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Meanwhile, on June 12, 1444 in Edirne was concluded a favorable peace treaty between Sultan Murad II and a special royal delegation, as a result of which Wallachia and Serbia would retain their independence, and Hungary - a number of strategic points; the Ottoman troops would be withdrawn from Albania and the Sultan would pay a contribution amounting to 100,000 florins.

On 1 August in Segedin the King ratified the contract, vowed over the Bible, their signatures also gave the despot Brankovic and Yanosh Hunyadi.

Under pressure from the Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini, who released the King of the oath on August 4, the King announced a second campaign against the Ottomans, and on August 10 issued an order for re-collection of the army. Began a feverish preparation for war.

Set off from the assemby points Varadin and Temeshvar (today Oradea and Timisoara), the Christian army numbered 16,000 soldiers, mostly of Hungarian Transylvanians of Huniady and troops loyal to the royal nobility of Poland. It was accompanied by a battalion consisting of 2,000 military and baggage cars entrusted as in the first campaign, to Czech-Hussits mercenaries led by hetman Cheyka.

Also joined small teams of Bishops: Simon Rozgoni from Eger, Jan Dominic from Varadin and Rafael Herceg – Bosnian nominate, Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini and the tycoons Mihai Siladi and Franco Talotsi with Croats.

For the composition of the crusader knight’s squad sent by the pope, details are not known. The Serbs do not participate in this campaign. There are no direct evidence for the involvement of Bosnians and Slovaks.

Instead of September 1 the army left in the second half of the month.

Between 18 and 22 September it was transferred to the right bank of the Danube at Orshova and the Tabor - in Turnu Severin

The road passed in Florentin, Vidin and Nikopol, which were burned, but due to the lack of time were not captured fortresses.The Bulgarians from these villages left with the royal troops. In Nikopol the Christian army was filled with 4000 lightly armed Wallachian cavalry, headed by the son of the Wallachian Prince Vlad Dracula. There were probably joined a detachment of ruthens (Old Russians from the western Ukrainian lands which were then incorporated within the Polish state).

The route that the King's army further followed is a subject of numerous Bulgarian and foreign studies from the Middle Ages until today, based mainly on two sources: the letter of May 16, 1445 of the participant in the campaign and possibly the king's secretary Andreas Palatsio, posted by Poznan to Cardinal Ludovico in Rome and the poem of the German poet from Transylvania Behaim, composed on a story by Hans Mergest participant in the campaign, stayed 16 years in Turkish captivity.

Palatsio describes the campaign in general, without mentioning some of the battles with the Turks on the way to Varna. The description of the Battle of Varna is also incomplete, as the writer was on the right flank in the detachment of Cardinal Cesarini and was unable to monitor the development of the attacks and the counter-attacks across the front.

Behaim poem gives us many details about the campaigns, but the dating of the mastery of some of the Turkish forts on the Bulgarian territory is incorrect.

The formed two opinions for the subsequent route of the royal army were well justified and defended in the scientific literature. Here we'll list the two possible routes for crossing of the Crusaders in the Danube plain, but future research might prove the veracity and accuracy of some of them.

According to one of the group of scientists the likely time after Nikopol is : Svishtov - Red - Abritus - Pliska – Novi Pazar(in the present village Stan). From there one column headed to Shumen, where took place a 3-day fight, the Shumen fortress was burned and taken over by the royal soldiers. Followed a seventh day rest, presumably to await the return of the detachment sent to Turnovo. - Vetrino - Venchan - Ovech (Provadia) - Petritsch (in Razdelna) - Mihalich. On 9 Novemberearly in the morning the army reached Varna.

An expression of opinion on the other route of the royal army is the Varna historian Alexander Kuzev, who draws attention to the information of Behaim for the capturing of the fortress Rahauch (Rahuvidzhe Turkish form of the Bulgarian name of Rahovitsa or Rahovets today ,Gorna . Oryahovitsa)

According to Kuzev the fortress of Nikopol in Oryahovitsa the Crusaders have probably moving in mediaeval times between Nikopol and Turnovo, i.e have passed through the village Nikyup and from Oryahovitza Vladislav sent a detachment of 500 people to Tarnovo. The multiple Turkish garrison there, however, managed to repel the attack.

Then the royal troops targeted on the road, known since the Second Bulgarian Kingdom - Preslav - Shumen - Madara - Provadia - Varna and at that time was the most important longitudinal communication line in Northwestern Bulgaria.

Galata Makropolis (fortress between Evksinograd and Vinitza), Kavarna and Kaliakra transmitted keys to the gates without a fight.

Meanwhile, Murad II, learning about the march of Wladislaw through the less populated Danube Valley, managed to collect 40 thousand Asiatic troops and in secret, against a huge ransom in gold and silver it passed through the Straits of Genoese ships from Pera . In Eastern Thrace to the Sultan joined the Rumelian parts and in Aytoshki pass the Ottoman army directed to the Varna area.

