Battle of Kosovo, 1389 (Or: Think the Serbs Will Forget About The Last 8 Years of “UN Rule” As Water Under the Bridge? Think Again!)

In many articles about Kosovo independence, you will often read that crucial elements of Serbian identity are in Kosovo, such as churches, monastaries, and other holy sites.  But the “big kahuna” of crucial elements of Serbian identity is without question the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 — a battle in which the Serbs lost to the invading Ottomans.  Don’t think the 1389 Battle of Kosovo is still relevant to Serbian identity? 

For better or for worse, think again.

“Those who are Serbian and have a Serbian heart and do not come to battle for Kosovo will not have children — neither male or female, crops or wine.  They will be damned until they die.” 

The above is what is inscribed on a monument near Pristina that commemorates the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.  Notably, in 1989 — six hundred years later, a man by the name of Slobodan Milosevic addressed a crowd of about a million Serbians at that monument, incited nationalistic and ethnic identity, and later stripped the local Albanian majority of their rights and autonomy. 

It was essentially 19th century Serbian ideology that established the 1389 Battle of Kosovo as one of the most — if not the most — defining events of nationalistic as well as ethnic identity.  Again, for better or for worse, this is what large segments of Serbians have been taught and this is what they believe. 

In that regard, if you think Serbians are going to get over the last 8 years of “UN Rule,” you are sorely mistaken.  The Serbs still haven’t recovered from the 1389 Battle of Kosovo.  It is not likely they will either. 

I’ve included a segment of what the battle means to Serbians by a Serbian.  There is quite a bit of information out there on the Battle of Kosovo — some of it is exaggerated, some of it sorely subjective, some of it completely false.  Then again, though, that is often times history, and it is often the case that how we think depends on what we put in our brains.  I think the segment I’ve attached provides a good example of what I’m talking about (

Kosovo and Vidovdan After 600 Years, by Father Mateja Matejic 

The Kosovo Ethics, which are implanted in the national consciousness of the Serbian people, have not changed for 600 years – nor will they ever change. The basic values of those ethics, bequeathed to Serbians on Vidovdan in 1389, have not been chiseled on 2 stone tablets, but are impressed in the inmost being of every Serb.

Every nation has 1 date in its history which it considers more important than any other. For the Serbs, the most important date in their history is June 15, by the old calendar – June 28, by the new calendar (Vidovdan). On that day, in 1389, 600 years ago, Serbian and Turkish armies clashed on the Kosovo Field. Both the Serbian ruler Prince Lazar and the Turkish Sultan Murad I died as a result of the battle. In addition, a great number of Serbian military leaders, as well as a great number of Serbian warriors, lost their lives. Notwithstanding the fact that according to historical documents neither the Serbs nor the Turks won the battle, Serbia was so exhausted that it was unable to continue resisting the Turks a few decades later the heirs of Prince Lazar recognized Turkish suzerainty and 5 centuries of domination of the Serbs by the Turks ensued. That long and martyr-like enslavement changed the course of Serbian history and interrupted the cultural progress of the Serbs, which was clearly evident during the rule of the Nemanja dynasty.

It is difficult to assess the importance of the Kosovo Battle for world history. Such is also the case with the battles at the Alamo or Gettysburg, which are so important for American history. However, it is undeniable that the Battle of Kosovo was exceptionally significant not only for Serbia, but also for Europe and European Christian civilization.

It is a fact that on Vidovdan, June 15, 1389, the Serbs, without help from a single European nation, defended on Kosovo Field not only the frontiers of their own territory and lives of their people, but, at the risk of losing their national independence, they also defended the interests and security of Christian Europe. In the conflict of 2 rival civilizations, the Muslim and the Christian, the Serbs checked the wave of the Turkish invasion, interposed themselves as a wall between the Turks and Europe, and enabled Europe to make preparations for its own defense. It is questionable whether the history of Europe would have been the same without the Battle of Kosovo and the sacrifice of the Serbian nation.

