1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Albania (Balkans)
ALBANIA, a portion of the Turkish empire extending along the western littoral of the Balkan Peninsula from the southern frontier of Montenegro to the northern confines of Greece. Albania is perhaps the least-known region in Europe; and though more than a hundred years have passed since Gibbon described it as “a country within sight of Italy, which is less known than the interior of America,” but little progress has yet been made towards a scientific knowledge of this interesting land and its inhabitants. The wild and inaccessible character of the country, the fierce and lawless disposition of the people, the difficulties presented by their language and their complex social institutions, and the inability of the Turkish authorities to afford a safe conduct in the remoter districts, combine to render Albania almost unknown to the foreign traveller, and many of its geographical problems still remain unsolved. A portion of the Mirdite region, the Mat district, the neighbourhood of Dibra, Jakova and Ipek and other localities have never been thoroughly explored. The northern boundary of Albania underwent some alteration in consequence of the enlargement of Montenegro, sanctioned by the Berlin Treaty (July 13, 1878); owing to subsequent arrangements providing for the cession of Dulcigno to Montenegro (November 25, 1880) in exchange for the districts of Plava and Gusinye, restored to Turkey, the frontier-line (finally settled December 1884) now ascends the Boyana from its mouth to Lake Sass (Shas), thence passes northward, and crossing Lake Scutari separates the district of Kutch Kraina on the N. from the territories of the Gruda, Hot and Klement tribes on the S.; leaving Gusinye and Plava to the S.E., it turns to the N.W. on reaching the Mokra Planina, and then follows the course of the Tara river. On the S., Albanian territory was curtailed owing to the acquisition of the Arta district by Greece (May 1881), the river Arta now forming the frontier. On the E. the chains of Shar, Grammos and Pindus constitute a kind of natural boundary, which does not, however, coincide with ethnical limits nor with the Turkish administrative divisions. North-eastern Albania forms part of the Turkish vilayet of Kossovo; the northern highlands are included in the vilayet of Shkodra (Scutari), the eastern portion of central Albania belongs to the vilayet of Monastir, and the southern districts are comprised in the vilayet of Iannina. The boundaries of the three last-named vilayets meet near Elbassan. The name Albania (in the Tosk dialect Arberia, in the Gheg Arbenia), like Albania in the Caucasus, Armenia, Albany in Britain, and Auvergne (Arvenia) in France, is probably connected with the root alb, alp, and signifies “the white or snowy uplands.”
Physical Features.—The mountain system is extremely complex, especially that of the northern region. On the E. the great Shar range, extending in a south-westerly direction from the neighbourhood of Prishtina to that of Dibra, is continued towards the S. by the ranges of Grammos and Pindus; the entire chain, a prolongation of the Alpine systems of Bosnia and Dalmatia, may be described as the backbone of the peninsula; it forms the watershed between the Aegean and the Adriatic, and culminates in the lofty peak of Liubotrn, near Kalkandele, one of the highest summits in south-eastern Europe (8858 ft.). The country to the west of this natural barrier may be divided geographically into three districts—northern, central and southern Albania. The river Shkumb separates the northern from the central district, the Viossa the central from the southern. The highland region of northern Albania is divided into two portions by the lower course of the Drin; the mountains of the northern portion, the Bieska Malziis, extend in a confused and broken series of ridges from Scutari to the valleys of the Ibar and White Drin; they comprise the rocky group of the Prokletia, or Accursed Mountains, with their numerous ramifications, including Mount Velechik, inhabited by the Kastrat and Shkrel tribes, Bukovik by the Hot, Golesh by the Klement, Skulsen (7533 ft.), Baba Vrkh (about 7306 ft.), Maranay near Scutari, and the Bastrik range to the east. South of the Drin is another complex mountain system, including the highlands inhabited by the Mirdites and the Mat tribe; among the principal summits are Deia Mazzuklit, Mal-i Vels, Kraba, Toli and Mnela. Central Albania differs from the northern and southern regions in the more undulating and less rugged character of its surface; it contains considerable lowland tracts, such as the wide and fertile plain of Musseki, traversed by the river Simen. The principal summit is Tomor (7916 ft.), overhanging the town of Berat. Southern Albania, again, is almost wholly mountainous, with the exception of the plains of Iannina and Arta; the most noteworthy feature is the rugged range of the Tchika, or Khimara mountains, which skirt the sea-coast from south-west to north-east, terminating in the lofty promontory of Glossa (ancient Acroceraunia). Farther inland the Mishkeli range to the north-east of Lake Iannina and the Nemertzika mountains run in a parallel direction. In the extreme south, beyond the basin of the Kalamas, the mountains of Suli and Olyzika form a separate group. The rivers, as a rule, flow from east to west; owing to the rapidity of their descent none are navigable except the Boyana and Arta in their lower courses. The principal rivers are the Boyana, issuing from Lake Scutari, and consequently regarded as a continuation of the Montenegrin Moratcha, the Drin, formed by the confluence of the White and Black Drin, which, flowing respectively to the south and north through a long valley at the foot of the Shar range, take a westerly direction after their junction, the Matia, the Arzen, the Shkumb (ancient Genusos), the Simen (Apsos), formed by the junction of the Devol and Ergene, the Viossa (Aöus), which owing to the trend of the Khimara range takes a north-westerly direction, the Kalamas (Thyamis) and the Arta (Arachthos), flowing south into the Ambracian Gulf. A portion of the stream of the Drin has found its way into the Boyana channel; the result has been a rise in the level of Lake Scutari and the inundation of the adjacent lowlands. A proposal to confine the Drin to its former course by means of a dyke, and to ease the downflow of the Boyana by a canal opening navigation to Lake Scutari, has long been considered by the Turkish authorities. The great lakes of Scutari (135 sq. m.) and Ochrida (107 sq. m.) are among the most beautiful in Europe; the waters of Ochrida, which find an outlet in the Black Drin, are of marvellous clearness. Lake Malik, south by east of Ochrida, is drained by the Devol. The waters of the picturesque Lake Iannina (24 sq. m.) find an issue. by katabothra, or underground channels, into the Ambracian Gulf. The lake of Butrinto (Buthrotum) is near the sea-coast opposite Corfu.
