Why Scanderbeg refused to marry?

E hënë, 22 Prill, 2024
E hënë, 22 Prill, 2024

Why Scanderbeg refused to marry?

Why Skanderbeg did not want to get married. April 26, 1451. Skanderbeg’s rejection and Arianit’s insistence.

1

It is written about Skanderbeg’s marriage early after the death of the Hero, starting with Barleti, Gjon Muzaka, Biemi and continuing with later authors. Such were those of the XIX-XX centuries, mentioning in this case also Hoph, Konica, Noli, Ermeni and Edwin Jacques.

It must be said that not only has not been written enough about this historical event, but also in our history books of Albania, it has been treated superficially. Such a lack of “attention” has often led to inaccurate and abusive allusions about this event. But how does the truth stand and what evidence do different authors bring us. Let’s take them then.

The first author to give us information about Skanderbeg’s marriage was Marin Barleti in his work “Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis”, published in Venice in 1508. In it he describes some general information about marriage of the Hero, the causes that led to it, its conditions, not giving us the date and place of its celebration, as well as other details.

“Skanderbeg did not delay the wedding, but took his wife home at once and shared the usual joy with the people,” writes Barleti in his story (Marin Barleti. History of Skanderbeg. Tirana 1964. p. 292).

Meanwhile, Skanderbeg’s contemporary and comrade-in-arms, Gjon Muzaka, also gives us other information about the marriage of Gjergj Kastriot. In the “History of the Genealogia della casa Musachia” published in 1510, this author writes, among other things, that “Skanderbeg asked for the daughter of the god Arian Komnen…. This is how this marriage was arranged, and Skanderbeg married Mrs. Andronika Komnena, who was my cousin, and then took the name Skanderbeg from her husband ” (History of Genealogia della casa Musachia in Pëllumb Xhufi. . Tirana 2009. Pp 418-419).

Then in chronological order comes Biemi, who in his book “History of Gjergj Kastriot called Skanderbeg”, published in Brescia, Italy in 1756, brings us interesting information about Skanderbeg’s wedding. This author also gives us for the first time the date of marriage and the age of the couple. In fact the book does not belong to Biem, who did nothing but translate from Latin into Italian another work. Titled “History of Skanderbeg, published by an Albanian” (History Scanderbegi edita per quendom Albanensem), it was first published in Venice in 1480 and is otherwise considered as the history of the Anonymous Bar. Despite its history, this book remains for many reasons the only and main reference for Skanderbeg’s marriage.

However, the authorship remained with Biem, who, among other things, writes that “… the year that followed 1451, he spent in peace and relaxation as a request for all the difficulties of the past years. It was also a memorial year for Skanderbeg’s marriage to Arianit’s daughter Marina and for the construction of the castle of Modriza. The marriage took place on April 26 and the groom was 48 years old, while the bride was 26 years old (Giovanni Maria Biemmi. Istoria di Giorgio Castrioto detto Scander-Begh. G. M. Rizzardi. Brescia 1756. Pg 285-translation Etnor Canaj).

While later it would be Fan Noli, the author who paid more attention and made a broad reflection on Skanderbeg’s marriage. In his work “Skanderbeg’s History”, Noli, relying mainly on Biemi, writes that “The wedding took place on April 26, 1451, but unlike him, he emphasizes that” Skanderbeg was 39 years old and the bride Marina Andronika -23 ” (Noli. Vepra IV. Tiranë 1989. Pg 149).

2

Our official history writes very little about Skanderbeg’s marriage. While the book of the History of Albania, first volume in 1959 does not deal with this event. Whereas in the book of the History of the Albanian People, published in 2002, only a short passage is given about the Hero’s marriage: ” The struggles of 1450 for the defense of Kruja brought various damages and difficulties, which had to be overcome…. such a task required the full support of Gjergj Arianiti and the coordination of military operations with him. Therefore Skanderbeg strengthened ties with Gjergj Arianiti, marrying his daughter, Donika, in 1451 (Academy of Sciences of Albania. History of the Albanian People. I. Botimet Toena. Tirana 2002. pp. 415-416). Also in this edition we are not given the date and month in which Kastriot’s marriage took place but only the year.

While some other authors of the time, relying mainly on Biemi make efforts and mention such a fact in their books. Thus, Abas Ermenji in his work “The place that Skanderbeg in the history of Albania”, emphasizes that “Gjergj Arianiti approached and sent again mediators for the marriage with his daughter, Donika, promising a greater dowry. Skënderbeg this time could not postpone it further, and the marriage took place on April 26, 1451 ” (Abas Ermenji. The place that Skënderbeg in the History of Albania. Çabej. Tirana 1996. p. 52).

Likewise, Edëin Jacques in his book “Albanians”, referring to Noli (Noli. 1921. p. 269), writes about this event that “During a happy interval between uninterrupted military campaigns, on April 26, 1451, in the cathedral of Kruja, Skënderbeg was married for thirty-nine years to Marina Andronika ” (Edëin Jacques. Albanians. Kartë e Pendë. Tirana 1998. p. 210).

Based on the above data and treatments about this event, we can already emphasize that its realization was a step that gave a further impetus to the Albanian-Ottoman war of the XV century. The study and complete treatment of this marriage gives us a clear picture about the period and historical developments, which closed the activity of the League of Lezha to pave the way for the creation of the Concentrated State of Skanderbeg.

