Vilâyet-i İşkodra
Vilajeti i Shkodrës
Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire
Flag of Scutari Vilayet
Scutari Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (1900).png
The Scutari Vilayet in 1900
CapitalScutari (present-day Shkodër)
• 1911[1]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sanjak of Scutari
Provisional Government of Albania
Kingdom of Montenegro
Today part of Montenegro

The Vilayet of Scutari, Shkodër or Shkodra (Turkish: İşkodra Vilayeti or Vilayet-i İşkodra; Albanian: Vilajeti i Shkodrës) was a first-level administrative division (vilayet) of the Ottoman Empire that existed from 1867 to 1913, located in parts of what today is Montenegro and Albania. In the late 19th century it reportedly had an area of 5,310 square miles (13,800 km2).[2]


The Scutari Vilayet was established in 1867.[3] The Sanjak of Scutari was established when Ottoman Empire acquired Shkodra after the Siege of Shkodra in 1478–9. A big part of Principality of Zeta was added to territory of Sanjak of Scutari in 1499.[4] In 1514 this territory was separated from the Sanjak of Scutari and established as separate Sanjak of Montenegro, under the rule of Skenderbeg Crnojević. When he died in 1528, the Sanjak of Montenegro was merged with Sanjak of Scutari, as unique administrative unit with certain degree of autonomy.[5]

In 1867, the Sanjak of Scutari merged with the Sanjak of Skopje and became the Scutari Vilayet. Its sanjaks were Sanjak of Scutari, Prizren, and Sanjak of Dibra. In 1877, Prizren passed to the Kosovo Vilayet and Debar passed to the Monastir Vilayet, while Durrës (Dıraç) township became Durrës Sanjak. After the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) Bar, Podgorica, İşpozi and Zabyak townships were ceded to Montenegro in 1878. Also Ülgün one was ceded to Montenegro in 1881.[6]

In the late Ottoman period, unlike in other areas of the empire, Albanian Catholics in İşkodra vilayet had access to emerging Albanian language schooling subsidized by Austria-Hungary.[7] Local Catholic clergy were also involved in developing mostly religious Albanian literature, aimed at preserving and strengthening the Roman Catholic faith in the region.[7] Due partly to the location of being near the border with Montenegro the state exempted the townspeople of İşkodra from regular military service and unlike other urban dwellers within the empire they paid fewer taxes.[7]

Ottoman control mainly existed in the few urban centres and valleys of the vilayet and was minimal and almost non-existent in the mountains, where Malisors (Albanian highlanders) lived an autonomous existence according to kanun (tribal law) of Lek Dukagjini.[8] Disputes would be solved through tribal law within the framework of vendetta or gjakmarrja (blood feuding) and the activity was widespread among the Malisors, while Ottoman officials strongly disproved of the practice.[7] Nineteen percent of male deaths in İşkodra vilayet were caused by murders due to vendetta and blood feuding during the late Ottoman period.[7] Malisors viewed Ottoman officials as a threat to their tribal way of living and left it to their bajraktars (chieftains) to deal with the Ottoman political system.[8]

The Malisors (highlanders) lived in three geographical regions within İşkodra sanjak.[9] Malesia e Madhe (great highlands) with its religiously mixed Catholic-Muslim five large (Hoti, Kelmendi, Shkreli, Kastrati and Gruda) and seven small tribes; Malesia e Vogel (small highlands) with seven Catholic tribes such as the Shala, Shoshi, Toplana, Nikaj; and Mirdita, which was also a large powerful tribe that could mobilise 5,000 irregular troops.[9] The government estimated the military strength of Malisors in İşkodra sanjak as numbering over 30,000 tribesmen and Ottoman officials were of the view that the highlanders could defeat Montenegro on their own with limited state assistance.[10]

Dıraç sanjak contained the fertile plain of Zadrima between Mirdita and the Drin river.[11] Political life in the sanjak was dominated by a few powerful Albanian landowners such as the Toptani family who controlled the area around Kruja and Tirana as a personal fiefdom with family holdings amounting to some 123,000 acres.[11] To protect economic interests landowning beys in the area maintained small private armies numbering between 200-500 men that also served as bodyguards during travel.[11] In the 1880s from an Albanian point of view the sanjaks of İşkodra and Dıraç along with the whole of İşkodra vilayet belonged to the region of Gegënia.[12]

