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Soldier of Macedon 09-04-2009 09:05 PM

Origins of George Kastriot - Skenderbeg
Given the recent discussions about him, I guess we can dedicate a thread to his origins and see what we come up with.

I have read that his family origins are from Kostur (Kastoria in today's Greek-occupied Macedonia), hence the recorded name in Latin sources as Kastriot. Can anybody confirm this?

The wikipedia article, which I take it is written by Albanians, cites the following:
[QUOTE]Born in Dibër, Albania, Skanderbeg was a descendant of the Kastrioti family.

According to Gibbon,[3] Skanderbeg's father, was Gjon Kastrioti, lord of Middle Albania, that included Mat, Krujë, Mirditë and Dibër. His mother was Vojsava[4] a princess from the Tribalda family,[5][6] (who came from the Pollog valley, north-western part of present-day Macedonia), or from the old noble Muzaka (Musachi) family.[7][8][/QUOTE]

Russian source from the 17th century (?).

[QUOTE]В то время в княжестве Олбанском в Епире был государем князь Иоан Кастриот 7 — от роду князей Македонских, 8 а жена иво Войсава была от рода князей словенских болгарских, 9 с которою были у него три сына и три дщери. 10[/QUOTE]

[B][I]A that time the sovereign of the principality of Albania in Epirus was prince John Kastriot - of the lineage of Macedonian princes, and his wife Voisava was of the lineage of Slavic Bulgarian princes, and they had three sons and three daughters.[/I][/B]

Check this Italian source also:

[QUOTE][B]Branilo (+ assassinato a Jannina nel 1379 circa), di origine serba, Governatore di Jannina nel 1368[/B]. Sposa N.N.

Paolo (+ ?), Signore di Signa e Gardi-ipostesi. Sposa N.N.

A1. Costantino (+ decapitato a Durazzo 1402), Protovestiario, Signore di Signa (Serina) nel 1391 e di Croia dal 1395 al 1401. = Elena Thopia Principessa di Durazzo ( + post 1402).
A2. Alessio, capitano di 3 villaggi nel 1403.
A3. Giovanni (+ ca. 1443), Signore di Mat (confermato 1471) e di Vumenestia 1406/1438. = [B]Voisava Tripalda, figlia del signore serbo di Polog[/B]

B1. Repossio, monaco al Sinai.
B2. [B]Stanisha[/B] (+ ante 1450) = ……….

B3. Costantino (+ ostaggio dei turchi).
B4. Giorgio, per la sua discendenza v. Parte II.
B5. Maria = Stefano [B]Cernojevic[/B], dei Granduchi della Zeta
B6. [B]Yela[/B] = N.N.
B7. Angelina = [B]Vladino Golem[/B] Comneno Arianiti
B8. [B]Vlaica[/B] (+ post 1444) = Stefan Balsic
B9. [B]Mariza[/B] = 1444 Carlo Musachi Thopia (+ 1461).
Many of his relatives' names are Slavic, none that I can see are Albanian.

According to the Macedonian writer Popovski, there are several Macedonian song about Skenderbeg, celebrating his Mijak heritage (Mijaks being a Macedonian tribe). There is a compilation of documents that was once reported in the Macedonian media by the same writer I think, I will try and locate it.

There is also this:

[QUOTE]According to Nekulche, the part of the peace intermediation between the Emperor and Brinkovjan in Ias was done by (komisa)commissioner Macedonian (Makedona).
Vlachian chronologist Radu Grechan points out, that for that purpose Brinkovjan sent Georgi Kastriot to Ias. Russian (istoöniki) also call Georgi Kastriot, in the previous peace proposal by the commission of the Sultan. It is possible that the Turks proposed peace to the Russians without knowledge of Brinkovjan with the sole purpose to test his loyalty. [B]After that we can conclude that he sent Kastriot in Ias under the pseudonym Macedonian (Makedona)[/B].[/QUOTE]

MANU produced this in 2005:


But who knows what's written in it.

Here's something more I have found on the net, but I can't find links to the last 2 texts as of yet.

