Principality of Arbanon

Summary

Principality of Arbanon

Principata e Arbërit
1190–1215/16[1][2][3] (annexed ca. 1256/57)[4]
Gëziq eagle emblem.svg
Recreation of the emblem of the Principality of Arbanon based on the heraldic image which was discovered in Gëziq, Mirditë)[5]
Arbanon/Arbëria, ca. 1208
Arbanon/Arbëria, ca. 1208
StatusPrincipality[6][7]
CapitalKrujë
Common languagesAlbanian
Religion
Eastern Orthodoxy
Roman Catholicism[8]
GovernmentPrincipality
Prince 
• 1190–98
Progon (first)
• 1198–1208
Gjin
• 1208–16
Demetrius
• 1216–?
Gregory Kamonas
• fl. 1252–56
Golem (last)
Historical eraMedieval
• Established
1190
• Disestablished
1215/16[1][2][3] (annexed ca. 1256/57)[4]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byzantine Empire
Kingdom of Albania (medieval)
Today part ofAlbania

Arbanon (Albanian: Arbër or Arbëria, Greek: Ἄρβανον, Árvanon; Latin: Arbanum), or Albanon, was a principality ruled by the native Progoni family,[9] and the first Albanian state to emerge in recorded history.[2]

The principality of Arbanon was established in 1190 by the native archon Progon in the region surrounding Kruja, to the east and northeast of Venetian territories.[10] Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin and then Demetrius (Dhimitër), who managed to retain a considerable degree of autonomy from the Byzantine Empire.[9] In 1204, Arbanon attained full, though temporary, political independence, taking advantage of the weakening of Constantinople following its pillage during the Fourth Crusade.[11] However, Arbanon lost its large autonomy ca. 1216, when the ruler of Epirus, Michael I Komnenos Doukas, started an invasion northward into Albania and Macedonia, taking Kruja and ending the independence of the principality.[12] The same year, after the death of Demetrius, the last ruler of the Progon family, Arbanon was successively controlled by the Despotate of Epirus, then by the Bulgarian Empire and, from 1235, by the Empire of Nicaea.[13]

During this period, the area was ruled by the Greco-Albanian lord Gregorios Kamonas, the new spouse of Demetrius' former Serbian wife Komnena Nemanjić, and by Golem (Gulam), a local magnate who had married Kamonas' and Komnena's daughter.[3][14] Arbanon was eventually annexed in the winter of 1256–57 by the Byzantine statesman George Akropolites. Golem subsequently disappeared from historical records.[15] The main primary source for late Arbanon and its history is the work of 13th century Byzantine historian George Akropolites.

Name

The principality was known as Árvanon (Ἄρβανον) in Greek, as Arbanum in Latin, and as Raban in the early 13th-century Serbian document Life of Stefan Nemanja.[16][17]

Status

Many scholars note that the Principality of Arbanon was the first Albanian state to emerge during the Middle Ages.[18][19][2] Arbanon is generally considered to have retained large autonomy until Demetrius death in 1216, when the principality fell under the vassalage of Epirus or the Laskarids of Nicaea.[10][20]

Between 1190 and 1204, Arbanon was a principality of the Byzantine Empire and possessed a considerable degree of autonomy, although the titles 'archon' (held by Progon) and 'panhypersebastos' (held by Dhimitër) are evident signs of Byzantine dependence.[9] In the context of a weakening of Byzantine power in the region following the sack of Constantinople in 1204, Arbanon attained full autonomy for 12 years until the death of Demetrios in 1215 or 1216.[10][20]

The Gëziq inscription mentions the Progon family as judices, and notes their dependence on Vladin and Đorđe Nemanjić (r. 1208–1216), the princes of Zeta.[17] In its last phase, Arbanon was mainly connected to the Despotate of Epiros and also maintained allied relation with the Kingdom of Serbia.[21][22] In 1252, Golem submitted to the Empire of Nicaea.[20]

Geography

In the 11th century AD, the name Arbanon (also Albanon) was applied to a region in the mountainous area to the west of Ohrid Lake and the upper valley of the river Shkumbin.[23] In 1198, a part of the area north of the Drin was briefly controlled by Stefan Nemanjić who recounts that in that year he captured Pult from Arbanon (ot Rabna). In 1208, in the correspondence with Pope Innocent III, the territory that Demetrius Progoni claimed as princeps Arbanorum was the area between Shkodra, Prizren, Ohrid and Durrës (regionis montosae inter Scodram, Dyrrachium, Achridam et Prizrenam sitae).[24] In general, Progoni brought the principality to its climax.[25] The area the principality controlled at this time, ranged from the Shkumbin river valley to the Drin river valley in the north and from the Adriatic sea to the Black Drin in the east.[26] George Akropolites, who wrote in detail about the area in the its last phase positioned its then territory between Durrës and Lake Ohrid in a west to east axis and between the Shkumbin river valley and Mat river valley in a south to north axis.[27] The fortress of Krujë was the military and administrative center of the region throughout its existence.[8]

