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Üsküdar, a district of Istanbul, was also known as Scutari.
Latin name: Scodra
Alternative and foreign names Albanian: Shkodra
Founded: 4th century B.C.
Religion: The Catholics and Muslims coexist and religious freedom does exist
University: The University of Shkodėr founded 1992.
Shkodra a town in North-Albania, 2400-years old.
Shkodėr or Shkodra
( Latin Scodra, Turkish İşkodra or Arnavut İskenderiyesi) is a city located on Lake Scutari (Shkodra Lake) in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodėr, and is the capital of the District of Shkodėr. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodėr's estimated population as of 2004 is 90,000; if the surrounding region is included the population is 110,000.
The name of the city Shkodėr (or Skodra in the early times) is somewhat mysterious. Some scientists believe that the name means "Shko-drin" which means "go Drin", Drin being the Drin river that connects with the Buna river next to the castle of Rozafa. Some others believe the name has latin root but there are no proofs. Another fact is that the name Skodra was used before Illyrians were occupied from Rome.
Shkodėr was founded around the 4th century BC. This was the site of the Illyrian tribe Labeates as well as the capital of the kingdom of King Gentius and that of Queen Teuta. In the year 168 BC, the city was taken by the Romans and it became an important trade and military route.
The dawn of the Middle ages saw waves of Slavs arriving. De Administrando Imperio describes how Byzantine Emperor Heraclius gave the Serbs the city of Shkodėr and the surrounding territories of during the first half of the 7th century. They soon formed the Principality of Duklja there. Shkodėr was a major city of the medieval Slav state. Duklja was subjected to its northern neighbor, the Principality of Rascia, forming the Grand Principality of Rascia. Its rulers recognized Bulgarian Czars as their supreme rulers during the first half of the 10th century. Soon Grand Prince Časlav Klonimir of the House of Voislav liberated the local Serbian lands from Byzantine and Bulgarian rule. Shkodėr soon became Duklja's capital during the reign of Saint John Vladimir in the second half of the 10th century who defended the city from the menacing Arbanass tribes. John had to briefly surrender Duklja to the Bulgarian Czar from Macedonia Samuil. The Byzantines later incorporated the region directly into their empire, forming the theme of Serbia governed by strategos Constantine Diogenes. Stefan Voislav from Travunia expelled the last strategos of Serbia Theophilos Erotikos and fought the Byzantines successfully during the first half of the 11th century, keeping its independence. He liberated the city from the Romei ca 1040. It soon became a major city of a revived Duklja. King Constantin Bodin of Duklja and Dalmatia accepted the crusaders of the Crusade of 1101 in Shkodėr. After numerous dynastic struggles, Shkodėr become a part of Zeta, an entity subjected to the Grand Principality of Rascia in the 12th century. It later fell to the hands of the Albanian feudal family of the Balsha followed afterwards by the Dukagjini control who surrendered the city to the Venetian rule, forming a coalition against the Ottoman Empire with many neighboring Albanian tribes.
15th to 19th centuries
Shkodėr resisted two major Ottoman attacks, in 1474 and 1478-1479, under the leadership of Lekė Dukagjini (who became leader of the Albanian resistance following the death of Skanderbeg in 1468), when the city was entirely surrounded by Ottoman forces. It fell under Turkish rule after a heroic struggle in 1479. After the Turkish occupation the city was devastated, and a large number of the population fled. Around the 17th century, the city began to prosper and it became the center of a sanjak, an Ottoman administrative unit smaller than a vilayet. It became the economic center of northern Albania, its craftsmen producing fabric, silk, arms, and silver artifacts. Construction included two-story stone houses, the bazaar, and the Central or Middle Bridge (Ura e Mesit) over the Kir river, built during the second half of the 18th century, over 100 meters long, with 13 arcs of stone, the largest one being 22 meters wide and 12 meters tall. .
In the 18th century Shkodėr became the center of the (pashaluk) of Shkodėr, under the rule of the Bushati family, which ruled from 1757 to 1831. After the fall of the pashaluk, the people of Shkodėr had a number of uprisings against the Ottomans (1833-1836, 1854, 1861-1862, and 1869).
Shkodėr became an important trade center in the second half of the 19th century. Aside from being the center of the vilayet of Shkodėr, it was an important trading center for the entire Balkan peninsula. It had over 3,500 shops, and clothing, leather, tobacco, and gun powder were some of the major products of Shkodėr. A special administration was established to handle trade, a trade court, and a directorate of postage services with other countries. Other countries had opened consulates in Shkodėr ever since 1718. Obot and Ulcinj served as ports for Shkodėr, and later on Shėngjin (San Giovanni di Medua). The Jesuit seminar and the Franciscan committee were opened in the 19th century.
Shkodėr played an important role during the League of Prizren, the Albanian liberation movement. The people of Shkodėr participated in battles to protect Albanian land. The branch of the League of Prizren for Shkodėr, which had its own armed unit, fought for the protection of Plava and Gusinje, Hoti, and Gruda, and the war for the protection of Ulcinj.
In the 19th century Shkodėr was also known as a cultural center. The Bushati Library, built during the 1840s, served as a center for the League of Prizren's branch for Shkodėr. Many books were collected in libraries of Catholic missionaries working in Shkodėr. Literary, cultural, and sports associations were formed, such as Bashkimi ("The Union") and Agimi ("The Dawn"). The first Albanian newspapers and publications printed in Albania came out of the printing press of Shkodėr. The Marubi family of photographers began working in Shkodėr, which left behind over 150,000 negatives from the period of the Albanian liberation movement, the rise of the Albanian flag in Vlora, and life in Albanian towns during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Before 1867 Shkodėr (İşkodra) was a sanjak of Rumelia eyalet in Ottoman Empire. In 1867, Shkodėr sanjak merged with Skopje (Üsküp) sanjak and became the vilayet. Shkodėr vilayet was split into Shkodėr, Prizren and Debar (Debre) sanjaks. In 1877, Prizren passed to Kosovo (Kosova) vilayet and Debar passed to Monastir vilayet. Durres (Dıraē) township was became a sanjak. In 1878 Bar and Podgorica townships belonged to Montenegro. In 1900, Shkodėr vilayet was split into Shkodėr and Durres sanjaks.
