Essad Pasha Toptani

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Essad Pasha Toptani
Essad Pasha Toptani.jpg
4th Prime Minister of Albania
In office
5 October 1914 – 24 February 1916
Preceded byTurhan Pashë Përmeti
Succeeded byTurhan Pashë Përmeti
Personal details
Bornc. 1863
Tirana, Ottoman Empire
Died13 June 1920
Paris, France
Military service
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
Service/branch Ottoman Army

Essad Pasha Toptani or Esad Pasha Toptani (Albanian: Esad Pashë Toptani; c. 1863 – 13 June 1920), primarily known as Essad Pasha, was an Ottoman army officer who served as the Albanian deputy in the Ottoman Parliament. He was a prominent politician in the early-20th-century Albania. Toptani cooperated with the Balkan League after the Balkan Wars[1] and established a state in central Albania, based in Durrës, called the Republic of Central Albania.[2] He held the title of Pasha of the Ottoman Empire. He is qualified by the Albanian people as the traitor of the Albanian nation.[3]


Early life[edit]

Essad Pasha surrendering Shkodra to Montenegrins

Essad Pasha was born in 1863 in Tirana, Ottoman Empire (today Republic of Albania) the son of Ali Bey Toptani and Vasfije Alizoti.[4] He belonged to prominent landowning family Toptani which founded contemporary Tirana.[5] During his time in the Ottoman government, Toptani served as a lieutenant colonel (kaymakam) and had command of the gendarmerie in Tirana.[6] In 1908, having served as gendarmerie commander in Janina, he joined the Young Turks (CUP) and became a member of the Ottoman parliament as the deputy of Durrës.[4][7] In the aftermath of the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, four CUP members went to inform sultan Abdul Hamid II on April 27 of his dethronement with Toptani being main the messenger saying "the nation has deposed you".[6] The focus of rage by the sultan was toward Toptani whom Abdul Hamid II felt betrayed him and referred to as a "wicked man", due to the extended Toptani family having benefited from royal patronage through privileges and positions in the Ottoman system.[6]

First Balkan War[edit]

In 1912 during the Albanian revolt and aftermath of the Ottoman parliamentary elections, parliamentarians Toptani and Syrja Vlora represented the Albanian side in a parliamentary discussion with the Young Turks.[8] Both called for the cessation of government force and implementation of good governance to alleviate the situation in Albanian lands.[8] Amidst the Albanian Revolt of 1912 Essad Pasha Toptani obliged himself to organize the uprising in Central Albania and Mirdita.[9] On January 30, 1913, Hasan Riza Pasha, commander of Shkodër, was ambushed and killed by Osman Bali and Mehmet Kavaja,[10] two Albanians who were servants of Essad Pasha.[11] Riza Pasha wanted to keep up the defense of the besieged city, and after his death Essad Pasha continued his resistance until April 1913. He turned the fortress of Shkodër over to Montenegro, only in April 1913 after a prolonged war and great heroism of Albanian and Turkish soldiers. Essad Pasha was allowed in return to leave the town with his army and all their weaponry to become involved in the struggle over power in central Albania.[1]

In July 1913 he was persuaded by the Vlora family to accept a position of minister of the interior in the provisional government, but on 16 October 1913, to frustrate Ismail Qemali, Toptani who depicted Qemali as a Greek agent, set up a rival government of his own in Durrës, called the Republic of Central Albania. Officially Serbia simultaneously helped a number of other small tribal chiefs who resisted Ismail Qemali's government, directing them towards cooperation with Essad Pasha.[1]

Peasant Revolt[edit]

He reluctantly stepped down when forced to do so by the Great Powers on 1 February 1914, being given as a consolation prize the right to lead the Albanian delegation that travelled to Neuwied on the Rhine, in Germany, to offer the Albanian throne to Prince Wilhem zu Wied. Back in Albania, relations between the Prince and the scheming Toptani, now minister of war and minister of the interior soon soured. Essad Pasha led a faction of his own in the Peasant Revolt in Albania against Prince Wilhem. He was the only person in Albania to have a self-contained army of his own, and strove to grab as much of the country as he could. On 9 January, his men tried to take Elbasan, but they were repulsed by the governor of the town, Aqif Pasha Elbasani.[12]

On 19 May 1914, when Toptani refused to lay down his weapons, armed forces under Dutch gendarmerie officer Johan Sluys surrounded and shelled his house in Durrës, forcing him to surrender. He was arrested for conspiracy, though after consultations with Prince zu Wied, he was not court-martialled but sent to Bari in southern Italy and banned from returning to Albania.[13][14]

Exile and the Treaty of Niš[edit]

Essad Pasha in Salonika

From exile in Rome, he maintained close links with the Serbian and Montenegrin governments. After the outbreak of the First World War, Toptani travelled to Niš, Kingdom of Serbia, where he and Serbian prime minister Nikola Pašić signed the secret Treaty of Serbian-Albanian Alliance on 17 September 1914.[15] With Italian and Serbian financial backing he established armed forces, Toptani invaded Dibër on 20 September, and by 3 October 1914 he had taken Durrës without a fight. Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić ordered that his followers be aided with money and arms.[1]

His power base in central Albania was weakened in November 1914 by an uprising of Muslim rebels who turned against him, but he managed, with Italian support, to hold on to the town of Durrës. When Serbian forces invaded Albania in mid-June 1915, swiftly occupying Pogradec, Elbasan, Tirana and Kavaja, Toptani was put in place as ruler of central Albania from Durrës. Though his rule was not stable because of the First World War. In the end of 1914, Essad secretly agreed with the Greek government to support the annexation of the southern provinces, known to Greeks as Northern Epirus, to the Kingdom of Greece.[16] He soon declared war on Austria-Hungary to show support for the Entente, and profited from the situation enormously by taxing all the Allied supplies sent to the Serbs. When Austro-Hungarian forces swept through much of central and northern Albania in the spring of 1916, Toptani fled to Salonika from there went to France, to represent Albania at the Paris Peace Conference.