Climate.—The climate is healthy in the uplands, though subject to violent changes; in the valleys fever is very prevalent, especially in the basins of the Boyana, the lower Drin and the Simen. The winter is short, but exceedingly cold; snow remains on the Prokletia and other mountains till August, and sometimes throughout the year. The summer temperature in the plains is that of southern Italy; in the mountain districts it is high during the day, but falls almost to freezing-point at night. The sea-coast is exposed to the fierce bora, or north wind, during the spring.
Natural Products.—The mountains of Albania are said to be rich in minerals, but this source of wealth remains practically unexplored. Iron and coal are probably abundant, and silver-lead, copper and antimony are believed to exist. Gold mines were worked in antiquity in the Drin valley, and silver mines in the Mirdite region were known to the Venetians in the middle ages. At Selinitza, near Avlona, there is a remarkable deposit of mineral pitch which was extensively worked in Roman times; mining operations are still carried on here, but in a somewhat primitive fashion. The splendid forests, of which there are 70,000 acres in the vilayet of Scutari alone, are undergoing a rapid process of destruction, as in other lands under Turkish rule. The principal trees are the oak, the valonia oak, the beech, ash, elm, plane, celtis, poplar and walnut, which give way in the higher regions to the pine and fir. The oak forests near Dibra, where charcoal-making is a considerable industry, and the beech-woods of the Prishtina district, are especially remarkable. The sumach is largely grown in the Mirdite district; its leaves are exported to Trieste for use in tanneries and dyeworks. In 1898 the export of valonia was estimated at £11,200, of sumach at £2400. Of fruit-trees the white mulberry, cherry and wild pear are plentiful; the chestnut and walnut are sometimes met with, and the olive is grown in the lowland and maritime districts. The exportation of olive oil in 1898 was valued at £24,000. The greater part of the country is admirably suited to viticulture, and wine of tolerable quality is produced. Tobacco is grown extensively in southern Albania, especially near Berat and in the upper valley of the Viossa, but the quantity exported is small. The means of subsistence are mainly provided by the cultivation of grain and cattle-rearing. Notwithstanding the primitive condition of agriculture, the deficiency of communications and the damage caused by frequent inundations, Albania furnishes almost the entire corn supply of the Dalmatian coast and islands. Maize is the favourite grain for home consumption, but considerable quantities of this cereal, as well as, barley, rye and oats are exported. The total export of cereals in 1898 was valued at £70,800. Sheep and goats form almost the only wealth of the mountaineers of northern Albania; large cattle are found only on the plains. The slopes of Pindus afford excellent pasture for the flocks of the Vlach shepherds. The export of raw hides and wool is considerable; in 1898 these commodities were valued respectively at £90,400 and £24,000. The lakes and rivers of Albania abound in fish. The scoranze (Alb. seraga), a kind of sardine, is taken in great quantities in Lake Scutari; it is salted and smoked for home consumption and exportation. Sea-fishing is almost wholly neglected. There are salines at Avlona and other places on the coast.
Commerce and Industries.—The exports in 1898 were estimated at £480,000, the imports at £1,360,000, the former comprising agricultural produce, live stock, hides, wool, cheese, eggs, poultry, olive oil, valonia, sumach leaves, timber, skins of wild animals, silk, tobacco and salted fish, the latter manufactured articles, cloth, hardware, furniture, firearms, gunpowder, sugar, coffee, &c. The monopoly of Albanian commerce formerly possessed by Venice has descended to Austria-Hungary; the trade with other countries, except Italy, is inconsiderable. Owing to the poverty of the people, cheap Austrian goods find a readier sale than the more expensive and solid British manufactures. The maritime traffic is largely conducted by the steamers of the subsidized Austrian-Lloyd company, Trieste being the principal commercial centre; the coasting trade is carried on by small Greek and Turkish sailing vessels. The trade of the northern and western districts has to some extent been diverted to Salonica since the opening of the railways from that town to Mitrovitza and Monastir. The development of commerce is retarded by lack of communications; the country possesses no railways and few roads. Several railway lines have been projected, but there is no great probability of their construction under existing political conditions. The Via Egnatia, the great Roman highway to the east, is still used; it runs from Durazzo (Dyrrhachium) to Elbassan and Ochrida. Iannina is connected by carriage-roads with Monastir, Agii Saranta and Preveza. As a rule, however, bridle-paths supply the only means of communication. The native industries are inconsiderable, and many of them are in a languishing condition. The manufacture of highly ornate firearms, yataghans and other weapons at Scutari, Jakova and Prizren has declined, owing to the importation of modern rifles and revolvers. Gold and silk embroidery, filigree work, morocco and richly-braided jackets are produced for home use and for sale in Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro.
