- Battle of Rusokastro
Infobox Military Conflict
caption=Coin depicting Ivan Alexander
conflict=Battle of Rusokastro
18 July 1332
place=The village of Rusokastro,
Burgas Province, Bulgaria
result=Decisive Bulgarian victory
Andronikos III Palaiologos
The Battle of Rusokastro occurred on
July 18, 1332near the village of Rusokastro, Bulgaria. The result was a Bulgarian victory.
Origins of the conflict
In 1328, the emperors of
Bulgariaand Byzantium, Michael Asen III and Andronikos III Palaiologos, signed a secret treaty against Serbia. While Michael Asen III was fighting against the Serbsin 1330, the Byzantinesinvaded Thraceand captured the Bulgarian towns there. Following the defeat of Bulgariain the Battle of Velbuždthe Byzantinesgot a firm foothold there.
The Byzantines were not ready for war. Their Empire was rent with civil unrest and the army was fighting against the Turks in
Asia Minor. In the Bulgarian Empire, there were internecine struggles as well but the new Emperor Ivan Alexander knew that the decisive confrontation with Byzantium was yet to come and decided to improve his relations with the Serbs. In 1332, he concluded a peace treaty with them which lasted till his death. The treaty was secured with a marriage between the Serb king Stefan Dushan and the sister of the Emperor, Elena. In the summer of the same year, the Byzantines gathered an army and without a declaration of war headed towards Bulgaria, looting and plundering the villages on their way. The Byzantines seized several castles because Ivan Alexander's attention was focused towards fighting the rebellion of his uncle Belaurin Vidin. He tried to negotiate with the enemy but ultimately failed. The Emperor decided to act swiftly during the course of five days whereby his cavalry covered 230 km to reach Aitosand face the invaders.
Ivan Alexander had troops of 8,000 while the
Byzantineswere only 3,000. There were negotiations between the two rulers but the Bulgarian emperor deliberately prolonged them because he was awaiting reinforcements. In the night of July 17they finally arrived in his camp (3,000 cavalrymen) and he decided to attack the Byzantines the next day. Andronikos III Palaiologoshad no choice but to accept the fight. The Byzantines tried to prevent the Bulgarian cavalry from surrounding them, but their manoeuvre failed and they ran away from the battlefield and hid in Rusokastro. The battle began at 6:00 and ended at 9:00.
The Bulgarians returned their lost lands in
Thraceand strengthened the positions of their empire. This battle was considered by the medieval Bulgarian historians as a great triumph of emperor Ivan Alexander. That was the last major battle between Bulgaria and Byzantium as their seven-century rivalry for domination on the Balkanwas soon to come to an end after the fall of the two Empires under Ottoman domination.
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