Karl Topia

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Karl Topia
Topia-e-korces-08.png
Prince of Albania
Reign 1358–1388
Predecessor Tanush Topia
Successor Gjergj Topia
Spouse Voisava Balsha
Dynasty Topia Topija Albanian Family, Thopia Albanian Family.png
Father Tanush Topia
Mother Helen d'Anjou
Born 1331
Durrës, Kingdom of Albania, Albania
Died 1388 (aged 57)
Elbasan, Princedom of Albania
Burial St. Jovan Vladimir's Church, Albania
Religion Roman Catholic

Karl Topia was one of the powerful feudal princes and warlord, who between them ruled Albania from the middle of the 14th century until the Ottoman conquest.[1] To the Roman Curia, Karl maintained usually good relations. In 1376 a vacant place became an ore diocese in Durrës, again with a Latin Bishop to be occupied.

Family[edit]

He was Albanian, the son of Tanush Topia and his mother was an illegitimate daughter of Robert I of Naples.[2][3] Robert of the famous house of Anjou, king of Naples, had an illegitimate daughter whom he wished to marry to a French gentleman of Greece.[4] En route, her ship touched at Durrës, where she met and fell in love with Tanush Topia. They were married and had a son Karl. King Robert, feigning pleasure at the marriage, invited the daughter and her husband to Naples, where he killed them both.[5]

Control of Durrës and the Princedom of Albania[edit]

The long protracted turmoil of dynastic wars had made germinate in their real victims, the Albanians, the seeds of national sentiment which contained great promise, so that, when after Dušan's death, a descendant of the former Stephen Uroš, returned to the province, the inhabitants rose en masse and, under the leadership of Karl Topia, cut down the pretender and his entire force in the battle of Acheloos.[6]

In 1358, Karl rose against the rule of the Anjou and managed to drive them out of Durrës from Epirus and Albania. He ruled most of modern central Albania from 1358 to 1388 and had the title of Princeps Albaniae.

Since 1362, Karl sought himself to set Durrës, which was in the possession of the Duchess Joanna of Anjou. The first, certainly still unsuccessful siege lasted from April 1362 until May 1363. Then, Topia had to withdraw his troops, who were weakened by an epidemic disease. Only in 1367 could Karl conquer Durrës, who had attained in the meantime the tacit agreement of the Venetians for his project and turn this important port into his residence.

Karl gained control of Durrës in 1368, which was where the Angevins held out due to their Kingdom becoming smaller in size.

Topia ruled over the regions of Durrës, Kruja, Peqin, Elbasan, Mokra and Gora, that is, along both sides of the Via Egnatia as far east as Lake Ohrid.[7]

Balsha family rivalry[edit]

Balsha II made a fourth attempt to conquer Durrës, an important commercial and strategic center, which was ruled by his rival, Karl Topia. In 1382, Balsha II began a war to seize Durrës. In 1383, Balsha II captured Durrës from Karl Topia and proclaimed himself Duke of Durrës.[8] Topia called on the Turks for assistance. Murad I gladly sent an army of 40,000 men from Macedonia. In the plain of Savra between Elbasan and Lushnja, Balsha fought the Turks and was defeated and killed.[9] This event was known as the Battle of Savra.

Venetian alliance[edit]

In the last decade of his rule, Karl closely followed the Republic of Venice, particularly with regard to foreign policy. On August 17, 1386, Karl Topia allied himself with Venice and committed himself to participate in all wars of the Republic or pay auxiliary funds and supply grain. In addition, he promised the Venetian buyers protection in his lands. In return, Venice supplied a galley, permitted recruitment of Topia's mercenaries in Venetian areas and instructed the captain of their Adriatic fleet to protect Karl's coasts from the Ottomans. The Ottomans undertook several heavy attacks on Durrës, which also still persisted as Karl died in January 1388. His son, Gjergj, became Karl's successor.

St. Gjon Vladimir's Church[edit]

In 1381, Karl built the St. Gjon Vladimir's Church in the proximity of Elbasan, where Gjon Vladimir's remains were held until 1995.[10] He is depicted in the icon of St. Vladimir, painted by Onouphrios Protopapas (known in Albania as "Onufri"), wearing a crown and standing by the Church of the Saint. A calligraphic inscription in Greek says: "ΚΑΡΛΑ ΘΕΩΠΙΑC ΚΑΙ ΚΤΗΤΩΡ ΤΗC ΑΓΙΑC ΜΟΝΗC ΤΟΥ ΑΓΙΟΥ" (Karla Theopias, builder of the Holy Monastery of the Saint). Another Greek inscription in the building refers to him as: "... ο πανυψηλώτατος πρώτος Κάρλας Θεωπίας ανεψιός δε και αίματος ρύγας της Φραγγίας... οικοδόμησεν τον πάνσεπτον ναόν τούτον του αγίου Ιωάννου του Βλαδιμήρου ..." (the highest and prime Karlas Theopias, nephew and by blood king of Francia ... built this holy church of St. John Vladimir ... ) dated 1382. This inscription is currently located in the Albanian Historical Museum in Tirana.[11]

Marriage and children[edit]

Karl married Serbian Voisava Balsha, ca 1370. The pair had four children:

Parentage uncertain[edit]

Karl had two more children but the parentage is unknown:

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Serbian Empire
Lord of Krujë
1355–1388
Succeeded by
Helena Thopia
Preceded by
Joanna of Durrës
as Duchess of Durrës
Prince of Albania
1368–1383
Succeeded by
Balsha II
Preceded by
Balsha II
Prince of Albania
1385–1388
Succeeded by
Gjergj Topia

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gillian Gloyer. Albania. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Edwin E. Jacques. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  3. ^ M. Th. Houtsma. E. J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Edwin E. Jacques. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Edwin E. Jacques. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  6. ^ M. Th. Houtsma. E. J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Edwin E. Jacques. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Edwin E. Jacques. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Edwin E. Jacques. The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Anamali, Skënder (2002), Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime (in Albanian) I, Botimet Toena, p. 294, OCLC 52411919 
  11. ^ Icons from the Orthodox Communities of Albania, catalog of the exhibition of the collection of icons of the National Museum of Medieval Art of Korce, held in Thessaloniki in 2006. Published by the European Centre of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments - Museum of Byzantine Culture (Greece), p.138.
  12. ^ Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë; K. Prifti, Xh. Gjeçovi, M. Korkuti, G. Shpuza, S. Anamali, K. Biçoku, F. Duka, S. Islami, S. Naçi, F. Prendi, S. Pulaha, P. Xhufi (2002). Historia e Popullit Shqiptar. Tirana, Albania: Toena. p. 309. ISBN 99927-1-622-3. Retrieved 2012-04-23.