Population.—The population of Albania may be estimated at between 1,600,000 and 1,500,000, of whom 1,200,000 or 1,100,000 are Albanians. Of the other races the Slavs (Serbs and Bulgars) are the most numerous, possibly numbering 250,000. Servian settlements exist in various parts of northern Albania; there is a strong Bulgarian colony in the neighbourhood of Dibra and Ochrida; farther south, Mount Zygos and the Pindus range—the “Great Walachia” of the middle ages—are inhabited by Vlachs or Tzintzars, who possibly number 70,000. Some Turkish colonies are also found in the south-eastern districts. There is a considerable Greek-speaking population in Epiros (including many Mahommedan Albanians), which must, however, be distinguished from the genuine Greeks of Iannina, Preveza and the extreme south; these may be estimated at 100,000. The population of the vilayet of Scutari is given as 237,000, that of the vilayet of Iannina as 552,000. The principal towns are Scutari (Albanian Shkoder, with the definite article Shkodr-a), the capital of the vilayet of that name, pop. 32,000; Prizren, 30,000; Iannina (often incorrectly written Ioannina), capital of the southern vilayet, 22,000; Jakova, 12,000; Dibra, 15,000; Prishtina, 11,000; Ipek (Slav. Petch), 15,000; Berat, 15,000; Ochrida, 11,000; Tirana, 12,000; Argyrokastro, 11,000; Kortcha (Slav. Goritza), 10,000; Elbassan (perhaps ancient Albanopolis), 8000; Metzovo, 7500; Preveza, 6500; Avlona, 6000; Durazzo, 5000; Parga, 5000; Butrinto, 2000; and Kroïa, the ancient fortress of Scanderbeg, 5000. All these, except Elbassan, Metzovo and Kroïa, are described in separate articles.
The Albanians are apparently the most ancient race in south-eastern Europe. History and legend afford no record of their arrival in the Balkan Peninsula. They are probably the descendants of the earliest Aryan immigrants, who were represented in historical times by the kindred Illyrians, Macedonians and Epirots; the Macedonians and Epirots are believed by Hahn to have formed the core of the pre-Hellenic Tyrrheno-Pelasgian population which inhabited the southern portion of the peninsula and extended its limits to Thrace and Italy. The Illyrians were also “Pelasgian,” but in a wider sense. Of these cognate races, which are described by the Greek writers as barbarous or non-Hellenic, the Illyrians and Epirots, he thinks, were respectively the progenitors of the Ghegs, or northern, and the Tosks, or southern, Albanians. The Via Egnatia, which Strabo (vii. fragment 3) describes as forming the boundary between the Illyrians and Epirots, practically corresponds with the course of the Shkumb, which now separates the Ghegs and the Tosks. The same geographer (v. 2.221) states that the Epirots were also called Pelasgians; the Pelasgian Zeus was worshipped at Dodona (Homer, Il. xvi. 234), and the neighbourhood of the sanctuary was called Pelasgia (Herodotus ii. 56). The meaning of the term “Pelasgian” is, however, too obscure to furnish a basis for ethnographical speculation; in the time of Herodotus it may have already come to denote a period rather than a race. The name Tosk is possibly identical with Tuscus, Etruscus, while the form Tyrrhenus perhaps survives in Tirana. The large number of Slavonic local names in Albania, even in districts where no trace of a Slavonic population exists, bears witness to the extensive Servian and Bulgarian immigrations in the early middle ages, but the original inhabitants gradually ousted or assimilated the invaders. The determination with which this remarkable race has maintained its mountain stronghold through a long series of ages has hitherto met with scant appreciation in the outside world. While the heroism of the Montenegrins has been lauded by writers of all countries, the Albanians—if we except Byron's eulogy of the Suloits—still remain unsung. Not less noticeable is the tenacity with which isolated fragments of the nation have preserved theirpeculiar characteristics, language, customs and traditions. The Albanians in Greece and Italy, though separated for six centuries from the parent stock, have not yet been absorbed by the surrounding populations.
The Albanians, both Ghegs and Tosks, call themselves Shküpetar, and their land Shküpenia or Shküperia, the former being the Gheg, the latter the Tosk form of the word. Shküpetar has been variously interpreted. According to Hahn it is a participial from shkyipoij, “I understand,” signifying “he who knows” the native language; others interpret it with less probability as “the rock-dweller,” from shkep, shkip, N. Alb. shkamp, “rock.” The designations Arber (Gr. Άρβανίης, Turk. Arnaout), denoting the people, and Arbenia or Arberia, the land, are also, though less frequently, used by the Albanians. A district near Kroïa is locally known as Arbenia; the Tosk form Arberia strictly applies only to the mountain region near Avlona. The region inhabited by a more or less homogeneous Albanian population may be roughly marked out by a line drawn from the Montenegrin frontier at Berane to Mitrovitza and the Servian frontier near Vranya; thence to Usküb, Prilep, Monastir, Florina, Kastoria, Iannina and Parga. These limits, however, are far from including all the members of a widely scattered race. The Albanians in Greece, whose settlements extend over Attica, Boeotia, the district of Corinth and the Argolid peninsula, as well as southern Euboea and the islands of Hydra, Spetzae, Poros and Salamis, descend from Tosk immigrants in the 14th century. They played a brilliant part in the War of Independence (1821–1829), and to-day supply the Greek army with its best soldiers. They were estimated by Leake at 200,000. A large number still speak the Albanian language; many of the older men, and a considerable proportion of the women, even in the neighbourhood of Athens, are ignorant of Greek. The Albanian settlements in southern Italy and Sicily were founded in 1444, 1464 and 1468; minor immigrations followed in the three succeeding centuries. In southern Italy there are 72 Albanian communes, with 154,674 inhabitants; in Sicily 7 communes, with 52,141 inhabitants. The Italian and Sicilian Albanians are of Tosk descent, and many of them still speak a variation of the Tosk dialect. There are also several Albanian settlements in European Turkey and Asia Minor, some founded by military colonists who received grants of land from successive sultans, others owing their origin to enforced migrations after insurrections in Albania. The only genuine division of the Albanian race is that of Ghegs and Tosks; the Liaps, who inhabit the district between the Viossa and the sea, and the Tshams or Chams, who occupy the coast-land south of the Kalamas, are subdivisions of the Tosk family. The name Gheg (Gĕgĕ-a) is not adopted by the Ghegs themselves, being regarded as a nickname; the designation Tosk (Toskĕ-a) is restricted by the Tosks to the inhabitants of a small region north of the lower Viossa (Toskería).
