by Nicholas Hammond
The Albanians, in the sense of those resident in the modem state or Albania, or Shqipere as they themselves call it, lived under more primitive conditions than any other Balkan people in the 1930s. This was largely because they had been under Turkish domination from the fourteenth century until 1912-13 and had received thereafter little or no help from the leading powers of Europe. Now the position is entirely different. The country has undergone a double revolution under a single administration, passing through Stalinist communism to Maoist socialism. The population has increased from one million to more than two million, the standard of living has risen remarkably, and age-old customs have been swept away. Albania today has an economic efficiency and a drab uniformity which make a vivid contrast with the pre-war kingdom of Zog (1).
We are concerned with Albania as it was in the 1930s and with the previous history of its people. Pastoralism and stock-raising were major occupations then, and taxes were paid on 1.424,9d5 sheep, 773,969 goats, 144,763 cattle and 44.318 horses in 1936-37. Sheep were of the greatest importance, providing milk, cheese, meat and wool for homespun clothing and rugs. Transhumance was widely practised, because the high mountains with their natural forests of pine and beech provided any amount of summer pasture, and the coastal plains, being flooded annually in November and March, were little used for agriculture and therefore afforded excellent grazing for the winter months. Now the floods are under control, the plains are properly irrigated, and rich crops are grown in the coastal plains; and the corollary of this development is that little land is left under grass to give pasturage in winter. As the interior of Albania has one of the highest rainfalls in Europe and the lowlands enjoy an almost Mediterranean mildness in the winter, the country has always been ideally suited to pastoralism of the transhumant variety. In Turkish times, when there were no internal frontiers, Weigand in 1889 saw Albanians moving many flocks for winter pastures through Pelagonia to the coastal plain of Macedonia (2). Indeed, as long as stock-raising was on a large scale, transhumance was dictated by the climate, the winters in the highlands being too severe and the summers in the plains too hot for the animals to survive.
Most of the Albanian villages were situated then in the elevated country between the mountains and the plains, and the villagers maintained themselves by mixed fanning of a primitive kind. The chief crop on the limited arable land was maize, from which a yellow bread (boubota) was made; fuel for men and winter fodder for a small number of animals were provided by the local woods of oak, chestnut, ash and other deciduous trees in the steep-sided valleys of the Acroceraunian range and in the thickly-wooded hills of the Kurvelesh I stayed with villagers in the 1930s who were on the borderline of starvation, clothed in rags and tatters of homespun, and with no covering for their feet. On the other hand, villages nearer to the coastal plain, such as Dukat at the head of the Gulf of Valona with its 60,000 sheep and goats, were well-to-do and sent a surplus of milk products and wool to the market-towns, which were few and far between. The great majority of the people were illiterate, and there were few schools of any kind, but the standard of home crafts was high in the weaving of rugs and clothing, the carving of wooden implements and vessels, and sometimes the making of copper pots and gold and silver jewelry (as among the Vlachs) (3). But there were no industries; no railways and only a few dirt roads. Life moved at the pace of a medieval country village.
The Albanian is by habit and instinct a mountaineer, and the heart of Albania has always beaten most strongly in the tangle of very high mountains in the north of the country. That area has been impenetrable to many foreign armies, and its inhabitants have governed themselves and observed their own laws without paying much regard to the rulers of the lowlands; whether Greek, Roman, Turkish or Italian. The laws were traditional, and they were not written down until recently. The Albanians themselves say that their laws were codified, if one may use that word of oral composition, in the fifteenth century by Lek Dukagjini, and that he was an older contemporary and friend of George Skanderbeg (1403-67), the leader of the heroic resistance against the all-conquering Turks. The achievement of Lek Dukagjmi was not to invent laws but to organise the traditional ones of the numerous tribes of the northern part of the country - his own home into a consistent system of law, and to persuade the tribes to adopt it. Since that time the laws have been handed down separately in tribes and in families by oral tradition; and the fact that they still belong recognisably to a codified system is a testimony to the accuracy and strength of an oral transmission, which continued until the mid-twentieth century, when ideological revolutions replaced the code of Lek Dukagjini with that of Enver Hoxha and his colleagues.
The family, in the extended sense of all generations living together, was very deeply entrenched in Albanian life in the 1930s, and within the family the males had an even greater degree of prestige and privilege than was the case among the Sarakatsani. The head of the family, the patriarch, once elected as such by the adult male kindred had authority over all members of the family and directed all its affairs, including the betrothal of girls and the provision of dowries. The status of women was correspondingly lower. In the Acroceraunian villages all women, from young girls to grannies, were treated like beasts of burden. Even though they were bent double with the huge bundles of brushwood they carried, they still spun wool on a distaff as they walked. It was they who removed stones from the fields, dug and hoed the ground, and even pulled the wooden stake which served as a plough. They ate only what the men left after any meal.
Related families were the units which made up a tribe, and there were very many small tribes, especially in the mountains where each narrow valley lived a life apart from its neighbour. In their turn the tribes were the units which made up the tribal groups or large tribes, of which there were never more than four in all Albania. Each group spoke a marked dialect and had its own peculiarities of dress and its own customs (4). These four groups were Gegs in the north, Tosks in the centre and south, Ljaps in the southwest, and Tsams in areas on both sides of the frontier between Albania and Greece in Epirus (5). Thus society in the 1930s was organised on the concept, indeed almost the ideology, of kinship. One may think of the groups of kindred or brotherhoods' as forming a system of concentric circles; indeed this term was used in the district of Cermenike. There, if the ghastly crime of a host killing a guest was committed, 'circle after circle' was the rule. The guest's 'circle', consisting of his own household, his kinsmen in separate homes, his neighbours and the sons of the married daughters of his family, wherever these last might live, tried to kill the murderer; and failing to find him, or other members of his household, they might kill one of his 'circle' (similarly defined) (6). Or again in Diber, a tribal law laid down that "the kindred which does not take the lead against such culprits (among its own number) commits a fault against the whole tribe."
