4. The Battle of Kosovo 1389

Alongside many others Albanians took part in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, fighting in the ranks of both sides. It was a bitter battle with many losses marking the end of Slav influence and a significant watershed in the Ottoman conquest of all the Balkan countries and areas, irreversably changing the region’s history. This battle has been the source of much manipulation and mythologising in both memory and history teaching over the years.

In the second half of the fourteenth century the Albanian, Serb, Bulgarian, Romanian and other lords formed a military alliance, headed by Serbian Prince Lazar . Their aim was to resist the oppression of Ottoman rule and Albanian brigades took part, led by their princes Muzaka, Balsha etc. In 1389 a savage battle took place near Prishtina where it is thought that the fighter Millosh Kopili, from the village of Kopiliq in Drenica, killed Sultan Murat. Both armies suffered great losses. The Albanian PrinceTeodor Muzaka, was also killed in this battle as well as many princes from other countries. By the end of the war the Balkan armies were broken. The Ottomans continued their conquest of Balkan countries one by one.

[Rexhepi, Fehmi and Frashër Demaj. Historia 5. Prishtina: Libri Shkollor, 2013, pages 25-36; Bicaj, Isa and Arbër Salihu. vHistoria 7. Prishtina: Libri Shkollor, 2013, pages 40-52, 55-57; Rexhepi, Fehmi and Frashër Demaj. Historia 10. Prishtina: Libri Shkollor, 2013, pages 155-168.]

Sultan Murat gathered his troops from the Asiatic and European parts of the Ottoman Empire and was also helped by Christian soldiers. His sons Bajazit and Jakup were military leaders. King Lazar did not manage to gather all the Serbian nobles and warriors. From the local Serb conquerors Vuk Brankovic, the conqueror of Kosovo, and the Bosnian King Tvrtko I were brought together. The battle took place on 28 June 1389 in Fushë Kosovë near Prishtina. The final results of the battle are not known. There were many killed on both sides and the two rulers King Lazar and Sultan Murat were killed – the latter by the Serb noble Miloš Obilić (Kobilić), about whom history has no other information. King Lazar’s son-in-law, Vuk Branković, who ruled the territory where the battle took place, took part in the battle, but Lazar’s other son-in-law, Gjuragj II Balshić, did not as he had links with the Turks. The textbooks of Serbia make no mention of the participation of Albanians in this battle.

[Mihaljčić, Rade. Istoria 6. Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike, 2011, pages 86-98, 104-114, 118-119; Katić, Tatjana and Dušan Ilijin. Istorija za I razred gimnazije. Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike, 2013, pages 243-245.]

The Albanians participated in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo but it is not certain whether the Serb-Albanian Gjergj Balsha took part in this battle as when it took place he was in Ulqin. Bearing in mind the complicated political situation in the territory of Albania and the marked Ottoman influence in some parts of Albania, there is a significant possibility that some Albanians as well as some Serb vassals fought on the side of the Ottomans in the 1389 battle. The ethnicity of Sultan Murat’s killer is unclear. He could have been Serbian, Albanian, an Albanian Vlach, Hungarian or something else.

[Malcolm, Noel. Kosovo: A Short History. London: Pan Books, 2002, pages 42-95; Schmitt, Oliver. Kosova: histori e shkurtër e një treve qendrore ballkanike. Prishtina: Koha, 2012, pages 39-46; Schmitt, Oliver. “Monada e Ballkanit” Shqiptarët në Mesjetë. Published in the book prepared by Oliver Schmitt and Eva Anne Frantz. Historia e Shqiptarëve – gjendja dhe perspektivat e studimeve. Tirana: Botimet Përpjekja, 2012, pages 67-90; Bartl, Peter. Shqipëria nga Mesjeta deri Sot. Prizren: Drita, 1999, 24-31. Schmitt, Oliver. Shqiptarët – një histori midis Lindjes dhe Perëndimit. Tirana: K&B, 2012, pages 49-59.]