In this regard one of the authors who describes this period in detail is of course Fan Noli. In his story about the Hero, he presents the real situation in which Albania was in 1450, where Skanderbeg was in a difficult position because his allies in the League of Lezha had begun to reject him, at a time when the country was threatened. from the next campaign of sultan Murat II.

One of these allies was Gjergj Arianiti, for whom Noli states that “the angry Arianiti that Skanderbeg postponed the marriage with his daughter further refused to send him help. Skanderbeg tried to soften and fill his head that he could not get married as he lost Sfetigrad and Berat, and when this danger rushed to Kruja and Albania; he vowed that the marriage would take place without delay, as soon as the storm approached, but Arianit did not want to hear any of these reasons: Did the groom, he said, have no help (Noli. Acts IV. p. 134). And such an attitude was encountered in the conditions when Skanderbeg was in a difficult position, before the start of the campaign organized by Murat II, who was preparing to invade Albania. Studying Noli we notice that on the one hand it is the Ottomans who threaten Albania and prepare to attack it, while on the other hand stands Gjergj Arianiti, who resents the Hero for not realizing the marriage with his daughter.

But why had Skanderbeg previously refused to marry Donika Arianiti? Fan Noli explains this to us again. Somewhere there he writes that “Skanderbeg’s insistence on non-marriage, as we will see later, had another major cause: it was the fear of angering his nephew Hamza Kastrioti, who hoped to hold his foot for as long as Skanderbeg had his sons… ..Being married, therefore, in this case, which was undoubtedly not for the wedding, Skanderbeg would set fire to his house, so, therefore, the marriage was set aside and Arianit remained cold and hostile ”(Noli. Ibid.).

Thus browsing and studying this history reveals to us the true characteristics of the feudal society of the time, where marriages played only the role of political alliances and military coalitions. Albanian nobility was not excluded from such relations, where the main function of dynastic marriages was political. But it could also happen otherwise that their destruction or non-realization would bring anger, hostility and even conflict. As Noli points out, because in this case, we see on the one hand a reluctance of Gjergj Kastriot to marry Donika Arianiti. It should be noted, however, that there was previously another marital relationship between the Kastriots and the Arianites. Such was that of Skanderbeg’s sister, Angjelina, who was married to Vladan Arian Komnenos, brother of Gjergj Arianit.

Meanwhile, after a long refusal, Skanderbeg was finally forced to marry against the insistence and imposing attitude of Gjergj Arianiti on the one hand, but also that of the request of the people and his close people on the other hand. Thus, the people viewed such an alliance as a military alliance that would be able to protect it from the threat of Ottoman occupation. On this occasion, Barleti, in his story, states that “Everyone was glad that the two most powerful princes of Epirus were bound to each other by such a marriage, because it seemed clear that in the future their united powers they had to easily defend themselves from any danger of war damage ” (Barleti. History..Pg. 292). While, on the same occasion, Noli, among other things, writes that “Albanians were convinced not to be rushed by the Turks for several years and so the prayers of the leaders to marry Skanderbeg to leave an heir to the throne begin again. Arianit reminded him of his vow again, and Skanderbeg could not escape this time. The marriage was necessary because it provided an alliance with the strongest prince of Tuscany, whose military and financial assistance was necessary for the continuation of the war… ” (Noli. Acts IV. P. 146).

On the other hand, regarding a possible marriage of Gjergj Kastriot, we also have the position of the feudal lords relatives or collaborators of Skanderbeg, who insisted that such a step would bring Kastriot, the missing heir. Let us not forget that in 1450, when such negotiations became powerful, Gjergj Kastrioti was 45 years old and had passed the age of marriage for years. In this case, as Noli above, Barleti informs us that “Purpurants and related princes did not leave Skanderbeg alone, out of a desire to focus more on family matters and the seedling that had to take its place.” ‘(Barleti. P. 291).

But Barleti also reveals the real reason for Gjergj Arianiti’s insistence and insistence about this marriage. It seems that shortly before this connection was realized, probably around 1450, Gjergj Kastrioti and Gjergj Arianiti had concluded an agreement to realize a joint anti-Ottoman alliance which foresaw in the final stage, the coronation of Kastriot with Arianit’s daughter. For this Barleti states very clearly that “Kastriot, although he was chained in the middle against the widow’s wish, nevertheless, when he took into account the circumstances in turn, found it appropriate to do that work more for its honor and benefit, and he ought not to have denied it again, for he had given them the word last year, when they asked him so earnestly ” (Barleti. Ibid.).

Thus the long-awaited and so-rumored marriage finally took place on April 26, 1451. Only then, Gjergj Arianiti, succeeded Skanderbeg in an analogous alliance like that of Gaeta with the king of Naples. The agreement was signed in June of that year and according to it, the two sides agreed to fight together against the Ottomans.

3

But where did Skanderbeg’s marriage take place ?! This is a question to which to date no one can give us convincing data, whether from old or contemporary authors. Such a thing happens due to the lack of written documents. It is alleged that the wedding took place in Kanina where Gjergj Arianiti was based. Then she continued to the “house” of the groom in Kruja. Legends and folklore about Skanderbeg’s marriage in Kanina have remained alive today in the Vlora region. One of them preserved in Himara, which was owned by Gjergj Arianiti, says: “On the wedding day, the Captains of Himara also went to Kanina with fish for the couple. They accompanied the bride to Kruja ”(Academy of Sciences. Historical Epic. I. Tirana 1983. p. 133).

