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The Dream of Skanderbeg's Mother.jpg
The Dream of Skanderbeg's Mother – Jörg Breu II 1533
Other namesVojsava, Vojislava; Tribalda, Tripalda[A]
Known forMother of Skanderbeg
Spouse(s)Gjon Kastrioti
Children9 children, see Family
RelativesPresumably Branković dynasty

Voisava (fl. 1402–05) was the wife of Gjon Kastrioti (fl. 1386–d. 1437), an Albanian nobleman with whom she had nine children, one of whom was the most powerful Albanian nobleman in history, regarded a national hero, George Kastrioti "Skanderbeg" (1405–1468). She is mentioned in passing in two sources from the start of the 16th century. The first source, a biography on her son, mentions her as the daughter of a "Triballian nobleman", which is interpreted as her being Serbian, modern scholars pointing to the Branković dynasty. Her name is Slavic, as are several of her children's names.

Early sources[edit]

The earliest works mentioning Voisava are:

  • Marin Barleti (1450–1513), the Albanian-Venetian historian, wrote in his biography of Skanderbeg (published between 1508–10), that her "father was a Triballian nobleman" (pater nobilissimus Triballorum princeps).[1] In another chapter, when talking about the inhabitants of Upper Debar that defended Svetigrad, he calls them "Bulgarians or Triballi" (Bulgari sive Tribali habitant).[2] The term "Triballians" (Triballoi) was used in Byzantine works as an exonym for Serbs.[3][4][5]
  • Gjon Muzaka (fl. 1515), a member of the Albanian Muzaka family in Italy, mentioned her in his chronicle (published in 1515) as Voisava Tripalda, "who was of a noble family". Furthermore, in another chapter, Muzaka explains that "Tribali" is another name for Serbs.[6] According to W. Miller,[7] and von Hahn, the surname (Tripalda) added by Muzaka is a corruption, a derivative from Barleti's quote on the Triballi.[8] In another passage, it is alleged that the "Marquis of Tripalda" was maternally related to the Muzaka,[9] which has led to F. Noli and H. Hodgkinson theorizing that Voisava was a Muzaka (see next section).

Modern sources[edit]

  • Johann Georg von Hahn (1811–1869), an Austrian expert in Albanian studies, had several theses on the genealogy of Albanian noble families in Albanesische Studien (1854). In Reise durch die Gebiete von Drin und Wardar (1867/69), he theorized that if one of Vrana Konti's descendants held the title "Marchese di Tripalda", that Vrana and Voisava Tripalda were related by blood.[10]
  • Karl Hopf (1832–1873), a German historian and expert in Byzantine studies, in Chroniques Greco-romanes (1873) concluded that Voisava was daughter of a Serbian lord from Polog.[11]
  • William Miller (1864–1945), the English medievalist, said the following, in his review of Athanase Gegaj's work which claimed that Skanderbeg was purely Albanian: "...Skanderbeg's mother had a Slav name, and the epithet 'Tripalda' given to her is a corruption of the tribal name 'Triballi', which the pedantic Byzantine historians applied to the Serbs. Moreover, if he had no connexion with Serbia, why should he have given two villages to Chilindar ... the famous Serbian monastery on Mount Athos, immemorially connected with Serbian kings, medieval and modern?".[7]
  • In Bulgarian historiography, Vasil Zlatarski (1866–1935), the prominent scholar, mentioned her as the daughter of a Serbian nobleman.[12] Historian Strashimir Dimitrov (1892–1960) said that she was a daughter of a local Bulgarian lord (boyar) from Macedonia.[13]
  • Fan S. Noli (1882–1965), an Albanian-American writer, in his biography of Skanderbeg (1947), adopted the view that Vojsava came from the Muzaka family.[14] British Harry Hodgkinson (1913–1994), an Albanophile,[15] too, considered her a member of the Muzaka family.[16] Schmitt refuted this view and notes that Hodgkinson had done no archival research.[17]
  • Boban Petrovski (b. 1972), a Macedonian historian and author of Voisava Tribalda (2006), the only work about Voisava and her possible genealogies, concluded that Voisava was of undoubtedly Slavic origin, most likely Serb, as she was the daughter of a lord of the "Triballians" (Serbs) in Polog, that had ruled before the Ottoman conquest.[18] He had several theses on the ultimate identity of Voisava's father: "If the Branković family indeed governed Polog in the last decade of the 14th century, it arises the chance that Voisava was a daughter of Grgur Branković or even Vuk Branković."[19]
  • Oliver Schmitt (b. 1973), a professor of South-East European history at Vienna University, in his biography Skanderbeg: Der neue Alexander auf dem Balkan (2009) supported that she was a Serbian noblewoman of the Branković family and sister to Mara Branković.[20]
  • Robert Elsie (born 1950), an Albanologist, mentioned her as "a Slavic woman ... related to the noble Serbian Brankovići family".[21]