A constant feature of Albanian life was vendetta, enacted between family and family, village and village, and tribe and tribe in a system where the individual is primarily a unit in a family, to kill him is to injure and dishonour the family, and the requital has to be carried out by the family, of which the executive arm is the nearest male relative of the dead man. In some areas the circle above the family is involved; then the 'brotherhood' includes the fellow tribesmen in a vendetta with the corresponding circle, as each killing demands a killing in return. Village feuds arose readily. A dispute which began in the war of 1912 between two villages in the southern part of the Acroceraunian range, Kudhes and Qeparo, was still being pursued when 1 passed through them in 1930, it was in the form of a vendetta each village killing a young man of the other village every six months Not far away a larger village, Kuc, maintained a vendetta with Himarre, which dated from the same time, but itself a revival of earlier vendettas.
Where vendetta was so prevalent, it was regulated by the unwritten laws of the tribes, and many of these laws were designed to safeguard the essential needs of society such as food production. Thus a man might not be killed when ploughing, or when shepherding a flock, and the sheepfold, where milking and shearing were done, was sacrosanct. If a man broke these rules, he was punished by his own kindred in the first place, the fine being laid down in terms of 'purses' or 'rams'. Sometimes a family was entirely destroyed in the course of a vendetta, and a part of a village became derelict and deserted for that reason. A peculiarity of villages in the Kurvelesh is that they consist of small groups of houses at a large distance from one another, each group being a mahalas and being inhabited by closely related families. One reason for this is to be found in the prevalence of vendetta. As danger was never far away, every man was armed in the 1930s, and the head of the family marked the coming-of-age of a young man by giving him a rifle for family purposes. When Zog sent police to disarm some villagers in accordance with a general edict of state, the villagers shot the police.
In the 1930s the Albanians of the modern state of Albania were only a portion of those who spoke Albanian. Quite apart from the emigrants in Egypt, America and elsewhere, there were large groups of Albanian-speakers in Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. The most interesting are those who were indigenous to the country but were included in south-western Yugoslavia by the drawing of the frontier in 1912-13. They now form a rapidly increasing element in the population of southern Yugoslavia, their birthrate being abnormally high. They have remained completely Albanian in the pre-war sense of the word, retaining their traditional customs and living close to the subsistence level in the hilly country, for instance to the north of Ochrid, where I talked with the peasants of Gorice. On the other hand, the standard of living is much higher in the plains of Metohija and Kossovo, where fine horse-drawn waggons and even decorated cars form processions at the wedding ceremonies. In dress, manners and physique they remain unmistakably Albanian, speaking the Geg dialect. The mountainous frontier between Yugoslavia and Albania was easily crossed in the 1930s, when families or tribes moved to Albania in order to prosecute a vendetta, which the Yugoslavs banned as illegal.
What united this plethora of often warring families and often warring tribes as Albanians was a love of their land, a sense of family unity vis-a-vis Serbs, Bulgars, Greeks and Italians, and a unique language, which belongs, like Greek and Latin, to the Indo-European group of languages but is at a primitive stage of development. This language may be the direct descendant of the Illyrian language, which was spoken by the inhabitants of the north-western part of the Balkans from early in the second millennium B.C. down to the collapse of the Roman Empire If so, it provides an analogy to the survival of Greek today as the direct descendant of Mycenaean Greek. But the purely linguistic evidence is scanty, because the Illyrians were illiterate, and there are not enough toponyms and personal names to convince the specialists in the linguistic field. But on a broader consideration, the inaccessibility of the mountains of northern Albania, the extreme conservatism of Albanian life and customs until recently, and the arrested development of the Albanian language are strongly in favour of the view that the Shqiptars, as they call themselves (7), are the linear descendants of the tribes of the northwest Balkans to which the Greeks and the Romans gave the general name 'Illyrians'.
In the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. 'lllyricum', the Roman province of the northwest Balkans which began in the south with Scodra, was a very important part of the Empire, because it provided good soldiers and leading emperors such as Diocletian and Justinian. The line of division between Illyricum and the Greek area; 'Epirus Nova' (8) , in terms of Roman provincial administration ran somewhere between Scodra and Dyrrachium and then eastwards on the north side of the Shkumbi and Lake Ochrid (see Map 11). One reason for this line was that it placed the main road from the west to the east, the Via Egnatia, under the control of one province. Another reason was that it corresponded more or less with the line of demarcation between the Illyrian language and the Greek language. Within the Greek area there were two provinces in the northwest, 'Epirus Nova', which ran from south of Scodra to the northern tip of the Gulf of Valona and included the sea-terminals of the Via Egnatia, Dyrrachium and Aulon, and 'Epirus Vetus', which ran from Cape Glossa or Linguetta, the northern promontory of the Acroceraunian range, to the Gulf of Arta and sometimes to the Gulf of Corinth. There is no doubt that the population of Epirus Nova was then partly of Illyrian and partly of Greek blood, the former probably predominating, but it was culturally Greek and probably considered itself to be Greek or Graeco-Roman. On the other hand the population of lllyricum was Illyrian and thought of itself as Illyrian or Illyro-Roman, using Latin as its adopted language for literary purposes.
For almost half a millennium we know nothing of Epirus Nova except that it suffered from terrible earthquakes and was overrun repeatedly by barbarian invaders who came from north of the Danube. In 1081 even more formidable invaders landed on its coast, the Normans (or the Franks, as the Greeks called them) of the First Crusade, and they conquered and occupied Epirus Nova, while the Byzantine emperor, Alexius, withdrew to concentrate his forces at Ochrid. It was in these circumstances that a region Albania' was first mentioned in literature, namely in the Norman French of the great epic, the Chanson de Roland, composed c. 1082-84. The place-names of Epirus Nova were reproduced in a French form or in a Biblical form: the river Charzanes (modern Arzen) appeared as Cheriant (line 3208) ; the river Mati (the modern name) as Val ('river' in the Chanson) Marchis, Mari or Morois; the ancient Oricus as Jericho; the modern Kanina as Chanmeis and so on. One line of the Chanson, 3255, gives what were probably the limits of Epirus Nova on the coast for the Crusaders as Baile' (Cape Pale north of Dyrrachium) and 'Glos (Cape Glossa). Now another manuscript (CV7) gives not these names but 'd'Albanie et de Kent in order to convey the same meaning, thus it follows that 'Albanie' was inland of Cape Pale, for 'Kent' (Kanina) was inland of Cape Glossa (9). Again at line 3230 there is mention of Cape Pale, which appears in the best manuscript as 'Baile' and in other manuscripts as Paligea, Baligera, Balie, Balide, Baldise and in V7, as Albeigne. H. Gregoire and R. de Keyser, who were first to recognise that names of places in Epirus Nova were mentioned in the Chanson,(10) regarded all these readings as corruptions of 'Baile and in particular they said "V7 a corrompu Baile en Albeigne". Yet 'Albeigne' is so unlike the other versions and so remote from 'Baile' that it is most probably not a corruption at all but, precisely as in line 3255, a variant. If it is a variant of Baile (Cape Pale), Albeigne' like "Albanie' is to be sought inland of Cape Pale.