[QUOTE]Barletti in his Historia de vita et rebus gestis Scanderbegi refers to Skenderbeg as the "[B]King of Epirus and Macedonia[/B]"[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE]A 17th century writer called T. Spanducci, in his Historia wrote:
"[I]Georgija Kastriot was respected not only by his tribe, the Mijak tribe but all other nations, even the Turks. [B]His mother was Vojislava, a Macedonian woman, daughter of a nobleman from Polog, which of course is a part of Macedonia[/B]...........The Mijak tribe and all the other Slovenes have many reasons for the glorification and the singed songs about their hero Georgija Kastriot, because he fought for the protection of the slav culture, for the christian cross and for the freedom, but also because he had the most noble name from his kind - Georgija[/I]"[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE]At the Hilandar Monastery at Mount Athos the monk Nicanor had written the following:
Сеи хрисовуль есть господара [B]Ивнна Кацтпиота македонскаго[/B], и копίе его вь немъ есть. И пише како даеть монастирю нашему две села во и суща съ церковьίю Пресветы, Богородицы тамо сущίа, и описуеть вс по синорами, и прочат.[/QUOTE]

Here is something else about Hilandar, again no link.
[QUOTE]Serbian scholar, Vukanovic:

Une conséquence de ces liens de mariage et de cette symbiose matrimoniale sont d'importants legs que Jean Castriote avait faits au monastère de Chilandar. Il a, ensuite, avec ses trois fils: Repos, Constantin et Georges, acheté à Chilandar, pour lui même et pour ses fils, les parts de confrérie, ce qui leur donnait le droit de s'y réfugier et d'y habituer dans le cas où leur pays serait conquis par les Turcs et eux-mêmes chassés de leur patrie. Comme demeure il leur fut attribué le pyrgue de St Georges qui porte le nome de "Pyrgue albanais". De cette façon, le monastère médiéval serbe, Chilandar, avait servi d'asile à la famille albanaise de Georges Castriote Scander-Beg. Ceci fut basé, comme nous venons de mentionner, sur les liens de mariage et autres éléments de symbiose culturelle


One consequence of these ties of marriage and the marital harmony are important legacies that John Kastrioti had made the monastery Chilandar. He then with his three son: Rest, Constantine and George Chilandar bought for himself and his son, the shares of brotherhood, which entitled them to take refuge there and get used in if their country would be conquered by the Turks themselves driven from their homeland. As they were still awarded the St. George pyrgue bringing the prefecture "Pyrgue Albanian. In this way, the Serbian medieval monastery, Chilandar, had served as an asylum to the family of George Kastrioti Albanian Skanderbeg. This was based, as mentioned above, the bonds of marriage and other elements of cultural symbiosis.[/QUOTE]

TrueMacedonian 09-05-2009 01:41 AM

Is there any source from Georgi Kastriot from his own hand that he self describes as Albanian?

Soldier of Macedon 09-05-2009 07:55 PM

I highly doubt it.

The wikipedia article about him [url][/url] is a lump of information that does not go into much specifics concerning his origin.

Here is something from Gibbon that is not directly related but has some relevance:

[QUOTE]Yet the prudence or generosity of Amurath postponed for a while this easy conquest; and his pride was satisfied with the frequent and humble attendance of the emperor John Palæologus and his four sons, who followed at his summons the court and camp of the Ottoman prince. [B]He marched against the Sclavonian nations between the Danube and the Adriatic, the Bulgarians, Servians, Bosnians, and Albanians[/B]; and these warlike tribes, who had so often insulted the majesty of the empire, were repeatedly broken by his destructive inroads. Their countries did not abound either in gold or silver; nor were their rustic hamlets and townships enriched by commerce or decorated by the arts of luxury. But the natives of the soil have been distinguished in every age by their hardiness of mind and body; and they were converted by a prudent institution into the firmest and most faithful supporters of the Ottoman greatness.........The vizier of Amurath reminded his sovereign that, according to the Mahometan law, he was entitled to a fifth part of the spoil and captives; and that the duty might easily be levied, if vigilant officers were stationed in Gallipoli, to watch the passage, and to select for his use the stoutest and most beautiful of the Christian youth.............."Let them be called Janizaries, (Yengi cheri, or new soldiers) may their countenance be ever bright! their hand victorious! their sword keen! may their spear always hang over the heads of their enemies! and wheresoever they go, may they return with a white face!" ................[B]The Janizaries fought with the zeal of proselytes against their idolatrous countrymen; and in the battle of Cossova, the league and independence of the Sclavonian tribes was finally crushed[/B]. .......[/QUOTE]
Something about the jannisaries from Gibbon:

