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

VII: The Ottoman Turks and the Crusades, 1329-1451,   pp. 222-275 PDF (18.9 MB)

Page 274

274 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 155. Setton, The Papacy, II, 85—86. On
the crusade of Varna see below, chapter VIII.156.Halecki, From Florence to
Brest (Rome, 1958), pp. 75—76. 
despot George Brankovich remained neutral. According to Ghazavãt the
native Bulgarian peasants again cooperated with the invading army. The Wallachian
army, 4,000 to 7,000 strong, under Viad Dracul, joined the crusaders near
Nicopolis. The Christian high command decided to capture Adrianople, the
Ottoman capital, without wasting time on the way at the fortresses of Vidin,
Nicopolis, Tirnovo, and Provadiya (Pravidi), which put up stiff resistance,
while Shumen and Petrich were taken by storm. On November 9 the Christian
army besieged and took Varna on the Black Sea, where it was to establish
contact with the crusading fleet, which included eight papal, six or eight
Venetian, four Burgundian, and two Ragusan galleys.'55 The fleet was not
successful in blocking the passage of the Anatolian army under Murad, who
was hastily called from Bursa to assume the high command on October 20, 1444.
 The Ottoman army forced the crusaders to a pitched battle before Varna on
November 10. All passages for possible retreat of the Christian army were
intercepted. At the battle, both wings of the Ottoman army were routed, and
then Ladislas with his heavy cavalry charged straight on Murad's camp, where
the decisive battle took place. The scattered Ottoman cavalry gathered around
the sultan's flag and fought back. "When the king," Ghazavat says, "saw that
the Christian troops began to scatter in defeat around him, he was panicked
and did not know what to do. Although he tried to rearrange his troops he
failed. While he was running to and fro alone one of the Ottoman soldiers
struck him a strong blow with a mace, which threw him off his horse. The
janissaries and azebs crowded around him and struck him with their axes."
Ladislas's death was followed by a general debacle of the crusader army.
Hunyadi, however, was able to retreat safely, thanks to his wagenburg tactics.
 There is a consensus that Varna was a turning point in eastern European
history. In Poland, those opposing the idea of a crusade against the Ottomans
got the upper hand,156 and Hungary entered another crisis of succession.
Now Ottoman control in the Balkans was reëstablished more firmly than
ever. Murad II resumed the Ottoman throne in 1446 as a result of grand vizir
Khalil's maneuvers against his rivals, Zaganuz and ShehAbeddin, tutors of
the young sultan Mehmed II. In order to reassert Ottoman sovereignty, Murad
embarked upon a series of campaigns against despot Constantine in the Morea
(autumn 1446) and Scanderbeg in Albania (1448 and 1450). Hunyadi did not
give up 

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