During the Balkan Wars, Shkodėr was sought by the Kingdom of Montenegro. The Ottoman forces led by Essad Pasha had resisted for seven months the surrounding of the town by Montenegrin forces and their Serbian allies. Essad finally surrendered to Montenegro in April, 1913, after Montenegro suffered more that 10,000 casualties. Montenegro was compelled to leave the city to the new country of Albania in May 1913, in accordance with the London Conference of Ambassadors.
During World War I, Montenegrin forces again entered Shkodėr on June 27th 1915. In January 1916, Shkodėr was captured by Austria-Hungary and was the center of the zone of their occupation. After World War I, the international military administration of Albania was temporarily located in Shkodėr, and in March, 1920, Shkodėr was put under the administration of the national government of Tirana. In the second half of 1920, Shkodėr resisted another threat, the military intervention of the forces of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Shkodėr was the center of democratic movements of the years 1921-1924. The democratic opposition won the majority of votes for the Constitutional Assembly, and on May 31st, 1924, the democratic forces took over the town and from Shkodėr headed to Tirana. From 1924 to 1939, Shkodėr had a slow industrial development, small factories that produced food, textile, and cement were opened. From 43 of such in 1924, the number rose to 70 in 1938. In 1924, Shkodėr had 20,000 inhabitants, the number grew to 29,000 in 1938.
Shkodėr was the seat of the Catholic archbishopric and had a number of religious schools. The first laic school was opened here in 1913, and the State Gymnasium was opened in 1922. It was the center of many cultural associations, such as "Vllaznia".
During the early 1990s, Shkodėr was once again a major center, this time of the democratic movement that finally brought to an end the communist regime established by Enver Hoxha.
Shkodėr is an important educational and industrial center. The city produces various mechanical and electrical components, as well textile and food products. Shkodėr is also the site of the Pedagogical Institute and of the Luigj Gurakuqi University of Shkodėr. The main library of the city contains more than 250,000 books. Other cultural institutions are the Cultural Center, the Artists and Writers Association, the "Migjeni" Theater (named after Millosh Gjergj Nikolla), the Gallery of Arts, and the Museum of History. Skoder is the centre of Albanian Catholicism and the most prominent institutions of the Catholic creed including the largest cathedral in the country are located in Shkodra. Other noteworthy cultural elements include the Castle of Shkodėr (aka Castle of Rozafa), the Turkish Bath, the Lead Mosque.
Shkodėr is also famous for its Islamic scholarship. Indeed it was the only institution in Albania which provided high-level education in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
The songs of the northern city of Shkodėr - one of the most cosmopolitan of Albanian towns and the centre of intellectual life - are different from the rural music. Lyrical, romantic and sophisticated, with oriental-sounding scales and a constant interplay of major and minor, they bear an affinity with the sevdalinke of Bosnia and the neighboring Sandzak, but differ from them in their extreme and typically Albanian restraint and the exceptional fluidity of rhythm and tempo. Early descriptions of such groups, which date from the end of the nineteenth century, suggest a remarkable sound: violin, clarinet, saz, def, sometimes and Indian-style harmonium and percussion provided by rattling a stick between two bottles. These days the accordion and guitar have replaced the more exotic instruments, but the intimate approach of the singers remains the same. Among the most important players are Bik Ndoja, Luēija Miloti, Xhevdet Hafizi and Bujar Qamili.
Today the city and the area around it is blessed with numerous and different natural and cultural objects. The most attractive quarters with such peculiarities are Serresh and Gjuhadol, but the most important objects is the castle of Rozafa. The history of the castle starts since the Illyrian times. A very interesting legend explains its history. The main theme of the legend has to do with keeping of promise. Rozafa the bride of the youngest of three brothers was walled up in order that the walls of the castle do not fall down by the night. The water passing through the stones at the main entrance are connected in the folk fantasy with the water going out from the bossom of Rozafa, which she left out during the time she was walled up in order to feed her little baby.
Another interesting historical site are the ruins of medieval town of Sarda, situated only 15 km far away from Shkodėr. To go there you must take a motor-boat which sails from the dam of Vau i Dejes artificial lake to the island where Sarda is located (10 miles). This boat operates for tourists during the summer times, twice per week. Sarda was a mediaval town with a surface of 5 ha built on the top of the hill surrounded by the waters of Drini river (now artificial lake). It was the residential place of the famous Dukagjini Feudal Family. There was a great prince palace of this family.
The very characteristic appearance of the city is formed by the old houses and the narrow streets formed by tall stone walls. After World War II, Shkodėr was rebuilt with wider streets and new residential buildings. These were built in several new quarters. Shkodra is also the home of the biggest and liveliest stadium in Albania : Loro-Boriēi Stadium.
Rozafa - the immured woman
The first beginning of an ancient city. Everything begins as a legend, everything continues like in a legend. Rozafa was there, before Christ was born, she is there right now.
For those who know the legend of Rozafa, the fortress of Shkodra, it's probably clear that on its walls there is the "live-body" of a mother. The woman 'Rozafa' begs for letting her breast out, to feed with milk her little son. With her body, Rozafa gave birth to a child, and with her sincerity and her self-sacrifice, she gave birth to a town. Upon her body were build a fortress, and the three brothers of the legend found afterwards the good will over immuring this woman. As always happen, something must be sacrificed to give life to something much bigger.
And this way, Shkodra could live over this legendary sacrifice. The human history in its self, in its in-conscious turbulence, has proven the paradoxical unreason: Something sacred must be given - something sacred will be gained. Life is sacred. And the coming generations are able to use what was gained over the loss. Rozafa, this naive woman, could have died like any other woman - forgotten, but she died, without knowing it, to live as a legend. This paradox of the human reason brings us to a beginning: The old man as an 'oracle', tells to the brothers that they must immure one of the women, to make possible the wall standing. Is it possible that this philosophic lesson of the oracle, this unique symbolic action, is made to tell us, that when you loose something valuable, you begin to give value to what you have built over the loss?... And this has happened very naturally in the time of Rozafa, the woman who was immured, because of giving life. She was immured because the oracle said it. She sacrificed her life for common traditions. This constitutes the philosophic power of the legend: Sacrifice as necessity, without discussion.