[QUOTE][B]The provinces of Thrace, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Servia, became the perpetual seminary of the Turkish army[/B]; and when the royal fifth of the captives was diminished by conquest, [B]an inhuman tax of the fifth child, or of every fifth year, was rigorously levied on the Christian families[/B]. At the age of twelve or fourteen years, the most robust youths were torn from their parents; their names were enrolled in a book; and from that moment they were clothed, taught, and maintained, for the public service. According to the promise of their appearance, they were selected for the royal schools of Boursa, Pera, and Adrianople, intrusted to the care of the bashaws, or dispersed in the houses of the Anatolian peasantry. [B]It was the first care of their masters to instruct them in the Turkish language[/B]: their bodies were exercised by every labor that could fortify their strength; they learned to wrestle, to leap, to run, to shoot with the bow, and afterwards with the musket; till they were drafted into the chambers and companies of the Janizaries, and severely trained in the military or monastic discipline of the order. The youths most conspicuous for birth, talents, and beauty, were admitted into the inferior class of Agiamoglans, or the more liberal rank of Ichoglans, of whom the former were attached to the palace, and the latter to the person, of the prince. In four successive schools, under the rod of the white eunuchs, the arts of horsemanship and of darting the javelin were their daily exercise, [B]while those of a more studious cast applied themselves to the study of the Koran, and the knowledge of the Arabic and Persian tongues[/B].[/QUOTE]

Soldier of Macedon 09-05-2009 08:16 PM

Gibbon on Kastriot:

