. He got the chance to fill in, by his personality, the gap which arose by the disappearance of Prince Lazar.
The family and territories of Prince Lazar were the most affected by the consequences of the Kosovo battle. The rul-
er had been killed, and the country came into the hands of a widow and weak sons. in the autumn of 1389, the Hun- garian King Siegmund invaded their territory along with a huge army, which hardened their position toward the Turks. Contrary to the writers of hagiographies and praises to Prince Lazar, who saw him not only as a hero crowned by religious martyrdom, but also as a “new David”—which meant—a victor aided by God, the Prince’s son Stefan re- membered the conditions after his father’s death in a much more gloomy light. in the preface to the Law on Mines (1393, 1412) he mentioned that in the beginning of his rule “the infidels attacked the Christians,” that he saw “a great vic- tory of my country;” also, how, following the advice of pa- triarch Spiridon (died on 18th august, 1389), other arch- priests and his mother, he had gone to “the great emir Bayezid,” and how, according to the latter’s requests, he had liberated the country and towns—which undoubtedly meant that he had become Bayezid’s vassal. Lazar’s heir claimed that his destiny had been decided by the conse- quences of the Kosovo battle. The most important fact for understanding the differences among the most ancient sources, was that not all the participants were affected by the Kosovo battle in the same way, and so it is quite normal that they didn’t experience it in the same way, nor did they talked of it in the same way.
Knowing, generally, the further development of Serbia, and bearing in mind the leading role of Stefan Lazarević after 1402, and also knowing that the long-term hostility between the Lazarević and Branković as Stefan’s heirs (1412), remembering how Zeta had fallen to Stefan as an inheri- tance (1412)—we can easily understand why the views of Lazar’s heirs predominated and gave a mark to the whole of future Serbian tradition. in the narration of Konstantin Filozof, a biographer of Despot Stefan, we can recognize attempts at a reconciliation of the two views: “Lazar’s forc- es at first resisted the attacks and prevailed. But, the hour for rescue was expiring. That’s why the son of the Tsar be- camestrongandwonthatverybattle,asGodallowed(...).” But this could be classified as a study on the development of the tradition of the battle, which is another different but very attractive task.

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