ALWAYS ON SUNDAY: HISTORY WAS MADE MANY TIMES OVER ON THIS DAY, SEEMINGLY ALWAYS ON SUNDAYS
Remember the famous Melina Mercouri movie and the song, “Never on Sunday?”
Well, when it comes to Serbian history, momentous events seem to have taken place “always on Sunday.”
June 28, 1389 – BATTLE OF KOSOVO
It was a Sunday June 28, 1389 when two mighty armies faced each other on the Field of Blackbirds (Kosovo). Reliable historical accounts of the battle are scarce. The invading Ottoman (Turkish) army, led by the 70-year old Sultan Murad, numbered between 27,000 to 40,000 fighters. The defenders’ Serbian Prince Lazar’s army had from 12,000 to 30,000 troops, according to historians.
The bulk of both armies were wiped out in the ferocious battle to the death. Both the Serb leader Lazar and the Ottoman Sultan Murad lost their lives in it. So did most of my Djurdjevic ancestors who fought at Kosovo. Those who survived, retreated with Queen Milica, Lazar’s wife, to Zeta (today’s Montenegro).
The Serbs withdrew, bleeding. The Turks withdrew, bleeding. King Tvrtko of Bosnia (whose troops fought on the side of Serbia) proclaimed the Battle of Kosovo a great victory.
The bells of the Notre-Dame in Paris rang for four days to celebrate Serb victory at Kosovo.
Alas, the celebrations across Europe were short-ilved.
After the battle, Lazar’s son, Stefan Lazarevic, raced to fight a Hungarian invasion and to put down a rebellion of certain nobles. He accepted to be a Turkish vassal so he could solidify his rule (which he did).
His sister and Lazar’s daughter, Olivera, became Bayazit’s (Ottoman ruler after Kosovo) favorite wife and wielded great influence over him. Serbia regained its independence in 1402, only to fall to the Turks again in 1459 (other Serbian states: Bosnia – 1463, Herzegovina – 1482, parts of Montenegro – 1499). Serbia was subjugated by the Ottoman Empire for 345 years (1459-1804).
Despite the defeat, the Battle of Kosovo on the Field of Blackbirds has been etched in the hearts and minds and consciousness of every child born to a Serbian mother. Serbian kids suckle it with mother’s milk. Kosovo is Serbia’s Alamo. And today, on St Vitus Day, the whole country remembers it.
By the late 17th century, the Ottoman Empire expanded as far west as Vienna. The Turks laid a siege of the Habsburg Empire capital from July 17–Sept 12 1683. The expedition by the Turks eventually resulted in their defeat by a combined force led by John III Sobieski of Poland. The end of the siege of Vienna marked the beginning of the end of Turkish domination in eastern Europe.
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June 28, 1519 – SPAIN’S CHARLES V CROWNED AS HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR
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1797 – France occupies Ionian Islands of Greece.
1812 – Napoleon Bonaparte’s army crosses Vilna River as Russian forces retreat.
1881 – Immigration Act of New Zealand restricts Japanese immigration.
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