National Characteristics.—While the other primitive populations of the peninsula were either hellenized or latinized, or subsequently absorbed by the Slavonic immigration, the Albanians to a great extent remained unaffected by foreign influences. Retaining their original language and preserving the customs and institutions of remote antiquity, they present a distinct type, and differ in many essential particulars from the other nations of the peninsula. The Ghegs especially, notwithstanding their fierce and lawless character, their superstition, ignorance and predatory propensities, possess some noteworthy qualities rarely found in eastern Europe: simple, brave, faithful, and sometimes capable of devoted attachment, these wild mountaineers make excellent soldiers and trustworthy retainers; they have long furnished a bodyguard to the sultan and, like the Tosks, are much employed as kavasses and attendants at foreign embassies and consulates in the East. The native disposition of the Tosks has been modified by intercourse with the Greeks and Vlachs; while the Gheg devotes his attention exclusively to fighting, robbery and pastoral pursuits, the Tosk occasionally occupies himself with commercial, industrial or agricultural employments; the Gheg is stern, morose and haughty, the Tosk lively, talkative and affable. The natural antipathy between the two sections of the race, though less evident than in former times, is far from extinct. In all parts of Albania the vendetta (gyăk, jăk) or blood-feud, the primitive lex talionis, is an established usage; the duty of revenge is a sacred tradition handed down to successive generations in the family, the village and the tribe. A single case of homicide often leads to a series of similar crimes or to protracted warfare between neighbouring families and communities; the murderer, as a rule, takes refuge in the mountains from the avenger of blood, or remains for years shut up in his house. It is estimated that in consequence of these feuds scarcely 75% of the population in certain mountainous districts die a natural death. A truce (bessa, literally “faith,” “pledge”), either temporary or permanent, is sometimes arranged by mediation, or among the Ghegs, by the intervention of the clergy; a general bessa has occasionally been proclaimed by special trade of the sultan, the restoration of peace being celebrated with elaborate ceremonies. So stringent are the obligations of hospitality that a household is bound to exact reparation for any injury done to a guest as though he were a member of the family. No traveller can venture into the mountain districts without the bessa of one of the inhabitants; once this has been obtained he will be hospitably welcomed. In some districts there is a fixed price of blood; at Argyrokastro, for instance, the compensation paid by the homicide to the relatives of his victim is 1200 piastres (about £10), at Khimara 2000 piastres; once the debt has been acquitted amicable relations are restored. Notwithstanding their complete subjection, women are treated with a certain respect, and are often employed as intermediaries in the settlement of feuds; a woman may traverse a hostile district without fear of injury, and her bessa will protect the traveller or the stranger. Women accompany their male relatives to the battle-field for the purpose of tending the wounded and carrying away the dead. The bride brings no dowry to her husband; she is purchased at a stipulated price, and earnest-money is paid at the betrothal, which usually takes place while the contracting parties are still children. It is customary for young men who are attached to each other to swear eternal brotherhood (compare the Slavonic pobratimstvo); the contract is regarded as sacred, and no instance has been known of its violation. The costume of the Tosks differs from that of the Ghegs; its distinctive feature is the white plaited linen fustanella or petticoat, which has been adopted by the Greeks; the Ghegs wear trews of white or crimson native cloth adorned with black braid, and a short, close-fitting jacket, which in the case of wealthy persons is embellished with gold lace. The fez is worn by both races, and in the northern highlands yataghans and firearms are almost invariably carried. The costume of the Mirdite and Mat tribes is peculiar. It consists of a white felt cap, a long white tunic bound with a red girdle, white linen trousers and opinki, or sandals.