But, a question comes naturally to our mind: are the most of people ready to sacrifice something? No, but in another way, yes! Everyone loose something, someone more, and someone less, without desiring it, without knowing the reason. This happens as usually and naturally, as it happened with Rozafa. But our loss are small, individual losses, meanwhile the loss of Rozafa was for the global interest's sake: building a protecting wall for Shkodra.
Shkodra in centuries...
Shkodėr, Shkodra or Scutari (ancient Scodra)
A city in northwestern Albania, capital of Shkodėr District. One of Albania's oldest cities, an important economic and cultural center.
Shkodra lies on southern part of the plain of Mbishkodra, next to the Shkodra Lake (Liqeni i Shkodrės), between the rivers Drin and Bunė, the mountain of Tarabosh, and the Rozafa Castle. Shkodra is a trading and industrial center of northern Albania. Manufactures include tobacco, textiles, cement, leather products, and building materials. The city is dominated by a 15th-century Venetian citadel built on a hill.
In former times, Shkodra (pronounced: Shko-drah) was known as Scodra. It was founded around the 4th century B.C. on the hills around the Castle of Shkodra (Rozafa). It was the center of the Illyrian tribe Labeat, and during the rule of Gent it became the capital of the Illyrian kingdom. It was taken by the Romans in the year 168 B.C. One of the most important trade and military routes that came down from the northern part of the Balkan peninsula, passed through Shkodra, continuing to Kosova and further. In 1040, Shkodra was captured by the Serbs and became the center of Zeta. During the 14th century it became the center of the Balsha feudal family. In 1396 it was taken by the Venetians.
Shkodra resisted two major Ottoman attacks, in 1474 and 1478-1479, when the city was entirely surrounded by Ottoman forces. It fell under Turkish rule after a heroic struggle in 1479. After the Turkish occupation the city was devastated, and a large number of the population fled. Around the 17th century, the city began to prosper and it became the center of the 'sanjak', Turkish administrative units smaller than 'vilayets'. It became the economic center of northern Albania, its craftsmen produced fabric, silk, arms, and silver artifacts. Two story stone houses were built, the bazaar, and the Bridge of Mesi (Ura e Mesit) over the Kir river, built during the second half of the 18th century, over 100 meters long, with 13 arcs of stone, the largest one being 22 meters wide and 12 meters tall.
In the 18th century Shkodra became the center of the pashallek of Shkodra, under the rule of the Bushati family, which ruled from the year 1757 to 1831. After the fall of the pashallek, the people of Shkodra had a number of uprisings against the Ottomans, in the years 1833-1836, 1854, 1861-1862, and 1869.
Shkodra became an important trade center in the second half of the 19th century. Aside from being the center of the vilayet of Shkodra, it was an important trading center for the entire Bakan peninsula. It had over 3500 shops, and clothing, leather, tobacco, and gun powder were some of the major products of Shkodra. A special administration was established to handle trade, a trade court, and a directorate of postage services with other countries. Other countries had opened consulates in Shkodra ever since 1718. Obot and Ulqin served as ports for Shkodra, and later on Shėngjin. The Jesuit seminar and the Franciscan committee were opened in the 19th century.
Shkodra played an important role during the League of Prizren, the Albanian liberation movement. The people of Shkodra participated in battles to protect Albanian land. The branch of the League of Prizren for Shkodra, which had its own armed unit, fought for the protection of Plava and Gucia, Hoti and Gruda, and the war for the protection of Ulqin.
In the 19th century, Shkodra was also known as a cultural center. The Bushati Library, built during the 1840s, served as a center for the League of Prizren's branch for Shkodra. Many books were collected in libraries of Catholic missionaries working in Shkodra. Literary, cultural, and sports associations were formed, such as "Bashkimi" and "Agimi." The first Albanian newspapers and publications printed in Albania came out of the printing press of Shkodra. The Marubi family of photographers began working in Shkodra, which left behind over 150,000 negatives from the period of the Albanian liberation movement, the rise of the Albanian flag in Vlora, and life in Albanian towns during the end of the 19th and the begining of the 20th century.
During the Balkan Wars and World War I, Shkodra was sought by Montenegro and Serbia. The people of Shkodra had resisted for seven months the surrounding of the town by Serbian and Montenegrin armies. The occupiers finally entered the town in April, 1913, and severely damaged the town and set the bazaar on fire. The Serbian and Montenegrin armies were compelled to leave in May, 1913, in accordance with the London Conference of Ambassadors, which allotted Shkodra to the new country of Albania.
During World War I, Montenegrin forces once again entered Shkodra on June 27th, 1915. In January of 1916, Shkodra was captured by Austria-Hungary and was the center of the zone of their occupation. After World War I, the international military administration of Albania was temporarily located in Shkodra, and in March, 1920, Shkodra was put under the administration of the national government of Tirana. In the second half of 1920, Shkodra resisted another threat, the military intervention of the forces of the Yugoslav kingdom.
Shkodra was center of democratic movements of the years 1921-1924. The democratic opposition won the majority of votes for the Constitutional Assembly, and on May 31st, 1924, the democratic forces took over the town and from Shkodra headed to Tirana. From 1924 to 1939, Shkodra had a slow industrial development, small factories that produced food, textile, and cement were opened. From 43 of such in 1924, the number rose to 70 in 1938. In 1924, Shkodra had 20,000 inhabitants, the number grew to 29,000 in 1938.
Shkodra was the seat of the Catholic archiepiscopacy and had a number of religious schools. The first laic school was opened here in 1913, and the State Gymnasium was opened in 1922. It was the center of many cultural associations, such as "Vllaznia".