History

Background and early history

There are scarce sources about Arbanon, with the exception of the chronicles of Byzantine historian George Akropolites, whose work is the most detailed primary source for Arbanon and this period of Albanian history in general. In 1166, we know that prior Arbanensis Andrea and episcopis Arbanensis Lazarus participated in a ceremony held in Kotor,[28][29] then under the Serbian Grand Principality. A year later in 1167, Pope Alexander III, in a letter directed to Lazarus, congratulates him for returning his bishopric to Catholic faith and invites him to acknowledge the archbishop of Ragusa as his superior. After some resistance from local officials, the bishopric of Arbanon was put under the direct dependence of the Pope, as documented in a Papal letter dated in 1188.[8]

Little is known about archon Progon who was, between 1190 and 1198,[30] the first ruler of Kruja and its surroundings.[31] The Kruja fortress stayed in the possession of the Progon family, and Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin and later Demetrius (Dhimitër).[8]

Reign of Demetrius Progoni

Demetrius was the third and last lord of the Progon family, ruling between 1208 (or 1207) and 1216 (or 1215).[23][32][33] He succeeded his brother Gjin and brought the principality to its climax.[34] Since the beginning of his rule, Dhimitër Progoni sought out to create friendly networks in foreign policy in order to preserve the sovereignty of Arbanon against external threats, the most important of whom were for much of his reign the Republic of Venice and later the Despotate of Epiros.[35] In 1208-09, he considered conversion to Catholicism from Eastern Orthodoxy for the first time in order to obtain support against his Venetian rivals. As Venice had been given the nominal rights to control Albania, conversion to Catholicism would nullify Venetian claims over territory controlled by another Catholic state, the Principality of Arbanon. It would also protect him from expansion by post-Byzantine successor states like the Despotate of Epiros. In his preserved correspondence with Pope Innocent III, Progoni as leader of the iudices of Arbanon, who signed as his followers, asked the Pope to send missionaries to spread Catholicism in his land. The Pope responded that Nicolaus, the Catholic archdeacon of Durrës had been instructed to make preparations for the mission. Shortly after, however, Demetrio stopped the process because he didn't consider it important any longer. He had defeated Đorđe Nemanjić, a Venetian vassal whom he bordered to the north and thus felt less threatened by Venice.[35]

The region of Arbanon, 1216, after the occupation of Kruje by the Despotate of Epirus[36]

Nemanjić had previously promised military support to Venice if Progoni attacked Venetian territory, in a treaty signed on 3 July 1208.[3] In 1208, he also had secured a marriage with Komnena Nemanjić, who was both the daughter of Stefan Nemanjić, rival of Đorđe Nemanjić and grand-daughter of the last Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos. In this context, because of the relation of his consort to the Byzantine imperial family, Demetrius was recognized by the title of panhypersebastos. After the death of the Catholic archbishop of Durrës, the Venetians and Progoni - each in their respective territories - seized church property. For his actions against church property, he was excommunicated.[35] He used the title princeps Arbanorum ("prince of the Albanians") to refer to himself and was recognized as such by foreign dignitaries. In the correspondence with Innocent III, the territory he claimed as princeps Arbanorum was the area between Shkodra, Prizren, Ohrid and Durrës (regionis montosae inter Scodram, Dyrrachium, Achridam et Prizrenam sitae).[24] In general, Progoni brought the principality to its climax.[25] The area the principality controlled, ranged from the Shkumbin river valley to the Drin river valley in the north and from the Adriatic sea to the Black Drin in the east.[26] In Latin documents, Demetrius was is also referred to as iudex. In Byzantine records, he is titled as megas archon and after the consolidation of his rule as panhypersebastos.[35]

