Miloš Obilić (Serbian Cyrillic: Милош Обилић died 1389) was a Serbian knight in the service of Prince Lazar, during the invasion of the Ottoman Empire. He is not mentioned in contemporary sources, but he features prominently in later accounts of the Battle of Kosovo as the assassin of the Ottoman sultan Murad I. Although the assassin remains anonymous in sources until the late 15th century, the dissemination of the story of Murad's assassination in Florentine, Serbian, Ottoman and Greek sources suggests that versions of it circulated widely across the Balkans within half a century after the event.
It is not certain whether Obilić actually existed, but Lazar's family – strengthening their political control – "gave birth to the myth of Kosovo", including the story of Obilić. He became a major figure in Serbian epic poetry, in which he is elevated to the level of the most noble national hero of medieval Serbian folklore. Along with the martyrdom of Prince Lazar and the alleged treachery of Vuk Branković, Miloš's deed became an integral part of Serbian traditions surrounding the Battle of Kosovo. In the 19th century, Miloš also came to be venerated as a Saint in the Serbian Church.
There were several versions of the hero's surname, but folk-epics almost always used variants of "Kobilić" until the eighteenth century. "Obilić" was first used in 1754 by Vasilije Petrović in his History of Montenegro as Obilijević and in 1765 in its final form Obilić by Pavle Julinac.These are derived from the Serbian words obilan, "plenty of", obilje, "wealth, abundance"."Obilić" is used universally among Serbian writers in modern times.
The surname Kobilić could come from the Slavic word kobila "mare", as in Serbian legends the hero is said to have been nursed by a mare.In medieval Ragusa and Trebinje there were families named Kobilić and Kobiljačić in the 14th and 15th centuries.Based on a 1433 document from Ragusan archives Mihailo Dinić concluded that Miloš's original surname was indeed Kobilić.
It was proposed by Noel Malcolm that the surname may have been derived from the term kopil / copil of possibly Vlach and Albanian origin which means "child" or "bastard child".Milorad Ekmečić, however, argues that Malcolm ignored the fact that the same word, 'kopile', exists in the Serbian language.Another of his hypotheses is that "Kobilić" might be of Hungarian origin, being a transliteration of the Hungarian word koborlovag (knight-errant).
The hero's first name, Miloš, is a Slavic given name recorded from the early Middle Ages among the Bulgarians, Czechs, Poles, and Serbs. It is derived from the Slavic root mil-, "merciful" or "dear", which is found in a great number of Slavic given names.
Miloš Obilić is a major hero of the Serbian legend of Kosovo, whose central part is the Battle of Kosovo. According to the legend, Miloš was a son-in-law of the Serbian Prince Lazar. A quarrel broke out between his wife and her sister who was married to Vuk Branković, about superiority in valour of their respective husbands. As a consequence of this, Branković took offence and picked a fight with Miloš. Filled with hate, Branković maligned Miloš to Lazar, saying that he conspired with Turks to betray the prince. At Lazar’s supper on the eve of the battle, the prince reproached Miloš for disloyalty. To prove his loyalty, Miloš went into the Turkish camp feigning defection. At a favourable moment, he stabbed and killed the Turkish Sultan Murad, whose attendants then executed Miloš. The legend then goes on to describe events regarding the battle.
In Serbian epic poetry and song,Miloš Obilić is often grouped along with other literary creations like Karadjordje, Vuk Karadžić and Njegoš as Serbs of Dinaric originwho distinguished themselves as the great moral and/or intellectual minds of the past in contradistinction to Bulgarian contemporaries, who could claim no such status.In the poem "Obilić Dragon's Son", Miloš is given a mythical ancestry as the son of a dragon to emphasise his superhuman strength on a physical and spiritual level; in this, he joins the ranks of many other heroes of Serbian poetry who fought against Turkish oppression and are claimed to have been descendants of a dragon.
It was not until the early 19th century that Miloš was also venerated as a saint in the Serbian Church. During the First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813), a fresco of Miloš as a haloed, sword-bearing saint was painted in Prince Lazar's narthex in the Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos (Greece).The historian Rade Mihaljčić suggests that the cult was a popular movement which originated among the Serbs south of the Sava and Danube during the Ottoman period.