Battle of Maritsa (1371)
The Battle of Maritsa was fought between the Ottoman forces under leadership of Lala Sahin Pasa and the Serbian forces under the command of Serbian king Vukasin and his brother despot Ugljesa at the Maritsa River near today’s Ormenio in Greece on September 26, 1371. The Serbs numbering about 70,000 men (according to the contemporary sources) were decisively defeated by much smaller Ottoman forces. The majority of Serbian army was annihilated. King Vukasin and despot Ugljesa fell in the battle.
The Battle of Maritsa marks the beginning of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Prince Marko (Kraljevic Marko) who succeeded his father Vukasin and is known as one of the central figures in Serbian epic poems became an Ottoman vassal. Most of Bulgaria fell into the Ottoman hands and the remainder of the Balkan Peninsula became greatly exposed to the Ottoman raids.