2024-02-11 20:08:00, Kulturë Edion Petriti


I dedicate this historic contribution to Professor Luan Malltezi

Of course, Skënderbeu was Albanian! Many historians and publicists, Albanians and foreigners, affirm the opposite. Among them, we can mention honorable names of history and journalism, such as Paskal Milon, Oliver Jens Schmitt and Ardian Klosin, who have defended the thesis of the Serbian mother of Gjergj Kastrioti, but without being based on facts. I mean without being based on all the facts that we now have at our disposal. I can quote here eg. Mr. Pascal Milo, who among other things says:

"We have to bring Skanderbeg down, really... here is to demystify the figure, bring him down... What was Skanderbeg really like? Why is a truth discussed on the pages of newspapers? It is true: Skanderbeg's mother was Slavic. Why should we get irritated? Why should we be sorry?” in: "Skenderbeu saw the myths of the national-communists" (Interview, January 2020).

While the publicist Ardian Klosi expressed, in an interview in the distant year 2008:

"Here we come to the ethnic issue. Nationalities never had that importance in the 15th century that ethnicities, nations did in the 19th century. And here is the biggest misunderstanding. Kastriot's own father, Ivan, or Juvan as the Turks called him, came from a mixed background. So, Dibra ... was Albanian, partly Serbian, partly Bulgarian, but also Vlach. The fact is that he married a woman from a very well-known Serbian house, a royal house such as the Brankovics, Vojsava... and he also gave the children some Byzantine, Orthodox names, such as Kostandin, Gjergj, some Slavic, Reposh, Stanishe, Mamica, Vllajka, Jella, this thing here has surprisingly evoked a super-reaction that is actually almost funny because you can't expect national divisions at that time as it still exists today."

I have to make a digression here. Let's go back to Marin Sirdani, who teaches us: "Didn't Skanderbeg himself write to the prince of Taranto: - "Tu non conosci i miei albanesi, noi discendiamo dagli epiroti, che diedero per vincitore dei romani Pirro, noi discendiamo dai macedoni che diedero all'india (sic!), il vincitore Alessandro.” So, it is clear that Skanderbeg and the Albanians kept the same root, for different months he expressed it in a different way without the need to deny his own Slavic root." (1) 

Also nicknamed "Kulshedra e Arbëni", Skënderbeu descended from his father Ivan's side from a family of medieval Arbers of Kosovo with the surname "Mazreku" (for this, see authors such as Du Cange and Schirò (2) who give them the surname). The Mazrek were of the Orthodox Orthodox denomination (ie of the Old Slavonic rite; for more, see also a "pop Mazrek" in Zef Valentini (Catasto Veneto di Scutari; documents concerning the "Arbanaški Pirg" in Hilandar , or the career of Reposh, Skanderbeg's monk brother).

Acts of Hilandari

Regarding the nationality of his father, Ivan, we can quote one of Hilandar's deeds and more precisely a sentence at the end of the charter (deed of donation), which the Serbian historian Stojan Novakovi? (1842 - 1915) has left without including in his own publication with documentary sources "Zakonski Spomenici" (Belgrade, 1912, pg. 468). What we can write for sure is that the compromising phrase is simply not found there, in Novakovi?'s edition. The incomplete document was later retrieved by Jovan Radoniqi and reprinted without this sentence in his summary "Djuradj Kastriot Skenderbeg i Arbanija u XV veku" from which all other historians who have written on Skenderbeu's family origins and the Albanian-Turkish wars of the 19th century. XV. It is about a deed of donation on behalf of the monastery of Hilandari, drawn up in 1426; from Novakovi?'s edition, the phrase written by the hand of the logotet of Ivan Kastriot is missing, a phrase that tells us about his national origin: "Milustiju bo?ieju Ioann' Kastriot' gospodin albanski", or Albanian: "By the grace of God, Joan Kastriot, sir [feudal] arboreal". This document was published in full by the historian B. Korablev (3). It is likely that Ivan Kastrioti may have died in Hilandar, he also retired to the life of a monk, and one of the reasons for this is the earlier purchase of the adelphats. The date of his death is given by a document in Church Slavonic, published by Stojanovici. (4) The monks of Hilandari were most likely aware of this fact.

Were the Kastriots Kosovar?