Tribal System.—The tribal organization in northern Albania is an interesting survival of the earliest form of social combination; it may be compared in many respects with that which existed in the Scottish highlands in the time of the Stuart kings. The practical autonomy which the Gheg mountaineers enjoy has been won by a prolonged and successful resistance to Turkish domination; as a rule they pay no taxes, they are exempt from the conscription, they know nothing of the Ottoman law, and the few Turkish officials established amongst them possess no real authority. Their only obligation to the Turkish government is to furnish a contingent in time of war; the only law they recognize is either traditional custom (adét) or the unwritten Kanun-i Leks Dukajinit, a civil and criminal code, so called from its author, Leka Dukajini, who is supposed to have lived in the 13th or 14th century. The tribe or mal ("mountain") is often composed of several clans (phis-i, phárea) or baryaks (literally “standards”) each under a chief or baryaktar (standard-bearer), who is, strictly speaking, a military leader; there are in each clan a certain number of elders or voivodes (Albanian kru-ye, pl. krene-te) who form a council and, like the baryaktar, hold their office by hereditary right; they preside over the assemblies of the tribesmen, which exercise the supreme legislative power. The clan is generally subdivided into smaller communities (mahale), each administered by a local notable or jobar. The jobars superintend the execution of the laws, collect fines and administer capital punishment; they are in contact with the buluk-bashi, or resident representative of the tribe at Scutari, who forms the only link between the mountaineers and the Turkish government. He communicates to the tribesmen the orders of the vali, which must be framed in accordance with their customs and institutions. The tribes of northern Albania, or Ghegeria, may be classified in seven groups as follows:—(1) The Mirdites, who inhabit the alpine region around Orosh to the south-east of Scutari—the most important of all in respect of numbers (about 17,000) and political independence. A Roman Catholic tribe, occupying an inaccessible district, they have hitherto defeated every effort of the Turks to encroach on their autonomy. Their hereditary chiefs, or capidans, belong to the family known as Dera e Jon Markut (the house of John Marco), which has ruled for 200 years and is supposed to be descended from Scanderbeg. In 1868 the reigning chief, Bib Doda, died, and his son and successor Prenk was detained as a hostage by the Turks. The Mirdites consequently refused to contribute their customary contingent to the Turkish army, and eventually Prenk was restored. His ambiguous conduct, however, led to the despatch of two expeditions against the Mirdites and the devastation of their territory. In 1880 Prenk was kidnapped by the Turkish authorities and exiled to Anatolia; another member of the ruling family was appointed kaimakam, but the Mirdites refused to obey him, and their district has ever since been in a state of anarchy. No Moslem is allowed to remain in Mirdite territory. (2) The Mi-shkodrak (Upper Scutari) group or confederation, also known as the Malsia-Madhé (Great Highlands), is composed of the Klement, Grud-a, Hot, Kastrat and Shkrel tribes, which occupy the mountainous district north-east of Scutari. Owing to the proximity of the capital this group is comparatively subject to the Turkish power, and pays a small annual tribute; the chiefs, who assess and collect the tribute, form a kind of administrative council; the confederation has also an official representative council at Scutari, called the Jibal, under the presidency of a Serkardé or Moslem official. (3) The Dukajin, whose territory lies between that of the last-named group and the district of Jakova, include the Pulati, Shalla, Shoshi and other tribes; they are more independent and more savage than the Mi-shkodrak, and have never paid tribute from time immemorial. (4) The Puka group, known as “the Seven Baryaks of Puka,” dwell on the south side of the river Drin; theyare nominally administered by a Turkish kaimakam, who is a mere spectator of their proceedings. (5) The Malsia Jakovs, a group of two Catholic and three Moslem tribes, extend in the direction of Jakova, where they maintain an official representative; they are entirely exempt from taxation. (6,7) The Malsia-Lezhs, who occupy the Alessio highlands, and the Malsia Krues, who inhabit the region north of Kroïa, live in a state of extreme poverty and pay no tribute; the Malsia Krues are much addicted to brigandage. To these seven groups, which are included under the general appellation of Malissori, or “highlanders,” may be added the Malsia of Dibra, who extend to the west and north of that town, and form a large separate group; they are notorious for their fierce lawless character, and maintain themselves by plundering the Bulgarian peasants in their neighbourhood. In general the attitude of the Albanians in the north-eastern districts towards the Slavonic peasantry may be compared with that of the Kurds towards the Armenians. In the region east of Kroïa the Mat tribe, which occupies the upper valley of the Matra, presents an entirely different organization; their district is governed by four wealthy families, possessing hereditary rank and influence. Towards the south the tribal organization becomes looser and is gradually supplanted by a kind of feudal system; among the powerful aristocratic houses may be mentioned the Vliores at Avlona, who are stated to own over 150 sq. m. of land, and the Toptans at Tirana. The principal landowners, who reside in fortified houses, are all Moslems; their estates are cultivated on the metayer system. Since the time of Ali Pasha, who broke the power of the local chieftains, southern Albania has been subject to the central Turkish power; before that period the mountaineers of Suh and Khimara enjoyed an independence similar to that of the Gheg tribes.
Religions.—The great majority of the Albanians, probably more than three-fifths, are Moslems. The conversion of the Christian population to Islam appears to have taken place during the 16th and 17th centuries. Like the Cretan Moslems and the Bulgarian Pomaks, the Albanian Mahommedans retain many Christian traditions and customs; it is said that many thousands of them secretly adhere to their original faith. In the vilayet of Scutari they form about 55% of the population; central Albania is almost entirely Moslem; in southern Albania, however, there is a considerable Christian population, whose limits practically coincide with those of the Greek-speaking districts. Of the Christian population (about 600,000), some 110,000 are Roman Catholic Ghegs, some 90,000 are Orthodox Tosks, and some 400,000 are Orthodox Slavs, Greeks and Vlachs. The Roman Catholic Ghegs appear to have abandoned the Eastern for the Western Church in the middle of the 13th century. Their bishops and priests, who Wear the moustache in deference to popular prejudice, are typical specimens of the church militant. Some of the Gheg tribes, such as the Puka, Malsia Jakovs and Malsia Krues, are partly Roman Catholic, partly Moslem; among fellowtribesmen the difference of religion counts for little. The Mirdites are exclusively Roman Catholic, the Mat-i exclusively Moslem. At the head of the Roman Catholic hierarchy are the archbishops of Scutari (with three suffragans), Prizren and Durazzo; the mitred abbot of St Alexander is the spiritual chief of the Mirdites. The Orthodox Church has metropolitans at Prizren, Durazzo, Berat, Iannina and Kortcha; the Bulgarian exarchate maintains a bishop at Dibra. Of the Albanians in Sicily the great majority (44791) remain faithful to the Greek Church; in Italy 116,482 follow the Latin ritual, and 38,192 the Greek. All the Albanians in Greece belong to the Orthodox Church.