Shkodra was a major center of the democratic movement of 1990 and 1991. Many demonstrations and clashes with the police occurred here, when the population demanded an end to the brutal communist regime of Albania. Shkodra is one of the major industrial centers of Albania. The mechanical and electronic industries are the most developed, preceding are the food and building materials industries. Some of the major manufacturing facilities are the factory of electric wires and cables, wood processing plants, factories of leather and clothing, tobacco, and food.
Shkodra is a major cultural center of Albania. The University "Luigj Gurakuqi" has several branches. The main library has over 250,000 titles. The Cultural Center, the branch of the Artists and Writers Association, and the "Migjeni" Theater are other major cultural institutions of Shkodra. The Museum of History, Museum of Education, the House of the Shkodra Branch of the League of Prizren, the Gallery of Arts, are some of the museums of Shkodra.
The city retains its characteristic appearance, with narrow streets with tall stone walls on both sides, and tall gates, but a large part of it has been transformed after World War II, with straight wide streets and tall residential and public buildings. The city expanded with several new quarters, and the industrial zone was built north of the city.
Some of the cultural monuments of Shkodra are the Castle of Shkodra (Rozafa), the Turkish Bath (hamam), the Mosque of Plumbi, and many old houses with an appearance characteristic to Shkodra. The city lies next to the lake and the residents use te beach of Shiroka for recreation. Population (1990 estimate) 81,900.
Archdiocese of Scutari (SCUTARENSIS)
The first known bishop was Bassus (387). The bishops of Scutari were at first subject to the Metropolitan of Salonica, Primate of all Illyricum, but when Justinian I transferred the primacy to Achrida, they became suffrages of the latter see. In the early Middle Ages Scutari was suffrage of Dioclea. From the seventh to the middle of the twelfth century no bishop is known.
Among its best-known bishops are: Francis II de Sanctis (1471-1491); Fra Dominicus Andrijasevic (died at Rome in 1639), a famous theologian and philosopher, friend of Gregory XV and of Urban VIII; Dominicus II Babic (1677-1686); Antonius III de Nigris (1693-1702), martyred in 1702 by the Turks. In 1867 Scutari was que principaliter united with the Archdiocese of Antivari, and in this way Pius IX made Scutari an archdiocese and metropolis. The first archbishop of the united diocese, Mgr. Charles Pooten, native of Teveran near Aachen, who had been Apostolic Administrator of Antivari (1834-1855), died at Scutari on 15 January, 1886. From 1063 to 1886 only 53 bishops of Scutari are known. On 23 October, 1886, the Archdiocese of Scutari was separated from that of Antivari, and remained an archdiocese and a metropolis with three suffragans: Alessio, Sappa, and Pulati. The ancient See of Ulcinium, in the territory of Scutari, was in 1571 occupied by the Turks and ceased to exist, for no Christians remained. During the existence of Ulcinium, its bishops were suffrages of the Metropolitan of Antivari or of that of Dioclea. About the middle of the sixteenth century the ancient See of Suacium was forever suppressed. Other ancient sees in this territory were the Sees of Dinnastrum and Balazum.
The Archdiocese of Scutari comprises 29 parishes, of which 8 are held by Franciscans, and has a Catholic population of about 33,807. Its present metropolitan is Mgr. Paschalis Guerini, born at Pezzagno in Dalmatia, 21 May, 1821; ordained priest on 27 June, 1848; appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Scutari and titular Bishop of Paphos on 6 May, 1879; elected as Metropolitan and Archbishop of Scutari on 23 November, 1886. The Episcopal residence is at Scutari. The Archdiocese of Scutari has a Collegium Pontificium Albaniense founded as a central seminary (1853) by the Holy See. Burned and again destroyed by the Turks, it was reopened in 1859, the Emperor of Austria, Francis Joseph I, bearing two-thirds of the expense. The Austrian Government supported at first fifteen seminarians, now twenty-four; Propaganda supports ten; the remaining eleven are at the charge of their bishops. It is administered by the Jesuits. A preparatory school, the Collegium S. Francisci Xaverii, was opened in 1841 by the Jesuits, to which in 1868, by the wish of Pius IX, a course of philosophy was added and later a trade-school (Handelsschule). The Franciscans have a college or so-called probandat at Scutari and a novitiate at Rubigo. The Scolopii have an orphanage for boys, and there is also an orphanage for poor girls. There are Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and four Catholic elementary schools. The Franciscans have hospices at Arra e madhe - Scutari and at Kastrati, and a monastery at Scutari. The schools and colleges are sustained mostly by the Propaganda and by the Austrian Government.
Zoja e Shkodrės
- Our Good Lady's Legend
Our Good Lady of Shkodra is an icon from 5-th century. The legend says that the painting has been shown in the church of Zoja e Shkodres
for many centuries, but after the Turkish invasion on the 15-th century, the icon flied to Genazzano, Italy, and it is still there. A copy of it, was donated to the Big Church of Shkodra, by Pope himself, when He paid a visit to Shkodra on 25 April 1993. The church Zoja e Shkodres has been restored by help of Vatican and now has a great mission for the spiritual life of people in Shkodra.
The legend says that on the Feast of St. Mark, 1467, during a festival in Genazzano, Italy, a cloud descended upon an ancient 5th century detiorated church dedicated to Our Mother of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, the festive crowd found a small, fragile picture of Our Lady with Her Child on a paper - thin sheet of plaster; the painting stood without support, floating, on a small ledge.
The church was restored and the painting was placed in it. The painting is believed to have been recovered from Scutari (Shkodėr), Albania. Much of the church was destroyed in World War II, but the picture remained intact and in place.
Many pilgrims visit the church in Genazzano, and many take part in the annual spring procession of spectacular beauty. The miraculous image is still, to this day, and has been for more than 500 years, suspended in the air by itself. Countless miracles have been attributed to the prayerful intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
It was Pietro Marubi, an Italian who came to Shkodra on the last century and brought the art of photography in the Balkans. He made a studio in the north Albanian town, the first in Albania, in a room 5x7 m. on the house of Kodheli family. In the Marubi photo-gallery has been about 150,000 films and glasses, which gives a very rich image of people from Shkodra and other towns by that time. There are portraits of people who struggle for the Albanian independence and other personalities. The art of photographing was used afterward by Kel Kodheli, who took the surname Marubi after Pietros death.