Also, the verbal evidence has led to the presentation of the hypothesis that Skanderbeg was crowned with Donika on the altar of the church of the Ardenica monastery in Lushnje. According to them, the couple arrived at this monastery after the wedding held at the bride’s house in Kanina, on April 21, 1451. They were accompanied by Albanian princes, family members, ambassadors of Naples, Vatican, Ragusa and Venice. The coronation ceremony took place at noon on April 26, 1451, under the direction of Bishop Felix, under whose tutelage the Ardenica Monastery was located. The next day Skanderbeg and Donika left for Kruja, where a magnificent wedding took place at the groom’s house, according to the rites of Albanian tradition.

3

But where did Skanderbeg’s marriage take place?! This is a question to which to date no one can give us convincing data, whether from old or contemporary authors. Such a thing happens due to the lack of written documents. It is alleged that the wedding took place in Kanina where Gjergj Arianiti was based. Then she continued to the “house” of the groom in Kruja. Legends and folklore about Skanderbeg’s marriage in Kanina have remained alive today in the Vlora region. One of them preserved in Himara, which was owned by Gjergj Arianiti, says: “On the wedding day, the Captains of Himara also went to Kanina with fish for the couple. They accompanied the bride to Kruja” (Academy of Sciences. Historical Epic. I. Tirana 1983. p. 133).

Also, the verbal evidence has led to the presentation of the hypothesis that Skanderbeg was crowned with Donika on the altar of the church of the Ardenica monastery in Lushnje. According to them, the couple arrived at this monastery after the wedding held at the bride’s house in Kanina, on April 21, 1451. They were accompanied by Albanian princes, family members, ambassadors of Naples, Vatican, Ragusa and Venice. The coronation ceremony took place at noon on April 26, 1451, under the direction of Bishop Felix, under whose tutelage the Ardenica Monastery was located. The next day Skanderbeg and Donika left for Kruja, where a magnificent wedding took place at the groom’s house, according to the rites of Albanian tradition.

Unfortunately, the library of this monastery was burned in 1932 along with books, manuscripts and documents, but to its monks, the echo of this event was transmitted from generation to generation, until 1967, when atheistic fury destroyed religious institutions and along with them and a part of our historical memory. This testimony was encountered and published by Bishop Irene Banushi, who in the 1960s lived for some time in the community of monks of this monastery (Andrea Llukani. Christianity in Albania. Trifon Xhagjika Publications. Tirana 2012. p. 323).

However, Skanderbeg’s marriage marked a turning point in the developments of the 15th century Albanian-Ottoman War. Freed from their pressure, strengthened by the alliance with Gjergj Arianiti and with another prestige already, he launched the crackdown on the particularism of the Allied leaders of the League. As its commander-in-chief, he “worked hard” to create a state centered in his hands, which, despite the problems he encountered and the situations he went through, functioned until the moment when the Hero died on January 17, 1468.

While this event had its consequences in social terms. Its expected consequences were not long in coming. So after three years she brought to Skanderbeg what Barleti once called “the seedling that had to take his place”. The birth of John the Baptist, who traditionally took his grandfather’s name, brought other events. “By getting married, Skanderbeg would set fire to his house,” Noli said in his story. And it was in 1457 that Hamzai, his nephew and one of his close associates, betrayed. Left without the Kastriot legacy, he as a soldier had no choice but to do what he had done best in his life. To take up arms and direct them against the uncle.

However, these developments do not diminish the importance of Skanderbeg’s marriage, which in the future should become the subject of new studies in the field of historiography. By Ilirjan Gjika

 

Why Skanderbeg did not want to get married. April 26, 1451. Skanderbeg’s rejection and Arianit’s insistence.

1

It is written about Skanderbeg’s marriage early after the death of the Hero, starting with Barleti, Gjon Muzaka, Biemi and continuing with later authors. Such were those of the XIX-XX centuries, mentioning in this case also Hoph, Konica, Noli, Ermeni and Edwin Jacques.

It must be said that not only has not been written enough about this historical event, but also in our history books of Albania, it has been treated superficially. Such a lack of “attention” has often led to inaccurate and abusive allusions about this event. But how does the truth stand and what evidence do different authors bring us. Let’s take them then.

The first author to give us information about Skanderbeg’s marriage was Marin Barleti in his work “Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis”, published in Venice in 1508. In it he describes some general information about marriage of the Hero, the causes that led to it, its conditions, not giving us the date and place of its celebration, as well as other details.

“Skanderbeg did not delay the wedding, but took his wife home at once and shared the usual joy with the people,” writes Barleti in his story (Marin Barleti. History of Skanderbeg. Tirana 1964. p. 292).

Meanwhile, Skanderbeg’s contemporary and comrade-in-arms, Gjon Muzaka, also gives us other information about the marriage of Gjergj Kastriot. In the “History of the Genealogia della casa Musachia” published in 1510, this author writes, among other things, that “Skanderbeg asked for the daughter of the god Arian Komnen…. This is how this marriage was arranged, and Skanderbeg married Mrs. Andronika Komnena, who was my cousin, and then took the name Skanderbeg from her husband ” (History of Genealogia della casa Musachia in Pëllumb Xhufi. . Tirana 2009. Pp 418-419).