Education.—Education is almost non-existent, and the vast majority of the populati (m, both Christian and Moslem, are totally illiterate. Instruction in the Albanian language is prohibited by the Turkish government for political reasons; a single exception has been made in the case of an American school for girls at Kortcha. There are Turkish primary and secondary schools in some of the towns; in the village mosques instruction in the Koran is given by the imāms, but neither reading nor writing is taught. The aristocratic Moslem families send their sons to be educated in Constantinople or Vienna. At Scutari a college and a seminary are maintained by the Jesuits, with the aid of the Austrian government; the Franciscans have several primary schools, and three lay schools are supported by the Italian government; in all these institutions Italian is the language of instruction. There are two Servian seminaries at Prizren. In southern Albania there are Greek schools in the towns and a large Greek gymnasium at Iannina. The priests of the Greek Church, on whom the rural population depend for instruction, are often deplorably ignorant. The merchant families of Iannina are Well educated; the dialect spoken in that town is the purest specimen of colloquial Greek.
Language.—Albanian is peculiarly interesting as the only surviving representative of the so-called Thraco-Illyrian group of languages which formed the primitive speech of the peninsula. It has afforded an attractive study to philologists, amongst whom may be mentioned Malte-Brun, Leake, Xylander, Hahn, Miklosich and G. Meyer. The analysis of the language presents great difficulties, as, owing to the absence of literary monuments, no certainty can be arrived at With regard to its earlier forms and later development. The groundwork, so far as it can be ascertained, and the grammar are Indo-European, but a large number of words have been borrowed from the Latin or Italian and Greek, and it is not always easy to decide Whether the mutilated and curtailed forms now in use represent adopted words or belong to the original vocabulary. There is also a considerable admixture of Turkish and Slavonic words. Notwithstanding certain points of resemblance in structure and phonetics, Albanian is entirely distinct from the neighbouring languages; in its relation to early Latin and Greek it may bc regarded as a co-ordinate member of the Aryan stock. It possesses seven vowels; among the consonants are the aspirated d and t, as in Greek, and many other sounds, such as b, d, sh, zh (French j), and hard g, which are wanting in Greek, but exist in the Slavonic languages. There are three declensions, each with a definite and indefinite form; the genitive, dative and ablative are usually represented by a single termination; the vocative is formed by a final o, as memmo from memme, “mother.” The neuter gender is absent. There are two conjugations; the passive formation, now wanting in most Indo-European languages, has been retained, as in Greek; thus kerko-iy, “I seek,” forms kerko-n-em, “I am sought.” The,infinitive is not found; as in Greek, Rumanian and Bulgarian, it is replaced by the subjunctive with a particle. The two auxiliary verbs are kăm, “I have,” and yăm, “I am.” An interesting and characteristic feature of the language is the definite article, which is attached to the end of the word: e.g. mik (“friend,” amicus), mik-u (“the friend”); kien (“dog”), kien-i; Shkumb, Shkumb-i. The suffix-article likewise appears in Rumanian and Bulgarian, but in no other Latin or Slavobic language; it is in each case a form of the demonstrative pronoun. Another remarkable analogy between the Albanian and the neighbouring languages is found in the formation of the future; the Albanian do (3rd pers. sing. of dova, “I will”), like the Greek θὰ, is prefixed without change to all persons of the verb: a similar usage in Servian and Bulgarian, as well as in Rumanian (especially the Macedonian dialect), is peculiar to these languages in the Slavonic and Latin groups. These and other points of similarity, possibly only accidental, have led to the conjecture that the primitive Illyrian language may have exerted some kind of influence on the other idioms of the peninsula. In the absence of literary culture the Albanian dialects, as might be expected, are widely divergent; the limits of the two principal dialects correspond with the racial boundaries of the Ghegs and Tosks, who understand each other with difficulty; the Albanians in Greece and Italy have also separate dialects. In writing Albanian the Latin character is employed by the Ghegs, the Greek by the Tosks; neither alphabet suffices to represent the manifold sounds of the language, and various supplementary letters or distinguishing signs are necessary. In the use of these no uniform system has yet been adopted. An alphabet of fifty-two letters, some presenting ancient Phoenician and Cretan forms, was found by Hahn in partial use at Elbassan and Tirana; its antiquity, however, has not been established. The Tosks generally use the Greek language for written communications. The native folklore and poetry of the Albanians can hardly compare with that of the neighbouring nations in originality and beauty. The earliest printed works in Albanian are those of the Catholic missionaries; the first book containing specimens of the language was the Dictionarium Latino-Epiroticum of Bianchi, printed in 1635. The literature of the last two centuries consists mainly of translations and religious works written by ecclesiastics, some of whom were natives of the Albanian colonies in Italy. The most noteworthy Albanian writer was Girolamo di Rada (b. 1815), a poet, philologist and collector of national folklore. Among his successors may be mentioned Vincenzo Dorsa and Demetrio Camarda.
