Albania Encyclopedia of Medieval Art Part I

By | December 15, 2021

State of the Balkan peninsula between the Adriatic Sea, the Dinaric Alps, the lakes of Shkoder, Ohrid and Prespa and Mount Gramos, which extends over the territory occupied in late antiquity by the Roman province of Epirus nova and the neighboring peripheral areas of the provinces of Epirus vetera, Praevalitana and Macedonia. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395, these territories were annexed together with the other provinces of the Western Balkans to the Eastern Roman Empire to constitute the prefecture of Illyricum, whose destiny – in the border area of ​​the spheres of influence of Rome and Constantinople – the political, spiritual and cultural development of the Albanian territories was closely linked, which however could gradually achieve a certain autonomy and independence in ecclesiastical life and in art. During the century. 9 ° most of the prefecture, divided in the meantime into two dioceses, fell under the sovereignty of the kingdom of Bulgaria and the autonomous Bulgarian church, but was able to continue its own indigenous cultural tradition. The collapse of the first Bulgarian kingdom in 1018 at first had no repercussions on the cultural development and on the ecclesiastical administration of the territory, whose autonomy was also respected by the Byzantine emperor, within the framework of an independent Bulgarian archbishopric based in Ohrid, together with the rights of the numerous feudal rulers. From the middle of the century. 11 ° however the patriarch of Constantinople began to progressively limit the autonomy and extension of the Bulgarian archbishopric, but it failed to exercise – as well as the central Byzantine power – a lasting control over the western part of the Balkan peninsula. This, divided into numerous feudal statelets, fell in the following period, due to alternating political events, first under the Normans, then under the second kingdom of Bulgaria, the despotate of Epirus and finally Venice. Among these feudal states, starting from the century. 12 °, the principality of Arbore (Arbëri) played an important role in the Albania northern, with the capital Croia (Kruja); it temporarily succeeded in affirming its political sovereignty, but eventually fell under the dominion of the Anjou dynasty, who founded the kingdom of Arberia in Albania The foreign dominion of the Angevins was replaced, around the middle of the century. 14th, that of the Serbian kingdom under Stephen Dušan. Only after his death (1355) were numerous small autonomous principalities reconstituted in the Albanian territory, whose rulers were by now Albanian nobles: the Balša nell’A. Northern, with Scutari as capital, the Topia in Durazzo (Durrës), the Muzakia in Berat and the Shpataj in Arta. But even these principalities could not keep their sovereignty for a long time and from 1388 they were subdued by the Ottoman Empire, while a narrow strip of land on the Adriatic coast remained under Venetian rule until the 17th century. Originally annexed to the Ottoman Empire as vassal states, the Albanian principalities were also included in the general cadastral registration in 1419-1421 and 1431-1432 and, throughout the territory, the military-feudal system of the tīmār was established. The resistance opposed by the population to this system led, in 1443, to the splitting of a part of the Albania north, with Croia as its center, under the Albanian nobleman Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg. The region managed to successfully defend its autonomy for a quarter of a century, but in 1468 it too fell under Ottoman rule, which lasted in Albania until 1912. For Albania 2007, please check extrareference.com.

The construction of fortifications from the century. 6 ° to 8 ° it was substantially linked – as in the whole Balkan peninsula – to the ancient building tradition and consisted, in most cases, only in more or less temporary restoration interventions of existing systems, hardly comparable to perfection and to the monumentality of the previous buildings (Berat, Butrint).

The construction of churches shows substantially new types and construction features, typical of the entire Illyrian prefecture. The predominant architectural typology continued to be that of the columned basilica of Hellenistic origin with a flat roof, which maintained the traditional rules in the proportions. The new variant of the Hellenistic basilica appeared from the second third of the century. 6 ° e – born moreover not without the influences of the Christian East and of Rome – represents the result of an autochthonous development. It is characterized, especially in the narthex and in the presbytery, for a greater articulation of the space and the interior is characterized by the presence of shallow niches; the church generally also has a southern entrance, an atrium, a transept and several annexed buildings, which transform the linear paleo-Christian layout into an articulated complex. In the basilica A of Nicopolis (Greece) this variant of the Hellenistic basilica is found for the first time, which in the course of the century. 6 ° spread throughout the prefecture; in Albania is represented by the great episcopal churches of Dyrrachium (Durazzo), Scampe (Elbasan) and Fenice. In addition to the basilica, the building with a central plan also appeared more often, as a triconic church (Antigonea near Gjirokaster, Lin on Lake Ohrid, Butrint) or as a baptistery (Butrint), also, most often, with atrium and annexes.

Albania Encyclopedia of Medieval Art Part I