The studio was build between 1885-1890, and after the year 1919, a lot of the photos were registered by alphabetical order, with the names of them, who had been taken photos. The photo on the right - The freedom's warriors.
The last one from the Marubi family, who used the art of photography was Gegė Marubi, and we can see his picture with a little boy on the left side. He died on 1984 and didn't leave any one, who could inherit his art of photographing.
On the other hand, we have a picture of to young fellows for "The Youth of Shala" taken by Kel Marubi (Kodheli) on the years between 1900-1915. Such photos are very valuable for the history of Albania and the region, too. After the II World War, came in Albania another regime, that hindered people to have personal property or any kind of inheritance.
Culture & Art
There is a special old folke-music in Shkodra called 'Shkodra songs'. Like Korēa, Elbasan, Tirana, Vlora and some other towns in Albania, Shkodra has its own special distinctive music. We have contacted Zef Ēoba, one of the most well-known composers of Shkodra in now days, who helped us to get some old 'sounds' of Shkodra.
The tradition of painting in Shkodra is one of the oldest in Albania. Famous painters from Shkodra has contributed in opening the first school of Fine Arts in Albania. We present here in this page, some of the most talented painters of Shkodra.
Authors from Shkodra
The art of writing has been very old in Shkodra. Albania inherit from Shkodra one of the most precious literature from the Middle Age to the Renaissance. We start with Gjon Buzuku, who wrote one of the first books in Albanian "Meshari", 1555, and Frang Bardhi.
We'll try to get translated, or publish some poetries or short stories from the most known Shkodran writers and poets, like Marin Barleti (15 cent.), who wrote the history of Scanderbeg, Gjergj Fishta - the Albanian Homer and the first Albanian writer nominatet to Nobel Prize, Migjeni - the modern poet of poverty, Viēens Prennushi, Ndre Mjeda, Filip Shiroka, Pashko Vasa - who wrote the famous "Oh Albania, poor Albania", Ernest Koliqi, Martin Camaj, Lazer Shantoja, etc.
The most of the translations broght here under this page for some authors from Shkodra, have been taken from the homepage of Dr. Robert Elsie, specialist in Albanian studies.
The criminal law in the "Kanun of Lekė Dukagjini
The Albanian customary law
The Albanian expression for the customary law of the Albanians is Kanun. This word was taken over out of Sumerian (gi, Rohr) over Acadian (qanu, Rohr) to the Hebrew (qane, Rohr) and from there to the Greek (kanna, Rohr) and to canons, where it was trained further and meant "rule, standard". The main meaning of the Kanun on Albanian, is the customary law.
The sources of the customary law of the Albanians are: Kanuni i Skėnderbeut, Kanuni i Malsisė sė Madhe, Kanuni i Labėrisė, Kanuni i Lekė Dukagjinit (KLD). In this work, I will treat the most well-known customary law of the Albanians and/or the criminal law in the Kanun of Lekė Dukagjini (KLD).
The admission of the KLD in written form from verbal excessive quantity was taken by the Franciscan Shtjefėn Gjegjovi of Kosova. He began to publish the right statutes collected by him in the year 1913 in the magazine of the Albanian Franciscan "Hylli i Dritės". After its murder by Serbs on 14.10.1929, other Franciscans systematized the left material and published it under the name "Kanuni i Lekė Dukagjinit". The customary law "Kanuni" was divided in 1263 §§ and into twelve books. The Kanun regulated both civil and criminal questions. This Codex was at the same time the actual Albanian condition for many centuries up to the Second World War.
II. The criminal law in the "Kanun"
The penal jurisdiction of the Kanun was a mixture from more public and self law. The natural person alone was legally responsible after this customary law. With respect to the person one differentiated between this and their accessories.
Due to this distinction the Albanian customary law protected the following goods:
a. the goods of the body and
b. of the soul.
Under accessories of the person fall:
c. the actions and
a. The goods of the body
The goods of the body after the customary law of the Albanians could be hurt by impact, mutilating and by death.
a. a. The fight
The impact was a consequence of anger, a battle of words or a threat. Fights between the adults on the one hand and the children on the other hand, were treated differently.
A fight, which happened between two adults, and if from it blood flowed, rather as honoring injury as bodily injury was considered. If the bodily injury were not so large, it was understood that the person who got hurt of the body could pay back in the same way. The fight in the public as well as that fight, which arrived at ears of the public, produced a rising hate.
The fight between children was not taken seriously. Even if the child were struck by a man from the relationship, it was presupposed that it had happened as a "punishment".
a. b. mutilating
By mutilating one understands a separating or the injury of any part of the body. In the Kanun a wound under peace, which was caused by the weapon, fell. The Albanian customary law did not make a large distinction between intentional and unintentional mutilating. Unintentional mutilating was measured with more indulgence. The reason for this indistinct distinction lay probably in the fact that the possibility should be taken to the author of being able to state to its defense that the act happened negligently for his part, even if it added deliberately the wound.
Intentional were the cases if someone directed deliberately the weapon against another and wounded it. On the other hand under unintentional (negligent) mutilating, one understood those by coincidence and without intention added wound. This occurred then, e.g. if someone wanted to meet the enemy however an indifferent one meets.
Independently of it, whether one added intentionally or unintentionally a wound to someone by the weapon, the wounded one had the right to revenge himself according to the principle "wound for wound".
a. c. the death and the blood revenge
Around the blood revenge under the Albanian trunks of "own 'category' of the blood revenge historiography developed, in which Austrian and German travelers and scientists were particularly active. The blood revenge was presented to the readers as something sensational." Depending upon the author, they aroused the impression that the life of the Albanians was only concerned around blood revenge. I do not share the same opinion.