The correct forms in Greek of the place-names in Epirus Nova were given some decades later by the Byzantine writers and among them by Anna Comnena, the daughter of the Emperor Alexius who had fought against the Crusaders. Thus, corresponding to 'Albanie' and 'Albeigne' was the form 'Arbanon' in Anna Comnena's history, which she completed in 1148. This 'Arbanon' was a mountain, since she wrote of passes and paths through it (13.5), and it lay somewhere between Dyrrachium and 'Deure' (Dibra) in the valley of the Black Drin. The most likely candidate is Mt Dajti, east of Cape Pale (now Rodoni). A plural form in the neuter gender was used by Anna Comnena at 4.8, where "Korniskortes set out from Arbana (11). As in the case of the Acroceraunia' (sc. 'ore'), a mountainous area was being named Arbana', i.e. Mt Dajti and Mali me Grope most probabl
From 1166 onwards the suffragan bishops of Dyrrachium included ''episcopi Albanenses, Arbanenses, Arbonenses" and even "Arbunenses"(12). As bishops were named not after a race but by a place, these bishops were in charge of a district 'Arbana', or something of the sort. The district was comparatively small, because we hear of suffragan bishops of 'Hunavia' and Tzernikos' (Cermenike), which were situated, like Arbana, on the north side of the Via Egnatia (13). The seat of the diocese may have been a town called something like 'Arbanos. We have two mentions of such a town: 'Albanopolis' or in a variant reading 'Albanos polis' in Ptolemy 3.12.20, writing in the second century A.D. and 'Albanos' in the company of the towns Achris (Ochrid), Prilapos (Prilep), and Dyrrachium in G. Acropolites 14, writing in the thirteenth century (14). The latter author mentioned also a district 'Albanon' as "a little beyond Dyrrachium," and as containing "difficult terrain"  and a fort known as 'Kroai' (49), now Kruje, on the western face of Mt Dajti.
The gap between Ptolemy and Acropolites is bridged by the mention of "Ducagini d'Arbania" in a seventh-century document at Ragusa (Dubrovnik). These Ducagini instigated a revolt against Byzantine rule in Bosnia and in particular at Ragusa, but they had to submit after the second unsuccessful intervention at Ragusa, to which they were said to have come "de terra ferma," i.e overland (15). The name 'Ducagini' is evidently derived from the Latin 'dux' and the common Albanian name 'Ghin'; indeed an Albanian chieftain in 1281 was referred to as "dux Ginius Tanuschus"(16). Moreover, the leading family of northern Albania from the thirteenth century to the Turkish invasion in the fifteenth century was called 'Dukagjin' (Lek Dukagjini the codifier was one of them), and their properties lay between Lesh (Lissus) and the bend of the Drin. It is here then that we should put the Arbania' of the seventh century. The conclusion that 'Albanians' lived there continuously from the second century to the thirteenth century becomes, I think, unavoidable (17).
'Albanoi' as a people appeared first in Ptolemy 3.12.20. In his description of the Roman world, the southernmost part of the province Illyricum included Scodra, Lissus and Mt Scardus (Sar Planina); and, adjoining it the northernmost part of 'Macedonia' included the Taulantii (in the region of Tirana) and the Albani, in whose territory Ptolemy recorded one city only, Albanopolis or Albanos polis. Thus the Albani were a tribe in what we now call Central Albania, and they were an Illyrian-speaking tribe, like the more famous Taulantii, in the second century A.D. Men of this tribe appeared next in 1040, alongside some Epirotes (their neighbours on land) and some Italiotes (their neighbours across the sea), in the army of a rebellious general, George Maniakis. Two chieftains of this tribe, Demetrios and Ghin, pursued an independent policy in the early years of the thirteenth century.
In 1204 the Franks of the Fourth Crusade and the Venetians sacked Constantinople and began to divide up the provinces of the Byzantine Empire among themselves. A period of chaos ensued, during which several small principalities were established in the southwest Balkans. The only one which upheld the Greek tradition was that of the Angeli. the rulers of Epirus from 1206 to 1260, and they had to contend with the Albanian principality of Demetrios and Ghin, the Serbian principality of the Nemanja and Uros families, the kingdom of Thessalonica, and the rival Byzantine principality of Nicaea, quite apart from raids delivered from the west on the coast of Epirus. It was in this period that the flow of immigrants from the northwestern area began (see Maps 11-13). It became a flood in the fourteenth century. They went as mercenaries, raiders and migrants. The great majority of them were speakers of Albanian, but others joined the movement. Whatever their language, they were described by the Greek and Latin writers as Albanoi' or Arbanitai' or 'Albanenses', and the reason for this collective term can only be that they entered the Byzantine world through the district which the Byzantines knew as 'Albanon'. Thus the Vlach-speaking Malakasii, who invaded Thessaly in 1334 were described as 'Albanoi' by Cantacuzenus 1.474 no less than the evidently Albanian speaking 'Albanensium gens' which raided Thessaly in 1325 (18) . Initially and for a long time all invaders from the north-western area were simply 'Albanoi'. It was only gradually that distinctions of language were regarded as significant and the concept of an Albanian race in a wider sense developed. The earliest mention of the 'Albanian' language was in 1285: "Audivi unarn vocem clamantem in monte in lingua albanesca" ("I heard a voice shouting on the mountainside in the Albanian tongue"). The shouter was in the mountains of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), far to the north of the Byzantine district of Albanon. It is probable that the great mass of Albanian speaking tribes at the end of the thirteenth century was in what used to be called Montenegro, the most mountainous district of the western Balkans (19). Here the conditions were most favourable for the survival of the Illyrian language throughout the Dark Age which separated the late Roman Empire from the medieval period.