The Middle Ages is beautiful precisely because it is confused, so when we talk about the Kastriots, the problem of resources is also the source of the problem itself, but to the question "were the Kastriots Kosovar?", we can answer with full mouth "Yes, they have be!", because a Stepko Mazreku is present in Ragusa: "Mazarak': Dubrova?ki Stêpko Mazarak' 1399. II. 20» (Mazreku: Stepko Mazreku from Dubrovnik, or Ragusa) (5) probably due to trade connections with Novobërda); a Gjergj Mazaraku appears in Junik, Kosovo in 1455; a Mazarak Prišli? (arrival), in Bec/Pejë (1485), (Selami Pulaha), etc. as well as the fact that the Kastriots probably maintained their ties with the Monastery of Hilandari through the rich Orthodox monasteries of Prizren. The last name Kastrioti (Καστρι?της, the castle) may have been taken from the fortress of Prizren (a voivode Mazrek wrote in 1414 to his mother [old, i.e. who lived there, the mother of a 30-40 year old voivode, who could be in the sixties - EP] in Ostrovica, east of Prizren: "voivoda masarach scrissse ala so mare in Ostaruiza che la dita mandasse i[l] suo omo el qual me tornara lo mio charo e le altre cosse..." (voivoda Masarach scrisse alla sua madre in Ostrovizza che la detta mandasse il suo uomo il quale mi tornerà il mio carro e le altre cose). "Kosovo", in its Albanian form with the ending "-a". (7)

Therefore, the sentence "Castriotich de Castrioti in provincia Az in Epiro" (E. Fermend?in, Acta Bosnae, 560), can be interpreted as: "Castriotich de Castrioti in provincia Az [orientale] in Epiro" (Castriotich from Kastrioti in the province of Has [eastern] in Epirus). Therefore, this concept of Epirus, somewhat fluid, it must be said, strongly, at that time more or less encompassed that of "the land inhabited by the Epirots, ie. Albanians". As for the issue of personal names in Kosovo, - this is a complicated issue - when we are dealing with e.g. with the registration of names on the chrysobulls of Deçan, one must keep in mind a principle that I prefer to call the "principle of contamination": e.g. a family consisting of farmers Vlkoslav, Radovin, Radeta, Ranko and their brother Gjin, is "contaminated", the whole family is an Arber family in an advanced stage of serfization; it is not that the head of the Serbian family woke up one fine day after having a son and decided to give him a typical Albanian name. The opposite happened, the Albanian family took Slavic names. So, in medieval Kosovo, the personal name is not an essential determinant of national affiliation, but only of religion. Now, if one were to ask why Ivan Kastrioti would marry Vojsava, whose ancestors were dukes of King Stefan (Hop's genealogy: Stefanum Reg[is] Duc[em], in medieval Latin, i.e. "Andrea, the duke of to King Stefan Dushan"), whose capital was in Skopje, the answer is clear: they were more or less from the same generation and from the same area.

Most likely, Kostandin Mihajlovic, or Kostandin i Ostrovica was taken as a janissary from this village, and not from the village located in central Serbia, firstly because it is closer to Skopje (at this time in the hands of the Turks) than Ostrovica e Rudnik in central Serbia, as well as from the fact that his memoirs (I quote from memory) start in 1455, when an army led by Sultan Mehmet II surrounded the castle of Novobërda, very close to Ostrovica in Prizren. However, his ethnic background is a matter outside the scope of this article.

Vojsava Kastrioti

The document - or rather the two documents that talk about her origin, are the genealogy published at the end of Gjon Muzaka's chronicle (Ch. Hopf) and the Ashburnham manuscript 1167, by Pal Engjëlli, where the name of Anjeza's father is also given (Agnese ), who, as we will see below, is Vojsava's sister. Anjeza's father is named Domenik or Mon?ino - a man with two names, but clearly Catholic, since the name "Domenik" is not widespread among Orthodox, and even less among Serbs. It is an exceptional name; the Orthodox do not keep it, using instead the name Qiriako (Kyriakos). Muzaka's genealogy mentions this character and gives us some information about him (we are talking here about the historical part): 

