Ali Pasha of Gusinje

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Ali Pasha of Gusinje
Ali pasha i Prizrenska liga (1).jpg
Picture of Ali Pasha (sitting, first from the left) with Haxhi Zeka (sitting in the middle) and some other members of Prizren League
Birth nameAli Hasan Shabanagaj
Gusinje, Ottoman Empire
Died5 March 1888
Peć, Ottoman Empire (now Kosovo)
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
League of Prizren (1878-1881)
Years of service1845—1888
Battles/warsBattle of Novšiće

Ali Pasha Shabanagaj (1828 – 5 March 1888) (Serbian: Али-паша Шабанагић, Ali-paša Šabanagić), was an Albanian military commander and one of the leaders of the League of Prizren.[1] He governed, as an Ottoman kaymakam (sub-governor), an area in what is today eastern Montenegro around Plav and Gusinje. He was commonly known as Ali Pasha of Gusinje (Turkish: Gusinyeli Ali Paşa, Albanian: Ali Pashë Gucia, Serbian: Али-паша Гусињски, Ali-paša Gusinjski).[2][3] He was the leader of the Albanian irregular troops of the League of Prizren against the Principality of Montenegro at the Battle of Novšiće.


Ali was born in 1828 in Gusinje, to landowner Hasan-bey Shabanagaj.[4] He finished Turkish-language school in medresa in Peć and military school in Istanbul. In 1845 Ali was appointed as kaymakam (sub-governor) of Gusinje, succeeding his father on this position.[4][5][6] In the 1860s he supported the uprising of northern Albanian Muslim tribes against Tanzimat reforms which reduced their privileged status.[4]

The League of Prizren was established with Ottoman support in 1878, after the Congress of Berlin decided to cede the towns of Plav and Gusinje, which were notably Muslim Albanian-inhabited, to the Principality of Montenegro. Ali Pasha, whose lands were part of the proposed cessations to Montenegro hosted a gathering of local Albanian leaders and mobilized Albanians of the area into a military force to resist and prevent territorial losses.[2] He became one of Leugue's founders and military commanders in the region of Plav and Gusinje.[7][8] He was one of the commanders of irregulars mobilized by the League having assembled some 10,000-20,000 Albanian men and defeated Montenegrin troops in the Battle of Novšiće with his forces bringing back some sixty heads to Gusinje.[8][9] He later used his forces against the Ottoman Empire. In the early phases of the attack against Mehmed Ali Pasha he commanded the volunteer troops that blocked the routes from Đakovica to the Ottoman-Montenegrin border. He was also the leader of the Albanian troops of the League of Prizren against the Principality of Montenegro at the Battle of Novšiće.[10]

After the irregulars of the League of Prizren were crushed by the Ottomans in 1881, Ali Pasha of Gusinje was arrested.[11] He was released after the Sultan gave general amnesty. Ali Pasha was appointed to the position of mutesarrif of the Ottoman Sanjak of İpek because he did not object the Ottoman rule and maintained a close connection with the Porte throughout the conflict being more concerned to prevent Montenegro to capture Plav and Gusinje.[12] The Ottoman state also gave him forestland for his defense of Gusinje against the Montenegrins and later Ali Pasha sent some Albanian youths from the region for training and service in the place guard of sultan Abdulhamid II.[12] In 1881, during his visit to Istanbul, he was promoted to the rank of beylerbey.[13]


An attemption to assassinate Ali Pasha was undertaken in the Rugova Canyon on 29 November 1887[14], organized by Albanian nationalist Haxhi Zeka, which he survived but died on 5 March 1888. The assassination was carried out by Adem Guska.[4][15]

Lahuta e Malcis[edit]

The exploits of Ali Pasha of Gusinje presented material for myth making and in the Albanian national epic poem Lahuta e Malcis (English: Highland Lute) he is presented as a blazing hero and is the central figure of the 8th canto and one of the important figures of the 9th canto.[16][8]


  1. ^ Ekrem Vlora (1973). Lebenserinnerungen: 1912 bis 1925. Oldenbourg Verlag. pp. 288–. ISBN 978-3-486-47571-5.
  2. ^ a b Gawrych 2006, p. 45.
  3. ^ Mihailo Maletić; Anton Berisha (1973). Kosovo nekad i danas. Borba-Radna jedinica ekonomiska politika.
  4. ^ a b c d Robert Elsie (24 December 2012). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B.Tauris. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-78076-431-3. born into the Shabanagaj family
  5. ^ Чупић, Никола (1898). Годишњица Николе Чупића. Штампа Државне штампарије Краљевине Југославије. p. 132.
  6. ^ Folklore macédonien. Institut za folklor. 1980. p. 65. Али-паша Гусињски (Гусиња), понапрежен кајмакам и земјопосед- ник во Гусиње, а во ...
  7. ^ Skendi 1967, p. 35.
  8. ^ a b c Gawrych 2006, p. 62.
  9. ^ Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 37, 61, 94. ISBN 9781400847761.
  10. ^ Zeitschrift für Balkanologie. R. Trofenik. 1983. p. 140.
  11. ^ Appletons' Annual Cyclopædia and Register of Important Events of the Year ... 9. D. Appleton & Company. 1885. pp. 764–.
  12. ^ a b Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. London: IB Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 9781845112875.
  13. ^ Mikić, Đorđe (1988). Društvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih srba u XIX i početkom XX veka. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. p. 25. Тако је вођ скадароког крила Лигиних снага Али-паша Гусињски, боравећи V Царнгр^лу 1881. годнне, добио чин беглербега
  14. ^ Nuri Bexheti & Selver Islamaj: Situata politike dhe përshtypjet e të huajve mbi Vilajetin e Kosovës gjatë viteve 1880-a. In Revista Kosova Nr. 43. (Prishtinë, 2018), p. 53-70.ërshtypjet_e_të_huajve_mbi_Vilajetin_e_Kosovës_gjatë_viteve_1880-a.
  15. ^ Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Politisches Archiv XXXVIII, Karton 263, Prizren report from 5 December 1887, p 4-5, also HHStA, PA XXXVIII, Karton 270, Prizren report from 5 March 1888, p 7, and report from 16 March 1888, p 5.
  16. ^ Fishta, Gjergj; Robert Elsie; Janice Mathie-Heck (2005). The highland lute: (Lahuta e malcís) : the Albanian national epic. Centre for Albanian Studies (London, England). I.B.Tauris. pp. 65–73. ISBN 1-84511-118-4.