In 1912 and beginning of 1913 it was occupied by members of Balkan League during the First Balkan War. In 1914 the territory of Scutari Vilayet became a part of Principality of Albania, established on the basis of peace contract signed during London Conference in 1913.[13]

Administrative divisions

Sanjaks of the Vilayet:[14]

  1. Sanjak of Scutari (Shkodër, Lezhë, Orosh, Pukë)
  2. Sanjak of Diraç (Durrës, Tirana, Krujë, Kavajë)


During the 1880s, the population of İşkodra vilayet ranged between 200,000-300,000 people, split between the two sanjaks of İşkodra (Catholic majority) and Dıraç (Muslim majority).[7] Albanians were the main ethnicity in the vilayet consisting more than 90 percent of the population.[7]

Ottoman-Albanian intellectual Sami Frashëri during the 1880s estimated the population of Shkodër as numbering 37,000 inhabitants that consisted of three-quarters being Muslims and the rest Christians made up of mostly Catholics and a few hundred Orthodox.[15]

1874 estimation

According to Russian consulate Ivan Yastrebov's estimations, there were 80.000 Catholic males, 20.000 Orthodox males, and 9.500 Muslim males in the Sanjak of Scutari. The majority of the population spoke the Albanian language. He asserted that the Orthodox, and a number of Muslims, spoke the Serbian language.[16]

1912 estimation

A publication from 21 December 1912 in the Belgian magazine Ons Volk Ontwaakt (Our Nation Awakes) estimated 185,200 inhabitants:[17]

See also


  1. ^ Teaching Modern Southeast European History Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Alternative Educational Materials, p. 26
  2. ^ Europe by Éliseé Reclus, p. 152
  3. ^ Bayly Winder, Richard (1969). Near Eastern round table, 1967-68. New York: Near East Center and the Center for International Studies, New York University. p. 110. Retrieved 29 September 2011. In June 1867, thirteen new vilayets were formed: Bursa, Dardanelles, ... Ankara, Diyarbekir (Kurdistan), Sivas , Kastamonu, Thessaloniki (Salanik), Konya, and Yanina (Epirus and Thessaly), Prizren, and Ishkodra (Scutari of Albania).
  4. ^ Ćorović, Vladimir (1933). Istorija Jugoslavije (in Serbian). Beograd: Narodno Delo. Retrieved 27 April 2011. Год. 1499. припојена је била Црна Гора скадарском санџакату. Али, год. 1514. одвојио је султан поново и поставио јој за управника, као санџак-бега, потурченог Станишу, односно Скендер-бега Црнојевића.
  5. ^ Ćorović, Vladimir (1933). Istorija Jugoslavije (in Serbian). Beograd: Narodno Delo. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 1528... Црна Гора је потом поново припојена скадарском санџакату и остала је са извесним ... правима његов саставни део...
  6. ^ Gençoğlu, Mustafa (16 October 2017). "İŞKODRA VİLAYETİ'NİN İDARİ TAKSİMATI VE YAPISI (1867/1868-1908)". Celal Bayar Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi. 13 (3) – via
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Gawrych 2006, p. 29.
  8. ^ a b Gawrych 2006, p. 30.
  9. ^ a b Gawrych 2006, pp. 31–32.
  10. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 33.
  11. ^ a b c Gawrych 2006, pp. 33–34.
  12. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 28.
  13. ^ Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. pp. 77, 78. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9.
  14. ^ "İşkodra Vilayeti - Tarih ve Medeniyet". 8 October 2009.
  15. ^ Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. London: IB Tauris. pp. 29, 217. ISBN 9781845112875.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  16. ^ Folić, Milutin (1991), "Izveštaji ruskog konzula Ivana Stepanoviča Jastrebova iz Skadra o slovenskom življu i njihovim crkvama u Albaniji u drugoj polovini XIX veka", Stanovništvo slovenskog porijekla u Albaniji : zbornik radova sa međunarodnog naučnog skupa održanog u Cetinju 21, 22. i 23. juna 1990 (in Serbian), Titograd: Istorijski institut SR Crne Gore ; Stručna knj., OCLC 29549273CS1 maint: ref=harv (link); Гласник Српског ученог друштва, књ. XL. стр. 182-183
  17. ^ Published on 21 December 1912 in the Belgian magazine Ons Volk Ontwaakt (Our Nation Awakes) - view the table of Vilajet Skutari: Skynet GodsdBalkan

External links

"Scutari" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (11th ed.). 1911. pp. 518–519.

  • Media related to Scutari Vilayet at Wikimedia Commons