The nature of the blood revenge existed therein that one had the right to revenge for the death of own blood relatives. According to the Kanun, one differentiated between retaliation (hakmarrja) and blood revenge (gjakmarrja). The retaliation came to the course, if someone were damaged by stealing at the fortune. The damaged one had the right for its stolen fortune, a retaliation to exercise after the maxim "stealing for stealing". The blood revenge was a consequence of the earlier committed murders or injuries of the honor. The author, supported by the rules of the Kanun, was that one, which killed with own hand (§ 848). Other involved one in a murder and/or a blood revenge was the aid/accomplice (§ 831), the accomplice (§ 766). In addition of this, more down follows.
A certain group of persons were preserved by the blood revenge, like women, children, the priest, old and ill humans as well as spirit patients.
The homicide without intention was not pursued. The author had to remain however hidden, for a long time, as it is called in the Kanun, "the blood is hot" (the excitation lasted) and the case was well examined and clarified (§ 933ff). Now the mediators (so-called "reasonable people") occurred, in order to confirm that really the homicide was unintentional. If the mediators stated that the homicide was without intention, the author had to pay only a blood penalty (§ 934).
After an execution of the blood revenge the author (dorasi) had to inform even the public and the family of the victim that he practiced blood revenge. In the case of a death or blood revenge, it was forbidden exercising massacre by the author to the victim. If someone added further wounds with a measurer after the death at the body of the victim, the author was charged with double murder, i.e. he had to be pulled for responsibility not only for a murder, but for two.
The woman remained exempted from blood revenge. Against them, none was allowed to exercise blood revenge. If no male person were in the house, and who has not yet carried out revenge, the woman had to revenge. She could be killed only in the case of adultery, otherwise killing a woman - it was intentional or unintentional - was a large dishonor. Even the weapons, by which a wound or a death of a woman was caused, were considered as "worthlessly" (unworthily) to be used for war purposes.
If the author without authorization (for someone else) exercised blood revenge, his house was burned and down-cleverly, the entire mobile fortune, as for instance furniture, grain, cattle was confiscated. He had to leave the dwelling and its master areas with the whole family and pay a penalty.
a. d. switching and peace vow
The mediator (ndermjetsi) is called that one, which interfered, in order of the "bad words to decide" (pėr me da fjalėt e kqia) i.e. the risen tension as consequence of the disputes to turn gossip away, which could lead to the revenge, from the homicide and other spoiling development (§667). The mediator had admission everywhere. Mediator could be man and woman (very rarely and only into small things), also the priest (§ 669). In order to decide on an evil, the priest interfered not in the own name, but in the name of the parish or the trunk (§ 675). The experienced men were mostly mediators.
The murder could switching with any friend after committed an act around the relatives (family) of the killing, to ask for granting some sucked, and to be able to receive "days off" (vow) around the peace vow for some days. During the period of vow, no revenge could be exercised. The vow was extremely rarely granted to that person, who implemented the murder.
The God peace (besa) was in the Kanun one period of the liberty and the security, which granted the house of the killing to the author and his family members, in order to pursue it not immediately and a certain period ago for the blood. One regarded the grant of a peace vow, as obligation of the maleness (§ 854ff).
The Kanun knew two kinds of the peace vow: 24 hours and 30 days. The vow of 24 hours occurred, if the house of the killing granted peace vow to the author, then this (the author) participated at the dead celebration, although he had killed, and was charged for the kill. This peace vow did not last longer than 24 hours. The village could arrange an expiration of these 24 h. peace vow period over for the author and its house members an extract of a further vow of 30 days. If the house of the killing did not grant the village peace for the family of the author, the author with its house members had to remain enclosed, it stepped a kind of house arrest, house prison.
During the "weapon peace vow" reached by the mediator in a controversy, it was forbade the revenge exercising. However if the promised killed the enemy before the period of the armistice ran off, then revenge for the hurt vow was incumbent on to take to the vow receiver (i.e. the mediator).
Those, which went to parents and cousins of the killing, on behalf of the author and his house, the God peace attained, called one peace bringer (bestari). They were not considered as protectors of the author and his house, thus an evil could not happen within the peace vow (§851ff).
a. d. a. the switching of the blood (dorzanėt e gjakut)
Another kind of the switching in the Kanun was the switching of the blood (dorzanėt e gjakut). A mediator of the blood was that one, which himself endeavored in the house of the killing, he reconciled with the author. The mediator (several can be), was looked for and/or selected by the house of the author (§ 972ff). A reconciliation of the blood could be made on two levels:
1. as the heart friends went into the house of the killing and the catholic minister;
2. by money to the house of the killing.
The house of the killing selected the deviancy guarantees for the money of the blood. The citizen of the blood (dorzani i gjakut) was the mediator, who intervened, in order to prevent each "renewal of hate and fire" (§ 974ff). The oldest ones and the outstanding and reasonable men of the place determined the period for the payment of the money for the blood. The determined time fixed for payment for the blood could not be extended, neither changed.
a. d. b. the blood brother shank, the blood drinking (Vllaznimi, me pi gjak)
This happens, if the author himself with his house and the house of the killing reconciled. The involved ones soaked mutually their blood. Into two small glasses filled with liquor (Raki) or water; One of the friends (ndonjė prej dashamirėsh) tied the small finger for the author and "master of the blood", and punctured it with a needle and let a blood drop to fall individually into the glasses. After mixture of the blood they exchanged the glasses and it was enough for them also to over-cross their hands, so that everyone drank the blood of the other one. With "1000 joy calls (congratulations, congratulations) they shot off with the cans" and became from enemies to brothers, as it meant in the Kanun: "new brothers of the same father, the same mother" (§988).
b. the property of the soul
By the property of the soul mainly the honor was understood. After Albanian customary law one bore rather death as the injury of the honor. An injury of the honor could take place on three levels:
a. violating of women,
b. removal of the weapon,
c. injury of the right of protection.
