Ottoman Conquest of Bulgaria (1369–1372)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Ottoman Turks (principally the
Janissary corps) vs. the Bulgarians and Serbs
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Bulgaria and Macedonia
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Conquest of eastern
OUTCOME: The Ottomans seized control of Bulgaria and
much of Macedonia.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Under Murad I (1319–89), the Ottoman Empire pressed a
program of invasion and expansion into eastern Europe.
The conquest of Bulgaria was accomplished chiefly by the
elite corps of troops Murad created. The Janissaries were
former Christians who had been captured in childhood
and raised as violently fanatic Muslims. Murad harnessed
their fanaticism by shaping them into a disciplined body
of infantry archers. The Janissary victory at the Battle of
Cernomen in 1371 neutralized Serb resistance in the
region of the Maritza River and led to the conquest not
only of Bulgaria, but Macedonia as well.
Over the next half millennium, the Janissaries would
figure as an extremely powerful—and ultimately self-serving—
force in Ottoman history.
Further reading: Godfrey Goodwin, The Janissaries
(London: Saqi Books, 1997); Colin Imber, Ottoman
Empire: 1300–1650 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003);
Halil Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age,
1300–1600 (London: Phoenix Press, 2001).