His brothers were called Gjon Muzaka, Andrea Muzaka, Duke of King Stefan, and Gjin Muzaka of Mary. Domenik or Monçino Muzaka was the father of Anjeze, the mother of Andrea Engjëlli, and of Vojsava, the wife of Ivan. In light of the facts, it is clear that both genealogies are not only genuine, but also complement and ultimately illuminate each other. I must point out that the name "Gjin" is also an exclusively arboreal name, which is not used by any other Balkan nation. It is useless to elaborate further on the nationality of a man who belonged to the Catholic religion and who had a brother named Gjin: Domenik Monçino was also of Albanian nationality. Regarding "Andrea, the duke of King Stefan [Dushan]", we can assume that it was, - as Sirdani writes - "an honor that the Albanian lords who, after the death of Stefan Dushan, Tsar of Serbia, declared themselves dukes in 1355 properties". (8)


From the genealogy of Pal Angell (Ashburnham 1167, 28 years), it appears that Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu was a scion of the Byzantine noble family of Angel-Comnen, and more precisely from Isaac Angelus Comnenus (Jsacius Angelus Comnenus), in a direct male line until maternal grandfather (Vojsava). (9) From here also come the rites to be crowned king; the efforts to start a crusade by Pope Pius II find their natural explanation from this fact. Ivan, on the other hand, was a man enriched and empowered by his own efforts, a "homo novus", if we use this Latin expression.

Nephews of Skanderbeg

There is a reason why the Angels of Drishti are called "Skenderbeu's grandchildren", and that is that Agnese Musacchi (or Anjezë Muzaka, mother of Andrea Angelli) and Voisava Musacchi (mother of Gjergj Kastrioti) were related to each other: they were sisters. Bonardo in one of his books calls Girolamo Angelo "suo nipote", ie. grandson of Skanderbeg from his mother. Not from the father, that is. Because if it was from the father, we would be dealing with a medieval family nicknamed Angel-Mazreku, half Catholic and half Orthodox, about which the historical sources tell us nothing, - this is somewhat absurd! (somewhat absurd this)

In the "Rivista del Collegio Araldico" we can read about Skanderbeg's nephews: "et venendo detto Scannarebec à richiesta di detto Ambasciatore con potente esercito per soccorrere domino Rè Ferdinando nel Regno di Napoli, si portò seco il conte Andrea d'Angelo, il Conte Michele, et il conte Pietro figli di Geromino d'Angelo Dispoto e Prencipe della Tessaglia nephew di detto Giorgio Castriota detto Scannarebec, conforme nota il Reverendo Demetrio Franco nella vita, e gesti da lui descritta del sudetto Prencipe Scannarebec”. (10)


Thirdly, Bonardo in his edition gives a detail about the reprint: Sopra la vita dell'Inuittissimo Scanderbeg. Reprinted for the opera dell'Illustrissimo Signor Girolamo Angelo suo nephew, where Skanderbeg is called "ziò (sic!) di Vostra Altezza". Bonardo forgot to add a small detail, "cugino materno" since "cugino paterno" - cousin from the father's side - cannot be and... tertium non datur. You can't be a second cousin. The Angels were from Drishti, while the final origin of the Kastrioti family is still to be established, but it is certain that they were not from Drishti. Most likely they were from Has [east], as we wrote before (Az in Epiro, writes Luccari in the work Il Regno de gli Slavi).

While Pietro Pompilio Rodotà writes: Questa verità viene anche confirmata dalla relazione irrefrangibile di Gio. Battista Monardo [corr. Bonardo, EP]; il quale giving all the light to the life of Georgio Castriota in Venice l'anno 1584. sotto gli auspici di Girolamo Angelo Flavio nipote di lui di linea feminile, si duole seco della rea ??sorte d'essere stata tolta dal mondo la prole maschile di quel celebre captain...». (11)


From a textological analysis, Ashburnham - studied in more detail by Namik Ressuli and Zef Valentini - has been edited (perhaps the Angels wanted to hide something), to read "Andreas alias Stephanus Rex genuit" - (Andreas or King Stephen was born) instead of reading "Andreas alias Stephani Regis Dux genuit" (Andrea or the duke of King Stephen was born; this passage is amended on the basis of Hopf); The document also gives us the unique data of the name of Ivan Kastriot's mother, who was called Marra (ie Mara).