These kinds of the honor injuries were so heavy that they were to be washed off only with blood. For this injury of the goods of the soul there was neither grace still another possibility, whereby they could be settled with fine.
b. a. violating the women
This crime occurred rarely. But if it was noticed that a woman was raped, the rapist was pursued and punished. Sooner or later, the rapist had to penance for his act "with his own blood". However if adultery was stated that the sexual intercourse happened with agreement of the wife, then both paid for with own blood. If someone let himself in however with an engaged girl, then the family of the author stood in blood revenge with the family of the bridegroom. The honor of the woman was a property-part of the honor of the man. If he was dishonored, this was the heaviest injury of the honor of a man.
b. b. injury of the honor by weapon robbery
An injury of the honor by weapon robbery was in two different kinds: publicly or secretly. Public weapon robbery happened if one had to deliver the weapon with force or obligation. The secret weapon robbery on the other hand could be made according to a kind of thief on the nighttime or day. It is interesting that the public weapon robbery for the robbing was a dishonor. For the robbing the public weapon robbery was immediately also a shame. For this reason, it was not allowed to let the larger disgrace appear in the public, as log as he with blood "the greatest dishonor" had to whip out himself. The sanction for the secret weapon robbery was moderated. One could forgive the thief a tax however he had for it to carry out in the height as for a murder.
Honoring injuries could not be paid off by contributions of equipment. For the robbed honor there was no penalty. It could be replaced not by articles, but only by pouring the blood or by noble assigning after the switching of the friend of heart (§ 597 600).
A further distinction in the question of the honor devide the customary law of the Albanians between personal honor (ndera vetjake, § 593 to 601) and public honor (ndera shoqnore, § 602-639).
b. b. a. the personal honor
The Kanun of the Albanian mountains did not differentiate humans from humans (§ 593). For the injury of the personal honor the Kanun said: "whom you want, forgive him; if you like, then (or) wash the clouded forehead" (§ 595), i.e. revenge. After § 596 everyone had its own honor for himself, and nobody could interfere. There was a kind of the discrimination prohibition between the men. The life of the good one and the bad one had the same value: "the Kanun took (considered) both for (as) men" (§594). Supported by these two regulations, as well as by the rule in § 887, those means: "the price of human lives is alike for the good one as for the bad ones", is to be taken as a kind of equal treatment principle, which however was applied only between men. The robbed personal honor could not be restored by penalty, but only with blood (death) or assigning (Ndera e marrun nuk shpėrblehet me gja, por a me tė derdhun tė gjakut, a me tė falun fisnikėrisht. § 598).
b. b. b. the public honor
The public honor covers the question of the guest in the house, hospitality and house right. By patent right it was understood protecting a guest (mikut). One differentiated between injury of hospitality and the house right. We will illustrate this distinction in two examples:
Example 1: House right
X comes into the house of Y. As long as X remained in the house of Y, Y was obligated for the security of X. If it happened something to Y in the house of the X, then X was obliged to revenge for him, because the act of violence at Y was considered as an injury of the house right.
Example 2: Hospitality
This case has to be understood, as injury of hospitality against someone: if Y was one of the authors, and he went in the house of X, he was allowed in no case to suffer damage from X, until he (Y) went to another house, because this meant an injury of the hospitality principle.
c. theft and robbery
In accordance with Kanun under robbery, the acquisition of the property was understand over a strange case by open force (§ book 768. h as well as § 777ff.), while the theft happens secretly. The thief was after Kanun that one, "that with own hand stolen the stranger" (§ 768). The robbery by open force was understood as injury of the honor.
c. a. aid/accomplice
As participants at a theft in accordance with Kanun were the thief (cubi), the aid (simahorėt), that house, where the thieves of the stealing eat, or got bread. Aid or accomplice was also, who hid the stolen property ("the thief and aid are both guiltily", §768 book. d). If someone helped, which was not in the blood revenge, he fell in the blood revenge (§ 831). The sanction for a stolen property at fortunes was arranged after principle "two for one". "Two for unity" became both for cattle and for flock or for the stolen article.
If a thief stole a cow, the owner had the right to take it back, where always it was found, also when someone the stolen cow bought. If the salesman (the thief) were seized, he had to pay to the owner the value of two cows for the stolen cow, and/or which owners compensate according to the principle "two for unity", and the thief had to return the whole paid sum to the buyer.
b. The aid of aid
A form of the complicity in the Kanun was the accomplice. Accomplice was that one, who helped someone by criminal interference and commit a crime from behind (§ 766). The punishment for such assistance and acceptation of stolen goods was different. When helping during a woman kidnapping, it fell in the blood and had to pay to the village a penalty at a value of 100 groshs; it fell also with a murder in the blood and had to pay to the village 500 groshs, as well as each burglary and each property, which were stolen in the village, he had to paid for after the Kanun, "as soon as it became recognized (discovered)" (§ 767).
III. The jurisdiction
The customary law of the Albanians does not edge a court in the sense of the today's courts. As a court, it was considered the advice of the oldest ones (Kanuni i pleqnis). The oldest ones were either chiefs of the brother shank (tė parėt e vllaznive) or the heads of the kinships (Krenėt e fiseve). Without their participation each decision or action applied as invalid (§993). To the oldest ones were included also the men, which were admit for their intelligence, and experience in jurisdiction questions the Council of Elders had. The Council of Elders - also mentioned judges of the people - were mostly completely usual humans, who differed neither by origin nor social layer or otherwise from the others. They became "people's judges" only by their special gift to understand circumstances fast and to interpret them as judges, honorably and plausibly after the rules of Kanun.
a. kinds of court
The Albanian customary law knew two kinds of the Councils of Elders. For the small Council of Elders (§ 999) the senior of the village was taken, after brother shank and kinships, which decided for less large disputes. Serious affairs, which hurt the honor of the village and trunk, were judged by the village elders and master heads (§1003). In order to be able to fall a judgment, the oldest ones and heads of the trunk the oldest ones and over-oldest of the village were referred, in which the suspicious one lived (§1004). If an old resolution concerned a whole village or a trunk, the individual people judges (oldest ones) did not have the right to take the thing into the hand. In such cases (circumstances), "the legal oldest ones of the village or trunk considered" (decided) (§1009). Under advice of the oldest ones all fell, i.e. even if it concerned outstanding families, or master chieftains (§ 1014).
b. The right and obligations of the oldest ones
Also the Elders, which exercised their work as judges, had rights and obligations after the Kanun.
