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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

VIII: The Crusade of Varna,   pp. 276-310 PDF (14.1 MB)


Page 280

280 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
garded Serbia as a tributary state since 1389, when Murad I defeated the
Serbs at Kossovo Poije. Thus challenged, Murad II led an army against Golubats,
which he captured, almost taking Sigismund prisoner in the process. A peace
was made which recognized George Brankovich as the despot (1427-1456) of
a Serbian kingdom that served as a buffer between the two powers. Sigismund
now established Belgrade as the bulwark of Hungarian defense against the
Turks; Murad fortified Golubats, while Brankovich established himself at
Smederevo, at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. Sigismund concentrated
his efforts on fighting the Hussites, who at Doma~lice on August 14, 1431,
decisively defeated a crusading army led by the papal legate, cardinal Julian
Cesarini. 
 When the peace between Hungary and Serbia expired in 1431 Sigismund claimed
territory in Serbia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria. These small principalities found
themselves caught in a conflict between two empires with little chance of
continued independent existence. By 1434 Murad had decided on a more aggressive
policy in the Balkans. His objective was to expand the Ottoman territory
and transform tributary vassal states into provinces of the Ottoman empire,
a pattern followed in subsequent expansion.3 The more immediate objectives
of the new aggressiveness were to halt Venetian advances in the Morea (Peloponnesus),
occupy the strategic Serbian fortresses as a prelude to an attack on Transylvania,
and strengthen Ottoman control over Wallachia. Byzantium still attempted
to play the role of a great empire, although the territory of the "empire"
amounted to little more than the capital and the Morea. The Ottomans repeatedly
besieged Constantinople, but their sieges were doomed to failure since the
city could be supplied by sea and the Ottomans had not yet developed a significant
naval force.4 
 The Byzantines sought aid from Catholic Europe; however, they realized that
little was to be expected from the west until the schism that had since 1054
separated the Latin and Orthodox churches was healed. Moreover, the disunity
of western Europe, competing nationalisms, and the desolation caused by the
Hundred Years War had con- 
 3. Josef von Aschbach, Geschichte Kaiser Sigmunds, IV (Hamburg, 1845), 269
if.; Paul Wittek, "De la Défaite d'Ankara a Ia prise de Constantinople,"
Revue des etudes islamiques, XII (1938), 1—34; Constantin Jire~ek,
Geschichte der Serben, II (Gotha, 1918; repr. Amsterdam, 1967), 125, 164.
On Sigismund's crusades against the Hussites see Frederick 0. Heymann in
volume III of the present work, chapter XVII. 
 4. Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire, pp. 17 if., and werner, Die Geburt einer
Grossmacht, pp. 219 if. 


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