Thopia family

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Thopia (Topija) family
Topija Albanian Family, Thopia Albanian Family.png
Crest of Thopia family [1]
Ethnicity Albanian
Current region Between Mat and Shkumbin
Notable members Tanush Thopia, Dominik Thopia, Georgio Thopia, Andrea Thopia, Karl Thopia, Gjergj Thopia, Niketa Thopia
Estate Durrës, Krujë
13th century: Vassals of Charles of Anjou

Thopia family was one of the most known Albanian feudal families in Late Middle Ages.

First notices[edit]

One member of Thopia family is mentioned around the 1270s with the title of miles. At that time they were holding a territory between Mat and Shkumbin and had close ties with Angevins and the Papal States. They promised to convert from Orthodox to Catholic faith[2] and therefore their domains were confirmed also by the Pope. As such they were vassals of Charles of Anjou. Their domains were also confirmed by the Angevins in 1338. At that period a person named Tanush Thopia is mentioned as the head of the family, while his brother Dominik was a high cleric and served as a counsel of Robert of Anjou.[3]
A "serenissimo principe domino Rahpilho Thopia" and his son Georgio is mentioned in a Latin inscription dated 1381 and found in the Monastery of St. John Vladimir, near Elbassan. In the same Monastery the following inscription in Greek was found:

"ετουτα τα σιμαδηα αυθεντου μεγα... ... Καρλα θοπηα",
i.e. "These signs of a great lord ... Carla Thopea".[4]

Ties with Anjou family[edit]

According to Gjon Muzaka genealogy, Andrea Thopia son of Tanush, kidnapped Helena of Anjou, the illegitimate daughter of Robert of Anjou, which was on the way of marrying the Prince of Morea according to her father's wish. But a storm forced her to disembark in Durrës and during her permanence there she fell in love with Andrea. At first Robert didn't react while later on he invited them on his court on Naples where he killed them both. From this marriage the unfortunate couple had two sons, Karl Thopia and Gjergj Thopia.[5]

Princedom of Albania[edit]

Under Karl Thopia the Thopia family reached its zenith. After the death of Stephen Dushan he could managed to capture much of the central Albania which was part of the Serbian Empire till then. In 1362 his forces attacked the city of Durrës, then in Angevin hands. Although he couldn't capture the city, he forced them to pay an annual tribute to his family. In 1368 Karl managed to capture the city of Durrës.[3] Around 1370 Karl attacked the dominions of Muzaka family and managed to capture from them the territory between Shkumbin and Seman. Now the territory of Thopia extended from Mat river to Seman, reaching its maximum extension.[6]

This aggressive behavior brought created a complicated situation and many enemies to the princedom. In 1376 Louis of Évreux, Duke of Durazzo who had gained the rights on the Albanian Kingdom from his second wife, attacked and conquered the city. However in 1383, Karl Topia took control of the city again.[7]

Muzaka family allied with Balša II against Thopia. In the beginning of 1385, the city of Durrës was captured by Balša II in a surprise attack. Karl called for Ottoman help and Balša's forces were defeated in the Battle of Savra. Topia recaptured the city of Durrës the same year and held it until his death in 1388. Afterwards, the city of Durrës was inherited by his son Gjergj, Lord of Durrës. In 1392 Gjergj surrendered the city of Durrës and his domains to the Venice.[8]

The end of princedom[edit]

After the death of Karl, his dominion was divided between his daughter Helena Thopia and his son Gjergj Thopia. Gjergj kept the city of Durrës and his surroundings which he later surrendered to Venice Republic, while Helen Thopia kept the city of Krujë and its surroundings. She was married to Marco Barbadigo a Venetian noble. The count Niketa Thopia, a cousin of Gjergj, ruled in the region south of Durrës. In 1403, Niketa Thopia managed to capture the city of Krujë from his cousin Helena, thus gaining another part of the territory previously held by Thopia. He had good relations with Venice which was interested in having some buffer zone between them and advancing Ottoman army. However in 1412, Niketa Thopia suffered a heavy defeat from the forces of Teodor II Muzaka. He himself felt prisoner and with the intervention of Ragusan Republic he was released, but only after giving some territories around Shkumbin river to Muzaka family. Upon his death in 1415, the castle of Krujë felt to the Ottomans.[9]

Later representatives[edit]

Later well known representatives include Tanush Thopia a famous commander of Skanderbeg army and the commander of Krujë garrison during Second Siege of Krujë.


  1. ^ Heraldika Shqiptare, Gjin Varfi, 2000, ISBN 9992731850 ISBN 978-9992731857
  2. ^ Kristaq Prifti (1993). The Truth on Kosova. Encyclopaedia Publishing House. p. 52. Retrieved 5 January 2014. Together with them, there was a religious personage like Tanush Topia from a family which passed easily from Orthodoxy to Catholicism and, then, the dubious experience of Patarinism. 
  3. ^ a b Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN 99927-1-622-3 p.249
  4. ^ von Hahn Johann Georg, Albanesische studien, vol. 1, pp. 119,120
  5. ^ Early Albania: a reader of historical texts, 11th-17th centuries Volume 39 of Balkanologische Veröffentlichungen Author Robert Elsie Publisher Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003 ISBN 3-447-04783-6, ISBN 978-3-447-04783-8 p.52
  6. ^ Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN 99927-1-622-3 p.250
  7. ^ Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994), The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, University of Michigan Press, ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5 p. 384
  8. ^ Men of empire: power and negotiation in Venice's maritime state Johns Hopkins University studies in historical and political science Men of Empire Men of Empire: Power and Negotiation in Venice's Maritime State, Monique O'Connell Author Monique O'Connell Edition illustrated Publisher JHU Press, 2009 ISBN 0-8018-9145-0, ISBN 978-0-8018-9145-8 p.23
  9. ^ Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN 99927-1-622-3 p.251-252