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fourth to one-third of the total production of precious met- als in europe. after their final conquest of Novo Brdo and Kosovo in 1455 and Smederevo and the whole of Serbia in 1459, the Ottomans prohibited the export of precious met- als, thus causing the raw material shortage, which heavily affected the flourishing european economy. Consequently, the fall of Serbia under Ottoman rule had a major impact on the search for new sources of precious metals which, as is known, also led to the discovery of america only a few decades after the Ottoman conquest of Serbia.10
The main route of the unstoppable Ottoman conquest of europe, which started in the mid-14th century, ran through the Serbian lands. The Byzantine empire, which never re- covered from its conquest by the Crusaders in 1204, was only a shadow of the thousand-year-old empire. exhausted by long civil wars, economically undermined by the mar- ket hegemony of Venice and Genoa, incapable of creating or accepting a synthesis with the Balkan countries (Serbia and Bulgaria) and blackmailed with the Union with the Catholic Church, Byzantium was the first to fall prey to the Ottomans. at the end of the 14th century, Bulgaria fell prey even faster and easier. The Serbian lands, which sprang up after the break-up of Dušan’s empire, were the only ones in the Balkans which could offer strong resistance to the Ot- toman advance. However, the heavy defeat of the powerful rulers of their southern parts, King Vukašin and Despot Uglješa, on the Marica in 1371, opened the way for the Ot- tomans toward the central parts of the southern Balkans. The Battle of Kosovo which took place on St. Vitus’ day in 1389 had similar consequences for the central and north- ern parts of the Balkan Peninsula, which prepared the way for the Ottoman conquest of Central europe. Despite be- ing helped by the Crusaders from other parts of europe, the powerful Hungarian kingdom could only slow down the Ottoman advance. The Wallachian principalities, Wal- lachia and Moldavia, stood aside the main route of the Ot- toman conquest and, thus, could keep a vassal’s position toward the Ottomans as well as their autonomy, whereby only a certain continuation of Byzantine civilization was retained in South eastern europe.11
Serbia remained for centuries on the main route of the Ottoman advance toward the northwest of europe and Vi- enna, through Hungary and Buda. in their centuries-long expansion of their territory and islam, the Ottomans as- pired to conquer the affluent parts of europe and, through Vienna, Venetian and other lands, thus rounding off the Mediterranean region, whose southern and eastern parts had already come into their possession in the 16th century.
11 N. iorga, Byzance après Byzance, Balland, Paris 1992, pp. 253– 275 (epilogue by B. Knede).
The Battle of Kosovo and Kosovo Today— History and Memory
in this way, they would revive the Roman empire with the seat in Constantinople under the sign of the green color of islam. The military supremacy of the Ottoman empire, which stretched over three continents, was still insufficient for such a venture. its economy was lagging too much be- hind the european one. The first signs of its weakness ap- peared in the late 16th century, including the financial col- lapse, inflation and the loss of value of Ottoman money. a stronger economy and visible trade always take precedence in the long run.12
Due to its geographical location in the central Balkans, Kosovo became one of the most important bases of the sultan’s massive military campaigns since the final Otto- man conquest. The mines were gradually exhausted and shut down in the 16th century, although the sultans, espe- cially Suleiman the Magnificent, made great legislative ef- forts to preserve their production of precious metals. The state-run economy of the military-theocratic empire could not keep pace with europe’s flourishing market economy. The agricultural economy of Kosovo and Metohija, one of the most developed parts of medieval Serbia, the cradle of its civilization with the most important spiritual and cul- tural centers and its central part in which many Serbian rulers were born, suffered continuous regression under Ot- toman rule. Due to the military needs and religious prohi- bitions in islam, the very well-developed viticulture of this region was replaced by grain production. Later on, the de- velopment of cattle breeding began to push out agricul- ture. Over the centuries, the growing uncertainty, looting by gangs of brigands, arrival of settlers from albania, whose population—from the late 16th century onwards—was con- verting to islam in increasing numbers,13 pushing out the
12 a. Tenenti, La formazione del mondo moderno, XIV-XVII sec- olo, Bologna 1980; F. Braudel, La dynamique du capitalisme, Paris 1985; id., Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, t. 1. Les structures du quotidien: le possible et l’impossible, Par- is 1979 ; B. Bojović, “entre Venise et l’empire ottoman, les métaux précieux des Balkans (XVe-XVie s.),” Annales: Histoire, Sciences So- ciales, novembre-decembre 2005, n°6, pp. 1277–1297.
13 “Only because of this situation the history of albanians de- mands extra research. They are sensitive regarding the passion to- ward “sword, golden embroidery, homage,” and only as soldiers they leave their mountains. in the 15th century, they were on Cyprus, in Venice, in Mantova, Rome, Napoli, on Sicily, all the way to Madrid where they would expose their intentions and lamentations, ask for tones of gunpowder or sustenance for years, they were arrogant, haughty, always ready to have a fight. Therefore, italy little by little closed in front of them. So they arrived in the Nederlands, england, France at the time of our Religious wars, they were soldiers adven- turous followed by their women and their children and priests. The regency of algeria and Tunis had been refusing them, as well as the countries of Moldavic boyars and Wallachians... Then they put them- selves in the service of the Porta, from the very beginning but what they did even more since the 19th century. “Where the sword is, there is faith too.” They were for those who provide their means for liveli- hood. in case of failure, “taking as in the song their gun for the pasha and their sword for the vezir,” they would be positioned for their own and become brigands. Since the beginning of 17th century, great num- ber of albanians, mostly Orthodox, moved toward Greek lands where
  T. Stojanovich, Balkan Worlds. The First and Last Europe, New York-London 1994, pp. 114–118; B. Bojović, “entre économie Monde et économie d’etat—l’argent des Balkans (XVe-XVie siècles),” in: Ser- bia e Italia nel Medioevo (secc. X-XV), Venise 2002-Belgrade 2006, Glas Srpske akademije Nauka i Umetnosti LCiV, 13, pp. 187–193.

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