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Robert Elsie

Texts and Documents of Albanian History


1000 — 1799

1800 — 1899

1900 — 1919

1920 — 1944

1945 —


Albanian History
1000 — 1799

Fragment on the Origins of Nations

The document seems to provide the earliest written reference to the Albanians as a people.


1038, 1042, 1078
Michael Attaleiates:
The First Byzantine References

Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates gives the earliest references to the Albanian people as recorded in Byzantine historical texts.


Anna Comnena:
The Norman Invasion of Albania

The daughter of the Byzantine emperor provides an account of her father’s battle with the invading Normans near Durrës and Ndroq.


Muhammad al-Idrisi:
The Book of Roger

A short description of Albania by a 12th century Arab geographer.


George Acropolites:
An Albanian Uprising

A Byzantine historian chronicles a 13th century Albanian rebellion in the Ohrid and Dibra region.


George Pachymeres:
An Earthquake in Durrës

A Byzantine historian describes the earthquake that destroyed Durrës in July 1267.


Description of Eastern Europe

An anonymous French Dominican priest describes his tour through early 14th century Albania.


Simon Fitzsimons:
Itinerary from Ireland to the Holy Land

Two Franciscan clerics from Ireland describe Albania on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and refer to the Albanian language.


1328, 1332, 1336
John Cantacuzene:
Unruly Nomads Pay Homage to the Emperor

The Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuzene makes several brief references to the Albanians in this text, describing them as wild and unruly nomads.


Initiative for Making the Passage

A Dominican priest makes reference to the Albanian language in this description of the country and how easy it would be for the Catholic world to conquer it.


Fior Jonima:
A Ravaged Land

The earliest personal account given by an Albanian about the state of his country.


George Merula:
The Siege of Shkodra

An Italian historian narrates the Ottoman siege of Shkodra in September 1474.


Hartmann Schedel:
On Macedonia, Epirus and Albania

The “Nuremberg Chronicle” of the German humanist Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) contains what is possibly the earliest description of Albania and the western Balkans printed in central Europe.


Arnold von Harff:
Pilgrimage from Cologne

A German pilgrim visits Durrës on his way to the Holy Land and jots down words and expressions in the Albanian language.


Marinus Barletius:
History of George Castriot, surnamed Scanderbeg

The death of Scanderbeg, as recounted by Renaissance historian Marinus Barletius.


John Musachi:
Chronicle on the Descendants of our Musachi Dynasty

The oldest substantial text written by an Albanian.


Piri Re'is:
'Bahriye', a Sailor's Handbook

A short nautical description of the Albanian coastline by an Ottoman navigator.


Sebastian Franck:
Albania: A Mighty Province of Europe

In his geography book, the sixteenth-century German humanist Sebastian Franck describes Albania and the western Balkans as it was known in Europe in his day.


Physical Description of Albania and the Defence of Ulcinj

A travel description of Albania provided by an anonymous Venetian official.


Carlo Ranzo:
Report on a Voyage from Venice to Constantinople

The harrowing journey of a Venetian nobleman through the wilds of Albania.


Jean Carlier de Pinon:
Pirates in Vlora

A French squire stops over in Vlora and his men are taken hostage by pirates.


Lorenzo Bernardo:
Journey of the Venetian Ambassador

The description of an overland journey through late 16th-century Ottoman Albania.


Marino Bizzi:
Report of a Visit to Turkey, Bar, Albania and Serbia

The Catholic Archbishop of Bar (Antivari) provides a highly informative account of his tour through Turkish-occupied northern Albania to visit his oppressed flock.


Mariano Bolizza:
Report and Description of the Sanjak of Shkodra

A Venetian official shows the possibilities of overland travel through Montenegro and northern Albania, and provides detailed information on towns and villages.


Pjetër Budi:
An Albanian Bishop Calls for an Uprising

Bishop Pjetër Budi writes to the Vatican in order to instigate a native uprising against Ottoman rule.


