Page 408 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Boško i. Bojović
if the military outcome of the battle was uncertain or, better said, was in the spirit of the Serbian victory, the po- litical outcome was quite unambiguous. apart from be- coming the sultan’s vassal state, Serbia had to hand over its important strategic strongholds—the towns of Zvečan in Kosovo and Golubac on the Danube. in this way, the Otto- man empire not only penetrated into the central parts of the Balkans for the first time, but also gained a foothold at the very border of Central europe. Therefore, the outcome of the Battle of Kosovo was decisive not only for Serbia, but also for much broader regions of South eastern and Cen- tral europe. Therefore, this battle acquired much signifi- cance for its contemporaries, due to which its interpreta- tions overshadowed the facts.7
Four years after the Battle of Kosovo, Bulgaria fell al- most unnoticeably under Ottoman rule, after the conquest of Trnovo. Byzantium had stopped offering any resistance a long time ago, so that its emperors accompanied the sul- tan with their army in his military campaigns. almost every attempt of Western Christians to check the unstoppable Ottoman expansion ended in a heavy defeat, like at Nicop- olis (1396) and Varna (1444).8
almost three centuries were to pass before europe was able to offer efficient resistance to the Ottoman conquests. The strength of the then most powerful european empire, austria, was not sufficient. Thus, the Christian Holy League was formed (1684) after the second and last Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683. Much earlier, the Ottoman army suf- fered a warning defeat in the Mediterranean, in the great naval battle of Lepanto (1571), but the turning point on the mainland occurred only after the aforementioned siege of Vienna. During the perennial war, in 1689, the austrian forces penetrated their furthest into the Ottoman territo- ry, reaching Skoplje, Štip and Veles, more than one thou- sand kilometers far from Vienna. in the Ottoman counter- offensive, the austrian forces suffered a heavy defeat in Kosovo or, more precisely, at its southern border, in the Kačanik Gorge, in january 1690. The chief commander of the austrian and allied forces, General e.S. Piccolomini, died of plague in Priština before the event. On his deathbed he confessed to Serbian Patriarch arsenije iii Crnojević and received communion (at the beginning of November 1689), as the French King Louis XiV was informed by his dragomans. France was at war with austria since the be- ginning of 1689. it was helping Turkey and, probably, saved
7 Referring to the treason of Vuk Branković and other issues, Ni- col does not make enough difference between critical historiography and oral tradition, although he gives to the Battle of Kosovo and its consequences an adequate international context, geostrategic and historic significance, cf. D. M. Nicol, Les derniers siècles de Byzance, 1261–1453, Paris 2005, pp. 312–314, 317 (The Last Centuries of Byzan- tium, 1261–1453, 1e ed. 1972, 8e ed., 2008).
8 a.S. atya, The Crusade of Nicopolis, London 1934; O. Halecki, The Crusade of Varna: A Discussion of Controversial Problems, New York 1934; D. M. Nicol, Les derniers siècles de Byzance, 1261–1453, Paris 2005, pp. 384–386, 387–390.
it from even more disastrous sequences and defeats at the decisive moments. according to the field reports of French spies, the Serbian Patriarch—before the defeat at Kačanik —brought 10,000 Serbian volunteers and a certain num- ber of albanian clans Klimenti and Gruda to help the aus- trians. The reprisals of the Turkish army, especially the Cir- cassians in its ranks, against the Serbian population were so fierce and destructive that they precipitated the exodus of a large part of the Christian population from Kosovo and Metohija. That was the famous Great Serbian Migra- tion under Patriarch arsenije in 1690. according to some reports, tens of thousands of Serbian families as well as albanian Christians migrated into Vojvodina, that is, south- ern Hungary, reaching Saint andre north of Budapest. This essentially changed the ethnic composition of the popula- tion, especially in southern Hungary, although the Serbs had already settled there in the late Middle ages. Thus, present-day Vojvodina was becoming some kind of refuge and compensation for the gradual loss of the Serbian ma- jority in Kosovo and Metohija,9 which was almost absolute in the medieval times.
accordingly, in the late 14th century, the Ottoman em- pire reached its zenith and was unstoppable in its expan- sion through conquest. The military power of the europe- an countries was not sufficient to stop its northward ad- vance, especially toward the northwest. The lack of politi- cal and military solidarity was taking its toll. in addition, since late medieval times already, the West european coun- tries were turning to overseas markets and sources of wealth. The significance of the Mediterranean region was declin- ing since the discovery of america and its abundance of precious metals.
Until then, Serbian gold and silver, in particular, were one of the main sources of the european monetary econo- my. The continuous rise of the european economy, whose beginnings date from the 11th century already, as well as the increasing development of monetary trade were creating a growing monetary deficit, because the monetary stock mostly consisted of silver and gold. From the late 11th cen- tury, after the termination of Byzantine monetary hege- mony that lasted more than seven and a half centuries, the Venetian gold ducat became the major international means of payment. Since the 13th century, Serbia was increasingly developing mining, thus expanding its production of pre- cious metals, primarily silver and gold, which were mostly exported to Venice via Dubrovnik and its merchants. in the first half of the 15th century, this economy reached its highest point when the production of the Serbian mines of Novo Brdo in Kosovo, Kopaonik, Rudnik and Srebrenica, according to some scientific estimates, accounted for one-
9 M. Radovanović, Etnički i demografski procesi na Kosovu i Me- tohiji, Belgrade 2004, pp. 81–90, 97–103, 132–136, 242–252; B. Bojo- vić, “Kosovo-Metohija du Xie au XViie siècle,” Balkan Studies 38/I, Thessalonique 1997, p. 31–61.

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