The southward movement of the tribes was on a very large scale. It was also rapid, because towns and cities were bypassed (Dyrrachium, for instance, being captured only c. 1368) . It had two main effects It took possession of Epirus Nova, the area inland of the coastal strip from Dyrrachium to Valona; and it sent streams of migrants into most parts of the Greek peninsula and some of the Aegean islands. To the settled peoples they were a terror. Deus misit hanc pestem," wrote the author of the Gesta Dei per Francos 2.293. They came, like a plague of locusts, in huge numbers ("in tanta quantitate numerosa") and in 1325 they ravaged and destroyed everything in Thessaly outside the fortified centres ("ornnia quae erant extra castra"). When they wanted to leave Thessaly and go elsewhere, many others appeared with their wives and children ("multicum uxoribus et filiis") and their combined forces proceeded to wreck other parts of Thessaly. John Cantacuzenus 1.495 described their raids on the west side of the peninsula in 1335: "The Albanoi who inhabit the area of Balagrita [Berat] and Kanina [inland of Valona], being adaptable to change and by nature revolutionary, ravaged and plundered
and oppressed the towns there with their brigandage and open raids" (see Map 13).
The Byzantine rulers had recourse to two methods of treating these raiders The Emperor Andronicus III gave land to 12,000 Vlach-speaking raiders who submitted to him in Thessaly. The Great Domestic', John Cantacuzenus, carried out a campaign against the Albanian-speaking tribes in 1335. "As the Albanians inhabited great mountain ranges which were difficult of access and had many retreats and hiding-places, they could not easily be injured by the cavalry." For this reason, light armed infantry and archers were recruited in Asia and took part in the campaign (Cantacuzenus 1.495). Even so the Albanians were not destroyed, for they withdrew into the mountains and beat off their attackers from above. However, the Emperor advanced from Thessaly to Dyrrachium and took spoil to the amount of 300,000 cattle, 5,000 horses and 1,200,000 sheep. But the Albanian raids continued and Acarnania was laid waste, in 1341 the Emperor attacked the offending Albanians "around Pogoniane and Libisda" (Lidizda), i.e. in the central part of northern Epirus; (20) and then in 1355 he campaigned from Thessaly as far south as Aetolia and Acarnania and was killed in action (Cantacuzenus 3.319). These campaigns did not stop the flood. Albanians were serving as mercenaries in the Peloponnese c. 1350, and they and their families were given land there to cultivate.
In 1358 the Albanians overran Epirus, Acarnania and Aetolia, and established two principalities under their leaders, John Spatas (shpate in Albanian meaning a sword) and Peter Leosas (lios in Albanian meaning a pockmark), Naupactus fell into their control in 1378. The cities which held out against them, especially loannina and Arta, were ravaged by a series of plagues, and Thomas, the Serbian Despot of loannina, saved himself at first by making marriage alliances with the two Albanian leaders. In the Greek account of the Albanian advance under Peter Leosas we learn that he was accompanied by "Mazarakii and Malakasei of his own race" (Epeirotica 2.220; cf. 222 f.), (21) While Mazaraki is in central Epirus by the river Kalamas, Malakasa is the coastal plain of central Albania farther north and the words of his own race' were used to distinguish the Albanian-speaking Malakasaei from the Vlach-speaking Malakasii. They were accompanied by Bulgars and Vlachs. It is clear that Thomas feared the Albanians above all. Whereas he mutilated the Bulgars and the Vlachs, he allowed most of his Albanian prisoners to be ransomed. Atrocities were committed no doubt by both sides, and Thomas came to be called Albanitoktonos (Albanian-killer; Epeirotica 2.225). In 1380 Thomas brought in the Turks as allies and passed to the offensive, but he did not advance farther than the basin of the upper Kalamas, where he took Vela (by Vrondismeni), Boursina (Vrousina), and Kretzounista (Dhespotikon) (21). The Albanians and in particular the Mazarakii of the Kalamas valley held firm against him. In 1385 he was assassinated by some of his own bodyguards (Epeirotica 2.230).
Other bands of Albanians and Vlachs invaded the Catalan principality of Boeotia and Attica, and a great many Albanians settled there as peasant-farmers in 1368 and later years. Around the end of that century a migrating group of 10,000 Albanians with their families and their animals came from pastures in central Greece to the Isthmus of Corinth and sought entry to the Peloponnese. This was granted by Theodore, who settled them within his own domains, where he used them as tough soldiers and "expert cultivators" (Manuel II, Funeral Speech, p. 40). Albanians and others were invited in 1402 to settle on uncultivated but cultivable lands in Euboea, if they were willing to serve as soldiers in defence of the island and work the soil. The proclamation of the Venetian rulers was extended to "quilibet Albanensis vel alia gens qui non sint no&tri subditi, qui cum equis volent venire et venient ad habitandum (23). By the middle of the fifteenth century the Albanians in the Peloponnese were so numerous that they tried to seize control, led first by one Peter the Lame, and then by a Greek, a member of the Cantacuzenus family, but their attempt failed.
The penetration of the Greek mainland which we have described occurred during the hundred or more years after 1325. The opportunity arose through the decline and disruption of the Byzantine Empire and the wars which followed between the various small principalities of Greeks, Serbs, Catalans, Venetians and others. One of the pressures which set the Albanians and others in motion came from the expanding power of the Serbs which reached its peak under the rule of Stephen Dusan (1331-1355), who subjugated Epirus and Acarnania. A contributory factor seems to have been overpopulation among the Albanians (24) - always a prolific people and underpopulation in mainland Greece as a result of internal collapse and foreign intervention. The strongest single group of invaders was that of the Vlachs which pressed down into Thessaly and opened the way there for the Albanians. But the most numerous by far were the Albanian-speakers, and their main line of invasion and penetration was down the western side of northern and central Greece (25) (see Maps 11-13).
At first the Albanians came mainly from north of the river Shkumbi. Later, in 1308, Albania was a fairly wide, large region irrigated by four rivers, Ersentha (Arzen), Mathia (Mati), Scumpino (Shkumbi), and Epasa (?Apsus, now Semeni) in the anonymous Descriptio Europae Orientalis (ed. Gorka). By 1335 they were in possession also of the area between Berat and the Gulf of Valona, which contains the rich plain of Malakaster. A generation later they held most of northern Epirus and an important group or tribe among them, the Mazarakii, was settled on the western side of the upper Kalarnas. The centre of Greek resistance was loannina, which controlled its own plateau and shielded Zagori against attack by the Albanians (but not against attack by the Vlachs). As the Albanians overran Acarnania and Aetolia but for many decades were unable to capture Arta, it follows that they advanced and probably settled in south-western Epirus and crossed the Gulf of Arta at its outlet at Preveza, an Albanian word meaning a crossing (26). The main stream flowed on and reached Naupactus in 1378.