Then in chronological order comes Biemi, who in his book “History of Gjergj Kastriot called Skanderbeg”, published in Brescia, Italy in 1756, brings us interesting information about Skanderbeg’s wedding. This author also gives us for the first time the date of marriage and the age of the couple. In fact the book does not belong to Biem, who did nothing but translate from Latin into Italian another work. Titled “History of Skanderbeg, published by an Albanian” (History Scanderbegi edita per quendom Albanensem), it was first published in Venice in 1480 and is otherwise considered as the history of the Anonymous Bar. Despite its history, this book remains for many reasons the only and main reference for Skanderbeg’s marriage.

However, the authorship remained with Biem, who, among other things, writes that “… the year that followed 1451, he spent in peace and relaxation as a request for all the difficulties of the past years. It was also a memorial year for Skanderbeg’s marriage to Arianit’s daughter Marina and for the construction of the castle of Modriza. The marriage took place on April 26 and the groom was 48 years old, while the bride was 26 years old (Giovanni Maria Biemmi. Istoria di Giorgio Castrioto detto Scander-Begh. G. M. Rizzardi. Brescia 1756. Pg 285-translation Etnor Canaj).

While later it would be Fan Noli, the author who paid more attention and made a broad reflection on Skanderbeg’s marriage. In his work “Skanderbeg’s History”, Noli, relying mainly on Biemi, writes that “The wedding took place on April 26, 1451, but unlike him, he emphasizes that” Skanderbeg was 39 years old and the bride Marina Andronika -23 ” (Noli. Vepra IV. Tiranë 1989. Pg 149).

2

Our official history writes very little about Skanderbeg’s marriage. While the book of the History of Albania, first volume in 1959 does not deal with this event. Whereas in the book of the History of the Albanian People, published in 2002, only a short passage is given about the Hero’s marriage: ” The struggles of 1450 for the defense of Kruja brought various damages and difficulties, which had to be overcome…. such a task required the full support of Gjergj Arianiti and the coordination of military operations with him. Therefore Skanderbeg strengthened ties with Gjergj Arianiti, marrying his daughter, Donika, in 1451 (Academy of Sciences of Albania. History of the Albanian People. I. Botimet Toena. Tirana 2002. pp. 415-416). Also in this edition we are not given the date and month in which Kastriot’s marriage took place but only the year.

While some other authors of the time, relying mainly on Biemi make efforts and mention such a fact in their books. Thus, Abas Ermenji in his work “The place that Skanderbeg in the history of Albania”, emphasizes that “Gjergj Arianiti approached and sent again mediators for the marriage with his daughter, Donika, promising a greater dowry. Skënderbeg this time could not postpone it further, and the marriage took place on April 26, 1451 ” (Abas Ermenji. The place that Skënderbeg in the History of Albania. Çabej. Tirana 1996. p. 52).

Likewise, Edëin Jacques in his book “Albanians”, referring to Noli (Noli. 1921. p. 269), writes about this event that “During a happy interval between uninterrupted military campaigns, on April 26, 1451, in the cathedral of Kruja, Skënderbeg was married for thirty-nine years to Marina Andronika ” (Edëin Jacques. Albanians. Kartë e Pendë. Tirana 1998. p. 210).

Based on the above data and treatments about this event, we can already emphasize that its realization was a step that gave a further impetus to the Albanian-Ottoman war of the XV century. The study and complete treatment of this marriage gives us a clear picture about the period and historical developments, which closed the activity of the League of Lezha to pave the way for the creation of the Concentrated State of Skanderbeg.

In this regard one of the authors who describes this period in detail is of course Fan Noli. In his story about the Hero, he presents the real situation in which Albania was in 1450, where Skanderbeg was in a difficult position because his allies in the League of Lezha had begun to reject him, at a time when the country was threatened. from the next campaign of sultan Murat II.

One of these allies was Gjergj Arianiti, for whom Noli states that “the angry Arianiti that Skanderbeg postponed the marriage with his daughter further refused to send him help. Skanderbeg tried to soften and fill his head that he could not get married as he lost Sfetigrad and Berat, and when this danger rushed to Kruja and Albania; he vowed that the marriage would take place without delay, as soon as the storm approached, but Arianit did not want to hear any of these reasons: Did the groom, he said, have no help (Noli. Acts IV. p. 134). And such an attitude was encountered in the conditions when Skanderbeg was in a difficult position, before the start of the campaign organized by Murat II, who was preparing to invade Albania. Studying Noli we notice that on the one hand it is the Ottomans who threaten Albania and prepare to attack it, while on the other hand stands Gjergj Arianiti, who resents the Hero for not realizing the marriage with his daughter.

But why had Skanderbeg previously refused to marry Donika Arianiti? Fan Noli explains this to us again. Somewhere there he writes that “Skanderbeg’s insistence on non-marriage, as we will see later, had another major cause: it was the fear of angering his nephew Hamza Kastrioti, who hoped to hold his foot for as long as Skanderbeg had his sons… ..Being married, therefore, in this case, which was undoubtedly not for the wedding, Skanderbeg would set fire to his house, so, therefore, the marriage was set aside and Arianit remained cold and hostile ”(Noli. Ibid.).

