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Gjergj Arianiti
Wikiarianit.jpg
Bust of Gjergj Arianit found in Librazhd
Spouses Maria Muzaka
Pietrina Francone

Issue

See family-section
Full name
George Araniti Thopia Comneni
Noble family Arianiti
Father Komnen Arianiti
Born 1383
Died 1461
Occupation 1423—27 or 1433: hostage at Ottoman court
1433—35: Leader of the revolt against Ottomans[1]
1444—50: Member of the League of Lezhë
1451—?: Napolitan vassal

Gjergj Arianiti or George Araniti (1383–1462) was an Albanian lord who led several campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. He was father of Donika, the wife of Scanderbeg, as well as great uncle of Moisi Arianit Golemi. Gjergj Arianiti is enumerated in Albanian folk tellings. Gjergj Arianiti was Skanderbeg's ally within League of Lezhë only for a short period of time because he abandoned their alliance after the defeat in Berat in 1450.[2] Robert Elsie emphasizes that Arianiti was often Skanderbeg's rival who allied with the Kingdom of Naples in 1446, left his alliance with Skanderbeg by 1449 and allied with Venice in 1456.[3]

Name[edit]

His name is most commonly known in the Albanian form, Gjergj Arianiti, in English George Arianite or George Araniti.[4][5] His full name in English is spelled George Araniti Thopia Comneni in Fan Noli's translated work.[5] His name in Slavic form was "Golem Arianit Komnenovic" (Golemi Arenit Cominovich),[6] and a 1452 document referring to him as "Golemi Arenit Comninovich de Albania".[7] His given name, Golem, is Slavic and means "large".[8] Another form of his surname, Harianites, is used in a French document of the Charles VII era.[6]

He shared a distant relation to the Byzantine Komnenos dynasty through his great-grandmother. He was thus often referred to as Gjergj Arianit Komneni.[9]

Life[edit]

Writings about Arianiti are not very common. He is more commonly referred to as the father of Donika Kastrioti, Skanderbeg's wife, rather than a leader of a rebellion that held back the Ottoman armies for years.

He was a member of the Arianiti family that ruled large areas in Albania and neighbouring areas from the 11th to the 16th century.[10] In 1253, Byzantine chronicles mention a Gulem who ruled the lands of Albanon; this may be an ancestor of Gjergj Arianiti. Gulemi married a cousin of the Byzantine empress, Irene. From this marriage came the name Komneni.

Gjergj was the oldest of three sons. He married Maria Muzaka, and from this he acquired a territory from Mallakastra to Vlorë. His territories eventually reached northwards to Debar. The center of his dominions were located between Librazhd and Elbasan. Since 1423 he fell under Ottoman suzerainty and probably resided at the sultan's palace as hostage to secure loyalty of his tribesmen. In 1427 he returned to Albania.[1]

Campaigns against the Ottoman Empire[edit]

Revolt of 1432–36[edit]

The Ottoman conquest of Albania brought Ottoman legal, political, and economic systems into the country, threatening to destroy the feudal system and autonomy of the people. These reforms took away much of Gjergj's power, but he still remained a vassal of the Sultan. These drastic changes encouraged revolts against the Ottomans, of which Gjergj Arianiti was one of the main leaders.

In the spring of 1432, after the first phase of the reforms ended, an Albanian revolt erupted which spread to much of Albania. The first revolts began in central Albania when Andrea Thopia revolted against Ottoman rule and defeated a small Ottoman unit in the mountains of central Albania. His victory inspired other chieftains to revolt, especially Arianiti. Gjergj was at first apprehensive, but saw an opportunity to save the dominions left to him by his father. Upon hearing of the rebellions, many political enemies of Gjergj, who had become sipahi returned from Edirne to Albania. Upon reaching Albania, Gjergj immediately banished them. He was to lead the armed rebellion, which was started by the peasants. Durrës, the Tirana region, and Nicholas Dukagjini in the north joined the revolt. Although Skanderbeg was summoned home by his relatives when Gjergj Arianiti and other chiefs from the region between Vlorë and Shkodër had organized the rebellion, Skanderbeg did nothing, remaining loyal to the Sultan.[4] The Porte responded by sending an army of fresh troops in Albania under experienced commanders. Dagno in northern Albania fell, while the Thopias were returned to their former state. After a strong counterattack by Arianiti, the Ottomans were soon defeated. This victory strengthened the revolt in southern Albania, especially in Kurvelesh. Murad II headed for Albania and chose to camp at Serez[where?] in Macedonia, from where he sent out a force of 10,000 into Albania under Ali Beg. The army of Ali Beg, in the winter of 1432–33, went through the tight valleys of the Shkumbin; near Buzurshekut (Bërzeshtës), the Albanians ambushed the Ottoman army. Arianiti observed and maneuvered against the Ottomans while also encouraging his men, eventually leading to an Ottoman rout. This victory further strengthened the Albanian cause and gave hope to the Europeans who feared a major Ottoman invasion. The Byzantine chronicler, Chalcondyles, wrote: "In this battle, Arianit Komneni won a glorious victory."

