Principality of Arbanon
|Principality of Arbanon
Principata e Arbërit
|Autonomous principality within the Byzantine Empire (until 1204) and the Despotate of Epirus (from ca. 1205)|
Principality of Arbanon at its maximum extension
|-||fl. 1190-1198||Progon (first)|
|-||fl. 1253-1255||Golem (last)|
Part of a series on the
|History of Albania|
The Principality of Arbanon or Albanon (Albanian: Arbër or Arbëria, Greek: Ἄρβανον), was the first Albanian state during the Middle Ages. The state was established by archon Progon in the region of Kruja, in ca 1190. Progon, the founder, was succeeded by his sons Gjin and Demetrius, the latter which attained the height of the realm. After the death of Dhimiter, the last of the Progon family, the principality came under Gregory Kamonas, and later Golem. The Principality was dissolved on 1255.
Throughout its existence, the principality was an autonomous dependency of its neighbouring powers, first Byzantium and, after the Fourth Crusade, Epirus, while it also maintained close relations with Serbia.
According to some, Progon's realm was the first Albanian state during the Middle Ages. Pipa and Repishti conclude that Arbanon was the first sketch of an "Albanian state", and that it retained semi-autonomous status as the western extremity of an empire (under the Doukai of Epirus or the Laskarids of Nicaea).
Before 1204, Arbanon was an autonomous principality of the Byzantine Empire. The titles archon (held by Progon) and panhypersebastos (held by Dhimiter) is a sign of Byzantine dependence. After 1204, the Albanians naturally followed the Despotate of Epirus, the successor of the Byzantine Empire. The Gëziq inscription mention the Progon family as judices, and notes their dependence on Vladin and Đorđe Nemanjić (r. 1208-1216), the princes of Zeta. The rulers were connected to the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty, through marriage and alliances. In 1252, Golem submitted to the Empire of Nicaea.
Background and Early history
In the beginning the name Arbanon was applied to a region in the mountainous area to the west of Ohrid Lake and the upper valley of the river Shkumbin in 11th century AD. There are scarce sources about Arbanon. In 1166, prior Arbanensis Andrea and episcopis Arbanensis Lazarus participated in a ceremony held in Kotor (then under the Serbian Grand Principality). A year later in 1167, Pope Alexander III, in a letter directed to Lazarus, congratulates him for returning his bishopric to Catholic faith and invites him to acknowledge the archbishop of Ragusa as his superior. After some resistance from local officials, the bishopric of Arbanon was put under the direct dependence of the Pope, as documented in a Papal letter dated in 1188. Little is known about archon Progon who was the first ruler of Kruja and its surroundings, between 1190 and 1198. The Kruja fortress stayed in the possession of the Progon family, and Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin, and later Dhimitër.
Reign of Demetrius Progoni
Demetrius Progoni was the third and last lord of the Progon family, reigning between 1208 and 1216. He succeeded his brother Gjin and brought the principality to its climax. Contemporary Western sources attribute the titles judex ("judge") and princeps Arbanorum ("prince of the Albanians") to him, while Byzantine records refer to him as megas archon ("grand lord"). In 1208, Demetrius married Komnena Nemanjić, the daughter of Serbian Grand Prince, later King Stefan Nemanjić (r. 1196-1228). A brief alliance was established between the two countries amidst conflicts with the Republic of Venice. Demetrius’s marriage with Nemanja’s daughter did not rule out the risk of a Serbian expansion toward the Albanian domains. However, in 1204, the most serious threat came from the Venetian Duchy of Dyrrhachium, a Latin entity formed after the Fourth Crusade in the former territories of the Byzantine Empire. In search for allies, Dhimitër signed a treaty with the Republic of Ragusa in 1209 and began negotiations with Pope Innocent III regarding his and his subjects’ conversion to Catholicism. This is considered a tactful move, which Demetrius undertook to establish ties with Western Europe against Venice. The friendship with the pope was of short duration, and soon turned into ill-feeling.
Reign of Komnena Nemanjić and Gregory Kamonas
After Demetrius died in 1215, the power was left to Komnena, who soon married Greek-Albanian Gregory Kamonas, who took power of Kruja, strengthening relations with Serbia, which had been weakened after a Serbian assault on Scutari. According to Frasheri, Kamonas was elected. Komnena had a daughter with Kamonas that married Golem.
Reign of Golem
Demetrius had no son to succeed him. His wife, Komnena, remarried and had a daughter with Gregory Kamonas. The daughter married Golem, who was the lord of Kruja and Elbasan in ca 1254. During the conflicts between Michael II Komnenos Doukas of Epirus and Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes, Golem and Theodore Petraliphas, who were initially Michael's allies, defected to John III in 1252. He is last mentioned in the sources among other local leaders, in a meeting with George Akropolites in Durrës in 1256.
The initial Nicaean conquest proved short-lived, as the region erupted in a pro-Epirote revolt that lasted until 1259.
The Kruja fortress, founded by the Byzantines, was the seat of Progon. Progon gained possession of the surroundings of the fortress which became hereditary. With the marriage of Komnena with Kamonas, Elbasan becomes the second important possession. Nderfandina is known as the most important center of this principality. For this was spoken clearly by the emblem of Arber found carved on a stone in the Catholic Church of Saint Maria.
