Vrana Konti

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Count of Krujë and Mat
Titles and styles
Died 1458[4]
Spouse(s) Maria Zardari (possibly)[3]
Occupation Napolitan count, military commander, counselor of Skanderbeg

Count Vrana[A] (fl. 1450–1458†) was a Napolitan nobleman, who received the title of conte (count) by King Alfonso the Magnanimous and later became one of the closest allies of George Kastrioti "Skanderbeg" in Albania. He was Skanderbeg's counselor and one of his best generals.

Vrana participated in all of Skanderbeg's major battles until 1458. He is known mainly for his resistance as the commander of the Albanian garrison during the First Siege of Krujë. He was offered a great deal of money and a high-ranking post in the Ottoman administration by Sultan Murad II conditional on his surrender, but he refused.



The real identity of Vrana has yet not been determined.

There are no reliable information regarding his surname.[5]

  • According to Zanović (1751-1786), he was part of the Ćuda family.[5]
  • Hopf identified Hamza Kastrioti (Branilo) with Vrana, although Gopčević dismisses the theory, stressing that Hamza was the nephew of Skanderbeg.[6]
  • According to J. G. v. Hahn: Hopf's finds do not provide any insight into the ancestry of Vrana.[7] Barleti only says the following about his ancestry: "Vranacontem Epiro oriundum gratum et avorum rueritis et propria virtute".[7] Muzaka gives little information, it is undetermined whether Maria Zardari was the wife or daughter-in-law of Vrana, but the notice that she was just married, when in 1466 she fled to Naples together with Skanderbeg's widow, could rather support the assumption of being the daughter-in-law.[7] In addition, Muzaka only mentioned that she married after both lost i loro stati paterni.[7] In lack of certain information, Hahn speculates the Branai as a side branch of Kastrioti (named after Branilo, governor of Alexander Gioritsch).[7] Considering that according to Muzaka, Skanderbeg's mother was a Tripalda, and that a descendant of Vrana held the title "Marchese di Tripalda", Hahn speculated that Vrana and Voisava Tripalda were related by blood.[7] Vrana was the forefather of the dukes of Ferrandina, who descended from Skanderbeg maternally (through Skanderbeg's granddaughter who married Antonio Branai).[7] The theory that the dukes of Ferrandino were paternally Kastrioti is a weak assumption.[7]
  • According to Noli, his surname was "Altisferi", the same given to Leke Zaharia.[8]
    • Some sources name him Simon Altisfieri[9] or Altafoglia.[9][10] The Altafoglias were a noble family in Brescia prominent in the 14th century.[11]

Early history[edit]

Vrana served King Alfonso the Magnanimous, from whom he received the title of count.[10] He entered the service of Skanderbeg in 1450.[4] Vrana has been described as a man of great authority and experience, and noted for his intelligence and judgement.[12] He became one of the best friends of Skanderbeg.[4] He was an associate of Vlladan Grivici, and Vladan Jurica.[13]

Military history[edit]

Siege of Krujë[edit]

Skanderbeg had given Vrana the governorship of Krujë prior to the Siege.[1][14]

In June 1450, two years after the Ottomans had captured Svetigrad, they laid siege to Krujë with an army numbering approximately 100,000 men and led again by Sultan Murad II himself and his son, Mehmed.[15] Following a scorched earth strategy (thus denying the Ottomans the use of necessary local resources), Skanderbeg left a protective garrison of 1,500 to 4,000[16] under Vrana, while, with the remainder of the army, which included many Slavs, Germans, Frenchmen and Italians,[17] he harassed the Ottoman camps around Krujë by continuously attacking Sultan Murad II's supply caravans. The garrison repelled three major direct assaults on the city walls by the Ottomans, causing great losses to the besieging forces. Ottoman attempts at finding and cutting the water sources failed, as did a sapped tunnel, which collapsed suddenly. An offer of 300,000 aspra (Turkish silver coins) and a promise of a high rank as an officer in the Ottoman army made to Vrana Konti, were both rejected by him.[18][19] Vrana addressed the army with encouraging speeches in order to raise morale, in Albanian and Italian, and through interpreters.[20]

After the triumph of Skanderbeg, Vrana was given the county of Mat.[2]

Siege of Berat[edit]

The sultan sent an army of 20,000 troops in mid-July 1455, led by Issa beg Evrenoz, which surprised Skanderbeg's army. Only one commander, Vrana, managed to resist the initial Ottoman onslaught and pushed back several attacking waves. When Skanderbeg returned, however, the Ottoman relief force was repulsed and defeated. But the Albanians were exhausted and their numbers had dwindled to the point where the siege could not be continued.[21]

More than 5,000 of Skanderbeg's men died, including 800 men of a 1,000 man strong contingent of Neapolitans from Alfonso, who were experts in demolition, artillery, and siege warfare.[22] The commander of the siege, Muzaka Thopia, also died during the conflict.[23]