I have to make another digression: we can also talk about the fact of what at first glance is an unequal marriage, between the son of a small owner (Pal Kastrioti had only two villages: Signa & Gardi Ipostesi, writes Muzaka) and Vojsava, supposedly the descendant of one of the richest and most powerful families in the Balkans, the Brankovics, who owned most of Kosovo. A wedding for example it was between Sandal Hraniq, who wanted to connect the Kruški with the Italian Malatesta (see Acta Albaniae Veneta, anno 1423).

Again to Barleti

Barleti has two testimonies about Vojsava, one direct and one indirect: uxori Voisauae nomen erat, non indignam eo uiro tum pater nobilissimus Tribalorum princeps, tum forma moresque etc. (The wife's name was Vojsava, not unworthy of that man, either in appearance or in manners; her father was a very noble prince of the tribes (Barleti, book I, p. 2)). What these tribals were, Barleti explains himself, later, when he talks about the Upper Dibra, inhabited by Bulgarians, or tribals (Bulgari, siue Tribali habitant, fol. 61 v.) From all the above, we learn that Vojsava's father was a noble prince of the tribes, or the Bulgarians of those parts and that's all; this is a sentence that says nothing about the nationality of this nobleman. This eg. it's like saying that mr. Talat Xhaferri is the prime minister of the Macedonians, a phrase that says nothing about his national origin.

We can only write that Barleti simply did not want to say anything with this phrase, "to hide the forest behind the leaves", to use a phrase, so as not to spoil the work.

Then we also have Muzaka's testimonies: E la madre de detto Signor Scanderbeg, moglie del detto Signor Giovanni, hebbe nome Signora Voisava Tripalda e venne da bona parte. (And the mother of the aforementioned Mr. Skënderbé, the wife of the aforementioned Mr. Gjon, was named Mrs. Vojsava Tripalda and came from a good family. Again in digression: Barleti, not giving Vojsava's real surname, which is Muzaka, wanted to protect the members of this family who had remained in Albania after the Turkish invasion. Shkodra had fallen in 1479, while he himself published in 1508; in the meantime, many of the Muzakas had entered the Ottoman military service ("after the Turkish armies of Rumelia left, the there from 1437-1438 another uprising in the district of Berat, headed by Theodor Korona Muzaka (Theodoro Corona Musachi, EP), whose son, Jakub bey, was at that time the sandjakbey of the sandjak of Albania." - (12 ).


I have to stop here, and say something about all these facts, which finally shed light on the Angels, the arboreal and Byzantine origins of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg in particular, as well as historical truths in general, etc. to better illustrate my point, I am quoting the Gospel of Saint John, in which it is said: "The truth will set you free" (Veritas liberabit vos, Joh. 8:31-32). I am of the opinion that you cannot express it without being one yourself. I can add at the end that when Hamit Kokalari called Kosovo "the cradle of Albanianism" (1943), he was expressing a greater truth than what his mind held.

(January - February 2024).


1. Marin Sirdani, Skanderbeg according to oral tradition, "Two words to the readers". The Italian text exists in two different variants, moreover, see also the somewhat softer version, in: Ugo Ojetti, L'Albania, Torino, 1902, pg. 2. "Constantinus Castriotus, cognomento Meserechus, Aemathiae & Castoriae Princeps, vel Dominus, memoratur à Flavio Comneno, qui eum obiise ait anno MCCCXC." (Constantin Kastriotis, nicknamed Mazrek, prince or feudal lord of Matje and Kostur [in Golaj, Has], mentioned by Flav Komneni, who says he died in 1390. (Charles du Fresne Du Cange, Historia Byzantina duplici commentario illustrata, Paris, 1680, p. 349.); "clarissimi et invictissimi Ducis Georgij Masrechij Castriota Scanderbegh Albaniae et Epiri Principis..." (G. Schirò, Gli Albanesi e la Questione Balkanica, Napoli, sa, p. 218)

3. Korablev, B. (1915), Actes de Chilandar II, St. Petersburg, pp. 561–562, “6945 AM/1426 AD: Titre de donation de Jean Castriote d'Albanie et de ses fils”.