However, no matter how great the historical value of Kosovo and Vidovdan may be, for the Serbs they have an additional unique dimension and preeminence. Persons of non-Serbian origin may consider Kosovo as only a far-away, strange, and, even, unimportant geographical territory, and Vidovdan, June 15, 1389, as a date of a battle of which they know little or nothing. As far as the Serbs are concerned, Kosovo is their Holy Land, the cradle of Serbdom, and their inalienable, historical, national, and cultural heritage. As far as they are concerned, Vidovdan, June 15, 1389, is not just the date of a battle, but their nation’s identity, and the sacred will and testament which contains religious, ethical, and national principles for all Serbian generations from the Kosovo Battle until the present.

In the national consciousness all of Serbian history is divided into 2 periods: prior to the Kosovo Battle and after the Kosovo Battle. And whereas the other battles in which the Serbs took part are mentioned only in historical textbooks, Vidovdan alone is included in the calendar, which registers holidays and the names of saints exclusively. Vidovdan alone has become a national holiday which has been observed through the centuries, and it is observed on this occasion, 600 years after the Battle of Kosovo.

As a geographical territory, Kosovo was Serbian even before the year 1389, before Vidovdan. That ownership was not marked by sticks, in the way the prospectors for gold marked their claims, nor by the deeds written in ink on paper, but by ancient and magnificent churches and monasteries and by Serbian cemeteries and tombstones. The capitals of Serbian kings and the thrones of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs were in Kosovo. Moreover, with the Battle of Kosovo, Kosovo and Vidovdan merged into a single concept and became a synonym with a specific meaning: The Serbdom. After June 15, 1389, one cannot speak of Kosovo apart from Vidovdan or about Vidovdan apart from Kosovo. They are inseparable because on Vidovdan 1389, on the Field of Kosovo, in the blood of Serbian warriors was written an indelible deed that forever confirms the Serbian ownership of Kosovo. Vidovdan commemorations, which have been celebrated annually for centuries, are reconfirmations of both the Serbian ownership of Kosovo and of the Vidovdan-Kosovo ethics, which are the core of the Serbian national image and the essence of Serbian identity.

It should be emphasized that the Vidovdan commemorations are not celebrations of a Serbian military victory over the Turks, for the Serbs were not victorious in the Kosovo Battle. However, it is incorrect, and even malicious, to claim that at Vidovdan commemorations the Serbs “celebrate their defeat in the Kosovo Battle.” Such a statement has no logical or historical support. According to the historical documents, the Turks had not won a victory in the Battle of Kosovo. Neither a military victory nor a military defeat are not and could not have been either the reason or the meaning of Vidovdan commemorations. On those occasions the Serbs honor and commemorate the heroes of Kosovo who laid down their lives defending their faith, freedom, nation, and country. At the same time, Vidovdan commemorations are the annual reviews of the post-Kosovo Serbian generations. They are evaluated in terms of Vidovdan-Kosovo ethics and on the basis of their reconfirmation of the Pledge of Kosovo. On Vidovdan, June 15, 1389, on the Kosovo Field, the Serbs chose once and for all their religious, cultural, ethical, and national identity. Their choice, in the form of an unwritten pledge, was handed down to all post-Kosovo Serbian generations and, through 600 years, Serbs have lived by that pledge.

In the course of 6 centuries the geographical boundaries and demographic constituency of Kosovo, as well as the political and social conditions have changed. Serbs, who represented a majority in Kosovo, have been reduced to a minority. Uncontrolled migration of thousands of people from neighboring Albania to Kosovo on one hand and, on the other, mass exodus of Serbs from that territory, because of the merciless oppression to which the Serbs have been subjected by the newcomers, especially in the period 1943-1988, has changed the status of the Serbian population from a majority to a minority. Atrocities, unheard of even in uncivilized countries, have been perpetuated against the Serbian population in Kosovo. Regretfully, biased reporting in the world press, including the American, misrepresents the situation in Kosovo. Victims – Serbs – are portrayed as oppressors, whereas oppressors – the Muslim population in Kosovo – are depicted as victims. It is incomprehensible that the freedom-loving Serbs, the allies of America in 2 world wars, are being taunted and attacked in the American press, whereas their oppressors, the former allies of Hitler and Mussolini in World War II, are undeservedly favored and supported. Thus, not only geographical territories, social and political conditions, but allegiances change, too. 