Once in possession of most of north-western Greece, the Albanians opened the way for other immigrants. Offshoots of Albanians and Vlachs entered Boeotia, Attica and Euboea, having probably come from summer pastures on Mt Parnassus and from southern Aetolia; and other groups of Albanians forced an entry or gained an invitation of entry into the Peloponnese, sometimes crossing over the western part of the Gulf of Corinth and sometimes coming to the Isthmus of Corinth. In many parts of the mainland co-existence of immigrants and Greeks was practised. But not in Epirus, which bore the main brunt. There the Greek pocket of resistance, which preserved the Greek language even when its ruler was Serb or Italian, was the plateau of loannina and its hinterland (primarily Zagori). A typical example of Greek withdrawal into the interior is afforded by the movement of a bishopric from Photice (by Paramythia) to Vela (in the upper Kalamas valley) and finally to Konitsa (in the upper Aous valley) (27). When 'Isaou', the Italian ruler of loannina, passed to the offensive in 1399, he had already won over the Mazarakii (Albanians) and the Malakasaei (perhaps Vlach-speakers) and he recruited Greeks evidently from Zagori, Papingo (above Konitsa), and "Druinoupolis with Argyrokastro and the great Zagoria" (probably the high country northeast of Argyrokastro, of which a part is still called Zagorie) (28) . He went then to Mesopotamo', which I take to have been (like the modern Mesoyefira) below Konitsa at the confluence of the Aous and the Voidhomati; for he aimed to advance in the direction of Dibia, ie. via Korce and Ochrid (Epeirotica 2.237). His aim was to join hands with the Greeks who maintained their independence on the frontier of western Macedonia.
Our Greek sources give us an interesting picture of the invaders. Admittedly the Greeks were prejudiced (for in terms of culture they were certainly superior), and they regarded the invaders as a motley lot of barbarians. The author of Epeirotica 2.237 described one Boncoes as "Serbalbanitobulgaroblachus" with a disdainful impartiality. In fact the Albanians, the Vlachs and the associated Bulgars were pastoral peoples, mainly nomadic and given to war and hunting, and they were all unlike the cultivated citizens ot a Byzantine centre such as Ioannina or Arta.
When John Cantacuzenus plundered Albanian territory as far as Dyrrachium, the spoil consisted of herds among which sheep were the most numerous, being over a million. When 10,000 Albanians came to the Isthmus of Corinth, they brought not only their families but also their flocks of animals. The Albanians in the Peloponnese took their herds in the winter to the coastal plain of Elis, which was open to the sun, near the sea, had good grazing and was deserted by men (i.e. by the Greeks)"; and these herds consisted of "very many herds of horses, very many of cattle, most of sheep and most of pig"(29). Such Albanians as theseand they were evidently the majority - were described by Laonicus Chalcocondylas (406) as follows: "This race are all nomads, and do not make their stay for long in any one place" they were, then, transhumant pastoralists without fixed abodes or villages. But there were many others who wanted to cultivate the land and were given land by the Venetians and the Greeks, because they were such hard-working and expert cultivators. They had evidently been engaged in agriculture in lands south of the Shkumbi river or in the lakeland and had joined the stream of migrants in the hope of obtaining better land. When Manuel Cantacuzenus, Despot of Mistra in the Peloponnese, took over "all Albania," he deported two groups of Albanians and settled them, one near Constantinople and the other in the Peloponnese, the latter "a great number" (30). The Albanians were acceptable to the Greek, Catalan or Venetian overlords, as the case might be, because they were capable of reviving agriculture in derelict areas.
In the eyes of the Greeks/ the Albanians and those associated with them were fine hunters, (31) excellent horsemen and redoubtable warriors. As has been said by Joseph Campbell, "by and large hunting people are warrior people; and not only that, but many are exhilarated by battle and turn warfare into exercises in bravura"(32). These were the ancestors of the Souliote warriors, whom Byron admired so much in the Greek War of Independence. In the fourteenth century they were feared and hated in northern Greece, but they were hired as mercenaries or attracted as settlers by the rulers of the principalities in the Peloponnese and central Greece and Thessaly. The most warlike of the Albanians were those described by the Greeks as living in great mountainous areas, that is those engaged in pastoralism with the transhumance of sheep. They were certainly illiterate, but they were tightly organised in tribal units with a patriarchal system of leadership. When Manuel Cantacuzenus took over Albania, he expelled all the men of account" ("tutti li homini di conto"); and John Ducas reported the killing of all the eminent Albanians when the Greeks attempted to gain control of the Albanian settlers in the Peloponnese (33). The leaders were evidently very capable men, possessing wide powers over their followers, and 'John the Sword', 'Peter the Pockmark' and 'Peter the Lame' led very large armies of Albanian warriors with success. When they were hired as mercenaries, they came not as individuals but as organised bands, sometimes accompanied by their families and animals. The hope of their employers was that the Albanians would "come with their horses" and fulfil their obligations "to maintain their horses, garrison the forts and obey orders (34)". It was these cavalrymen, with their entourage, who were the leaders. The rank and file fought on foot.
With the capture of Ioannina by the Turks in 1430. The role of the Albanians changed very little. The Albanians of Kruje, Mati and Dibra, i.e. of the areas north of the Shkumbi river, fought heroically against the Turks until the death of their leader, Skanderbeg, in 1467 and indeed after it, but unavailingly. The Albanians of the Peloponnese participated in a rising against the Turks in 1459. On the other hand the Turks were soon employing the Albanians as mercenaries and encouraging them to settle in the devastated areas not only of the Greek mainland but also in some of the Aegean islands. So the process of infiltration and expansion continued under Turkish rule. By 1687, for instance, almost all the population of Euboea was Albanian, (35) the Greeks having fled in 1471[this is actually incorrect].
