Albania Medieval and Modern History Part V

By | December 15, 2021

As already mentioned, the spirit of rebellion against the sultan’s sovereignty must not, however, be considered as general. Islamism, mainly for reasons of material interests, was making great progress; and alongside the Muslim Albanians who followed the sultan’s armies in the various battlefields of Europe and Asia, there were also Christian Albanians, especially the Mirditi, driven partly by the desire for booty, partly also by natural instinct warlike. Thus he is still today considered the national hero of the Albanians, alongside Giorgio Castriota, the prince of the Mirditi, Marku Gjon, who gathered his glories mainly in the service of the sultan and the Ottoman pashas, ​​distinguishing himself in rejecting the imperials that, in 1689, had occupied northern and eastern Albania. And again in 1737, when the imperials invaded Albania again with the support of the Clementi tribes, the Mirditi fought valiantly alongside the Turks against their countrymen. The fragmentation of the country into tribes and cities ruled by hereditary lords, who sometimes assumed attitudes of independence endured by the Ottoman state, probably contributed to the lack of national cohesion, until the individual lords appeared dangerous to the maintenance of Turkish sovereignty. Among the uprisings of pashas invested by the Porta with hereditary powers, the almost contemporary ones of Bushati in northern Albania and ‛Alī of Tepeleni in the south are mainly to be noted. However, little national character can be found in these enterprises, motivated mainly by personal ambitions. Meḥmet Bushati, the first of his family to be awarded the pascialato, he submitted towards the middle of the century. XVIII the Malissore tribes, the cities of Ulcinj, Alessio, Elbasan, Tirana and Ochrida; and was finally killed by the Porte for denying his contribution to the war against Russia. His son Maḥmūd, after having taken part in the repression of the Hellenic uprisings in 1770 and after having devastated Montenegro in 1785, was able to win in the plain of Còssovo a first army sent by the Porte to tame its growing power, disperse a second one with corruption. commanded by the pasha of Giannina, ‛Ali, and soon after destroying a third with the help of the Mirditi who also rebelled against the Porta; but despite the agreements he made in the meantime with the emperor Joseph II, he was later defeated, taken prisoner and beheaded. For Albania 2000, please check

Bushati’s attempt to create its own independent state at the expense of Turkish sovereignty was resumed in southern Albania by the pasha of Ioannina, ‛Alī of Tepeleni, the same one who had fought the Bushati. Persecutor at first of the Albanian Orthodox, the Greeks and the Wallachians, relying now on the French, during the Napoleonic wars, now on the English, ‛Alī di Tepeleni managed to become de facto independent from the Porta, and to have his sovereignty recognized by the pashas of Elbasan, of Croia and from other feudatars of northern Albania. However, when the Napoleonic exploits were over and the Serbian and Romanian unrest calmed, Sultan Maḥmūd II decided to reduce the rebellious pasha to obedience. The latter, then improvising himself as defender of Albanian, Greek and Wallachian Christians, whom he had persecuted until then,Greek Eteria, gathered in Giannina (1820) many Albanian leaders and followers of the Eteria, obtained their consent, except for the prince of the Mirditi, to the open insurrection against Turkey. But after two years of struggles, abandoned by most of his followers, ‛Ali of Tepeleni, who retired to the formidable citadel of Giannina, was tricked into negotiations and murdered. Even without being able to compare himself to Castriota for his military glory and the height of his goals, Tepeleni’s ‛Alī deserves to be considered, for his actions in recent years, among the most representative figures of Albanian history. Also noteworthy were the care given by ‛Alī to his splendid court, described by Lord Byron in Childe Harold, as well as it must be remembered that almost all of his advisers, engineers, chemists, doctors and military instructors were Italian: the Venetian Pesarini, the Lombard Frappano, the Neapolitans Del Carretto and Micarelli, the Sicilian Monteleone, the Tagliapietre and the Marcellese. Too late his allies, who had contributed so little to his desperate defense, realized what a loss to Albania the death of ‛Alī represented. Once the power of the hereditary lords was destroyed, the autonomies enjoyed by some lands were also reduced from the Porta. But the insurrection of nearby Hellas between 1821 and 1827, although opposed by many Albanians, also found heroic defenders among them and among the Illyrian-Romans of Albania, among them especially the Albanian Marco Botzaris, that,

In 1830 a new insurrection broke out in middle and lower Albania led by Velī bey governor of Ioannina, Metzovo, Arta and Preveza and by Selikdar Poda, pasha of central Albania, to whom the Albanian Mehmet ‛Alī, viceroy of Egypt and Muṣṭafà Bushati, Pasha of Scutari, promised help. The revolt ended in an ambush in which its leaders were killed by the Turkish grand vizier Reshīd pasha, who had offered them peace and conciliation. Muṣṭafa Bushati, who was only then starting an insurrectionary movement, was forced, after glorious battles, to shut himself up in Scutari in the famous Rosafa fortress, and to surrender after four months of siege, having saved his life through Austrian intercession. However, the uprisings in northern Albania continued, they lasted almost without interruption from 1835 to 1844, when ‛Omar pasha, defeated the Albanians at Kaplan Han and Calkandelen (Tetovo), pacified the region again for some time. In 1847, however, the Ciami rose up in the south, a valiant Tuscan tribe, tamed only by the intervention of the Mirditi led by Bib Doda. Among these partial and unrelated insurrections, the formation of the Albanian League was preparing which a few years later, starting the contemporary history of this country, was to lay the foundations of the new Albanian state.

A quick synthetic look at the medieval and modern history of Albania shows how this region has been perpetually divided by hatred and rivalry of lords, tribes, cities, but always jealous of its strenuously defended independence and also shows how, in this struggle glorious, his requests for help, addressed almost exclusively to Italy and in particular to Venice and Naples, always found the widest consensus there.

Albania Medieval and Modern History Part V