29 thoughts on “Battle of Kosovo, 1389 (Or: Think the Serbs Will Forget About The Last 8 Years of “UN Rule” As Water Under the Bridge? Think Again!)

  1. Open your eyes man.It’s 2008 .It’s time for you serbs to leave back and look forward.Still celebrating the loss of 1389?If you would’ve won at least i would’ve understood your grief and frustration.Two days of battle did not stop the Turks from anything,plus you lost.You even said it that serbia became occupied by the turks.I’m amazed at how come you don’t mention the war of the Albanians under the Skenderbeu almost 50 years later which DEFFEATED the turks for 36 years.Three sultans died during that period.I’m ammazed at how come you don’t say anything about the time SKENDERBEU went in the aide of Hunyadi but was attacked by the serbs near kosova and was forced to retreat.Yes my friend ,you the serbs helping the turks against a fellow christian.His fight for defending his country Albania and not lke the world wants to twisted like he deffended the chrisianism is well documented and well known in the world.His VICTORIES are majestic and maybe mythological but as you know myth is always born after VICTORY not after a deffeat.Only a country like serbia would glorify a LOSS (battle of kosova).You’ve lost too many battles my friend from 1389 to February 17 and yet again in kosova, not to mention slovenia,croatia,bosnia,macedonia,montenegro.Maybe it’s time for you serbs to leave the fighting at who does it better and start a new hobby.I don’t know …hmm…maybe something that doesen’t include WAR.

    1. Sir, you should be aware that thanks to the battle of Kosovo
      and beyond,Western Europe has flourished for centuries while
      we spent 500 Years under Ottoman occupation and never gave up nor converted to islam(except bosnians).Your nation has never been a friend even though a neighbour,your nation has converted to islam and who else in Europe is more backwords than your country and nation?We Serbs have a saying and it goes like this:God then, your neighbour(in order of importance).
      We have(and I’m sure you’re well aware of this)welcomed your refugees and we paid a price:yours have multiplied beyond belief.

  2. hmmm..touch up on your history.
    war in slovenia lasted a total of 10 days! and what war exactly occured in montenegro and macedonia??? both deserved and had a right to their independence.

  3. we will NEVER forget Kosovo. it was, is, and always will be SERBIA.

    and reread the title. it is right on the money. we will never forgive, or forget.

    and about your little SKENDENBEG, the man who went muslim, christian, muslim agian, christian again. he switched sides so many times. but i agree he was on the side of the christians, unlike modern day albanians. if he were alive today, he would be ashamed of what land he defended….
    and you should touch up on your history. albanians were the ones who went to the turkish side. my god you almost have the same culture, and religion. you sold out your ancestorys and religion.
    and to your other comment. serbs turned him back from the battle of Kosovo, because of land disputes between nobles<< but on many other occasions the people who lived in what is today albania, fought proundly alongside Serbian forces, against the invaders.

    p.s. skendenbeg was a descendent of the Serbian Nemanjic royal dynasty :))

  4. When blood is spilled, it dries up, but the memories go on and on. The serbs and albanians will never forget Kosovo and on the Great Judgement Day, both will be judged according to God’s Law. You are all a bunch of liars and cowards.

    Glory to God for Kosovo!

  5. In reply to the the first comment ok dude yeh Serbia lost many wars but wtf we still come back again and fight just remember what doesnt kill you will only make you stronger. LOL AN when America bomb serbia did America win no i don’t think so and they had the help of a couple other countries against us and we still fought back without the help of no one.