Piracy had led to impoverishment and depopulation in the islands during the late Byzantine period, and Albanians moved in as occasion arose. Thus they were brought to Andros (sic Salamis?) in the Saronic Gulf c. 1600 to cultivate the land; they went from Troezen to Hydra in 1580, and other settlers arrived from Parga, Souli, Valona, Euboea and Cythnos in the seventeenth century. Other groups went to Samos, Psara and Casos, many of the settlers being from western Epirus, Euboea and Thessaly. Yet other groups entered Andros, Ios, Cythnos and Ceos among the Cyclades and Scopelos in the Northern Sporades. They became excellent seamen, winning distinction in the Greek War of Independence and raising Hydra and Spetsae to a leading position in the carrying trade of the Aegean basin. Groups of soldiers were employed far afield: in Cyprus, for instance, in Byzantine times, and for some 250 years in Crete during the Turkish period.
The conditions which attended the collapse of the Byzantine Empire recurred in the late eighteenth century and thereafter, when the Turks were losing control of their Balkan dependencies more and more, until Albania became free in 1912-13. Throughout this period bands of Albanians raiders pillaged and destroyed the villages of the Vlachs and the Greeks in Epirus, northern Pindus, the lakeland of Prespa and Ochrid, and parts of western Macedonia. One Albanian leader, 'Ali the Lion', emulated the achievements of 'John the Sword' and 'Peter the Pockmark' when he established himself as Ali Pasha, independent ruler of Ioannina. He and his Albanian soldiers, recruited mainly from his homeland in the Kurvelesh and the Drin valley of North Epirus, controlled the whole of Epirus and carried their raids far into western Macedonia and Thessaly. As we have seen, they destroyed the Vlach settlements in the lakeland and weakened those farther south. After the assassination of Ali Pasha in 1822 sporadic raids by bands of Albanians were a feature of life in northern Greece until the liberation or 1912-13 (36).
Albanian settlements in Greek lands maintained their own language and their own dialect of that language for many centuries. The great majority spoke the Geg dialect which is characteristic of Albanians north of the river Shkumbi and of the districts Metohija and Kossovo in southern Yugoslavia; but some settlements for instance those near Lake Copais in Boeotia, spoke the Tosk dialect, which is native to the area between the Shkumbi and the Aous in general terms (see Map 14). Some scholars regard Ljap and Tsam as sub-dialects of Tosk, but the tribes themselves seem to have been distinct from the Tosks; and their dialects survived in Greek lands in the northwestern area only, as far as I am aware. Within Albania Ljap is spoken in the south and Tsam in the extreme south. There are good grounds for supposing that the different dialects were spoken already in the fourteenth century, when many Albanians came into Greek lands and in particular those who settled in Boeotia and Attica. The fact that most Albanians in Greek lands have spoken the Geg dialect during the last hundred years is an indication of their geographical origin; that is to say, the first settlers came predominantly from north of the Shkumbi river, i.e. from north of 'Arbana , as indeed the literary sources suggest. When they passed through the country south of the Shkumbi, they carried with them only a small number of the Albanians then resident in Epirus Nova, speakers at that time evidently of Tosk, Ljap and Tsam. It was this last group - speakers of Tosk, Ljap and Tsam - which occupied much of Epirus Vetus (37) when the speakers of Geg had leap-frogged beyond them into central Greece and the Peloponnese.
The Albanian language persisted in Greece with full vigour into the 1930s. When Perachora on the Isthmus of Corinth was being excavated, all the workmen spoke Albanian; and I visited Albanian-speaking villages in Boeotia, Attica, Argolis and Epidaurus in the 1930s. Albanian gave way to Greek when the conditions of life changed through the introduction of universal education, military conscription, organised commerce and more mobility of population. In the islands change came sooner; and there Albanian receded in the nineteenth century. It is likely that Albanian will give way to Greek altogether under the conditions of the present half-century. On the other hand, in southern Yugoslavia there has been no weakening of Albanian speech, because the conditions of life have changed relatively little since 1912-13. Even in these days of self-determination the Albanian-speakers in Greek lands have no sense of being anything other than Greek. Their predecessors played a leading part in the heroic fighting which won freedom from the Turks in 1821, and they themselves are fully absorbed into the Greek way of life. When I stayed with Albanian-speaking villagers of Tsamouria in Greek Epirus in the 1930s, they spoke of themselves as Greeks and had no feeling of being a minority.
Our knowledge of the campaigns, invasions and migrations which we have been describing is derived entirely from written texts, except in some matters concerning the Vlachs and the Albanians, where the source is an oral tradition or a traditional practice.
The texts are on the whole dependable, and the geographical identifications are rarely in doubt, so that a strong web of historical reconstruction can be established for the southwest Balkans. When the threads of oral tradition, on such matters as the origins of a Vlach village or an unwritten law of vendetta several centuries old, are woven into this web, it is clear that they are of a piece and record historical facts.
The part which archaeology plays in this reconstruction is small at present, but its importance is beginning to emerge. For example, in the period when we hear least of the Albanians in literary sources, that is in the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., it so happens that a distinctive culture has been found through excavation to have flourished at Dalmace, Shurdhah (medieval Sarda), Kruje, Lesh, and other places (see Map 16). This culture reached its height in those centuries but continued into the tenth and eleventh centuries, so that its life overlapped the mention of Ducagini d'Arbania' in a seventh-century document and that of 'Albeigne' in the Chanson de Roland (see the discussion in the first section of this chapter). An interesting feature of this culture is that it has been found only to the north of the Shkumbi valley; that is it is concentrated within the cantons of Mirdite and Mati (between Shtish-Tufina near Tirana and Dalmace in the north), and that it has outlying pockets at the north end of Lake Ochrid, at Golaj in Albanian Kosove, and at Mijele at the northern end of Lake Scodra. Thus the ambit of this culture is precisely in the region which we have identified on literary grounds as that of 'Arbana' and 'Albeigne'. The conclusion seems to be clear that the people of this region - known no doubt as Arbanoi and Albanoi - developed in this mountainous terrain, with many peaks of five and six thousand feet, a culture of their own which was distinct from those of the Serbian state in Zeta to the north, the First Bulgarian Empire in the lakeland area, and the Byzantine province of Epirus Nova.
The salient features of this culture have been described by Hena Spahiu and Skenider Animali (66). The discoveries are from burials, the men having been inhumed with weapons of iron (axes, arrowheads and knives) and the women with jewelry (earrings, fibulae, necklaces and bracelets), while pottery, small knives and fibulae were common to both sexes. The axes were descended from the Roman type of axe; similar ones were used in central Europe in medieval times and were adopted, for instance, by the Avars.