Antiquities.—Albania abounds in ancient remains, which as yet have been little explored. Fragments of “Cyclopean” structures were discovered by Hahn at Kretzunista, Arinista, and other sites in the district of Argyrokastro; the walls, partly “Cyclopean,” of an ancient city (perhaps Bullis) are visible at Gradisti on the Viossa. Masonry of this type, however, occurring in Illyria and Dalmatia (e.g. at Spalato and on the island of Lesina) has been shown by modern archaeologists to belong to the Roman period. In general, the remains of the classical epoch attest the influence of Roman rather than of Greek civilization. At Pollina, the ancient Apollonia, are the remnants of a Doric temple, of which a single column is still standing. A little north of Preveza are the considerable ruins of Nikopohs, founded by Octavian to commemorate the victory of Actium. At Khimara (anc. Chimaera) the remains of an old Greek city may still be seen; at Santi Quaranta (anc. Onchesmos) the walls and towers of a later town are in good preservation. Few traces remain of the once celebrated Dyrrhachium. The ruins of Pandosia, Ephyra, Elatea, Phoenike, Bathrotum, Akrolissos and other towns may be identified. The most important and interesting remains, however, are those of Dodona (q.v.) Of the medieval ruins those of Kroïa, the stronghold of Scanderbeg, are the most interesting.
Medieval History.—After the division of the Roman empire, the lands inhabited by the Albanian race became provinces of the Byzantine empire; northern Albania from Scutari to Berat formed the thema or province of Dyrrachium (Durazzo, Albanian Dourtz), southern Albania and Epirus the thema of Nikopolis. The country was overrun by the Goths in the 4th and 5th centuries, but reconquered by Justinian in 535. In 640 northern Albania was invaded by the Serbo-Croats; it continued with interruptions under Servian rule till 1360. In 861 the Bulgarians conquered the southern portion of the country and Epirus as far as Khimara; under their powerful tsar Simeon (893–927), who defeated the Servians, they established their rule on the Adriatic littoral, except at Durazzo, which remained Ilyzantine, and colonized these regions in great numbers. A new Bulgarian dynasty, that of Shishman, was founded at Ochrida after the death of Simeon. Shishman’s son Samuel (976–1014) captured Durazzo; he extended his sway over a great part of the Balkan Peninsula, but was eventually defeated in 1014 by the emperor Basil II., who put out the eyes of 15,000 Bulgarian prisoners. Southern Albania and Epirus fell once more under Byzantine rule, which, however, was shaken by numerous revolts. In 1081 the Normans under Robert Guiscard possessed themselves of Durazzo; Guiscard,s son Bohemund defeated the Greeks in several battles and again (1107) laid siege to Durazzo, which had been surrendered to them by treachery; failing to take the city, he retired to Italy in 1109. Southern Albania and Epirus remained under Byzantine domination till 1204, when, after the capture of Constantinople by the crusaders, Michael Comnenus, a member of the imperial family, withdrew to Epirus and founded an independent sovereignty known as the Despotate of Epirus at Iannina; his realm included the whole of southern Albania, Acarnania and Aetolia. The despotate of Epirus was held by the Comnenus family till 1318, and by princes of the house of Orsini till 1358. Meanwhile Durazzo, with Berat and Central Albania, had passed into the hands of the Sicilian kings of the house of Anjou, who ruled these regions, which they styled the “Kingdom of Albania,” from 1271 to 1368, maintaining a constant warfare with the Byzantine emperors. The Servians again installed themselves in Upper Albania about 1180, and the provinces of Scutari and Prizren were ruled by kings of the house of Nemanya till 1360; Stefan Dushan (1331–1358), the greatest of these monarchs, included all Albania in his extensive but short-lived empire, and took the title of Imperator Romaniae Slavoniae et Albaniae (emperor of the Greeks, Slavs and Albanians).
Period of Native Rule.—After the death of Dushan and the break-up of the Servian empire, a new epoch began when Albania fell under the rule of chieftains more or less of native origin. A portion of Upper Albania was ruled by the Balsha dynasty (1366–1421), which, though apparently Servian by descent, assimilated itself with its Albanian subjects and embraced the faith of Rome. Alessio and a tract of the interior in the direction of Ipek was governed by the Dukajin. The northern portion of the “kingdom of Albania,” including Durazzo and Kroïa, was ruled by the family of Thopia (1359–1392) and afterwards by that of Lastriota, to which Scanderbeg belonged; the southern portion with Berat, by the Musaki (1368–1476). In the middle of the 14th century a great migration of Albanians from the mountainous districts of the north took place, under the chiefs Jin Bua Spata and Peter Liosha; they advanced southwards as far as Acarnania and Aetolia (1358), occupied the greater portion of the despotate of Epirus, and took Iannina and Arta. In the latter half of the century large colonies of Tosks were planted in the Morea by the despots of Mistra, and in Attica and Boeotia by Luke Nerio of Athens. As the power of the Balshas declined, the Venetians towards the close of the 14th century established themselves at Scutari, Budua, Antivari and elsewhere in northern Albania.