Voisava married Gjon Kastrioti, the "Lord of a part of Albania" (dominus partium Albanie). She bore 9 children with Gjon, 4 sons and 5 daughters:


  1. ^ Barleti gives her name as simply "Voisava",[1] without any surname, while Muzaka wrote her name as "Voisava Tripalda".[30] According to W. Miller,[7] and von Hahn, the surname added by Muzaka is a corruption, or derivative, from Barleti's quote on the Triballi.[8] The name "Voisava" is Slavic,[7][31][32] derived from Vojislava.[32][33] Her name is also rendered Vojsava.


  1. ^ a b Noli 1947, p. 189: "writes: "Uxori Voisavae nomen erat, non indignam eo viro, tum pater nobilissimus Tribalorum princeps ...""; Barletius, l. I, fo 2: "... Triballorum princeps"
  2. ^ Barletius (1537). De vita, moribus ac rebus. pp. 139–140.; Barletius, l. V, fo. 62: "Superior Dibra montuosa est et aspera, ferax tarnen et Macedoniam tum ipsa loci vicinitate, tum similitudine morum contingens. Bulgari sive Tribali habitant"
  3. ^ The Journal of Hellenic Studies. Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. 1922. p. 48. Byzantine historians [...] calling [...] Serbs Triballians
  4. ^ Fanula Papazoglu (1978). The Central Balkan Tribe in Pre-Roman Times: Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians. Hakkert. ISBN 978-90-256-0793-7. The Triballi lived deep in the interior of the Balkan Peninsula, between the lower course of the Southern Morava and the ... many centuries later, learned Byzantine writers, seeking the ancient name for the Serbs, chose the term Triballi as the ...
  5. ^ Zbornik radova Vizantološkog instituta. 44. Naučno delo. 2007. The Serbs were often called Triballi by Byzantine authors.
  6. ^ Hopf 1873, p. 313: "...Tribali overo Misii ch' hoggi se nominato Serviani.".
  7. ^ a b c d Miller, William, Reviews of books; JSTOR: The English Historical Review, Vol. 53, No. 209 (Jan., 1938), p. 129
  8. ^ a b Hahn, Johann Georg von (1867). Reise durch die Gebiete von Drin und Wardar (in German). Wien. p. 305. Skanderbeg's Mutter wird von dem Despoten einmal Visava Tribalda (*), ein andersmal Voisava Tripalda genannt, ...". (*)(Footnote 3) "Dieser Name mag vielleicth Anlass zu der sonderbaren Angabe des Barletius S. 4 gegeben haben, dass ihr Vater nobilissimus Tribalorum princeps gewesen sei." ["Tribalda" or "Tripalda" is a corruption or derivative from Barleti's quotation on Triballi]; Hahn 1869, p. 117
  9. ^ Hopf 1873, p. 301: [Musachi:] "Accio sappiate, in che modo c'era parente il Signor marchese della Tripalda, ve dico, che l'e per parte de donna..." [Know that the marquis of Tripalda is related to us by a female line]
  10. ^ Hahn 1869, p. 121: "... Mutter eine geborene Tripalda war und ein Nachkomme des Wrana Conte den Titel Márchese di Tripalda führte, so erscheint selbst die Frage erlaubt, ob nicht etwa Wrana Conte ein Blutsverwandter von Skanderbeg's Mutter war.".
  11. ^ Hopf 1873, p. 533: "fille du seigneur (Serbe) de Polog".
  12. ^ Васил Николов Златарски (2005). България през XIV и XV век: Лекционен курс. Изток-Запад. Иван Кастриот, храбър противник на турците, женен за Воислава, дъщерята на сръбския властител [daughter of a Serbian nobleman]
  13. ^ Димитров, Страшимир: Георги Кастриоти-Скендербег и неговата освободителна борба, В: Г. Кастриоти Скендербег 1468-1968 г. София, сп. “Балкани”, БАН, No2, 1970, стр. 11: "It is known that his mother, Voisava, was of Slavic-Bulgarian origin, "daughter of the lord of Polog, which is part of Macedonia and Bulgaria", says one anonymous Venetian chronicle..."