Pjetër Mazrreku:
Report on a Visit to Northern Albania

A description of northern Albania and its martial inhabitants in a report that Pjetër Mazrreku (Ital. Pietro Maserecco), the Catholic Archbishop of Antivari (Bar) and Primate of Serbia, sent to the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda Fide. In this text, the archbishop also adds a list of Albanian words to show their affinity to Italian.


Frang Bardhi:
Report on a Visit to Puka

Frang Bardhi the Bishop of Sapa and Sarda, set out on a pastoral visit to the rarely visited Puka region in the mountains and reported on his journey to the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda Fide in Rome.


Frang Bardhi:
The Pasha of Bosnia attacks Kelmendi

In June of 1638, Bishop Frang Bardhi sent a report on his pastoral visit in the mountains to the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda Fide in Rome. Included in it is this somewhat glorified text about the northern Albanian Kelmendi tribe under attack from the Pasha of Bosnia.


Frang Bardhi:
A Description of Zadrima

A detailed report to the Vatican about the Diocese of Sapa and the “tyranny of the Turks.”


Mark Kryeziu:
A Pastoral Visit to Northern Albania

Mark Kryeziu, known in Italian as Marco Crisio, was an Albanian priest and Apostolic Visitor and Commissioner who reported to the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda Fide in Rome on his journey through northern Albania in 1653, a period of rapid Islamisation.


Evliya Chelebi:
A Journey through Kosova

The famed Ottoman traveller recounts his journey through 17th-century Kosova (Kosovo).


Evliya Chelebi:
A Journey through Northern Albania and Montenegro

The famed Ottoman traveller recounts his journey through 17th-century northern Albania and Montenegro.


Edward Brown:
A Journey through Skopje and Kosovo

A British traveller leaves a brief description of Skopje and Kosovo in 1669


Evliya Chelebi:
A Journey around Lake Ohrid

The famed Ottoman traveller describes his visit to Lake Ohrid in the 17th century.


Evliya Chelebi:
A Journey to Berat and Elbasan

The famed Ottoman traveller describes his visit to 17th-century Berat and Elbasan, with amazing descriptions of the two towns.


Evliya Chelebi:
A Journey to Gjirokastra

The famed Ottoman traveller describes his visit to 17th-century Gjirokastra in southern Albania.


Evliya Chelebi:
A Journey to Vlora and Durrës

The famed Ottoman traveller describes his visit to 17th-century Vlora and Durrës.


Stefano Gaspari:
Travels in the Dioceses of Northern Albania

A Vatican official tours northern Albania to report on the situation of the Catholic Church and clergy there.


Jacob Spon:
Voyage down the Coast of Albania

A French physician sails down the coast of Albania in the summer of 1675.


Kosovo in the Great Turkish War of 1683-1699

Description of the Austrian military offensive against Ottoman forces in Kosovo, Macedonia and northern Albania.


Kosovo im Großen Türkenkrieg von 1683-1699

Schilderung von Kriegsereignissen in Kosovo, Makedonien und Nord­albanien während einer kaiserlich-österreichischen Offensive gegen das osmanische Heer.


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu:
Letters from Turkey

The wife of the British Ambassador in Istanbul gives her impressions of an encounter with some Albanians.


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz:
Correspondence on the Albanian Language

The great German philosopher also devoted his attention to the then little-known Albanian language. Given here are excerpts from his correspondence.


Johann Thunmann:
On the History and Language of the Albanians and Vlachs

This treatise by the Swedish historian Johann Thunmann is the earliest scholarly study on the Albanians.


Karl Gottlieb von Windisch:
On the Kelmendi in Syrmia

An early report on families of Albanian Kelmendi tribesmen who, in the mid-eighteenth century, settled in Syrmia west of Belgrade, in present-day Serbia.


The translations in this anthology may be copied, downloaded and used for non-commercial purposes if the source is appropriately documented. | Robert Elsie