Period of Turkish Rule.—The advance of the Turks into Albania began with the capture of Iannina in 1431. For once in the history of the country the Albanian chiefs combined against the invader under a single leader, the celebrated George Kastriota (see Scanderbeg), who fought thirteen campaigns in the period 1444–1466. In 1478 Kroïa, which the Venetians had occupied after Scanderbeg’s death, surrendered to Mahommed II., and in 1479 Scutari, after a memorable defence by the Venetians and their Montenegrin allies, was reduced by blockade. Many of its native Christian defenders emigrated to Dallratia and Italy; others took refuge in the mountains with the Loiran Catholic Ghegs. In 1502 the Turks captured Durazzo, and in 1571 Antivari and Dulcigno, the last Venetian possessions in Albania. Notwithstanding the abandonment of Christianity by a large section of the population after the Turkish conquest, the authority of the sultans was never effectively established, and succeeding centuries present a record of interminable conflicts between the tribesmen and the Turks, between the Christians and the converts to Islam, or between all combined and the traditional Montenegrin enemy. The decline of the Ottoman power, which began towards the end of the 17th century, was marked by increasing anarchy and lawlessness in the outlying portions of the empire. About 1760 a Moslem chieftain, Mehemet of Bushat, after obtaining the pashalik of Scutari from the Porte, succeeded in establishing an almost independent sovereignty in Upper Albania, which remained hereditary in his family for some generations. In southern Albania Ali Pasha of Tepelen (b. about 1750), an able, cruel and unscrupulous man, subdued the neighbouring pashas and chiefs, crushed the Suliotes and Khimarrhotes, and exercised a practically independent sovereignty from the Adriatic to the Aegean. He introduced comparative civilization at Iannina, his capital, and maintained direct relations with foreign powers. Eventually he renounced his allegiance to the sultan, but was overthrown by a Turkish army in 1822. Shortly afterwards the dynasty of Scutari came to an end with the surrender of Mustafa Pasha, the last of the house of Bushat, to the grand vizier Reshid Pasha, in 1831.
The opposition of the Albanians, Christian as well as Moslem, to the reforms introduced by the sultan Mahmud II. led to the devastation of the country and the expatriation of thousands of its inhabitants. During the next half-century several local revolts occurred, but no movement of a strictly political character took place till after the Berlin Treaty (July 13, 1878), when some of the Moslems and Catholics combined to resist the stipulated transference of Albanian territory to Austria-Hungary, Servia and Montenegro) and the Albanian League was formed by an assemblage of chiefs at Prizren. The movement, which was instigated by the Porte with the object of evading the provisions of the treaty, was so far successful that the restoration of Plava and Gusinye to Albania was sanctioned by the powers, Montenegro receiving in exchange the town and district of Dulcigno. The Albanian leaders, however, soon displayed a spirit of independence, which proved embarrassing to Turkish diplomacy and caused alarm at Constantinople; their forces came into conflict with a Turkish army under Dervish Pasha near Dulcigno (November 1880), and eventually the league was suppressed. A similar agitation on a smaller scale was organized in southern Albania to resist the territorial concessions awarded by the powers to Greece. In the spring of 1903 serious disturbances took place in north-western Albania, but the Turks succeeded in pacifying the revolted tribesmen, partly by force and partly by concessions. These movements were far from displaying a genuinely national character. In recent years attempts have been made by Albanians resident abroad to propagate the national idea among their compatriots at home; committees have been formed at Brussels, Bucharest, Athens and elsewhere, and books, pamphlets and newspapers are surreptitiously sent into the country. Unity of aim and effort, however, seems foreign to the Albanians, except in defence of local or tribal privileges. The growth of a wider patriotic sentiment must depend on the spread of popular education; certainly up to 1908 no appreciable progress had been made in this direction.
Authorities.—F. C. H. Pouqueville, Voyage de la Grèce (Paris, 1820); W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece (London, 1835); J. G. von Hahn, Albanesische Studien (Jena, 1854), Reise durch die Gebiete des Drin und Vardar (Vienna, 1867); F. Bopp, Über das Albanesische (Berlin, 1854); J. P. Fallmerayer, Das albanesische Element in Griechenland (Munich, 1864); N. Camarda, Saggio di grammatologia comparata sulla lingua albanese (Leghorn, 1865); Viscountess Strangford, The Eastern Shores of the Adriatic (London, 1865); H. F. Tozer, Researches in the Highlands of Turkey (London, 1869); F. Miklosich, Albanes. Forschungen (Vienna, 1870); C. Hopf, Chroniques gréco-romaines inédites ou peu connues (Berlin, 1873); H. Hecquard, Histoire et description de la Haute Albanie ou Guégarie (Paris, undated); S. Gopchevich, Oberalbanien und seine Liga (Leipzig, 1881); V. Tajani, Le Istoria Albanesi (Salerno, 1886); G. Gelchich, La Zedda e la dinastia dei Balshi (Spalato, 1899); S. Lambros, Ἡ ὀνοματολογία τῆς Ἀττικῆς καὶ ἡ εἰς τὴν χώραν ἐποίκησις τῶν Ἀλβανῶν in the Ἐπετηρὶς τοῦ Παρνασσοῦ (Athens, 1896); Theodore Ippen “Beiträge zur inneren Geschichte der Turkei im 19. Jahrhundert speciell Albaniens,” in the Österreichisch-Ungarische Revue, vol. xxviii.; A. Philippson, Thessalia und Epirus (Berlin, 1897). See also Murray’s Greece, ed. 1900, pp. 720-731 and 760-814, and Blue-book Turkey, No. 15, Part ii., 1886. (J. D. B.)