Thus browsing and studying this history reveals to us the true characteristics of the feudal society of the time, where marriages played only the role of political alliances and military coalitions. Albanian nobility was not excluded from such relations, where the main function of dynastic marriages was political. But it could also happen otherwise that their destruction or non-realization would bring anger, hostility and even conflict. As Noli points out, because in this case, we see on the one hand a reluctance of Gjergj Kastriot to marry Donika Arianiti. It should be noted, however, that there was previously another marital relationship between the Kastriots and the Arianites. Such was that of Skanderbeg’s sister, Angjelina, who was married to Vladan Arian Komnenos, brother of Gjergj Arianit.

Meanwhile, after a long refusal, Skanderbeg was finally forced to marry against the insistence and imposing attitude of Gjergj Arianiti on the one hand, but also that of the request of the people and his close people on the other hand. Thus, the people viewed such an alliance as a military alliance that would be able to protect it from the threat of Ottoman occupation. On this occasion, Barleti, in his story, states that “Everyone was glad that the two most powerful princes of Epirus were bound to each other by such a marriage, because it seemed clear that in the future their united powers they had to easily defend themselves from any danger of war damage ” (Barleti. History..Pg. 292). While, on the same occasion, Noli, among other things, writes that “Albanians were convinced not to be rushed by the Turks for several years and so the prayers of the leaders to marry Skanderbeg to leave an heir to the throne begin again. Arianit reminded him of his vow again, and Skanderbeg could not escape this time. The marriage was necessary because it provided an alliance with the strongest prince of Tuscany, whose military and financial assistance was necessary for the continuation of the war… ” (Noli. Acts IV. P. 146).

On the other hand, regarding a possible marriage of Gjergj Kastriot, we also have the position of the feudal lords relatives or collaborators of Skanderbeg, who insisted that such a step would bring Kastriot, the missing heir. Let us not forget that in 1450, when such negotiations became powerful, Gjergj Kastrioti was 45 years old and had passed the age of marriage for years. In this case, as Noli above, Barleti informs us that “Purpurants and related princes did not leave Skanderbeg alone, out of a desire to focus more on family matters and the seedling that had to take its place.” ‘(Barleti. P. 291).

But Barleti also reveals the real reason for Gjergj Arianiti’s insistence and insistence about this marriage. It seems that shortly before this connection was realized, probably around 1450, Gjergj Kastrioti and Gjergj Arianiti had concluded an agreement to realize a joint anti-Ottoman alliance which foresaw in the final stage, the coronation of Kastriot with Arianit’s daughter. For this Barleti states very clearly that “Kastriot, although he was chained in the middle against the widow’s wish, nevertheless, when he took into account the circumstances in turn, found it appropriate to do that work more for its honor and benefit, and he ought not to have denied it again, for he had given them the word last year, when they asked him so earnestly ” (Barleti. Ibid.).

Thus the long-awaited and so-rumored marriage finally took place on April 26, 1451. Only then, Gjergj Arianiti, succeeded Skanderbeg in an analogous alliance like that of Gaeta with the king of Naples. The agreement was signed in June of that year and according to it, the two sides agreed to fight together against the Ottomans.

3

But where did Skanderbeg’s marriage take place ?! This is a question to which to date no one can give us convincing data, whether from old or contemporary authors. Such a thing happens due to the lack of written documents. It is alleged that the wedding took place in Kanina where Gjergj Arianiti was based. Then she continued to the “house” of the groom in Kruja. Legends and folklore about Skanderbeg’s marriage in Kanina have remained alive today in the Vlora region. One of them preserved in Himara, which was owned by Gjergj Arianiti, says: “On the wedding day, the Captains of Himara also went to Kanina with fish for the couple. They accompanied the bride to Kruja ”(Academy of Sciences. Historical Epic. I. Tirana 1983. p. 133).

Also, the verbal evidence has led to the presentation of the hypothesis that Skanderbeg was crowned with Donika on the altar of the church of the Ardenica monastery in Lushnje. According to them, the couple arrived at this monastery after the wedding held at the bride’s house in Kanina, on April 21, 1451. They were accompanied by Albanian princes, family members, ambassadors of Naples, Vatican, Ragusa and Venice. The coronation ceremony took place at noon on April 26, 1451, under the direction of Bishop Felix, under whose tutelage the Ardenica Monastery was located. The next day Skanderbeg and Donika left for Kruja, where a magnificent wedding took place at the groom’s house, according to the rites of Albanian tradition.

3

But where did Skanderbeg’s marriage take place?! This is a question to which to date no one can give us convincing data, whether from old or contemporary authors. Such a thing happens due to the lack of written documents. It is alleged that the wedding took place in Kanina where Gjergj Arianiti was based. Then she continued to the “house” of the groom in Kruja. Legends and folklore about Skanderbeg’s marriage in Kanina have remained alive today in the Vlora region. One of them preserved in Himara, which was owned by Gjergj Arianiti, says: “On the wedding day, the Captains of Himara also went to Kanina with fish for the couple. They accompanied the bride to Kruja” (Academy of Sciences. Historical Epic. I. Tirana 1983. p. 133).

Also, the verbal evidence has led to the presentation of the hypothesis that Skanderbeg was crowned with Donika on the altar of the church of the Ardenica monastery in Lushnje. According to them, the couple arrived at this monastery after the wedding held at the bride’s house in Kanina, on April 21, 1451. They were accompanied by Albanian princes, family members, ambassadors of Naples, Vatican, Ragusa and Venice. The coronation ceremony took place at noon on April 26, 1451, under the direction of Bishop Felix, under whose tutelage the Ardenica Monastery was located. The next day Skanderbeg and Donika left for Kruja, where a magnificent wedding took place at the groom’s house, according to the rites of Albanian tradition.