  6. >> Serbia lost many wars but wtf we still come back again and fight

    again to lose. Idiots. You are starving. You wanna mess with Albanians? Even Turkey left them alone. About the faith: Our faith is Albaniansm. Had Gjergj Kastrioti been alive, he would have fought Serbs even harder to liberate Kosovo.

    1. Yea,sorry but Serbia beat albania,france,kfor or whoever militarily,but Serbia lost MEDIA war!!!!So don’t talk if you don’t know,i bet you were in Osterich or America,Germany etc when war was on…

  7. listen kids
    It deosnt matter what relegion we have. It is metter than we are more democratic country than you are .
    dont forget , Serbia now is peice of cake for us now .
    if war will happen than for two weeks Belgrade will be part of north kosovo, please where we gone send youth to lose virginity:)

  8. i did not come here to argue with anyone because i really dont care for opinions from people who do not look at history but the hatred for serbian people. Father Mateja Matejic did not state that turks nor serbs won. He stated the facts that turkish empire was huge back then and could have over powered the whole continent of europe. Serbs stood up to that huge empire to make a difference and thats what makes us so unique. The only reason that people are upset was because of the comments in the made in the last paragraph. If you diagree with them then ure disagreeing with your country and there choses in WW2

  9. Well said!!!: ana, Kosovska Devojka, Freedom Loving Orthodox Serb, lklsakdlka and seka…
    illyrinking and Albanian ‘when’ or ‘if’ you ever evolve past your primitive mentality in the next million years or so…then come back with some intelligent argument…if you wern’t so pathetic what you wrote would almost have been funny…you’ll be ok so long as the rest of Europe believes your sorry lies…but remember nothing lasts for ever…

    1. their days are numberd and when time come i will personally contribute to their agony for all they have done Death to Albanians !!!!

  10. The battle of Kosovo is one of the battles through which the Ottoman Army continued its march inside Europe, until the siege of Vienna. Serbians has no privilege or special status among other nations who fought against Ottomans in Europe. Therefore, do not exaggerate things and do not try to create a “victorious past” for today’s Serbia. Think of your future and try to create a modern, democratic, humanistic and peaceful country for Serbs. And, make understand all Serbs that past is past… You should learn to live peacefully and friendly with other Balkan nations. Otherwise, the Ottoman heritage is ready to re-establish the order in this area again!

  11. In addition to my previous comment please keep in mind politics first then,the fact that the British have never lost North America.
    Given 500 Years we’d be just as cunning(Serbs).Does”insularity”ring a bell?We’ve had you to contend with instead of flourishing.And so the West takes advantage:
    Divide et Impera the old Romans used to say.Yugoslavija no more but there is still a United Kingdom as well as The United States of America.Crawl from under your rock and smell imperialism.Does scape goat mean anything to you?That’s what Yugoslavija was.The West did not want to appear as Muslim haters due to their interests in the middle East so “let’s show the world that we are not biased.Why not bomb Yugoslavia for three month and show the world that religion matters not.If only Bailian of Ibelin were still alive!Where is the kingdom of conscience?!

  12. First i want to say hello from Türkiye to all readers and commentators. Today i saw a news about Ratko Miladic and while i reading i saw a date ‘1389’ used for a group. So i wonder what it is about. Then i searched on google and i saw this site. I read all this page. I find it all very interesting. I wish in human history there wasnt wars. but i think if we think wars were mistake, so lets dont contunie war language. I wish peace all Serbian, Albenian, Bosnian nations and whole balkans. past is over so long ago, we should built on future with peace and friendship. its no good hate other people. values, langueges, ideas getting similar in this age. i wish no more war happens because in wars no one wins. i wish peace all people. have good days..

  13. If you understand English and have cool head, and balls, take a look at movie “The weight of chains” Real truth about tearing apart Yugoslavia by Western europe and US, and ofc taking over kosovo by our southern neighbours, helped by also western europe and US. US former military generals, and people who studied happenings on Balkans are speaking in this movie, it is objective.

