Kastrioti Scanderbeg: Warrior King of Albania
Scanderbeg 1405 - 1468
Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg 1405 - 1468
Zog I, Skanderbeg III of Albania (born Ahmet Zogolli, later
changed to Ahmet Zogu) (October 8, 1895 April 9, 1961) was
King of Albania from 1928 to 1939. He was previously Prime
Minister of Albania between 1922 and 1924 and President of
Albania between 1925 and 1928.
You can watch Albanian Film "SKENDERBEG" if you Go Here!
Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg 1405 - 1468
George) Kastrioti was born in Kruja from Gjon
Kastrioti, lord of Middle Albania, who was obliged by
the Ottomans to pay tribute to the Empire. To assure
the fidelity of local rulers the Sultan used to take
their sons as hostage and bring them up in his court.
Gjergj Kastrioti attended military school in the
Ottoman Empire and was named Iskander Bey which in
Turkish means Lord Alexandre.
He was distinguished as one of the best
officers in several Ottoman campaigns both
in Asia Minor and in Europe, and the Sultan
appointed him General. He even fought
against Greeks, Serbs and Hungarians, and
some sources says that he used to maintain
secret links with Raguse, Venice, Vladislas
of Hungary et Alphonse V of Naples. Sultan
Murat II gave him the title Vali which made
him the General Governor of some provinces
in central Albania. He was respected
everywhere but he missed his country.
In 1443, during the battle against the
Hungarians of Hunyadi in Nish (in present
day Serbia), he abandoned the Ottoman Army
and captured Kruja, his father's seat in
middle Albania. Above the castle he rose the
Albanian flag, a red flag with the black
double-headed eagle, the present-day
Albanian flag, and pronounced to his
countrymen the famous words: "I have not
brought you liberty, I found it here, among
you". He managed to unite all Albanian
princes at the town of Lezha (League of
Lezha, 1444) and united them under his
command to fight against the Turks.
During the next 25 years he fought, with
forces rarely exceeding 20,000 against the
most powerful army of that time and defeated
it for 25 years. In 1450 the Turkish army
was led by the Sultan Murad II in person,
who died after his defeat in the way back.
Two other times, in 1466 and 1467, Mehmed
II, the conqueror of Constantinople, led the
Turkish army himself against Skenderbeg and
failed too. The Ottoman Empire attempted to
conquer Kruja 24 times and failed all 24 of
Skenderbeg's military successes evoked a
good deal of interest and admiration of the
Papal state, Venice and Naples, themselves
threatened by the growing Ottoman power
across the Adriatic. The Albanian warrior
played his hand with a good deal of
political and diplomatic skill in his
dealings with the three Italian states.
Hoping to strengthen and expand the last
Christian bridgehead in the Balkans, they
provided Skenderbeg with money, supplies and
occasionally with troops. One of his most
powerful and consistent supporters was
Alfonso the Magnanimous (1416-1458), the
Aragone king of Naples, who decided to take
Skenderbeg under his protection as vassal in
1451, shortly after the latter had scored
his second victory against Murad II. In
addition to financial assistance, the King
of Naples undertook to supply the Albanian
leader with troops, military equipment as
well as with sanctuary for himself and his
family if such a need should arise.As an
active defender of the Christian cause in
the Balkans, Skenderbeg was also closely
involved with the politics of four Popes,
one of them being Pius II (1458-1464) or
Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, the Renaissance
humanist, writer and diplomat.
Profoundly shaken by the fall of
Constantinople in 1453, Pius II tried to
organise a new crusade against the Turks;
consequently he did his best to come to
Skenderbeg's aid, as two of his predecessors
Nicholas V and Calixtus III, had done before
him. This policy was continued by his
successor, Paul II,(1464-1473).They gave him
the title Athleta Christi.
For a quarter of a century he and his
country prevented Turks from invading
Catholic Western Europe.
After his death from natural causes in 1468
in Lezha, his soldiers resisted the Turks
for the next 12 years. In 1480 Albania was
finally conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
When the Turks found the grave of Skenderbeg
in Saint Nicholas church of Lezha, they
opened it and held his bones like talismans
for luck. In 1480 the Turks invaded Italy
and conquered the City of Otranto.
Skenderbeg's posthumous renown was by no
means confined to his own country. Voltaire
thought the Byzantine Empire would have
survived had it possesed a leader of his
quality. A number of poets and composers
have also drawn inspiration from his
military career. The French
sixteenth-century poet Ronsard wrote a poem
about him and so did the nineteenth-century
American poet Longfellow. Antonio Vivaldi,
too, composed an opera entitled Scanderbeg.
Skenderbeg today is the National Hero of
Albania. Many museums and monuments are
raised in his honour around Albania, and
among them the Museum of Skenderbeg in his
famous castle in Kruja.
Bibliography: Noli, Fan S.: George
Castrioti Scanderbeg, New York, 1947
Logoreci, Anton: The Albanians, London,
Albania is located in the western part of the Balkan peninsula. It
borders the former Yugoslavia (Serbia - Montenegro) and
in the north and the east, (FYR of)
Macedonia in the
east, and Greece in the south. It has access to the
Adriatic and Ionian Seas in the west. From the Strait of
Otranto, Albania is less than 100 km (60 miles) from Italy.
The country covers a total of 28,000 squared kilometers
(11,000 squared miles) and its population is 3.3 million.
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