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Battle of Varna, 1444 : description by Aenas Sylvius Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, to Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan

The Battle of Varna on 10 November 1444 battle was vividly described in a letter from Aenas Sylvius Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, to Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, written immediately after the battle.

"Our men did not shrink from joining battle, which began on the feast of St. Martin itself, 11 November 1444. So fierce and savage was the fighting that rarely could such a battle had never been fought between mortal men! For a long time its outcome was uncertain; it was contested with equal force by both sides. As long as our men fought for Christ and our opponents for Mohammed, enthusiasm for battle was such that fifteen thousand were wounded on each side.

"So long as the battle was equal, neither side wished to stop. The more blood that was spilled, the keener the hand-to-hand fighting.

"In the end both sides were drained of strength: limbs were so enfeebled that they had the strength neither to wield swords nor to bend bows. Both sides were thus forced to be still for the best part of an hour until their strength was resumed and their spirits returned. Then the battle was restarted. In the end the Turks won because they were more courageous, or because they were destined to win, or because they were greater in number.

"Those who escaped from the field say that no battle as bloody has been fought anywhere in Europe within the memory of our fathers. They also say that no fewer Turks than Hungarians fell, and, if the rumor is correct, eighty thousand men died in this battle."

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