In 2019, in search for allies, he also signed a treaty with the Republic of Ragusa which allowed for free passage of Ragusan merchants in Albanian territory.[37] The following year, an agreement was concluded between the Republic of Venice and Michael I Komnenos Doukas of the Despotate of Epiros under which Doukas would become a vassal of Venice, if the republic recognized his claims up to the Shkumbin river valley, a core area of Arbanon. In 1212, Venice also allowed for the possession of the coastal duchy of Durrës to pass to Michael and abandoned its direct control of central Albania.[3] The agreement had dire consequences for the principality, which surrounded by hostile forces, seems to have been reduced by the end of the life of Dhimitër Progoni to the area north of Shkumbin and south of Drin. Evidence for this period has been provided by the foundational inscription of the Catholic church of Gëziq in the Ndërfandë near modern Rreshen in Mirdita. The inscription is written in Latin and has been produced after Progoni's death.[38] The inscription shows that Progoni, who had been reaccepted in the Catholic Church, had provided funds for the building of the church, which he might have planned to become the seat of the Diocese of Arbanum or a new diocese in the centre of his remaining domain. This is indicated by the fact that the new church was built on the site of an older church dedicated to St. Mary (Shën Mëri) but Progoni dedicated the new church to Shën Premte, the patron saint of Arbanum.[39] He had maintained the semi-independence of this area under an agreement in which he accepted the high suzerainty of Zeta and the rulers of Zeta didn't get involved in internal affairs of the region in return.[40] In the inscription which also serves as the last will of Progoni, the church is dedicated to his people (nationi obtulit) and his successor is designated, Progon - son of Gjin Progoni - as protosebastos.[38]

Reign of Gregory Kamonas and Gulem

After the death of Demetrius in 1215 or 1216,[41][42] the power was left to his wife Komnena.[43] She was soon married off to Gregory Kamonas, who himself had earlier been married to Gjin’s daughter and needed the wedding to happen to legitimize the succession of power. After he took control of Kruja, he strengthened relations with the Grand Principality of Serbia, which had weakened after a Slavic assault on Scutari.[3]

Demetrius had no son to succeed him. Komnena had a daughter with Kamonas, who married a local magnate named Golem (Gulam).[44] The latter continued to rule as a semi-independent ruler in Arbanon under Theodore Komnenos Doukas of the Despotate of Epiros (until 1230) and then Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria until his death in 1241.[45] He then oscillated between Doukas and the Nicaeans until he was finally annexed by the Nicaeans in the phase of reconstitution of the Byzantine Empire in 1252–1256.[46] During the conflicts between Michael II Komnenos Doukas of Epirus and the Emperor of Nicaea John III Doukas Vatatzes, Golem and Theodore Petraliphas, who were initially Michael's allies, eventually defected to John III in 1252.[47][20][48] However, the initial Nicaean conquest proved short-lived, for the events prompted the Rebellion of Arbanon in 1257.[49] Golem is last mentioned in the historical records among other 'notables' of Arbanon, in a meeting with George Akropolites in Durrës that occurred in the winter of 1256–1257. Akropolites subsequently annexed the statelet and installed a Byzantine civil, military and fiscal administration.[50]

Possessions

Arbanon extended over the modern districts of central Albania, with the capital at Kruja.[51][52][17]

It was a small territory in the 11th and 12th centuries, stretching from rivers Devoll to Shkumbin.[53] Arbanon did not have direct access to the sea.[17][contradictory] Robert Elsie notes that the coastal cities of modern Albania did not have noticeable Albanian communities throughout the Middle Ages,[54] whereas the coasts of Epiros further south, despite their control by Serbs and Greeks, were primarily inhabited by Albanians according to Alain Ducellier.[17]

The Kruja fortress, founded by the Byzantines, was the seat of Progon. Progon gained possession of the surroundings of the fortress which became hereditary. With the marriage of Komnena with Kamonas, Elbasan becomes the second important possession.[citation needed]

Economy

Arbanon was a beneficiary of the Via Egnatia trade road, which brought wealth and benefits from the more economically developed Byzantine civilization.[20]

