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  1. It occurred to me that anyone who loved the poems that Tolkien (or tales of King Arthur and other European epics from the middle ages) so often created for his works would enjoy these, because, even though they aren't fantasy, they are of the sort of inspiration Tolkien might have used in the first place. The first one is "The Fall of the Serbian Empire", created and retold through the oral tradition after the battle of Kosovo in 1389 until it was collected among other such works and published in the 19th century. The battle itself was a military draw as both the Serbian prince (tsar in the poem) and the Ottoman Sultan lost their lives along with most of their men. However, the Turks could replace these losses and the Serbs could not. Therefore the poem rationalizes the death of the Tsar as a deliberate form of Christian sacrifice in order to attain the "Kingdom of Heaven" and blames his defeat on treachery - although there likely was none, with the battle simply being fought to the bitter end. The Serbian medieval state would cease to exist and become incorporated in the Ottoman empire shortly afterward. The Fall of the Serbian Empire From Jerusalem, the holy city, Flying came a swift grey bird, a falcon, And he carried in his beak a swallow. But behold and see! ’Tis not a falcon, ’Tis the holy man of God, Elias, And he does not bear with him a swallow, But a letter from God’s Holy Mother. Lo, he bears the letter to Kossovo, Drops it on the Tsar’s knees from the heavens, And thus speaks the letter to the monarch: “Tsar Lazar, thou Prince of noble lineage, What wilt thou now choose to be thy kingdom? Say, dost thou desire a heav’nly kingdom, Or dost thou prefer an earthly kingdom? If thou should’st now choose an earthly kingdom, Knights may girdle swords and saddle horses, Tighten saddle-girths and ride to battle— You will charge the Turks and crush their army! But if thou prefer a heav’nly kingdom, Build thyself a church upon Kossovo, Let not the foundations be of marble, Let them be of samite and of scarlet.... And to all thy warriors and their leaders Thou shalt give the sacraments and orders, For thine army shall most surely perish, And thou too, shalt perish with thine army.” When the Tsar had read the holy letter, Ponder’d he, and ponder’d in this manner: “Mighty God, what now shall this my choice be! Shall I choose to have a heav’nly kingdom? Shall I choose to have an earthly kingdom? If I now should choose an earthly kingdom, Lo, an earthly kingdom is but fleeting, But God’s kingdom shall endure for ever.” And the Tsar he chose a heav’nly kingdom, And he built a church upon Kossovo,— Did not bring foundation stones of marble But he brought pure samite there and scarlet; Summon’d there the Patriarch of Serbia, Summon’d there with him the twelve archbishops. Thus he gave the warriors and their leaders Holy Sacrament and battle orders. But no sooner gave the Prince his orders Than the Turkish hordes swept on Kossovo. And the Jug Bogdan leads there his army, With his sons, the Jugovitch—nine brothers, His nine sons like nine grey keen-eyed falcons, Each of them commands nine thousand warriors, And the Jug Bogdan commands twelve thousand [1]. With the Turks they fight there and they struggle, And they smite and slay there seven pashas. When the eighth advances to the battle Then doth Jug Bogdan, the old knight, perish, With his sons the Jugovitch—nine brothers, His nine sons like nine grey keen-eyed falcons, And with them doth perish all their army. Moved their army three Mernyachevichi: Ban Uglyesha and Voyvoda Goïko, And the third, the mighty King Vukáshin; And with each were thirty thousand warriors, With the Turks do they there fight and struggle, And they smite and slay eight Turkish pashas. When the ninth advances to the battle Then there perish two Mernyachevichi, Ban Uglyesha and Voyvoda Goïko; Many ugly wounds has King Vukáshin, Turks and horses wade in blood above him, And with him doth perish all his army. Moved his army then Voyvoda Stefan; And with him are many mighty warriors, Many mighty warriors—sixty thousand. With the Turks do they there fight and struggle, And they smite and slay nine Turkish pashas. When the tenth advances to the battle, There doth perish the Voyvoda Stefan, And with him doth perish all his army. Then advances Tsar Lazar the Glorious, With him moves a might host of Serbians, Seven and seventy thousand chosen warriors. They disperse the Turks upon Kossovo, No time had the Turks to look upon them, Still less time had they to stem the onslaught; Tsar Lazar and all his mighty warriors There had overwhelm’d the unbelievers, But—the curse of God be on the traitor, On Vuk Brankovitch,—he left his kinsman, He deserted him upon Kossovo: And the Turks o’erwhelmed Lazar the Glorious, And the Tsar fell on the field of battle; And with him did perish all his army, Seven and seventy thousand chosen warriors. All was done with honour, all was holy, God’s will was fulfilled upon Kossovo.
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