Battle of Rovine

Battle of Rovine
Part of Ottoman wars in Europe
Date17 May 1395
LocationRovine, Wallachia
Result Wallachian tactical victory[1][2][3][4]
 Wallachia Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Wallachia Mircea cel Bătrân Ottoman Empire Sultan Bayezid I
Marko Mrnjavčević 
Konstantin Dejanović 
Stefan Lazarević
Konstantin Balšić
Casualties and losses
Heavy Heavy

The Battle of Rovine took place on 17 May 1395.[5] The Wallachian army led by Voivod Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Elder) opposed the Ottoman invasion personally led by Sultan Bayezid I the Lightning. The Turkish force heavily outnumbered the Wallachian troops. The legend says that on the eve of the battle, dressed as a peace emissary, Mircea cel Bătrân talked to Bayezid asking him to leave Wallachia and promising him safe passage back. The Sultan proudly insisted on fighting.

The battle

The battle took place probably near the Argeș River,[6] however the certain location is disputed. The Wallachian victory is confirmed by numerous sources and historians.[1][2][3][4]

During the battle a key tactical role was played by the Wallachian archers who annihilated the Ottoman ranks during their initial attack.[7] Bayazid's vassals, the Serbian lords Stefan Lazarević and Marko Mrnjavčević, some of the mightiest knights of the time, participated and fought bravely; Stefan showed great courage, Marko was killed in action.

An alternative historical view is that the dramatic confrontation lasted not just a single day, but an entire week, being in the first stage a war of positions. The fierce battle ended with extremely heavy casualties for both sides, eventually each army withdrawing from the battlefield. Although Wallachians pushed back the enemy, the Ottomans were able to better defend their new backward position relying on the personal guard of the Sultan composed of janissaries. This was the inexpugnable point of the Ottoman defense, applied justly the next year, in the famous Battle of Nicopolis. This tactical innovation became a fundamental element of the Ottoman war strategies until the 18th century. The army of Mircea, sustaining heavy casualties, and in the impossibility to break the defense of the Sultan's camp, was finally obliged to withdraw. Because the Ottoman Empire was not able to conquer Wallachia at this point, Rovine remains one of the most important battles in the Romanian history.[6]

An epic description of the memorable confrontation is presented in the poem "Scrisoarea a III-a" (The Third Letter) written by the Romanian national poet, Mihai Eminescu. The Dečani chronicle describes the battle and explains that Prince Marko and Constantine Dragaš died fighting.[8] The same source mentions that Marko's brother, Andreja Mrnjavčević, also perished during the fight.[9]


  1. 1 2 Fine 1994, p. 424
  2. 1 2 Norman Angell. Peace Theories and the Balkan War. Kessinger Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-4191-4050-7, ISBN 978-1-4191-4050-1.
  3. 1 2 Jim Bradbury. The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare. Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-22126-9, ISBN 978-0-415-22126-9.
  4. 1 2 Norman L. Forter, Demeter B. Rostovsky. The Roumanian Handbook. Ayer Publishing, 1971, ISBN 0-405-02747-8, ISBN 978-0-405-02747-5.
  5. Ostrogorsky, George. History of the Byzantine State, p.551. Published by Rutgers University Press, 1969. ISBN 0-8135-1198-4.
  6. 1 2 Dan Ioan Mureşan. "Avant Nicopolis: observations sur la campagne de 1395 pour le contrôle du Bas-Danube". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12.
  7. Cronica bulgară la I. Bogdan, Ein Beitrag zur bulgarischen und serbischen Geschichtschreibung, în Archiv für slavische Philologie, p. 530. The historical sources mention that the sun was blocked out by the vast number of arrows.
  8. Ђурић, Иван (1984). Сумрак Византије: време Јована VIII Палеолога (1392-1448). Народна књига. p. 78. У Дечанском летопису је, уз вест о боју на Ровинама, забележено како су тамо погинули Марко Краљевић и Константин Драгаш.
  9. Successors of the Mrnjavčević family and theritories under their power 1371-1459, University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, PhD thesis of Aleksić Vladimir, page 147


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