Rulers

See also

References

  1. ^ Winnifrith 1992, p. 54: "From about 1190 to 1216 there was the principality of Arbanon, which initially included most of the mountainous zones of Albania. After 1216 Arbanon was controlled successively by the Despotate of Epirus, by the Bulgarians, and from 1235 by the Byzantines in Nicaea."
  2. ^ a b c Elsie 2010, p. iv: "To the east and northeast of Venetian territory in Albania arose the first Albanian state recorded in historical documents under Prince Progon, Arbanon, which lasted from 1190 to 1216."
  3. ^ a b c d e Ducellier 1999, p. 786
  4. ^ Macrides 2007, p. 305
  5. ^ Koçi, Bushi & Llukani 2018, pp. 52–53.
  6. ^ Clements 1992, p. 31: "By 1190, Byzantium's power had so receded that the archon Progon succeeded in establishing the first Albanian state of the Middle Ages, a principality".
  7. ^ The history of Albania: a brief survey Author Kristo Frashëri Publisher s.n., 1964 p.42"The territories of this principality extended over the present- day districts of central Albania. Its capital was at Kruja. The first ruler of the Principality of Arberia was Archon Progon (1190-1198) about whose life and doings we know.."
  8. ^ a b c d Anamali & Prifti 2002, p. 215.
  9. ^ a b c Ducellier 1999, p. 780: "As for Albania, its separate identity was real enough, even though it had not truly broken with Constantinople; all the same, the rulers of Arbanon around ἄρχον, Progon and his sons Dhimitër and Gjin, based at Kruja, retained a considerable degree of autonomy, even though Progon bore no title grander than ἄρχων (archon); and the title of πανὑπερσεβαστός (panhypersebastos), borne by Dhimitër at the start of the thirteenth century, can only be seen as a sign of his dependence on the Byzantines."
  10. ^ a b c Elsie 2010, pp. iv, xxviii.
  11. ^ Elsie 2010, p. xxviii.
  12. ^ Varzos 1984, pp. 555–556.
  13. ^ Fine 1994, p. 68.
  14. ^ Angelidi, Christine (2016). ΕΥΨΥΧΙΑ. Mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler (in French). Publications de la Sorbonne. ISBN 978-2-85944-830-1.
  15. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 791: "In the winter of 1256–1257, George Akropolites, exercising authority over the newly acquired provinces, felt free to travel around the region, after bringing together at Durazzo the ‘notables’ of Arbanon, among them, no doubt, Prince Gulam (of whom subsequently no more would be heard); he thus annexed without a murmur the statelet in which he was able to install a civil, military and fiscal administration which was thoroughly Byzantine."
  16. ^ Melčić, Dunja (2007). Der Jugoslawien-Krieg: Handbuch zu Vorgeschichte, Verlauf und Konsequenzen (in German). Springer-Verlag. p. 25. ISBN 978-3-531-33219-2.
  17. ^ a b c d e Ducellier 1999, p. 780.
  18. ^ Clements 1992, p. 31: "By 1190, Byzantium's power had so receded that the archon Progon succeeded in establishing the first Albanian state of the Middle Ages, a principality."
  19. ^ Pickard-Çeliku 2008, p. 16
  20. ^ a b c d e Ellis & Klusáková 2007, p. 134.
  21. ^ Nicol 1986, p. 161.
  22. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 786: "However, owing to the proximity of a Serbia in full expansion and of the Epirote princes, little Arbanon, shut away in the hinterland, with its main political center in Kruja, opted for a continuing attachment to the Orthodox tradition and for subjection to Epiros, as well as alliance to Serbia."
  23. ^ a b Nicol 1986, p. 160.
  24. ^ a b Haluščynskyj 1954, p. 338
  25. ^ a b Anamali & Prifti 2002, p. 198
  26. ^ a b Frashëri 2008, p. 73.
  27. ^ Macrides 2007, p. 223.
  28. ^ Thalóczy-Jireček-Sufflay 1913, p. 31
  29. ^ Anamali & Prifti 2002, p. 197.
  30. ^ Frashëri 1964, p. 42 "The territories of this principality extended over the present- day districts of central Albania. Its capital was at Kruja. The first ruler of the Principality of Arberia was Archon Progon (1190-1198) about whose life and doings we know."
  31. ^ Fine 1994, p. 51.
  32. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 786: "...when Dhimitër died, probably in 1215..."
  33. ^ Elsie 2010, p. 371: "Progon’s son, Demetrios (r. 1208–1216), married the daughter of the King of Serbia and maintained relations with Dubrovnik and the pope."
  34. ^ Anamali & Prifti 2002, p. 198.
  35. ^ a b c d Lala 2008, p. 17
  36. ^ Osswald, Brendan (2017). "Ioannina et son arriere-pays (XIII-XV S.) un exemple des relations entre ville et campagne dans le monde byzantin tardif". La Ville et le Plat Pays (in French). Presses universitaires de Perpignan. ISBN 978-2-35412-288-1.
  37. ^ Lala 2008, p. 16
  38. ^ a b Zamputi 1984, p. 210.
  39. ^ Zamputi 1984, p. 216
  40. ^ Zamputi 1984, p. 213.
  41. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 786: "...when Dhimitër died, probably in 1215..."
  42. ^ Elsie 2010, p. 371: "Progon’s son, Demetrios (r. 1208–1216), married the daughter of the King of Serbia and maintained relations with Dubrovnik and the pope."
  43. ^ Nicol 1957, p. 48.
  44. ^ Nicol 1986, p. 14.
  45. ^ Macrides 2007, p. 280.
  46. ^ Osswald 2007, p. 134
  47. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 791.
  48. ^ George Akropolites: the history, page 73: " Goulamos defected to the Emperor"
  49. ^ Macrides 2007, pp. 323-24.
  50. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 791: "In the winter of 1256–1257, George Akropolites, exercising authority over the newly acquired provinces, felt free to travel around the region, after bringing together at Durazzo the ‘notables’ of Arbanon, among them, no doubt, Prince Gulam (of whom subsequently no more would be heard); he thus annexed without a murmur the statelet in which he was able to install a civil, military and fiscal administration which was thoroughly Byzantine."
  51. ^ Frashëri 1964, p. 43.
  52. ^ Winnifrith 1992, p. 54
  53. ^ Ellis & Klusáková 2007, p. 133.
  54. ^ Elsie 2010, p. iv.