Arianit used the classic tactic of "Pulling the enemy in, preparing the trap and striking suddenly." Arianiti also destroyed a second army sent by Ali Beg, leaving hundreds dead in the valleys of Kuç all the way to Borsh. The failure of the second Ottoman expedition became known throughout Europe, which was used to hearing about Christian defeats in the East. The joyful states of Europe - Pope Eugene IV, Alfonso V, Emperor Sigsimund, Venice and Ragusa - promised aid. In his third battle (1434), in order to recapture Vlorë and Kanina, Arianiti used numbers, expediency and his tactics. Arianiti was known as the "protector of freedom" throughout the European kingdoms. During the Ottoman campaigns of 1435 and 1436 Ali Beg, together with Turakhan Beg, effected a partial submission of the Albanians[11] led by George Arianiti.[4]

1443–1444[edit]

In August 1443 Arianiti again rebelled against Ottomans, probably urged by pope Eugene IV or instigated by the news of defeat of Sihàb ed-Dîn Pasa.[1] During the fall of 1443 and the winter of 1444 he led an army deep into Macedonia.[clarification needed] During the same time, the Ottomans were routed at Niš and Skanderbeg deserted the Ottoman army and began another rebellion. Skanderbeg eventually allied with Gjergj Arianit and some other nobles from Albania and Zeta through the League of Lezhë.

1449–51[edit]

At the beginning of 1449 Skanderbeg and Arianiti approached to Venetians requesting their protection from Ottomans. Venetians opted for neutral approach, not to jeopardize peace with Ottomans, and refused their request.[12] By 1449 Gjergj Arianiti left his alliance with Skanderbeg.[3]

When Krujë was besieged by the Ottomans, the sixty-seven-year-old Gjergj Arianiti joined the battle and fought fiercely. Along with 3,000 warriors, he joined the anti-Venetian force which eventually defeated the Venetian army at Drin. He was one of the main commanders during the short siege of Durrës and the siege of Dagno. Some of his troops went as far as the gates of Shkodër. Thus, his interests were not harmed by Venice, who wished to incorporate the bay of Vlorë into its dominions.

Arianiti supported the recapture of Svetigrad with 4,000 men. During the two main engagements of the siege, Arianiti showed great bravery. During the siege, his brother was killed. The experience of Arianiti convinced Skanderbeg to marry Donica, Arianiti's daughter. The strong connections between the Kastrioti and Arianiti families were of great benefit to the Albanian cause.

In 1451 after Alfonso signed the Treaty of Gaeta with Skanderbeg, he signed similar treaties with Gjergj Arianiti and other chieftains from Albania: Peter Spani, Ghin Musachi, George Stresi Balsha, Pal III Dukagjini, Thopia Musachi, Peter of Himara, Simon Zanebisha and Carlo Toco.[13]

1460–62[edit]

He brought together his last resistance force between 1460 and 1462. In an open front, Mehmet II ordered movements into Albania to engage a group of Arianiti's warriors. He then surrounded Gjergj Arianiti by moving through the valley of Furka all the way through Shushicë. Fierce engagements began, but Sopoti was not captured and the Ottoman encirclement failed. The people compared Gjergj Arianiti to Skanderbeg. To celebrate this victory, the army was taken to Galigat after the Ottomans had fully left Albania. However, when the Ottomans heard of this, they traveled back to Albania at night. The fortress of Sopot, left with a garrison chosen by Arianiti, still could not be taken. Only through bribery and treachery was it possible for the castle be taken. The Ottoman commander, took advantage of Arianiti's absence by launching a large attack with his main army. The Ottomans soon entered the castle, and in revenge for the defeats they had suffered, the entire population was massacred.[clarification needed]

Possessions[edit]

Arianiti was the only Albanian leader to have two capitals; one near the coast in Kanina, and another near the eastern mountains in Sopot. His dominions acted as the first defense against many of the Ottoman expeditions and served as one of the main centers of the League of Lezhë. The union between the Kastrioti and Arianiti did not have much effect due to the exposed territories of Arianiti.

Family[edit]

With the death of his first wife Maria Muzaka, Gjergj married Pietrina Francone, an Italian aristocrat. His two wives bore him ten children, three of which were boys.[14] With his first wife, Maria, Gjergj had eight daughters.[15]

