Military Wiki
Battle of Rovine
Part of Ottoman wars in Europe
Battle of Rovine (1395).jpg
DateMay 17, 1395
LocationRovine, Wallachia
Result Wallachian tactical victory [1][2][3][4]
Ottoman Pyrrhic Victory
 Wallachia  Ottoman Empire
Serbia Serbian Despotate
Commanders and leaders
Wallachia Mircea cel Bătrân Ottoman Empire Sultan Bayezid I
23x15px Prince Marko Mrnjavčević
Serbia Lord Constantine Dragaš
Prince Stefan Lazarević
23x15px Kostadin Balšić
10,000[citation needed]

Ottoman Empire40,000[citation needed]

Serbia 8,000
Casualties and losses
Heavy Heavy

The Battle of Rovine took place on 17 May 1395[5] between the Wallachian (modern day Romania) army led by Voivod Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Elder) against the Ottoman invasion led by sultan Bayezid I. The Ottoman army, numbering approximately 40,000 men,[citation needed] faced the much smaller Wallachian army, which was about 10,000 men.[citation needed] Legend says that on the eve of the battle, dressed as a peace emissary, Mircea cel Bătrân talked to Bayezid I asking him to leave Wallachia, and promising to grant him safe passage. However, the sultan insisted on fighting.

The battle took place near the Argeș River.[6] However the exact location of the battle is disputed, but the Wallachian victory is confirmed by numerous historians.[1][2][3][4] During the battle the main role was played by the Wallachian archers, who annihilated the Ottoman ranks at the beginning of their attack.[7] Then the Wallachian cavalry charged and routed the Ottomans, who fled in disorder across the river Danube.[citation needed] In the battle were also involved, on the side of Bayazid, his vassals Despot Stefan Lazarević (then he was just Grand Prince) and King Marko, the mightiest of all Serbian feudal lords. King Marko died during the battle, whilst Despot Stefan showed greater courage.

Another opinion is that the terrible confrontation lasted not a single day, but an entire week, being first a war of positions. The fierce battle ended with heavy casualties for both sides, at the end each army withdrew from the battlefield. Although Wallachians pushed back the enemy, the Ottomans, however 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 from the next year, in the famous Battle of Nicopolis. This tactical innovation became the fundamental element of the Ottoman art of war until the 18th century. The army of Mircea, sustaining heavy casualties, and in the impossibility to break the defense of Sultan's camp, was finally obliged to withdraw. However, this battle remains one of the most important battles in Romanian history.[6]

Another historical view on this battle is given by a Serbian chronicle dated a century later, indicating that there were two battles. The first one, called the Battle of Karanovasa, took place on 10 October 1394 in which the Wallachian forces won,[citation needed] and the second took place between 17 and 18 May 1395, in which Mircea was defeated but the Ottomans had heavy casualties and they were not able to fully exploit the victory and subdue the country.[citation needed] The same chronicle also records that after this second battle, Mircea was forced to accept the Ottoman suzerainty and pay tribute. However, the accuracy of this source is disputed.

An epic description of the battle is found in the poem "Scrisoarea a III-a" ("The Third Letter") written by the Romanian national poet, Mihai Eminescu.


  1. 1.0 1.1 John V. A. Fine. The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press, 1994, ISBN 0-472-08260-4, ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Norman Angell. Peace Theories and the Balkan War. Kessinger Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-4191-4050-7, ISBN 978-1-4191-4050-1. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jim Bradbury. The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare. Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-22126-9, ISBN 978-0-415-22126-9. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 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. 6.0 6.1 Dan Ioan Mureşan. "Avant Nicopolis: observations sur la campagne de 1395 pour le contrôle du Bas-Danube". 
  7. Cronica bulgară la I. Bogdan, Ein Beitrag zur bulgarischen und serbischen Geschichtschreibung, în Archiv für slavische Philologie, p. 530. In particular, there are mentions of the sun being blocked out by the vast number of arrows the Wallachians fired.

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