[QUOTE]In the list of heroes, John Huniades and Scanderbeg are commonly associated; 35 and they are both entitled to our notice, since their occupation of the Ottoman arms delayed the ruin of the Greek empire. [B]John Castriot, the father of Scanderbeg, 36 was the hereditary prince of a small district of Epirus or Albania, between the mountains and the Adriatic Sea[/B]. Unable to contend with the sultan's power, Castriot submitted to the hard conditions of peace and tribute: he delivered his four sons as the pledges of his fidelity; and the [B]Christian youths, after receiving the mark of circumcision, were instructed in the Mahometan religion, and trained in the arms and arts of Turkish policy[/B]. 37 The three elder brothers were confounded in the crowd of slaves; and the poison to which their deaths are ascribed cannot be verified or disproved by any positive evidence. Yet the suspicion is in a great measure removed by the kind and paternal treatment of [B]George Castriot, the fourth brother, who, from his tender youth, displayed the strength and spirit of a soldier[/B]. The successive overthrow of a Tartar and two Persians, who carried a proud defiance to the Turkish court, recommended him to the favor of Amurath, and his [B]Turkish appellation of Scanderbeg[/B], (Iskender beg,) or the lord Alexander, is an indelible memorial of his glory and servitude. His father's principality was reduced into a province; but the loss was compensated by the rank and title of Sanjiak, a command of five thousand horse, and the prospect of the first dignities of the empire. He served with honor in the wars of Europe and Asia; and we may smile at the art or credulity of the historian, who supposes, that in every encounter he spared the Christians, while he fell with a thundering arm on his Mussulman foes. The glory of Huniades is without reproach: he fought in the defence of his religion and country; but the enemies who applaud the patriot, have branded his rival with the name of traitor and apostate. [B]In the eyes of the Christian, the rebellion of Scanderbeg is justified by his father's wrongs, the ambiguous death of his three brothers, his own degradation, and the slavery of his country; and they adore the generous, though tardy, zeal, with which he asserted the faith and independence of his ancestors[/B]. But he had imbibed from his ninth year the doctrines of the Koran; he was ignorant of the Gospel; the religion of a soldier is determined by authority and habit; nor is it easy to conceive what new illumination at the age of forty 38 could be poured into his soul. His motives would be less exposed to the suspicion of interest or revenge, had he broken his chain from the moment that he was sensible of its weight: but a long oblivion had surely impaired his original right; and every year of obedience and reward had cemented the mutual bond of the sultan and his subject. If Scanderbeg had long harbored the belief of Christianity and the intention of revolt, a worthy mind must condemn the base dissimulation, that could serve only to betray, that could promise only to be forsworn, that could actively join in the temporal and spiritual perdition of so many thousands of his unhappy brethren. [B]Shall we praise a secret correspondence with Huniades, while he commanded the vanguard of the Turkish army?[/B] shall we excuse the desertion of his standard, a treacherous desertion which abandoned the victory to the enemies of his benefactor? In the confusion of a defeat, the eye of Scanderbeg was fixed on the Reis Effendi or principal secretary: [B]with the dagger at his breast, he extorted a firman or patent for the government of Albania[/B]; and the murder of the guiltless scribe and his train prevented the consequences of an immediate discovery. With some bold companions, to whom he had revealed his design he escaped in the night, by rapid marches, from the field or battle to his paternal mountains. [B]The gates of Croya were opened to the royal mandate[/B]; and no sooner did he command the fortress, than George Castriot dropped the mask of dissimulation; abjured the prophet and the sultan, and proclaimed himself the avenger of his family and country. The names of religion and liberty provoked a general revolt: [B]the Albanians, a martial race, were unanimous to live and die with their hereditary prince[/B]; and the Ottoman garrisons were indulged in the choice of martyrdom or baptism. [B]In the assembly of the states of Epirus, Scanderbeg was elected general of the Turkish war[/B]; and each of the allies engaged to furnish his respective proportion of men and money. From these contributions, from his patrimonial estate, and from the valuable salt-pits of Selina, he drew an annual revenue of two hundred thousand ducats; 39 and the entire sum, exempt from the demands of luxury, was strictly appropriated to the public use. [B]His manners were popular; but his discipline was severe; and every superfluous vice was banished from his camp: his example strengthened his command; and under his conduct, the Albanians were invincible in their own opinion and that of their enemies[/B]. The bravest adventurers of France and Germany were allured by his fame and retained in his service: his standing militia consisted of eight thousand horse and seven thousand foot; the horses were small, the men were active; but he viewed with a discerning eye the difficulties and resources of the mountains; and, at the blaze of the beacons, the whole nation was distributed in the strongest posts. [B]With such unequal arms Scanderbeg resisted twenty-three years the powers of the Ottoman empire[/B]; and two conquerors, Amurath the Second, and his greater son, were repeatedly baffled by a rebel, whom they pursued with seeming contempt and implacable resentment. At the head of sixty thousand horse and forty thousand Janizaries, Amurath entered Albania: he might ravage the open country, occupy the defenceless towns, convert the churches into mosques, circumcise the Christian youths, and punish with death his adult and obstinate captives: but the conquests of the sultan were confined to the petty fortress of Sfetigrade; and the garrison, invincible to his arms, was oppressed by a paltry artifice and a superstitious scruple. 40 Amurath retired with shame and loss from the walls of [B]Croya, the castle and residence of the Castriots[/B]; the march, the siege, the retreat, were harassed by a vexatious, and almost invisible, adversary; 41 and the disappointment might tend to imbitter, perhaps to shorten, the last days of the sultan. 42 In the fulness of conquest, Mahomet the Second still felt at his bosom this domestic thorn: his lieutenants were permitted to negotiate a truce; and[B]the Albanian prince may justly be praised as a firm and able champion of his national independence. The enthusiasm of chivalry and religion has ranked him with the names of Alexander and Pyrrhus[/B]; nor would they blush to acknowledge their intrepid countryman: but his narrow dominion, and slender powers, must leave him at an humble distance below the heroes of antiquity, who triumphed over the East and the Roman legions. His splendid achievements, the bashaws whom he encountered, the armies that he discomfited, and the three thousand Turks who were slain by his single hand, must be weighed in the scales of suspicious criticism. Against an illiterate enemy, and in the dark solitude of Epirus, his partial biographers may safely indulge the latitude of romance: but their fictions are exposed by the light of Italian history; and they afford a strong presumption against their own truth, by a fabulous tale of his exploits, when he passed the Adriatic with eight hundred horse to the succor of the king of Naples. 43 Without disparagement to his fame, they might have owned, that he was finally oppressed by the Ottoman powers: in his extreme danger he applied to Pope Pius the Second for a refuge in the ecclesiastical state; and his resources were almost exhausted, since Scanderbeg died a fugitive at Lissus, on the Venetian territory. 44 His sepulchre was soon violated by the Turkish conquerors; but the Janizaries, who wore his bones enchased in a bracelet, declared by this superstitious amulet their involuntary reverence for his valor. The instant ruin of his country may redound to the hero's glory; yet, had he balanced the consequences of submission and resistance, a patriot perhaps would have declined the unequal contest which must depend on the life and genius of one man. [B]Scanderbeg might indeed be supported by the rational, though fallacious, hope, that the pope, the king of Naples, and the Venetian republic, would join in the defence of a free and Christian people[/B], who guarded the sea-coast of the Adriatic, and the narrow passage from Greece to Italy. His infant son was saved from the national shipwreck; the [B]Castriots 45 were invested with a Neapolitan dukedom, and their blood continues to flow in the noblest families of the realm. A colony of Albanian fugitives obtained a settlement in Calabria, and they preserve at this day the language and manners of their ancestors[/B]. 46 [/QUOTE]

