During the first years of the 14th century, the Balkans were caught in the inertia of wars between Serbia, Bulgaria, Byzantium, et al. They were so intent on their mutual distruction, that they failed to see the spectre of a more dangerous threat rizing in the Near East. There, in the ashes of the power of the Seljuk Turks rose many independent kingdoms - including that of the Ottoman Turks.
As the middle of the 14th century approached, the power of the Ottoman's grew at an alarming rate. But still, the nations of Christian Europe were too blind to see the Muslim war machine waiting on their doorstep. In 1352, the Ottoman army sailed through Hellespont (cf. Dardanelles), capturing their first territory in Europe - the small Byzantine fort of Tsimpe. Two years later, they also secured a second foothold - the fortress of Gallipoli. This marked the beginning of a fresh offensive on the part of the Islamic peoples of Asia against the Christian civilization of Europe.