Sources

  • Anamali, Skënder; Prifti, Kristaq (2002). Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime (in Albanian). Botimet Toena. ISBN 978-99927-1-622-9.
  • Clements, John (1992). Clements' Encyclopedia of World Governments. 10. Dallas, TX: Political Research, Incorporated.
  • Ducellier, Alain (1981). La façade maritime de l'Albanie au Moyen âge. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
  • Ducellier, Alain (1999). "Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria". In Abulafia, David (ed.). The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume 5, c.1198–c.1300. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 779–795. ISBN 9781139055734.
  • Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (2007). Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities. Edizioni Plus. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7.
  • Elsie, Robert (2003). Early Albania : a reader of historical texts, 11th-17th centuries. ISBN 978-3-44704783-8. OCLC 52911172.
  • Elsie, Robert (2010). Historical Dictionary of Albania. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7380-3.
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994) [1987]. The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08260-4.
  • Frashëri, Kristo (1964). The history of Albania: a brief survey. Tirana. OCLC 230172517.
  • Frashëri, Kristo (2008). Historia e qytetërimit shqiptar: nga kohet e lashta deri ne fund të Luftës së Dytë Botërore. Academy of Sciences of Albania. ISBN 978-9995610135.
  • Haluščynskyj, Theodosius (1954). Acta Innocentii PP. 3: 1198-1216. Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis.
  • Koçi, Dorian; Bushi, Skënder; Llukani, Andrea (2018). "Thesare nga pavijoni i mesjetës dhe këndi i pashallëqeve të mëdha shqiptare" [Treasuries from the medieval pavilion and the great Albanian pashaliks' corner]. In Shehu, Hajri (ed.). Thesare të Muzeut Historik Kombëtar [Treasuries of National Historical Museum] (in English and Albanian). Translated by Elda Bylyku. Tiranë: Muzeu Historik Kombëtar [National Historical Museum]. pp. 42–80.
  • Lala, Etleva (2008), Regnum Albaniae, the Papal Curia, and the Western Visions of a Borderline Nobility (PDF), Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies, p. 1
  • Macrides, Ruth (2007). George Akropolites: The History: Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199210671.
  • Nicol, Donald McGillivray (1957). The Despotate of Epiros. Oxford: Blackwell & Mott, Limited.
  • Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1986). Studies in Late Byzantine History and Prosopography. London: Variorum Reprints. ISBN 978-0-86078-190-5.
  • Varzos, Konstantinos (1984). Η Γενεαλογία των Κομνηνών [The Genealogy of the Komnenoi]. Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Thessaloniki.
  • Winnifrith, Tom (1992). Perspectives On Albania. Springer. ISBN 978-1-349-22050-2.
  • Zamputi, Injac (1984). "Rindërtimi i mbishkrimit të Arbërit dhe mundësitë e reja për leximin e tij / La reconstruction de l'inscription de l'Arbër et les nouvelles possibilités qui s'offrent pour sa lecture". Ilira. 14 (2).

Further reading

  • Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy (1980). The Genealogist. 1–2. Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy.
  • Demiraj, Shaban (2006). The origin of the Albanians: linguistically investigated. Tirana: Academy of Sciences of Albania. ISBN 978-99943-817-1-5.
  • Nixon, N. (March 2010). Always already European: The figure of Skënderbeg in contemporary Albanian nationalism. National Identities. 12. Routledge. pp. 1–20. doi:10.1080/14608940903542540. S2CID 144772370.
  • Norris, H. T. (1993). Islam in the Balkans: religion and society between Europe and the Arab world. University of South Carolina Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-87249-977-5. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  • Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie; Fischer, Bernd Jürgen, eds. (2002). Albanian identities: myth and history. USA: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34189-1.
  • Solovjev, A. V. (1934). "Eine Urkunde des Panhypersebastos Démétrios, megas archon von Albanien". B.Z. (in German) (XXXIV). pp. 304–310.