Today in European history: the Battle of Varna (1444)

The Battle of Varna in 1444 was arguably the most important Ottoman victory in Europe prior to their conquest of Constantinople, especially if you consider its effects alongside those of the (second) Battle of Kosovo in 1448. The Ottoman success at Varna shattered a Hungarian-Polish alliance that had been formed to counter the Turkish threat. That alliance was such a big deal that Pope Eugenius IV (d. 1447) gave it the Church’s official imprimatur, which is why you sometimes find the Battle of Varna discussed in the context of something called the “Crusade of Varna,” even though the “crusade” consisted basically of a couple of preliminary engagements followed by this one major battle. The end of the “crusade” and the alliance behind it had huge implications for Europe, in that it gave the Ottomans time to focus on Constantinople, which, despite the near-irrelevancy of the Byzantine Empire by the mid-15th century, was still the big prize.

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3 thoughts on “Today in European history: the Battle of Varna (1444)

  1. I have a question about the Peace of Szeged, could you help me please ?

    I understand that Vlad Dracul had to send his 2 sons to the Ottomans as part of the deal, but i couldn’t find a book that explicitly mentions that. The books i found (until this point) treat the Vlad Dracul / Wallachia subject very lightly and did not mention this information. Could you please guid me to a book that explicitly mentions this condition ?

    1. This is my fault because I wrote that sentence very unclearly. Vlad had to agree to keep sending tribute to the Ottomans under Szeged, but his sons, Radu and the future Vlad the Impaler, had already been seized by the Ottomans (probably sometime around 1442) in order to ensure Vlad’s loyalty. Vlad did send his oldest son, Mircea, with a small contingent, to join Hunyadi, but otherwise he stayed out of the Crusade despite having feudal obligations to join. Vlad III and Radu stayed in Ottoman custody (later protection) until the late 1440s, by which time Hunyadi had killed Vlad II and Mircea.

      There’s a Kindle biography of Dracula that should suffice as a source, search for The Life and Legacy of Vlad the Impaler.

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