The knives and arrowheads are of types found throughout the Balkans. The jewelry has technical peculiarities which are attributed to local craftsmen working with silver, copper and iron of which the two last are still mined today in this region (see Map 16). There are some features which are related to the jewelry of western Yugoslavia and Hungary, e.g. pendants attached to a belt and to clothing. The influence of Byzantine jewelry was strong, and there were imported pieces, some with Greek script, at Kruje, which is the largest site with this culture in the vicinity of Dyrrachium. Some belt-buckles of "the human mask" shape (in which the apertures resemble a human skull) have been found throughout the Byzantine world and even beyond it (67). Thus the Mirdite-Mati culture, if we may so call it, was a fusion of central European elements at a time of many migratory movements and of Byzantine elements which stemmed from a long tradition of settled civilisation.
The most important cemeteries were situated close to the strong citadels of Dalmace, Shurdhah, Lesh and Kruje. and there is no doubt that the men and the women buried there belonged to the ruling family in each case. The other cemeteries, mainly in mountain fastnesses, for instance at Rremull and Dukagjin in eastern Mati, belonged to similar families; indeed one may have been that of the 'Ducagini d'Arbania' mentioned in the seventh century document at Dubrovnik (Ragusa). The number of cemeteries in the cantons of Mirdite and Mati have been reported as twelve, and we may deduce that society was organised in small tribes, exactly as in the 1930s when Mrs Hasluck gave the number of tribes in the area as ten (see Map 16) (68) . Given this type of social organisation and the geographical conditions of the region, it is evident that some of the population was settled in towns such as Lesh and in villages in the mountains, and that others were pastoralists practising a good deal of transhumance (69). The tribal leaders were relatively rich and they employed local craftsmen in the making of jewelry. They were well armed (fighting probably on horseback rather than on foot) and exercised their rule from citadels or mountain fastnesses. There is no indication of artistic originality in this culture, apart perhaps from some technical skill in metallurgy. Pottery seems to have been restricted to large jugs and water-containers (70), and it is evident that other vessels were made of wood, as among the Vlachs today.
The bearers of the Mirdite-Mati culture in what may be called the Dark Age of European history lived on the fringe of the Byzantine Empire, and they were influenced by its civilisation, but only superficially. Their social organisation, their way of life, and no doubt their outlook were entirely alien to those of the settled Byzantine peoples. This same region produced the heroic resistance to the Turks which was led by Skanderbeg and his friend Lek Dukagjini who codified in the fifteenth century the traditional taw of the preceding centuries. This area too is the home of the epic lays (71), recited to the accompaniment of the lahute, which are believed by some scholars to have originated in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D., i.e. with our Mirdite-Mati culture. We may bear this region and its culture in mind during the second part of this book, when we shall be dealing with cultures which are known primarily through archaeology and are connected in some way with the epic lays which preceded the work of Homer
(1) I travelled extensively in Albania from 1930 to 1939 and returned there in September 1972.
(2) Weigand (EvM), p. 52.
(3) These crafts, now becoming less common, are illustrated in Popular Art in Albania (University of Tirana, 1959).
(4) The pattern of dialects today is shown in a map in SA 1966, 2, 50; for dress see Popular Art in Albania and for architecture Monumente te Arkitekture ne Shqiperi (Tirana, 1973)
(5) As observed by W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece (London, 1885) 1, p. 61. The Italians accuse the Greeks of maltreating the Tsams in Greek Epirus before the Italians invaded Greece; the accusation was groundless.
(6) Described by Margaret Hasluck, the widow of F. W. Hasluck, in her fascinating book The Unwritten Law in Albania, p. 225 from which I am quoting. In the 1930s she was living in Albania where I had the pleasure of meeting her.
(7) See Eqrem Cabej, "L'ancien nom national des Albanais," SA 1972, 1, 35; he dated the adoption of the name Shqiptar to a time after the Turkish conquest. An interesting analogy is provided by the Vlachs who now call themselves Arumani, just as the Albani call themselves Shqiptar.
(8) Known by the Greek authors also as "the Greek Illyris.
(9) I disagree here with Kole Luka, "Le nom d'Albeigne-Albanie et l'extension de 1'Arbanon durant les XIe- commencement du XIIe siecles," Diuxieme Conference des etudes Albanologiques (Tirana, 1970), pp. 199 f. He assumed that Albanie meant for the Crusaders the whole of Epirus Nova. In any event his argument overlooks the fact that the Chanson 3995 spoke of "the land of Ebire" (Epirus), meaning precisely Epirus Nova.
(10) "La Chanson de Roland et Byzance," Byzantion 14 (1939) 273 f.
(11) Kole Luka (loc. Sit.) seems to mistranslate the passage when he writes "Komiskortes a la tete de ses Albanais" (p. 201); see also SA 1964, 2, 143 on the views of E. L. Vranouse, Komiskortes ho ex Arbanon (Ioannina, 1962).
(12) D. Farlatus, Illyricum Sacrum 7, pp. 191 f.
(13) Thalloczv, Jirecek and Sufflay, Acta et Diplomata res Albaniae mediae aetatis illustrantia 1 (1913), nos. 59 and 199; G Acropolites 67.
(14) The identification of Albanopolis is uncertain. D. M. Nicol, The Despotate of Epiros (1957), p. 223, assumed it to be Elbasan, but Elbasan is loo far south in relation to Kruje. Most Albanian scholars, following a lead given in Acta et Diplomata etc. no. 48, think it was Kruje; but we have "Kroia" as the ancient name of Kruje, and it is difficult to see why it changed from Kroia to Albanos and back to Kruje. A village called Arbone to the south of Tirana may be closer to the original Albanos. For the wide distribution of various forms of this name in modern Albania see Eqrem Cabej (op. cit./ note 7).
(15) Published by V. Makusev, Pamiatniki Dubrovnika (Petrograd, 1867), pp. 307 and 373.
(16) Sufflay, Servet dhe Shqyptaret, p. 197. For this family see A. Gegaj, L'Albanie et I'nvasion turque (Louvain, 1937), pp.l2f.
(17) I see no merit in the often repeated view of Weigand (EvM), p 15 that the Albanians are the descendants of non-slavised Thracians. As the Slavs came into the western part of the Balkans, a migration from Thrace would have run against the stream; there is no sign of Albanians surviving in Thrace; and the evidence of Ptolemy shows the name existed not in Thrace but in the neighbourhood of Dyrrachium before the Slavs appeared on the scene.