  14. ^ Noli 1947, p. 189, note 33: "Në faqen 308, Muzaka na thotë se Vojsava ishte shqiptare nga familja e Muzakajve; Barleti ,,Vita”, Libri I, faqe 1, shkruan ,,Bashkëshortja kishte emrin Voisavë, (grua) jo e padenjë për atë burër; i ati ishte një princ shumë fisnik i Tribalëve ".
  15. ^ James Pettifer (2008). "Obituary: Harry Hodgkinson". London, United Kingdom: The Independent. Retrieved 27 November 2010. throughout his life he fought for the Albanian cause and took up strong anti-Serb and anti-Bulgarian positions
  16. ^ Hodgkinson, Harry. Scanderbeg: From Ottoman Captive to Albanian Hero. I. B. Tauris. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-85043-941-7.
  17. ^ Schmitt 2009, p. 8: "Gelandekundige, wie etwa ein britischer Geheimdienstoffizier des Zweiten Weltkriegs (H.Hodgkinson), wiederum, hatten keine Archivarbeit betrieben"
  18. ^ Petrovski 2006, pp. 2, 3, 10.
  19. ^ Petrovski 2006, "Доколку ја прифатиме оваа варијанта, според која Бранковиките биле господари на/во Полог до почетког на последната деценија од XIV век, во тој случај произлегува дека Воисава била керка на Гргур или пак, можеби на Вук Бранковик.".
  20. ^ Schmitt 2009, pp. 44–45; "Schweizer historiker beleidigt Albaner". 2009. Skanderbegs Mutter Vojsava war eine Serbin aus der einflussreichen Familie Brankovic.; Andreas Künzli (November 2009). "Rezension: Skanderbeg: Der neue Alexander auf dem Balkan" (PDF). . osteuropa: 44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011. Skanderbegs Mutter Vojsava war eine Serbin aus der Dynastie Branković, also eine Slavin.
  21. ^ Robert Elsie (2012). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B.Tauris. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-78076-431-3.
  22. ^ Noli 1947, p. 189: "Reposhi was a holy man, became a monk and died in the Monastery of Signa, as Musachi tells us: "Reposio predet'o fu huomo de santa vita e se n' ando al Monte Sinai e si fe frate e Ii morse.".
  23. ^ Noli 1947, p. 22: "This time he notified Venice that he was compelled to give his son as a hostage to the Despot of Serbia.48 As a matter of fact, he had sent his son Stanisha with an auxiliary corps to help the Serbians against the Venetians at Scutari.49".
  24. ^ a b c Nicol, Donald M. (1997). Theodore Spandounes: On the Origins of the Ottoman Emperors. Cambridge University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-521-58510-1.
  25. ^ Noli 1947, p. 208.
  26. ^ Noli 1947, p. 189: "Angelina with Vladan Araniti".
  27. ^ Johann Samuel Ersch (1868). Allgemeine encyclopädie der wissenschaften und künste in alphabetischer folge von genannten schrifts bearbeitet und herausgegeben von J. S. Ersch und J. G. Gruber ... J. f. Gleditsch. p. 123. Angelina den Vladin Arianites KomnenoS, deS „Großen" Bruder
  28. ^ Noli 1947, p. 64: "Vlajka me Stefan Stres Balshën".
  29. ^ Gopčević, Spiridon (1914). Geschichte von Montenegro und Albanien (in German). Gotha: F.A. Perthes. p. 460. OCLC 9968504. Retrieved 29 March 2012. Bezüglich der Strez herrscht Verwirrung. Hopf macht Ivo und Gojko BalSid zu Söhnen des Stefan Strez, welcher Vlajka Kastriota geheiratet hätte und Sohn des Gjuragj Balšić gewesen wäre, eines Bastards des Gjuragj I.
  30. ^ Hopf 1873, p. 301, quoting Muzaka: "Muzachi "E la madre de detto Signor Scanderbeg, moglie del detto Signor Giovanni, hebbe nome Signora Voisava Tripalda e venne da bonna parte"
  31. ^ Jireček, Konstantin, Geschichte der Bulgaren (in German), II, p. 368
  32. ^ a b Vukanović 1971.
  33. ^ Šimundić, Mate (1988). Rječnik osobnih imena (in Croatian). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska. p. 370. VOISAVA