  14. The stupid Serbs celebrating a loss in Kosovo is like the Americans celebrating the defeat in Vietnam and making it a national holiday. Croatia, Poland, France, Italy and Slovenia send some forces to help out the Serbs in the Battle of Kosovo. Why don’t the nationalist Serbs mention that? Why didn’t the Serbs align with Greece and Bulgaria? Maybe those three armies would have held off the Turks.

    1. you my friend are a complete moron, comparing Vietnam to Kosovo battle is like comparing rotten apples to fresh fruit. second I don’t know what bullshit propaganda you listen to but educated historians know very well that 1389 Battle of Kosovo Polje was not a defeat yet a very costly victory for the Serbs the muslim turks didn’t come back and take over for another 100 years get your shit straight before you talk shit moron

      You celebrate your own DEFEAT – ALAMO!! Remember Alamo?! So, what is a difference between Kosovo Battle and Alamo?
      And there was no any Polish, France, Italy…troops, ESPECIALY NOT Croatian or Slovenian! They didn’t exist! Their teritory was under Austrian and Italian rule…

  15. First of all dave you are terribly wrong, or you just wrote something yo didn’t read well,In battle of kosovo no one helped the serbs thats the day when serbs showed who they really are..A heroes they didn’t sacrifice their lives just for their own purposes but for the rest of EU so they can prepare for their own defence and maybe if serbs just let it go who knows maybe half of europe wouldnt exist as we know it today.You all also must keep in mind that serbs are just wanting something that is taken from them,on the other side albanians (Shquiptars) want their once failed regime to make it into a deed – expand their country to Prokuplje(serbia’s town),that regime is called
    “Great Albania”,which if u look on the map balkan or more precise serbia,albania you will see that albanians imaginery territory looks like a pear on balkan , then the drugs weapons and other illegal things will get smuggled thru balkan into EU and god knows where…And ye this is consequence of Slobodan Milosevic regime of ethnic cleansing on Kosova,but he used logic on that deed,”Why should we give a home to someone who was always in war against us,why should we give our food and education to someone who always backstab us ?So they can put their knife on our throat while we are asleep?” Also if you watch international media like BBC etc, and when they talk about conflict between serbia and albania,serbs are always like blood thirsty barbarians, and albanians are always showed as peaceful and good people,and who has the influance on those?America! The same people who throwed bombs at serbia.And one thing we should make clear serbs don’t hate any other nation except albania,and the reason for that hate is becouse they burnt all our churches on Kosova and yet without consequences that is the reason of serbians hatred towards albanians.

  16. I am a full blooded Serb. All this talk has totally destroyed my life and my family.Maybe the future generations will learn to live,but death marches on today in all cultures,let us all destroy the true oppressors in ourselves by reason;;;;religion,nationalism,monarchism,mythology,suicidal murder,demon possession and bullshit,,,

  17. please don’t spread false information the battle of Kosovo 1389 was not a defeat but a costly victory for the Serbian people, who drove the turks out till mid 1400’s, more Turkish blood was spilled then Serbian the sad part why people say we lost is due to the fact that the Serbian army was much smaller and was nearly anhiliated, 1389 was a Victory for the Serbian people, till this day true Serbs know that, I don’t know why so many Serbian people say that we lost when we didn’t Murat was killed and his army destroyed it took them almost 100 years to come back and defeat the Serbian kingdom…

  18. August 20,2013 As an American I am so sorry and ashamed for the American and Nato bombings of Serbians. I already knew that Serbia stood alone at Kosovo to stop the Muslim onslaught of Europe. Some Americans at least know this was terribly wrong and don’t know how to stop American empirialism. I hope to visit you one day and learn much more. Your history is very important to me and I know there is much to appreciate about such a courageous, brave and beautiful people. Thanks.

  19. serbs forgive croat ustasha – as they still manage to live together – but never forget the battle of kosova. is being cleansed and slaughtered by christians – backed by vatican – not as bad as being killed by muslims in a battle?

  20. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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