Unfortunately, the library of this monastery was burned in 1932 along with books, manuscripts and documents, but to its monks, the echo of this event was transmitted from generation to generation, until 1967, when atheistic fury destroyed religious institutions and along with them and a part of our historical memory. This testimony was encountered and published by Bishop Irene Banushi, who in the 1960s lived for some time in the community of monks of this monastery (Andrea Llukani. Christianity in Albania. Trifon Xhagjika Publications. Tirana 2012. p. 323).

However, Skanderbeg’s marriage marked a turning point in the developments of the 15th century Albanian-Ottoman War. Freed from their pressure, strengthened by the alliance with Gjergj Arianiti and with another prestige already, he launched the crackdown on the particularism of the Allied leaders of the League. As its commander-in-chief, he “worked hard” to create a state centered in his hands, which, despite the problems he encountered and the situations he went through, functioned until the moment when the Hero died on January 17, 1468.

While this event had its consequences in social terms. Its expected consequences were not long in coming. So after three years she brought to Skanderbeg what Barleti once called “the seedling that had to take his place”. The birth of John the Baptist, who traditionally took his grandfather’s name, brought other events. “By getting married, Skanderbeg would set fire to his house,” Noli said in his story. And it was in 1457 that Hamzai, his nephew and one of his close associates, betrayed. Left without the Kastriot legacy, he as a soldier had no choice but to do what he had done best in his life. To take up arms and direct them against the uncle.

However, these developments do not diminish the importance of Skanderbeg’s marriage, which in the future should become the subject of new studies in the field of historiography. By Ilirjan Gjika

 

Why Skanderbeg did not want to get married. April 26, 1451. Skanderbeg’s rejection and Arianit’s insistence.

1

It is written about Skanderbeg’s marriage early after the death of the Hero, starting with Barleti, Gjon Muzaka, Biemi and continuing with later authors. Such were those of the XIX-XX centuries, mentioning in this case also Hoph, Konica, Noli, Ermeni and Edwin Jacques.

It must be said that not only has not been written enough about this historical event, but also in our history books of Albania, it has been treated superficially. Such a lack of “attention” has often led to inaccurate and abusive allusions about this event. But how does the truth stand and what evidence do different authors bring us. Let’s take them then.

The first author to give us information about Skanderbeg’s marriage was Marin Barleti in his work “Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis”, published in Venice in 1508. In it he describes some general information about marriage of the Hero, the causes that led to it, its conditions, not giving us the date and place of its celebration, as well as other details.

“Skanderbeg did not delay the wedding, but took his wife home at once and shared the usual joy with the people,” writes Barleti in his story (Marin Barleti. History of Skanderbeg. Tirana 1964. p. 292).

Meanwhile, Skanderbeg’s contemporary and comrade-in-arms, Gjon Muzaka, also gives us other information about the marriage of Gjergj Kastriot. In the “History of the Genealogia della casa Musachia” published in 1510, this author writes, among other things, that “Skanderbeg asked for the daughter of the god Arian Komnen…. This is how this marriage was arranged, and Skanderbeg married Mrs. Andronika Komnena, who was my cousin, and then took the name Skanderbeg from her husband ” (History of Genealogia della casa Musachia in Pëllumb Xhufi. . Tirana 2009. Pp 418-419).

Then in chronological order comes Biemi, who in his book “History of Gjergj Kastriot called Skanderbeg”, published in Brescia, Italy in 1756, brings us interesting information about Skanderbeg’s wedding. This author also gives us for the first time the date of marriage and the age of the couple. In fact the book does not belong to Biem, who did nothing but translate from Latin into Italian another work. Titled “History of Skanderbeg, published by an Albanian” (History Scanderbegi edita per quendom Albanensem), it was first published in Venice in 1480 and is otherwise considered as the history of the Anonymous Bar. Despite its history, this book remains for many reasons the only and main reference for Skanderbeg’s marriage.

However, the authorship remained with Biem, who, among other things, writes that “… the year that followed 1451, he spent in peace and relaxation as a request for all the difficulties of the past years. It was also a memorial year for Skanderbeg’s marriage to Arianit’s daughter Marina and for the construction of the castle of Modriza. The marriage took place on April 26 and the groom was 48 years old, while the bride was 26 years old (Giovanni Maria Biemmi. Istoria di Giorgio Castrioto detto Scander-Begh. G. M. Rizzardi. Brescia 1756. Pg 285-translation Etnor Canaj).

While later it would be Fan Noli, the author who paid more attention and made a broad reflection on Skanderbeg’s marriage. In his work “Skanderbeg’s History”, Noli, relying mainly on Biemi, writes that “The wedding took place on April 26, 1451, but unlike him, he emphasizes that” Skanderbeg was 39 years old and the bride Marina Andronika -23 ” (Noli. Vepra IV. Tiranë 1989. Pg 149).