Vrana died in 1458, at an old age.[14] He married Maria Zardari, the daughter of Paul Zardari and Theodora Muzaka.[3] According to Hahn, he possibly had a son,[3] while according to İnalcık it was possibly Zaganos Pasha.[14]


  1. ^ Name: He is commonly known in historiography as "Count Vrana" or "Urana" (Albanian: Vrana Konti, Italian: Vrana Conte, Brana Conte, conte d' Urana, Latin: Uranocontes) and lesser as Vran, or Vranjanin.[24] Noli names him Vrana Altisferi[25] (other versions include Uran Altisferi,[26] Vrana is not an Albanian name,[26] but Slavic, although a source calls him "a Greek named Vranas".[27]


  1. ^ a b Moore, p. 110: "Uranocontes, an Epirot by birth, he had lately appointed to the government of Croia"
  2. ^ a b Gopčević 1881, p. 502: "Skanderbeg, welcher die abziehenden Türken nach Kräften belästigt hatte, kehrte triumphirend zurück und erhob Vrana-Conte zum Herzog von Matija."
  3. ^ a b c d Akademie der Wissenschaften 1869, p. 125: "Wrana Conte, Herzog von Ferrandino
  4. ^ a b c Noli 1947, p. 54
  5. ^ a b Zanović 1979, p. 38: "31. налазимо и Вранаконта Ћуду а знамо да зе лоза Ћуда, као и Срезентића и Зеновића везана за Зановиће. Овога Вранаконта или конта Врану знамо из грађе о овоме добу али нигдје нема поузданијих података о његовом презимену."
  6. ^ Gopčević 1914, p. 461: "Nach Hopf wäre Hamza mit Vrana Conte (Branilo) identisch, was entschieden falsch ist. Vermutlich war er Sohn des Repos, bevor dieser Mönch wurde."
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Akademie der Wissenschaften 1869, p. 121, 5. Die Branai oder Brana Conte
  8. ^ Noli 1947, pp. 36, 48
  9. ^ a b Estudis romànics, Volume 4, Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Institut d'Estudis Catalans., 1954, p. 186: "Quant au nom Altafulla, il nous fait penser au seigneur albanais contemporain de Martorell, Simon Altisfieri ou Altafoglia, un parent de Scanderbeg."
  10. ^ a b Sarrocchi, p. 65
  11. ^ Fonti per la storia d'Italia pubblicate dall'Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo, Issue 74, Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo, L'Istituto, 1934, "Altafoglia (di Brescia) famiglia XI"
  12. ^ Moore, p. 200
  13. ^ Studime Filologjike, Vol. 26, 1972, p. 49: "Vrana Konti me krahun lidhur dhe Vlladan Grivici me kokën lidhur (I 141)" and "Vrana Konti me krahun e lidhur dhe Vladan Jurica me kokën e pështjellur (II 44)"
  14. ^ a b c İnalcık 1995, p. 76

    "Skanderbeg aux temps de son insurrection (Skanderbeg avait confié la défense de Kruje à Uran, au temps où celle-ci avait été assiégée par Murad II en 1450, tandis que Skanderbeg avait préféré se battre en dehors de ses murs)'3. Puisqu'il est porté mention d'Urana dans notre régistre, et qu'il est le père du scribe appelé Zaganos, il faut conjecturer qu'il devait être en âge assez avancé. On sait que le Comte Uran est mort en 1458." / English translation: "Skanderbeg at the time of his rebellion (Skanderbeg had entrusted the defense of Kruje to Uran while it was besieged by Murad II in 1450. Skanderbeg himself chose to fight outside its walls). As our registers contain a mention of "Urana", and because he is the father of the scribe called Zaganos, we can surmise that he must be fairly old. We know that the Count Uran died in 1458."

  15. ^ Francione 2003, p. 88
  16. ^ Francione 2003, p. 87
  17. ^ Setton 1976, p. 101: "... among whom were Slavs, Germans, Italians and others"; and Babinger 1992, p. 60: "... including many Slavs, Italians, Frenchmen and Germans."
  18. ^ Noli 2009, p. 25
  19. ^ Babinger 1992, p. 60

    Murad tried in vain to bribe Count Vrana (Vrana-conte), the defender of Kruje, to surrender the fortress.

  20. ^ Moore, p. 185
  21. ^ Franco p. 318.
  22. ^ Francione, p. 119
  23. ^ Hodgkinson, p. 136
  24. ^ Alois Schmaus 1971, pp. 242, 369
  25. ^ Noli 1947, p. 48
  26. ^ a b Hetzer 1979, p. 138: "Vranakonti, Graf Uran Altisferi (auch kein sehr albanischer Name !)"
  27. ^ Byzantinoslavica 1959, p. 325: "que « un greco di nome Vranas» (ib., 65, 66), portait en réalité un nom slave (cf. aussi ibid., 106: Vranaconte)"