On November 9 the army of King Vladislav has pitched in front of the walls of Varna. In the evening came the announcement that the Sultan was situated a large army in better positions at the foot of Frangen plateau.

In the military council of the King widespread the view the battle to be held despite the adverse circumstances, such as the management was entrusted to Yanosh Huniady.The concerns of the king was associated with the threefold numerical superiority of the enemy and the impossibility to maneuver on the flanks as well as the lack of space to retreat, because behind the Allied army was the sea. All the night passed in preparation for the battle.

Reportedly to the information of witnesses and chroniclers the Christian army was built in the curved line from the lake to the place "Planova". The right wing, which didn’t have a general command was composed of 5 banderies (troops, flags). Behind it was left as a reserve a squad and another vagenburg of the Czechs.

The center line of the battle consistd of two royal flags: "St. Georgi "- led by King Stefan Batory and a royal- by Bannffy Loshontsi. Here was also the detachment of several hundred (between 350 and 500) heavily armed Polish and Hungarian knights and the royal guard, led by the young king. Behind the center on the right Huniady had the reserve the fast maneuvre Wallachian cavalry.

Members of the left wing included 5 Hungarian flags, led by Michael Silagi.

The experienced Commander Hunyadi arranged the Allied forces in the best possible array, cleverly taking into account the landscape, securing the flanks and occupying the shortest distance between the lake and the Frangen plateau.

The fighting order of the Turkish army wascomposed of several lines. The first had two wings. The left wing was formed by Asian spahi timariot cavalry. It was situated on a slope of the Frangen Heights. Immediately before it , with a front in the south positions occupied the Akinci azebite who were responsible first to attack the enemy. Commander of this wing was Karadja pasha.

The Right wing, led by Daud Pasha, consisting of Roumelian spahi timariot cavalry was situated to the east of Kadakaoy farm (near village Topoli).

Immediately behind the first line of both flanks were arranged Spahis, whose number reached 3000 people.

The center around the two mounds Murad Tepe and Sandzak Tepe (now Muradova and Vladislavovo mound in Park Museum “ Vladislav Varnenchik”) was located 10-thousand janissary square, guarding the Sultan. Immediately behind it was the camp with the tents, the baggage cars, horses and camels.

Thus, the troops of the Sultan surrounded the royal army and crossed the possible paths for exit by land.

The Akinci first started an attack from the left wing. The Christians of the ban Talotsi repelled some of them to pursue prosecution, followed by two more banderies. This tactical error was used by the Anatolian Sipahis from the left flank, who attacked down on the right wing of the mixed army and defeated it. The troops withdrew in disorder to the sea and many Christians were killed here in the swamps.

At this critical moment Yanosh Hunyadi and the youngKing took an attack with both royal and Wallachian cavalry squads against the Anatolian Sipahis scattered in robberies.The commanders broke the Anatolian wing and turned it into an escape. The Wallachs carried away and passing the Janissary square burst into the opposing camp, defeated it and withdrew from the battle.

After the successful attack Hunyadi and the King returned to the center, but the numerical superiority of the enemy over the disrupted Royal lines was great.

Advising the king not to take individual actions to its return, Hunyadi directed towards the left wing, where boiled a desperate battle with variable success. Follwed an energetic counter-attack of the armored Hungarian knights and a complete disorganization of the Turkish cavalry. In the Sultan's army occured a confusion. Many of the Ottomans believed that they had lost the battle.

The success of both flanks encouraged the young king and he, without waiting Hunyadi, took a shot with his personal guard of 500 knights against 10 thousand Janissaries of the sultan. The Attack of the king was impetuous and quick. The King reached the last lines of the janissaries and the Sultan command post, but he was surrounded. Soon they should meet face to face and cross swords and scimitar -King and Sultan.

At that time, the royal-horse hampered, and the King fell to the ground. the Janissary Kodja Hazar rapidly approached and with one stroke of his yataghan severed the head of the King. Then he presented it as a gift to the Sultan. The latter ordered a horseman to carry around on the impaled royal head in all battleground.

Where in the rarer Christian camp spread the news about the brave death of King Wladislaw, there occurred a panic. The soldiers began to retreat disorderly, despite the attempts of Hunyadi to organize them in a counterattack and to take away the body from the opponent.

The retreat of the Crusaders in Wallachia and Dobrudja to Hungary lasted several days. Many soldiers were killed, overtaken by the Turkish armies.

On the battlefield died the half of the royal army (about 10,000 soldiers) and the enemy gave twice as many casualties.

The combined efforts of the Christendom to rescue the South Eastern Europe ended tragically in Varna on 11/10/1444

In the European history the battle of Varna is only one historical episode, but for the Balkans, it determines the further centuries fate under Ottoman rule. According to a Polish researcher that " last march of the Middle Ages is at the same time the first union among the peoples of the New time against the Ottomans."


Park-museum of military friendship 1444 Vladislav Varnwnchik © 2010. All rights reserved.