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Our official history writes very little about Skanderbeg’s marriage. While the book of the History of Albania, first volume in 1959 does not deal with this event. Whereas in the book of the History of the Albanian People, published in 2002, only a short passage is given about the Hero’s marriage: ” The struggles of 1450 for the defense of Kruja brought various damages and difficulties, which had to be overcome…. such a task required the full support of Gjergj Arianiti and the coordination of military operations with him. Therefore Skanderbeg strengthened ties with Gjergj Arianiti, marrying his daughter, Donika, in 1451 (Academy of Sciences of Albania. History of the Albanian People. I. Botimet Toena. Tirana 2002. pp. 415-416). Also in this edition we are not given the date and month in which Kastriot’s marriage took place but only the year.

While some other authors of the time, relying mainly on Biemi make efforts and mention such a fact in their books. Thus, Abas Ermenji in his work “The place that Skanderbeg in the history of Albania”, emphasizes that “Gjergj Arianiti approached and sent again mediators for the marriage with his daughter, Donika, promising a greater dowry. Skënderbeg this time could not postpone it further, and the marriage took place on April 26, 1451 ” (Abas Ermenji. The place that Skënderbeg in the History of Albania. Çabej. Tirana 1996. p. 52).

Likewise, Edëin Jacques in his book “Albanians”, referring to Noli (Noli. 1921. p. 269), writes about this event that “During a happy interval between uninterrupted military campaigns, on April 26, 1451, in the cathedral of Kruja, Skënderbeg was married for thirty-nine years to Marina Andronika ” (Edëin Jacques. Albanians. Kartë e Pendë. Tirana 1998. p. 210).

Based on the above data and treatments about this event, we can already emphasize that its realization was a step that gave a further impetus to the Albanian-Ottoman war of the XV century. The study and complete treatment of this marriage gives us a clear picture about the period and historical developments, which closed the activity of the League of Lezha to pave the way for the creation of the Concentrated State of Skanderbeg.

In this regard one of the authors who describes this period in detail is of course Fan Noli. In his story about the Hero, he presents the real situation in which Albania was in 1450, where Skanderbeg was in a difficult position because his allies in the League of Lezha had begun to reject him, at a time when the country was threatened. from the next campaign of sultan Murat II.

One of these allies was Gjergj Arianiti, for whom Noli states that “the angry Arianiti that Skanderbeg postponed the marriage with his daughter further refused to send him help. Skanderbeg tried to soften and fill his head that he could not get married as he lost Sfetigrad and Berat, and when this danger rushed to Kruja and Albania; he vowed that the marriage would take place without delay, as soon as the storm approached, but Arianit did not want to hear any of these reasons: Did the groom, he said, have no help (Noli. Acts IV. p. 134). And such an attitude was encountered in the conditions when Skanderbeg was in a difficult position, before the start of the campaign organized by Murat II, who was preparing to invade Albania. Studying Noli we notice that on the one hand it is the Ottomans who threaten Albania and prepare to attack it, while on the other hand stands Gjergj Arianiti, who resents the Hero for not realizing the marriage with his daughter.

But why had Skanderbeg previously refused to marry Donika Arianiti? Fan Noli explains this to us again. Somewhere there he writes that “Skanderbeg’s insistence on non-marriage, as we will see later, had another major cause: it was the fear of angering his nephew Hamza Kastrioti, who hoped to hold his foot for as long as Skanderbeg had his sons… ..Being married, therefore, in this case, which was undoubtedly not for the wedding, Skanderbeg would set fire to his house, so, therefore, the marriage was set aside and Arianit remained cold and hostile ”(Noli. Ibid.).

Thus browsing and studying this history reveals to us the true characteristics of the feudal society of the time, where marriages played only the role of political alliances and military coalitions. Albanian nobility was not excluded from such relations, where the main function of dynastic marriages was political. But it could also happen otherwise that their destruction or non-realization would bring anger, hostility and even conflict. As Noli points out, because in this case, we see on the one hand a reluctance of Gjergj Kastriot to marry Donika Arianiti. It should be noted, however, that there was previously another marital relationship between the Kastriots and the Arianites. Such was that of Skanderbeg’s sister, Angjelina, who was married to Vladan Arian Komnenos, brother of Gjergj Arianit.

Meanwhile, after a long refusal, Skanderbeg was finally forced to marry against the insistence and imposing attitude of Gjergj Arianiti on the one hand, but also that of the request of the people and his close people on the other hand. Thus, the people viewed such an alliance as a military alliance that would be able to protect it from the threat of Ottoman occupation. On this occasion, Barleti, in his story, states that “Everyone was glad that the two most powerful princes of Epirus were bound to each other by such a marriage, because it seemed clear that in the future their united powers they had to easily defend themselves from any danger of war damage ” (Barleti. History..Pg. 292). While, on the same occasion, Noli, among other things, writes that “Albanians were convinced not to be rushed by the Turks for several years and so the prayers of the leaders to marry Skanderbeg to leave an heir to the throne begin again. Arianit reminded him of his vow again, and Skanderbeg could not escape this time. The marriage was necessary because it provided an alliance with the strongest prince of Tuscany, whose military and financial assistance was necessary for the continuation of the war… ” (Noli. Acts IV. P. 146).

On the other hand, regarding a possible marriage of Gjergj Kastriot, we also have the position of the feudal lords relatives or collaborators of Skanderbeg, who insisted that such a step would bring Kastriot, the missing heir. Let us not forget that in 1450, when such negotiations became powerful, Gjergj Kastrioti was 45 years old and had passed the age of marriage for years. In this case, as Noli above, Barleti informs us that “Purpurants and related princes did not leave Skanderbeg alone, out of a desire to focus more on family matters and the seedling that had to take its place.” ‘(Barleti. P. 291).

