A new study by prof. dr. Oliver Jens Schmitt dispels some myths of Serbian history. According to Schmitt, the Serbs gave the Ottomans decisive help in conquering the Balkans
In the Serbian culture of memory there is no room for dilemmas: the Serbs, according to this established narrative, in 1389 defended Christianity in the Battle of Fushë-Kosovo against the Ottomans. In a new study recently published in the "Zeitschrift für Balkanologie" (Journal of Balkanology), the professor of history at the University of Vienna, Oliver Jens Schmitt, dispels several myths of Serbian history and concludes that the Serbian elites after 1389 have gave the Ottomans decisive help to conquer the Balkans. Schmitt published a summary of his study on Monday in the Austrian newspaper "Der Standard".
According to Schmitt, a look at the sources and history books is enough to establish that in all the decisive moments of Ottoman history from 1389 to 1459, when the Serbian despotate (principate) disappeared, the Serbian aristocratic stratum sided with the Ottomans and intervened against Christian opponents of the Ottomans. In 1395, the orthodox prince of Wallachia Mircea (the Elder) faced the Ottoman Sultan, Bayazit I. The Ottoman victory was made possible by the Serbian aristocrats, who served the Ottoman army as vassals, among them especially Marko Kraleviqi. In Serbian memory, Kraleviqi is a hero of the war against the Ottomans, in historical reality he fought for the other side, for the Ottomans, writes Schmitt.
A year later, in 1396, the Hungarian King, Sigismund of Luxembourg, gathered aristocrats from all over Europe to penetrate into the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in present-day Bulgaria. The goal was to expel the Ottomans. At the Battle of Nikopol on the Danube, Serbian forces led by Stefan Lazarevi?, the son of Prince Lazar who had been killed seven years earlier, influenced the Ottoman troops to win. The Christians were defeated, rich aristocrats were imprisoned and many French aristocratic families went bankrupt paying the Sultan money for hostages, Schmitt points out.
Even in 1402, the Mongol ruler Timur Lenk marched into Anatolia. Near Ankara he faced the Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid I. The Ottoman army disintegrated as the Sultan's Turkish-Muslim vassals defected to the Mongols and the Ottoman princes defected. The only one who fought to the end against the Mongols was Stefan Lazareviqi and his troops. In 1430, the Ottomans attacked Thessaloniki, next to Constantinople, the most important city in the Balkans. The decisive participants were the Serbian soldiers under the leadership of Grgur Brankovi?. When in 1453 Sultan Mehmet besieged Istanbul and on May 29 occupied it, the Serbian troops were part of the Ottoman army and not on the side of the Orthodox Byzantines.
In his study, Schmitt explains the reason why the Serbs supported the Ottomans in the invasion of the Balkans. After the defeat in the Battle of Fushë-Kosovo, Serbian aristocrats became vassals of the Ottomans, especially the Llazarevi? and Brankovi? dynasties. Marriages between dynasties played a central role. Olivera Llazarevi? married Sultan Bayazit I and Mara Brankovi? married Sultan Murat II (1422-1451). Along with these ladies, other Serbs came to the Sultan's court. Ottoman chronicles describe Olivera as a "femme fatale", who had introduced drinking alcohol to the Sultan's court and had thus shaken the old traditions of the Sultans. After the death of her husband, Mara Brankovi? moved to southern Macedonia and for years held the pawns of secret diplomacy towards the West, especially Venice.
Giorgo Sfranze, advisor to the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, and a witness to the fall of Byzantium, while in exile in Corfu, formulated the harshest accusation against the Serbs, writes Schmitt.
"Serbia has been able to secretly send money and men from different territories. Has anyone seen money? Indeed they sent money and many men, but they sent it to the emir (think Mehmet II), who was besieging the city (Constantinople). And the Turks rejoiced and said: you see, even the Serbs are against you", wrote Giorgo Sfranze. Deeply depressed, this Byzantine remembered the Serbian role in the fall of Constantinople, where Constantine XI fell while fighting. The Serbian elites did not exercise orthodox solidarity, Schmitt underlines. /Koha.net