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In common knowledge and most general history books, only the Crusades aiming for the Holy Land are mentioned (or mentioned as such). However, there were several more: against people declared heretics, against the pagans between German and Russian kingdoms (led by the Teutonic Order), and against the Ottoman Empire.

I mentioned two in the diary that fitted into the logic of my intro: the 1456 one that relieved Nándorfehérvár, and the 1514 one that turned into a peasant rebellion. But I shal mention two more, both important defeats, which were international.

1396: Battle of Nicopolis
At this time, the king of Hungary was Sigismund. A prince of Luxembourg, he became king by usurping his own wife: the daughter of the previous, Angevin king's daughter. He later rose to be Holy Roman Emperor, but his rule was a mess: he was the bad guy in the Hussite Wars, also pursued Bogumils in the east.

In 1396, Pope Boniface IX helped Sigismund's efforts by calling for a Crusade. Sigismund's own 10-12,000 and 2,000 Wallachians were joined by 8-10,000 troops from all across Western Europe under the command of Philippe d'Artois, Constable of France.

Just after crossing the Danube at Nicopolis (today Nicopol in Bulgaria), the crusaders met upon the Sultan's twice as big army. Then, according to chronicles, the undisciplined and arrogant French knights broke the battle order and charged for the Jannisares. Though inflicting heavy damage, relief troops beat them back, and then routed the entire crusader army. The Sultan was so angered that he had all captured French knights executed, except for the commanders kept for ransom.

Thereafter, Sigismund limited himself to reinforcing the végvár frontier castles.

1444: Battle of Varna
This was in John Hunyadi's and Dracula's time -- the former and the latter's father participated.

The king was of the Jagiellon house, 20-years-young Vladislaus I (who was simultaneously Wladislaus III of Poland). After a successful campaign, in 1443-4, he made peace with Sultan Murad II, who had to fight a rebellion at home. But Pope Eugene IV wasn't pleased, and with threats of excommunication, he pressed Vladislaus into a crusade doomed from the start.

Vladislaus could only get Polish noblemen to join with the lie that the Ottomans attacked first. Serbia's then ruler didn't join. By the time the c. 20,000-man main army set off, Murad II crushed the rebellion, it was autumn, and because of their 2000 Hussite war wagons, the direct route was unpassable, so they weered East along the Danube. When they took Nicopolis, Wallachian voivod Vlad Dracul II (father of Dracula) joined with 4,000.

When hearing the news that Sultan Murad II is coming for them with a 50,000-man army, instead of choosing an advantageous battlefield, the crusaders marched on until the Black Sea coast city of Varna, foolishly allowing the Ottoman army to come from behind and even block their retreat.

In the battle, first the crusader right wing eliminated itself with a foolush rush into enemy reserves. Then, charges led by Hunyadi and Vlad Dracul II managed to crush both wings of the Ottoman army. But then young Vladislaus led a suicidal charge of 500 cavalry against the entire battalion of Jannisares -- he was slain, breaking the crusaders' morale. In the ensuing rout, 13,000 (more than half) crusaders were killed. The Ottomans also lost 20,000.

This was the last attempt aiming for the heart of the Ottoman Empire until the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 18th, 2008 at 07:51:41 PM EST

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