  • Lord George married and had two sons and three daughters.[14]
    • Solomon
    • Constantine.
  • The second son, the said Lord Scanderbeg, turned Turk and now rules the land of his brother, which was given to him by the sultan for his having turned Turk.[14]
  • The third daughter, Chiranna, was married to Lord Nicholas Dukagjini. She was the only daughter among brothers, and gave birth herself to two sons. One died and the other turned Turk and became a pasha and a great commander of the sultan.[14]
  • The fourth daughter, Helena, was married to Lord George Dukagjini, to whom many children were born and all turned Turk. One called Scanderbeg was still alive (1515) and was a sanjakbey.[14]
  • The fifth daughter, Despina, was married to Lord Tanush Dukagjini. They had two children: a boy and a girl. The boy died.
    • Theodora, was married to [...] and had two sons.
      • Blaise
      • Jacob
  • The sixth daughter, Angelina, married Stefan Branković of Serbia, son of Despot Đurađ. Angelina and Stefan had two sons and one daughter.
    • Their son Đorđe Branković was the titular Despot of Serbia from 1486 until his monastic vows in 1496.
    • The daughter was Maria, who married the Marquis of Monferrato. They had two sons.
      • William, married the sister of Monsignor d'Alençon, the dauphin of France. This nobleman had two children: a boy and a girl.
      • George, died without children.
  • The seventh daughter, Comita (or Komnina), married Gojko Balšić, Lord of Misia.[17] They had two sons and one daughter. The sons died in Hungary.[14]
  • The eighth daughter, Catherine, married Nicholas Boccali. They had two sons and two daughters.[14]
    • Manoli
    • Constantine

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jefferson, John (17 August 2012). The Holy Wars of King Wladislas and Sultan Murad: The Ottoman-Christian Conflict from 1438-1444. BRILL. p. 109. ISBN 90-04-21904-8. 
  2. ^ Pipa, Arshi (1978). Albanian literature: social perspectives. R. Trofenik. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-87828-106-1. Retrieved 17 February 2012. "Arianites Comnenius, Scanderbeg's father-in- law, was his ally and friend only for a short time. After the battle of Berat, Arianites abandoned the Albanian league, dealing with Naples and Venice independently until his death in 1461" 
  3. ^ a b Robert Elsie (24 December 2012). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B.Tauris. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-78076-431-3. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Fine 1994, p. 535

    In 1432 Andrew Thopia revolted against his Ottoman overlords ... inspired other Albanian chiefs, in particular George Arianite (Araniti) ... The revolt spread ... from region of Valona up to Skadar... At this time, though summoned home by his relatives ... Skanderbeg did nothing, he remained ... loyal to sultan

  5. ^ a b Noli 1947, p. 10
  6. ^ a b Studia Albanica. University of Tirana. 1964. p. 143. Retrieved 26 May 2011. "April 1452 aus Neapel an Skanderbeg gerichtetes Schreiben, das abschriftMch fùnf weiteren Adligen Albaniens, darunter 'Magnifico viro Golemi Arenit Cominovich [...] Auffallend ist hier die slavische Namensform Golem Arianit Komnenovic" 
  7. ^ Constantin Marinescu 1994, La politique orientale d'Alfonse V d'Aragón, roi de Naples (1416-1458). Institut d'Estudis Catalans, p. 176
  8. ^ Edward Stankiewicz (1 January 1993). The Accentual Patterns of the Slavic Languages. Stanford University Press. pp. 129–. ISBN 978-0-8047-2029-8. 
  9. ^ Scanderbeg: From Ottoman Captive to Albanian Hero by Harry Hodgkinson, p. 50
  10. ^ Fishta, Gjergj; Elsie, Robert; Mathie-Heck, Janice; Centre for Albanian Studies (London, England) (2005). The highland lute: (Lahuta e malcís) : the Albanian national epic. I.B.Tauris. p. 402. ISBN 978-1-84511-118-2. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor (1993), First encyclopaedia of Islam: 1913-1936 VIII, Netherlands: E.J. Brill and Luzac and Co., p. 466, "...in the campaigns of 1435 and 1436 when the Ottoman generals Ali and Turakhan effected a partial submission of the Albanians" 
  12. ^ Bešić, Zarij M. (1970). Istorija Črne Gore, Volume 2, Part 2 (in Serbian). Titograd: Redakcija za istoriju Črne Gore. p. 219. Retrieved 10 January 2014. "Млечани су заузимали неутралан став према догађајима у Албанији да не би изазвали Турке. Одбили су Аријанита и Скен- дербега када су тражили млетачку заштиту," 
  13. ^ Noli 1947, p. 49

    Later on Alphonse concluded similar treaties with George Araniti, Ghin Musachi, George Stresi Balsha, Peter Spani, Paul Ducaghini,...

  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brief Chronicle on the Descendants of our Musachi Dynasty by John Musachi (1515) [1]
  15. ^ Arheografski prilozi. Narodna biblioteka Srbije, Arheografsko odeljenje. 1997. p. 136. "Био је ожењен Маријом из моћне ал- банске породице Мусаки. Са њом је имао осам кћери." 
  16. ^ Robert Elsie. A dictionary of Albanian religion, mythology and folk culture. [page needed]
  17. ^ Slijepčević 1983, p. 40: "Комнина за Гојка.Балшића"

Sources[edit]

  • Noli, Fan Stilian (1947). George Castrioti Scanderbeg (1405-1468). International Universities Press. OCLC 732882. 

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