In accordance with § 996 the Elders had the right, each threat and each controversy to simple, each from homicide adult claim, the mark by quality, other time by force, in community with the village, even when very serious threats (the order) could support it, the men of the trunk demand, around "the outer edge and to bring the case to a reason". Furthermore, if someone did not want to add himself to the impartial verdict, the oldest ones could meet the whole village. If a verdict pleases, and it repented the controversy parties that they had handed, the oldest one who became out of the pledge for subjecting, could not change this verdict (§ 1001).
The obligation of the oldest ones was the impartiality, and they could not be affected by gossip (§1015). If it happened that these obligations of the oldest ones were hurt by any of them, he was never more selected as honorees to the oldest one. Before one began with the process, the oldest ones had an oath that they would not judge with underhandedly and party manners, and the fact that they will not rotate the rules of Kanun (abuses), but a fair judgement after best knowledge and certain to fall.
c. Court instances
In the customary law of the Albanians the regulation applied for "oldest ones over the oldest one, judgement over judgement, oath over oath, were not given". Due to this regulation, is to be closed that the Kanun knew only one instance of the jurisdiction. An appointment against the judgements of the oldest ones was followed only in exceptional cases; it could not be raised on the part of the parties. Only in addition of the owners of the distrainer were entitled, if they stated that an unfair judgement was pleased. The oldest ones returned not the distrainer, but were obligated, like it were called "to clean-wash himself", i.e. in that they hands the distrainer to the selected oldest ones lay, and thus the judgement of the second oldest ones became pleases (§ 1038ff).
d. The voice of the people with (in) the court
If a decision of the heads and oldest ones did not please the people, or it found, they had wrongly decided, the people had the right to not follow (respect) it. In such a case, the heads and oldest one had to advise the case again, to treat it again.
e. The evidence
The Albanian customary law in the legal proceedings after Kanun knew the following evidence: Confession, the word of honor, the secret prosecutor (kėpucari), (that person, who indicates someone debt, was as for instance a secret theft or murder), the oath, the oath aid, the witnesses, the trace-track (§ 769), the citizens of the village, as well as surprising at the scene (inflagranti).
f. Kinds of punishing
In accordance with § 13 of the Kanun, under punishment was understood that an evil was imposed by the legal force for making one debt. The kinds of the punishment into the Albanian customary law were: Death sentence, discharging from the trunk with members and possession, the burning of the house, the breaking and letting of the soil or cutting off fruit trees, the penalty with living cattle, the penalty by money, and the guilty one (the author) was explained by the trunk for bird free (expel, proclaimed, me e leēitė = out clips). Burning alive of a woman, a widow or girls, who showed themselves as violated.
IV. Comparative law: The German criminal jurisdiction and the Albanian customary law
The history of the German criminal jurisdiction contains some common elements with the Albanian customary law in addition, very large differences. While the German criminal jurisdiction developed from customary law to the positive right, which is Albanian customary law, today still, remained alive in north Albania parallel with the Albanian positive right (as for instance the blood revenge).
The revenge and feud, which similarities with those rules in the Kanun, were present also in the Germanic time. The sense of the revenge and feud was after Germanic view "humiliating the opponent and its kinship". The blood revenge was in German history on 16th Century. With the God peace movement of 11th Century, known as church movement, one has tried a pacification of certain persons to limit things, places as well as times with certain actions in relation to feud in order by the national peace to be replaced later.
The Albanian customary law did not know the Inquisition's process. And body-met, kinds of mutilating detention as in the German criminal jurisdiction and torture do not occur, because they would not be compatible with honour of the adults men. While the Catholic Church in German criminal law history in the Middle Ages played a role, the Albanian customary law made a separation between Kanun and church. In accordance with § 3 the church is not subordinate to the Kanun but its church court. For this reason the master court could not do it any read imposes. For misdemeanors of the priest, the Kanun said, raises the municipality complaint to the church-upper, with the bishop (§ 3 exp. 2.).
By the kinds of the death penalty in German punishing history such as slopes, beheading, buried alive, drowning, burning, wheels, simmering in water or oil, the Albanian customary law only knew burning. The mutilating punishments, which we know from German criminal law history, as for instance knocking the hand, knocking off individual fingers or finger limbs, knocking off a foot, cutting or peeling of the tongue, did not came in the Kanun forwards.
If we retrace Albanian history, we will state that the Albanian area was very closely with all peoples, who played a role on the Balkans, is spoiled. Beginning with the time of the Gaul, Romans, Goths, the immigration of the Slaves in Illyria, the Macedonian empire, the Byzantine Kingdom, as well as Normans, Venice, Serbs, Ottoman realm, Austrian Hungarian realm, Italy, who successively on the Albanian areas prevailed, the Albanian people, the descendants of the Illyrians, could not lead continuously a national independent existence. After 24 years resistance of the Albanians under guidance of Gjergj Katrioti against the Ottoman realm, the Albanian became a part of areas of the Ottoman realm from the Middle Ages to 20 Century. The customary law of the Albanians was always auxiliary and at the same time a competitive right to the national right, to that of the Turks, that of the Albanian state after 1912, for the right of the crew administrations in the I-st and II-nd world war.
Despite this strange history the Albanian people could develop its own culture of the right. Lately one very often confounded the usual criminality with the blood revenge. For the practice of a blood revenge, as we saw above, one had to adhere to certain rules. The blood revenge is an aspect of a comprehensive juridical system, the customary law.
The habit standards are today really outdated. The processing of the Kanun exhibits heavy errors. On the one hand it is considered as backwardly and medieval, in particular if the blood revenge comes to the language. In addition, on the other hand beautiful things are present, on which one is pride, like hospitality, Besa etc., which one would gladly still keep.(By Kan. lic. iura. Zef Ahmeti, Univ. St. Gallen, Switzerland)