Soldier of Macedon 09-06-2009 06:49 AM

A large part of the Albanians were Sclavonian as Gibbon explained it;
[QUOTE][I]He marched against the Sclavonian nations between the Danube and the Adriatic, the Bulgarians, Servians, Bosnians, and Albanians...........[/I][/QUOTE]
It would be interesting to know the ratio between the Slavic-speakers and Arberesh-speakers of Albania during the 15th century.

Soldier of Macedon 10-11-2009 01:30 AM

Thread that is related to the above:


Bratot 10-11-2009 04:57 AM

[QUOTE=Soldier of Macedon;22260]A large part of the Albanians were Sclavonian as Gibbon explained it;

It would be interesting to know the ratio between the Slavic-speakers and Arberesh-speakers of Albania during the 15th century.[/QUOTE]


Soldier of Macedon 10-11-2009 10:23 PM

Some information from another Macedonian forum.

Petar Popovski said:
[QUOTE]Сите досегашни, над 400 научни студии, Георигја Кастриот го нарекуваат Словен. Тоа го потврдува и историјата. Но, кај нас се шпекулира со името Скендербег. Се пишуваат книги со романтичарска содржина кои немаат никаква основа[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]" Георгија Кастриот бил толку многу заслужен што го ценеле и го почитувале не само неговите соплеменици - Мијаците, туку и сите други народи, та дури и Турците. Мајка му била Воислава, исто така, Словенка - Македонка, од неговиот род, ќерка на еден господар од Полог, кој претставува дел од Македонија...........Мијаците и сите Словени по род, имаат многу причини што го слават и што пеат јуначки песни за Георгија Кастриот, бидејќи се борел за заштита на словенството, за христијанскиот крст и за чесната слобода, но и затоа што го носел најблагородното свето име во својот род - Георгија..!" [/QUOTE]

Here is an interesting article from 'Macedonian Sun' about Popovski book and findings concerning Skenderbeg.


TrueMacedonian 10-14-2009 10:18 PM

Kastriot's siblings names were - [I]Mara, Jella, Angellina, Ulaica, Mamisa, Reposius, Stanisius, and Constantine.[/I] According to 19th century writer Clement Clarke Moore.

Soldier of Macedon 10-14-2009 10:45 PM

Those names are recorded in Italian sources also, there are no native Albanian names among his siblings at all, this is a telling fact.

I would like to get a hold of Popovski's book, there must be valuable sources cited for him to make the assertion that Skenderbeg was of Macedonian origin, at least partially.

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