For the next two years, Essad Pasha remained in Paris, attempting to organize recognition for Albania from the Great Powers and reject the secret pact of London, which planned the division of Albania. During this time Tirana and much of central Albania was controlled by his Field Commander, Osman Bali and his most trusted adviser Ramazan Biba, member of a prominent Tirana family.[citation needed]


On 13 June 1920, Avni Rustemi assassinated Essad Pasha in Paris when he left the Hotel Continental. Essad Pasha was buried in the Serbian Military Cemetery in Paris,[17][18] after staying for a long time unburied in the mortuary.[19]


Essad Pasha had a reputation as an unscrupulous opportunist[4] and is remembered among Albanians as one of the most negative historical figures and the symbol of treason.[17][20][21] Edith Durham viewed Essad Pasha as "a strange relic of the middle ages ... one with the handsome swashbucklers who sold themselves and their services to the rival monarchs, princelings and dukes in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and cheerfully transferred themselves to the enemy if he offered better pay – men in whom the sense of nationality was not developed at all, and whose sense of honour was, to put it mildly, deficient."[22]


Two shots in Paris (sq:Dy krisma në Paris) is a drama by Sheri Mita, Pëllumb Kulla with the subject of Essad Pasha Toptani murder in Paris and trial of Avni Rustemi [23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Serbian government and Essad Pasha Toptani
  2. ^ Robert Elsie, Essad Pasha Toptani Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Dosja e tradhetise se Esat Pashe Toptanit".
  4. ^ a b c Elsie, Robert (2012). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B Tauris. p. 444. ISBN 978 1 78076 431 3.
  5. ^ Pettifer, James (1 June 2001). "Ihsan Bey Toptani". Retrieved December 5, 2014. The Toptani family were in many ways the founders of contemporary Tirana
  6. ^ a b c Gawrych 2006, p. 167.
  7. ^ Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 361. ISBN 9781400847761.
  8. ^ a b Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. London: IB Tauris. p. 193. ISBN 9781845112875.
  9. ^ Prishtina, Hasan. Nji shkurtim kujtimesh mbi kryengritjen shqiptare të vjetit 1912. Shkrue prej Hassan Prishtinës [Hasan Bey Prishtina: Brief Memoir on the Albanian Uprising of 1912] (in Albanian and translated on English by Robert Elsie). Shkodra: Shtypshkroja Franciskane. Archived from the original on 10 January 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2011. Essad Pasha assured us that he could manage things in Central Albania and Mirdita.
  10. ^ Vickers, Door Miranda (1999). The Albanians: A Modern History.
  11. ^ Ulli, Prenk (1995). Hasan Riza Pasha: Mbrojtës i Shkodrës në Luftën Ballkanike, 1912-1913. Shkodër, Albania: Albin. pp. 34–40. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  12. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. It was obvious to Wied and the Dutch officers that Essad Pasha had his hand in the unrest.
  13. ^ Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan (2005). "An Uprising in the Six-Month Kingdom". Gervase Belfield and Bejtullah Destani (I.B. Tauris, in association with the Centre for Albanian Studies). Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. Essad would be sent into exile, without a trial.
  14. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. to exile Essad Pasha to Italy
  15. ^ Bataković, Dušan T., "Serbian government and Essad Pasha Toptani", The Kosovo Chronicles, Belgrade, Serbia: Knižara Plato, ISBN 86-447-0006-5, archived from the original on 18 January 2011, retrieved 19 January 2011, Essad Pasha signed a secret alliance treaty with Pasic on September 17.
  16. ^ George B. Leon. Greece and the First World War: from neutrality to intervention, 1917-1918. East European Monographs, 1990, ISBN 978-0-88033-181-4, p358: "In return, Essad reconfirmed a promise he had made in the fall of 1914 to support Greece's annexation of North Epirus. However, while he was willing to come to a secret agreement with the Greek government on this question, he indicated that in order to be able to counterbalance the weight of the common adversary, that "is Italy, and to stabilize his influence in Albania he could not recognize publicly Greece's claim."
  17. ^ a b Firma e Esat Pashës për bashkimin e Shqipërisë me Serbinë [Signature of Essad Pasha for annexation of Albania into Serbia] (in Albanian), Bota Sot, April 6, 2013, retrieved October 31, 2013
  18. ^ 1919 Essad Pasha Toptani: Memorandum on Albania, Robert Elsie, archived from the original on 2 November 2013, retrieved October 31, 2013
  19. ^ ESSAD PASHA'S BODY STILL WAITS BURIAL; Great Albanian, Shot in Paris 14 Months Ago, Lies With Unknowns in the Mortuary., NY Times, 7 August 1921, retrieved October 31, 2013
  20. ^ Puto: Esat Pashë Toptani nuk ka rehabilitim [Puto: There is no rehabilitation for Essad Pasha Toptani] (in Albanian), AMA News, November 10, 2012, retrieved October 31, 2013
  21. ^ Peci, Bajram, Ne 100-vjetorin e tradhtareve te atdheut [On the 100th anniversary of the National Traitors] (in Albanian),, retrieved October 31, 2013
  22. ^ Durham, Edith (2001). Albania and the Albanians: Selected Articles and Letters, 1903-1944. The Centre of Albanian Studies. p. 125. ISBN 1 903616-09-3.
  23. ^

External links[edit]


Media related to Essad Pasha at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Turhan Pashë Përmeti
Prime Minister of Albania
5 October 1914 – 24 February 1916
Succeeded by
Turhan Pashë Përmeti