Albania Medieval and Modern History Part III

By | December 15, 2021

The republics of Venice and Ragusa and Giorgio Balša, son of Balsa I, who, on the death of Stefano Dušan, had taken the place of his weak son in the lordship of the district of the Zeta had been a great help in the conquest of Durres. (Montenegro), forming an independent state there. The Balša family, due to successive conquests and kinships, was about to acquire the possession of a large part of the Albanian lands, constituted in particular lordships after the death of Stefano; but the conquest of Durazzo, which took place in 1383, must have been fatal to its power. In fact, Carlo Topia, an exile from Durazzo, turned for help to the Ottoman Turks who, with Murad I, had recently passed from Asia Minor to Europe, making raids throughout the Balkan peninsula. Khair ed-dīn pascià, sent by Murād I to Albania, won Balša II on the banks of the Voiussa. The Balša dominion was almost destroyed: Carlo Topia could regain possession of Durres, the Ducagini regained the Zadrimë, but the Turks in turn occupied large tracts of Albania.

Reduced the Balša to the possession of Bar and Dulcigno, after Castoria and Berat had been occupied by the Turks and Drivasto and Scutari ceded to the Venetians, Albania now appeared divided into a large series of small lords in perpetual war between them and that not even the threat Turkish was able to reconcile. Indeed, some lands, such as the city of Ioannina in 1431, offered high sovereignty to the Ottomans themselves, against the ambitions of neighboring lords. But most of the Albanian lords instead turned their gaze to Venice, which with meekness and liberality had long since gained its spirits. Frightened by the Turkish threat which, in 1389, on the fields of Còssovo, had almost annihilated the Serbian kingdom of Rascia, some lords even preferred to surrender their possessions to the Serenissima against life pensions. For Albania 2008, please check

Venice, engaged in the defense of its oriental markets against the Turks, accepted everything that could benefit this defense. In 1392, it had obtained Durazzo from Giorgio Topia and conquered Alessio; in 1404, it returned to the possession of Croia, which had already been sold to her by Marco Barbarigo in 1393 and in the meantime came into the possession of Nicheto, son of Giorgio Topia. At the end of the century In the 14th or early 15th century, Damiano Dušman, lord of Pulati, also submitted to the Serenissima. In the first half of the century. XV Venice occupied Valona, ​​Butrinto, Parga, Ulcigno and the whole coast from Bar to the mouth of Cattaro. But the Serenissima was too seafaring to be able to defend for long these regions on which the Turkish invasion was increasingly pressing from the East,

It is the glory of Albania to have given in this period to Christianity and against Islam, one, and perhaps the greatest, of its defenders, Giorgio Castriota. About his personality and the deeds he performed, news will be read in his place (see scanderbeg). Here we must remember the attempt of the Albanian hero to unite all the peoples of his race in the common defense against Islam. In 1443 the Hungarian hero Giovanni Hunyadi inflicted a serious defeat on the army of Murād II near Niš. Castriota, in the disorder that followed the defeat, gathered a troop of 300 Albanians, extorted from the sultan’s keeper an act by which he was appointed governor of Croia, reached Albania in forced marches and, gathered in the hereditary possessions of the Dibrano other armed men, had the citadel of Croia delivered by the governor Sabel Pasha by means of the decree obtained: on the same night all Muslims who refused baptism were massacred. A few days later Moises Golemi, who, as the sultan’s vassal,

The “League of Albanian peoples” joined Alessio (spring 1444), to which the main lords (Giovanni Musacchi, Pietro Spano, Paolo and Nicola Ducagini, Andrea Topia and others), Stefano Crnojević prince of Montenegro and the Venetian governors of Alessio adhered, Scutari and Durazzo, the Scanderbeg, who was proclaimed its leader, began the glorious series of his campaigns against the Ottomans. In the great battle of June 29, 1444 and in others that followed (1445 and 1446), Scanderbeg fully defeated the Turks with far fewer troops. The fight, suspended for a while, continued in 1447, 1449, 1450, 1452 and 1453: and if the Turks succeeded in taking possession of Svetigrad and Berat in 1449, they were instead defeated on several occasions by the Albanian hero (1447, 1450, 1452 and 1453),

But, in 1454, an offer of peace on pact of submission having been rejected by Scanderbeg, Mohammed II, a master in the arts of deception, tried to win Castriota by attracting some of his allies to himself; and so in 1455 Scanderbeg had to fight Moises Golemi and in 1457 his own nephew Ḥamzah. Both were defeated; and therefore for a short time Albania enjoyed some tranquility, while Muhammad II was busy fighting John Hunyadi in Serbia. But soon the bitter struggle resumed. Between 1457 and 1462 Scanderbeg beat the troops led by Sinān pascià to Mount Mokrë, and other Turkish armies at Skoplje and Livaa; battle, the latter, following which a truce was signed in the autumn to be followed by the peace negotiations. But the armistice lasted only a year: the Western sovereigns pushed Castriota to continue the struggle and Pope Pius II himself was preparing to go to Albania. The sudden death of this pontiff, however, brought about the dissolution of the crusade. New victories, however, reached the Scanderbeg right up to the end; Mohammed II himself, who came to the siege of Croia, in July 1465, had to abandon the enterprise.

Albania Medieval and Modern History Part III