4. Stari Srpski zapisi, pg. 87: 2/9 May 1437 or 6945 [Anno mundi].

5. Djura Dani?i?: "Rje?nik iz knji?evnih starina srpskih, dno drugi A - P", Belgrade, 1863, p. 42), (Stari Srpski zapisi, p. 87: 2/9 May 1437 or 6945 [Anno mundi]).

6. Konstantin Jire?ek, "History of Srba II", 1923, p. 159; "Posebna izdija, vol. 355", Nau?no delo, 1962, p. 22; as well as: Konstantin Jire?ek, "History of Srba II", 1923, p. 159.

7. Kosovo was also called Kosovo at that time, as it is today, for this see: Respoxe Braycho: »Fradello, questo Dio non da! Tu say, come nuy tornandose de Pristina tu me zonzesti in boschi de Chossoua [in the Albanian form Kosova, and not the Slavic Kosova, EP], et cum nuy era pluy nostri Ragusini etc. Archiv für Slavische Philologie, herausgegeben von V. Jagitsch: Reiterspiele im mittelalterischen Serbien, von Const. Jiretschek, XIV. Band, Lettere e Commissioni di Levante 1401-1567 (Jahr 1405), ff. 73-76.

8. Sirdani, act. cit. page 10).

9. Hopf, Chroniques Grèco-Romanes, p. 308 : Ioanum Musachi?, Andream, alias Stefanum Reg. Duc.; Ginos Mariam, Dominicus alias Moncinus, [Cai minste (?)] > Voisava Ivani uxorem > Giorgium Scanderbegh.

10. Araldica magazine, XXIX (1931), Rome, p. 499.

11. Dell'origine, progresso e stato presente del rito greco in Italia osservato dai greci, monaci basiliani, e albanesi libri tre, Rome, 1763, p. 27

12. History of Albania I, 1959, pg. 268.

(Etymologically, the name Mazreku can be explained by the Albanian mâz, -ar + ak (a person who raises foals, horses; for this see also the word formation "peasant"). The form "mazarek" is a singularized plural.)


© Edion Petriti, January 2024.

"Excerpta Ashburnhamenisa"