But Barleti also reveals the real reason for Gjergj Arianiti’s insistence and insistence about this marriage. It seems that shortly before this connection was realized, probably around 1450, Gjergj Kastrioti and Gjergj Arianiti had concluded an agreement to realize a joint anti-Ottoman alliance which foresaw in the final stage, the coronation of Kastriot with Arianit’s daughter. For this Barleti states very clearly that “Kastriot, although he was chained in the middle against the widow’s wish, nevertheless, when he took into account the circumstances in turn, found it appropriate to do that work more for its honor and benefit, and he ought not to have denied it again, for he had given them the word last year, when they asked him so earnestly ” (Barleti. Ibid.).

Thus the long-awaited and so-rumored marriage finally took place on April 26, 1451. Only then, Gjergj Arianiti, succeeded Skanderbeg in an analogous alliance like that of Gaeta with the king of Naples. The agreement was signed in June of that year and according to it, the two sides agreed to fight together against the Ottomans.

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But where did Skanderbeg’s marriage take place ?! This is a question to which to date no one can give us convincing data, whether from old or contemporary authors. Such a thing happens due to the lack of written documents. It is alleged that the wedding took place in Kanina where Gjergj Arianiti was based. Then she continued to the “house” of the groom in Kruja. Legends and folklore about Skanderbeg’s marriage in Kanina have remained alive today in the Vlora region. One of them preserved in Himara, which was owned by Gjergj Arianiti, says: “On the wedding day, the Captains of Himara also went to Kanina with fish for the couple. They accompanied the bride to Kruja ”(Academy of Sciences. Historical Epic. I. Tirana 1983. p. 133).

Also, the verbal evidence has led to the presentation of the hypothesis that Skanderbeg was crowned with Donika on the altar of the church of the Ardenica monastery in Lushnje. According to them, the couple arrived at this monastery after the wedding held at the bride’s house in Kanina, on April 21, 1451. They were accompanied by Albanian princes, family members, ambassadors of Naples, Vatican, Ragusa and Venice. The coronation ceremony took place at noon on April 26, 1451, under the direction of Bishop Felix, under whose tutelage the Ardenica Monastery was located. The next day Skanderbeg and Donika left for Kruja, where a magnificent wedding took place at the groom’s house, according to the rites of Albanian tradition.

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But where did Skanderbeg’s marriage take place?! This is a question to which to date no one can give us convincing data, whether from old or contemporary authors. Such a thing happens due to the lack of written documents. It is alleged that the wedding took place in Kanina where Gjergj Arianiti was based. Then she continued to the “house” of the groom in Kruja. Legends and folklore about Skanderbeg’s marriage in Kanina have remained alive today in the Vlora region. One of them preserved in Himara, which was owned by Gjergj Arianiti, says: “On the wedding day, the Captains of Himara also went to Kanina with fish for the couple. They accompanied the bride to Kruja” (Academy of Sciences. Historical Epic. I. Tirana 1983. p. 133).

Also, the verbal evidence has led to the presentation of the hypothesis that Skanderbeg was crowned with Donika on the altar of the church of the Ardenica monastery in Lushnje. According to them, the couple arrived at this monastery after the wedding held at the bride’s house in Kanina, on April 21, 1451. They were accompanied by Albanian princes, family members, ambassadors of Naples, Vatican, Ragusa and Venice. The coronation ceremony took place at noon on April 26, 1451, under the direction of Bishop Felix, under whose tutelage the Ardenica Monastery was located. The next day Skanderbeg and Donika left for Kruja, where a magnificent wedding took place at the groom’s house, according to the rites of Albanian tradition.

Unfortunately, the library of this monastery was burned in 1932 along with books, manuscripts and documents, but to its monks, the echo of this event was transmitted from generation to generation, until 1967, when atheistic fury destroyed religious institutions and along with them and a part of our historical memory. This testimony was encountered and published by Bishop Irene Banushi, who in the 1960s lived for some time in the community of monks of this monastery (Andrea Llukani. Christianity in Albania. Trifon Xhagjika Publications. Tirana 2012. p. 323).

However, Skanderbeg’s marriage marked a turning point in the developments of the 15th century Albanian-Ottoman War. Freed from their pressure, strengthened by the alliance with Gjergj Arianiti and with another prestige already, he launched the crackdown on the particularism of the Allied leaders of the League. As its commander-in-chief, he “worked hard” to create a state centered in his hands, which, despite the problems he encountered and the situations he went through, functioned until the moment when the Hero died on January 17, 1468.

While this event had its consequences in social terms. Its expected consequences were not long in coming. So after three years she brought to Skanderbeg what Barleti once called “the seedling that had to take his place”. The birth of John the Baptist, who traditionally took his grandfather’s name, brought other events. “By getting married, Skanderbeg would set fire to his house,” Noli said in his story. And it was in 1457 that Hamzai, his nephew and one of his close associates, betrayed. Left without the Kastriot legacy, he as a soldier had no choice but to do what he had done best in his life. To take up arms and direct them against the uncle.

However, these developments do not diminish the importance of Skanderbeg’s marriage, which in the future should become the subject of new studies in the field of historiography. By Ilirjan Gjika