(18) E. Kirsten, in Dgl 1, 2 (1951), p. 720, n. 111 made the same point in connection with the name Malakasa in Attica.
(19) There is much to be learnt about the medieval Albanians from Acta et Diplomata etc.; for example the extension of the name "Albania" to include the district of Prizren in 1198 (no 113 with note on "pulatum"), the evidently numerous and small tribes in 1304 (no. 563), the nobiliores Albani in the social structure (no 482), and the "pastores" and "vicus pastoralis Albanensium" near Scodra in 1335 (no. 798; cf. no 746, "regiones pstorias Vlachorum et Albanorum"). No. 245 is wrongly punctuated; one should read a comma between "Albania" and "Dyrrachium."
(20) For descriptions of these places see Epirus, pp. 268 and 90.
(21) This work, sometimes called The Chronicle of Epirus, is published in the CSHB.
(22) For these places and their strategic importance see Epirus, p. 194 (Vela); p 186 (Vrousina); pp. 197 f. and 695 (Dhespotikon); with maps 7 and 18.
(23) C. N. Sathas, Documents inedits relatifs a l'histoire grecque au Moyen Age 2, p. 79 (no. 298) .
(24) Ducas 23, 8 (CSHB) called them "a race beyond number."
(25) E Kirsten (loc. cit , note 18) is of this opinion, n. 110, "die Geschichte der albanischen Landnahme in Aetolien, Akarnanien, dann bei Korinth . . . zeigt, dass die Bewegung auf der Westseite Griechenlands verlief und Mittel-griechenland von SW her erreichte."
(26) Another indication is provided by the distribution of Slavonic place-names. These were (before the rule of Metaxas) frequent in the canton of loannina, rare in that of Arta, and rarer still in that of Preveza, being displaced predominantly by Albanian place-names such as Toskesi and Ljapokhori. See Epirus. p. 27, n. 2.
(27) See Epirus, p 195.
(28) For these places see Epirus, p. 20, map 1, and p. 31, where I suggested that Zagorie included at one time the valley of the middle Aous from Permet to Konitsa and so linked up with Zagori. This may have been so in 1399.
(29) The document is cited in Sp. Lambros, Palaiologeia kai Peloponesiaka 3, p. 195.
(30) C. N. Sathas (op, cit., note 23) 9, p. 144.
(31) So described in a letter of Luc Notaras in Sp. Lambros, Onomatologia tes Attikes, p. 13.
(32) Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live by (New York, 1972) p. 176.
(33) Sathas (op, cit,, note 23) 9, p. 144; Ducas 45.12 (CSHB).
(34) Sathas (op. cit., note 23) 2, p. 79, qui cum equis volent venire; and Ljubic, Listine 10 no. 467, p 445, ut equitent et stent in castris apud te ad obedentiam tuam.
(35) So B. Randolph, an early traveller, cited by F W. Hasluck in "Albanian Settlements in the Aegean Islands,' BSA 15 (1908-9). I am indebted to this article in what follows.
(36) For such latter-day raids see Praktika 1934, 86.
(37) See Epirus p 20, map 2 for the distribution of Greek-speaking villages in Albania, Albanian-speaking villages in Greece, and Vlach-speaking villages in Pindus on both sides of the modern frontier between Albania and Greece. It shows the situation as it was c. 1930.
(66) The first discovery was made at Dalmace near Koman and was reported by Th. Ippen in WMBH 10 (1907) 20 ff. Many sites have been excavated since the last war. See SA 1964, 1, 149-181 (on Kruje, in French), 1966, 1, 199-211 (a general study of the problems, in French), StH 1969, 1, 179-88 (on contacts with the Avars, in Albanian with a summary in French); 1969, 2, 155-69 (a general article, in Albanian with a summary in French). The controversial issues have been whether this culture was Slavic, Avaric, Hungarian, Albanian, Illyrian, and so on, and the Albanian archaeologists claim that this culture (and indeed all cultures in modern Albania) was indigenous and created by Illyrio-Albanians.
(67) See SA 1964, 1, 165 f., plates I-IX and the descriptions in the text. Only one sword was found; this was at Kruje and is of the type carried by the Gauls. Another of the same kind is known from Elbasan in the Shkumbi valley. There are no Avaric pieces in Mirdite-Mati, but gold belt-fittings and a gold and silver vessel have been found at Vrap near Pekinj in the Shkumbi valley (SA 1966, 1, 209). These finds were on the route of the Via Egnatia, leading to Dyrrachium, and it was this route which was used by
Gauls, Goths, Avars and others.
(68) See the map of sites in StH 19b9, 2, 161 and that of Mrs Hasluck in The Unwritten Law in Albania, end-pages.
(69) Apart from Lesh the cemeteries and the citadels were not accompanied by the remains of built sites, and it is probable that huts were made of perishable materials, such as timber, thatch and clay. The sites outside Mirdite-Mati suit this interpretation; for the swampy ground by the Lakes of Scodra and Ochrid provided pastures for sheep, the former in the winter and the latter in transit to the
coastal plain of Macedonia, and the site at Golaj marks an extension of summer pastures.
(70) SA 1964, 1, 151 and pl. IV; they were locally made and of shapes common elsewhere in the Balkans.
(71) See Qernal Haxhihasani, "Les recherches sur le cycle des Kreshnik (Preux)" SA 1964, 215-221; he reports the recording of some 400 epic songs since the last war. From medieval times onwards these epic songs have been handed down and developed in a pastoral society. To quote QemaJ Haxhihasani, p. 219; "Tout comme les materiaux anterieurs, meme les nouveaux materiaux contiennent, dans une large mesure des elements de la vie pastorale. Depuis l'origine des protagonistes jusqu'a leurs gestes et aventures, on ressent partout le souffle d'un milieu pastoral, d'une vie refletant avec des notes tres naturelles, les traits de nos tribus septentrionales, porteurs de ces chants. Le milieu agricole est quasiment absent dans les chants de ce cycle. Et cela n'est pas sans avoir son importance, car il marque un terminus ad quem pour la vie meme du cycle".
map13migrations090af3.jpg [ 140.05 KB | Shikuar 1536 herë ]
map12migrations089pj0.jpg [ 134.74 KB | Shikuar 1536 herë ]
map11migrations091ia5.jpg [ 135.43 KB | Shikuar 1536 herë ]
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition
Shakespeare Henri V