(28 v - 30 v.) De Generationibus Jllustrium filior. Jsacij Patricij Senatorisque Romani, et variat. fortunae eiusque Cognominis. | Liber Jllustris Generationis Jsacij Patricij senatorisque Romani Cognomento Angelus à quo Michael eius Trinepotis nepos genuit Alexium. Alexius genuit Michaelem .II. Michael II. he begot Michael .iii. et Helena Vrosij Macedoniae. Epirus. Illyriae Myssiaeque utriusque ac totius noue Romae Regis Jmperatorisque Vxorem. Michael .iii. genuit Angelum Michaelem et Jannum, atque Driuasten. ij.am Vrbem condidit, Angelus michael genuit Michaelem .iiii. Jannus craizza siue Dispothus Jlliriae cognomentoque Aemilianus genuit Justinum Justiniani Jmperatoris Caesarisque Augusti ex uigilante sophia filia nepos, Justinus Jmperator genuit Joannem. Michael quartus begat Philippum. Philippus Genuit Alexium .II. et Jsacium .II. Jasacius II. begot Alexium .III. Mariam et Julia Heraclius Caesaris Imperatorisque Augusti ex filia nepos. Joannes genuit Angelum, Alexius quartus genuit Constantinum Theophaniam et Achiam, Constantinus genuit Michaelem .V. Mauritium, et Tiberium, Angelus genuit Justinianum primum Venet. Tribunum. Marcum, et Petrum. Michael Vs genuit Constantinum .II. Constantine II. genuit Alexium .IIII. Valerium et Tiberium .II. and Eudociam. Alexius .iiii. genuit Michaelem .VI. et Helena .ii. Michael VI. alias Cominnus genuit Jsacium .iii. Sibyllam et Constantinum .iii. Isacius .iii. Comnenus cognomento Constantinopolitanus Jmperator Caesarque Augustus, genuit Constantinum .iiii. Agnetem. Mariam .ii. :-, et Alexium. .V. Constantine .iiii. Jmperor Genuit Michaelem .vii. Michael vii.s genuit Alexium .vi. et Constantinum .v. Alexius .d. genuit Joannem, et Jsacium .iiii. Thyrum, Alexium vii. and Helena .iii. joannes Jmperator genuit Manuelem. Constantinus .iii.s genuit Michaelem viii. Michael octauus begat Andronicum. Manuel Jmperator genuit Mariam Thessaliae, Reginam et Alexium .viii. Jsacius .iiii.s. Jmperator Caesarque augustus genuit Alexium .viiii. et Hyrrenem .iiii. Stephani Panoniae Regis ex filia Nepos Napolitanamque Reginam moxque uxorem, Philippi sueui Jmperatoris Romani. Alexius vii.s Jmperator genuit Constantinum .vi. et Hyrrenem .v. alias Annam Theodoris lascharis Vxorem. Alexius. nonus Jmperator genuit Alexium andream .X. Philip Gallor. Regis ex filia Nepos. Theodorus lascharis genuit Hyrrenem Andronici alias Joannis bataicij ex eodem genere vxorem Matremque Theodori Andrinopolitani Despothis qui Theodorus genuit Joannem. Alexius Andreas Dux ac Comes Driuasten. genuit Michaelem .Viiij. et Joannem .ii. Michael nonus Comes genuit Andream .II. Progonum et Joannem .iiii. Progonus Jmperator Cognomento genuit Joannem .v. et Hyrrenem .Vi. Joannes .ii.s genuit Joannem franciscum, Joannes franciscus genuit franciscum. Andreas ii.s Comes genuit Michaelem .X. et Hyrrenem .vii. Ioannes iii. Caesar cognomento. genuit Michaelem .xi. franciscus cognomento francus genuit Joannem .vi. et Dorotheam. Michael .xs alias Petrus spanus Comes genuit Nouacum alias Alexium, Agnetem. Paulum .iii. Andream .iii. Martinum. Joannem .vii. et Michaelem .xii. Michael .xi. Marthusius. cognomento. begat Michael xiii. Martinus genuit Marinum .ex Hyrrene .vi. natus est Georgius Stracimirij Regis genitus, prefatusque Rex ex secunda vxore genuit Albam Coici alias Golemi vxorem. Golemus genuit Arianitum Comninum. Andreas .iii.s Comes genuit Paulum .iiii. et Petrum .ii. Mariam .iii. et Agnetem iii. Georgius Myssorum Rex. ac Despot genuit Gregorium, Stephanum, Lazarum, Hyrrenem viii. Maumethis .ii. Turcharum .viiii. Jmperatoris Matrem, et helisabetham alias Milizzam Alexij Hispani Theodosij Jmperatoris generis vxorem, Marinus genuit Altamdonam paternianam. Joannes vj.s genuit Demetrium. Michael xiij.s genuit Andream .iiii. Michael xij.s genuit Michaelem xiiii. Matheum et Joannem .viii. Stephanus Despot begot Mariam .iiii. ex Maria tertia natus est Paulus, et Comninus Georgij Thopie Dirachij Domini, Ducisque Pronepos. Item ex eodem genere Andreas alias Stephanus Rex [amended: Andreas alias Stephani Regis Dux, vide Hopf - EP] genuit Coiam Myssiae Dispothum ac Dominum et Dominicum alias Moncinum Coi Myssiae Genuit Marram, Moncinus genuit Agnetem Michaelis x.mi prefati Drivastensis Comitis Vxorem. ex Marra natus est Iuuannus Castrioth, Iuuannus genuit Repossium Stanissam Constantinum, et Georgium alias Scanderrbegg. ac Voissauam Stephani Hiercechi, alias Cernouichij Vxorem. Stephanus Hiercehius. genuit Petrum, Iuuanum, Georgium, et Voissauam laech Ducagini vxorem. Iuanus genuit Georgium, et Stanissam &c et Georgium alias Scanderrbegg. ac Voissauam Stephani Hiercechi, alias Cernouichij Vxorem. Stephanus Hiercehius. genuit Petrum, Iuuanum, Georgium, et Voissauam laech Ducagini vxorem. Iuanus genuit Georgium, et Stanissam &c et Georgium alias Scanderrbegg. ac Voissauam Stephani Hiercechi, alias Cernouichij Vxorem. Stephanus Hiercehius. genuit Petrum, Iuuanum, Georgium, et Voissauam laech Ducagini vxorem. Iuanus genuit Georgium, et Stanissam &c./ CNA

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