- Progon (between 1190–1198)
- Gjin Progoni (1198–1208)
- Dhimitër Progoni (1208–1216)
- Gregory Kamonas (between 1216–1252)
- Golem (fl. 1252–1255)
- Ducellier (1999), pp. 780–781, 786
- Ducellier 1981, p. 63
- Clements 1992, p. 31 "By 1190, Byzantium's power had so receded that the archon Progon succeeded in establishing the first Albanian state of the Middle Ages, a principality"
- Pickard-Çeliku 2008, p. 16
- Norris 1993, p. 35
- Pipa-Repishti 1983, pp. 7-8
- Ellis, p. 134
- Abulafia, p. 780
- Nicol 1986, p. 161
- Nicol 1986, p. 160
- Thalóczy-Jireček-Sufflay 1913, p. 31
- Kristaq 2002, p. 197
- Kristaq 2002, p. 215
- Fine, p. 51
- Frashëri 1964, p. 42 "The territories of this principality extended over the present- day districts of central Albania. Its capital was at Kruja. The first ruler of the Principality of Arberia was Archon Progon (1190-1198) about whose life and doings we know.."
- Kristaq 2002, p. 198
- Fontes 1943, p. 338
- Atmaca 2007, p. 44
- Jordan 2003, p. 114
- Frashëri 1964, p. 43
- Nicol 1957, p. 48
- Abulafia, p. 156
- Frasheri 1964, p. 43 After the death of Dhimiter in 1216, a native noble by the name of Grigor Kamona was elected as ruler of Arberia.
- The Genealogist, Volumes 1-2
- The Genealogist, page 40: "Golem'... Lord of Kruja and Elbasan circa 1254... married the daughter of Gregorios Kamonas"
- George Akropolites: the history, page 73: " Goulamos defected to the Emperor"
- History of Albanian People. Albanian Academy of Science. ISBN 99927-1-623-1
- Kristo Frashëri (1964), The history of Albania: a brief survey. Publisher: s.n.
- John Clements (1992), Clements' encyclopedia of world governments, Volume 10, Publisher: Political Research, inc.
- Donald MacGillivray Nicol (1986), Studies in late Byzantine history and prosopography Volume 242 of Collected studies Variorum reprints ; CS242 Volume 242 of Variorum reprint. Illustrated edition. Variorum Reprints, ISBN 0-86078-190-9, ISBN 978-0-86078-190-5
- Donald MacGillivray Nicol (1957), The despotate of Epiros, Blackwell
- Thalóczy-Jireček-Sufflay (1913), Acta et diplomata res Albaniae mediae aetatis illustrantia: Collegerunt et digesserunt dr Ludovicus de Thalóczy, dr Constantinus Jireček et dr Emilianus de Sufflay, Volume 1, Editors: Lajos Thallóczy, Konstantin Jireček, Emil von Sufflay. Publisher: typis A. Holzhausen
- Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN 99927-1-622-3
- Ducellier, Alain (1999). "Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria". In Abulafia, David. The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 1198-c. 1300. Cambridge University Press. pp. 796–808. ISBN 0-521-36289-X.
- The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest Author John Van Antwerp Fine Edition reprint, illustrated Publisher University of Michigan Press, 1994 ISBN 0-472-08260-4, ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5
- Fontes Fontes, Catholic Church. Pontificia Commissio Codici Iuris Canonici Orientalis Recognoscendo Author Catholic Church. Pontificia Commissio Codici Iuris Canonici Orientalis Recognoscendo Publisher Typis polyglottis Vaticanis, 1943
- Zogo ve Atatürk Author Tayfun Atmaca Publisher Tayfun Atmaca, 2007 ISBN 975-94215-1-8, ISBN 978-975-94215-1-9
- David Abulafia, The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 1198-c. 1300
- Elsie, Robert (2003), Early Albania : a reader of historical texts, 11th-17th centuries, ISBN 978-3-44704783-8, OCLC 52911172
- Nixon, N., Always already European: The figure of Skënderbeg in contemporary Albanian nationalism, National Identities, 12, March 2010, Routledge, doi:10.1080/14608940903542540, retrieved May 3, 2011.
- Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie; Jürgen Fischer, Bernd; Bailey, Roderick; Blumi, Isa; Clayer, Nathalie; Dujizings, Denisa Costovicova, Annie Lafontaine, Fatos Lubonja, Nicola Mai, Noel Malcolm, Piro Misha, Mariella Pandolfi, Ger; de Rapper, Gilles; Schmidt, Fabian; Shopflin, George; Skoulidas, Elias G.; Standish, Alex; Vatchinova, Galia (2002), Albanian identities: myth and history, USA: Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-34189-2
- Ducellier, Alain (1981). La façade maritime de l'Albanie au Moyen âge. Ècole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. p. 48. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Norris, H. T. (1993). Islam in the Balkans: religion and society between Europe and the Arab world. University of South Carolina Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-87249-977-5. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Arshi Pipa, Sami Repishti, Studies on Kosova, East European Monographs, 1984
- Peter Jordan, Karl Kaser, Walter Lukan, Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Holm Sundhaussen, Albanien: Geographie - historische Anthropologie - Geschichte - Kultur - postkommunistische Transformation, Peter Lang, 2003
- Steven G. Ellis,Lud'a Klusáková, Imagining frontiers, contesting identities