What if Serbia, now a small, forgotten country, had developed into a European power by conquering the Balkans in Medieval times? How would this change our history?
In 1371, at the battle of Maritsa, the Serbians handily defeat the Ottomans. Because of this victory and many others against the Ottomans, Serbia manages to conquer Bulgaria and Macedonia, defeating the Ottomans. The Serbians then prepare to expand their borders south, to a key port city. The Serbians attack and successfully conquer Thessaloniki from the Byzantines, and then completely take over the northern coast of the Aegean Sea. The Serbians then face a crisis in 1389 as their King dies young and without an obvious heir.
In a coup, his general, Dusko, takes over and promises to make Serbia a great Empire, naming himself Emperor Dusko I. He conquers Albania and Montenegro in just three years, ending with a massacre of the people of Durres. However, he then realizes that much of his land is South of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and that it would be wise to expand in all directions. So he takes his army north from Montenegro on a march towards Sarajevo. Sarajevo, however, resists for a very long time, causing a major loss of morale for the Serbians. After a year of fighting, Sarajevo falls to Serbia in 1395, but the Serbian military has been depleted. Dusko was lucky enough to have the Byzantines in Greece willingly join Serbia if they could self govern. Athens became a major port city, and the Byzantines had their troops join the Serbian army. Eventually, though, they would develop the rich Serbian culture after years of assimilation.
Serbian borders remained the same for about 50 years. Emperor Dusko II had installed five kings to the captured "kingdoms": Bulgaria, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, and the Byzantine Kingdom of Greece. He led the Byzantines have their own King who had complete power over the people, but basically just taxed them and asked for military support. He also installed governors in Kosovo, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Thessaloniki. He let the army grow, and when a new emperor took over, they were ready again to conquer.
Under Nenad I, Serbia expanded north into parts of modern day Croatia, Hungary, and Romania. However, Ottomans were attacking in the Southeast just as he was marching towards Budapest. in a quick decision, he took his army into Budapest and massacred them. He installed one of his favorite knights as the ruler, and the rest of his army journeyed to Thessaloniki. They made it just in time to defend the city, but they had reached a stalemate. The Ottomans were about to begin a siege, so much of the Serbian Army escaped quickly. The Serbians had realized that the Ottomans had put all of their army into expanding, and conquered Edirne effortlessly. Then the Serbians attack Constantinople in 1454, and conquer it by 1456, reinstalling Eastern Orthodoxy as the religion of the Hagia Sophia. The Serbs go back to Thessaloniki only to find that the city has defeated the army, but that the majority of its population has died.
The Serbian Empire remains strong as ever, and in the 1460 battle of Crete, the Serbians defeat the Ottomans but Nenad I dies. Nenad II is more paranoid and only secures his borders, patrols his people, and executes an increased number of citizens without expanding the borders. Nenad III uses diplomatic marriage and coups to install ethnic Serbians to lead each Kingdom within the empire, overthrowing the Byzantine government in Greece. Upset, the Byzantines fight for independence from Serbia. At first, the Byzantines appear like they had a chance, but after reinforcements arrived from the north, the Byzantines lost, and Nenad III executed all of the Byzantine rebels.
Nenad III had become sick though, and he let his son manage the military instead while he remained in his palace in Belgrade. His son remained focused on controlling the Byzantines, and the Russians saw an opportunity. The Russians invaded and conquered modern Romania, taking Bucharest in 1507. The Russians continued south, conquering Eastern Bulgaria and the city of Edirne. Amidst the Serbian weakness, the Ottomans took back Constantinople, only to be immediately met by the Russians, who would eventually retreat.
The Russo-Serbian war was over, and the Russians had won. Because of the loss, Nenad IV was killed in 1510 and replaced with a new emperor, Jovan I. Under Jovan I, the Serbian Empire began to develop a rich culture that eventually grew into the renaissance. From 1510 to until the early 1600's, Serbia had an increased amount of art, philosophy, and music. They also colonized much of the Northern coast of modern day Libya and Western Egypt.
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