Studies
ALBANIAN IDENTITIES
by Antonina Zhelyazkova
16
Ottoman colonisation and establishment of the new administration...(5)

Sometimes the central authority placed greater trust in some Albanian chiefs putting on record ten or more villages under their charge, and in these cases the local traditional laws were not violated. Primary power in the villages was executed according to the local custom by the elders of the villages (for example kaznes Petri, son of Nike in the village of Drezka, kaznes Radic, son of Rashko in the village of Merka, etc), who, in turn, were under the authority of the governor of the respective villages (in the mentioned case - spahi Bozhidar, son of Vukote).44

It is clear that the Albanians imposed their own model of seeming submission and actual self-government. In the territories of the sancak of Shkodra, for example, the settlement of migrants from Anatolia, as well as the establishment of Ottoman administrative officers and military garrisons were unthinkable. The highland territories were governed by local, parallel, institutions, and only externally and fictitiously - by the central and local Ottoman authorities and judicial institutions 

The inventories of the population in the katuns belonging to the sancak of Shkodra, provide evidence about the absolute lack of Ottoman population groups in this region and about the ethnic and religious homogeneity of the local people in the late 15th century. Of course, when referring here and further in the text, to homogeneity of the population, we de not differentiate between or analyse the proportions of the Albanian and Slav population in this region because of the notably motley picture clearly reflected in the Ottoman tax registers.

Based again on the Ottoman registers, one could trace the tendency of conversion to Islam of the local population. For example, the garrison guarding the fortress of Dergoz (Drishti) consisted of eighteen men including the kethüda of the stronghold. All of them were Muslims, but the characteristics of their patronyms show that most of them were Islamised Albanians or Slavs (Hamza Debri, Süleyman Matje, Ahmed Radomiri, Karagöz Mure, Ilyas Kline, etc.). Obviously, the impossibility of colonisation of the Albanian lands by Ottomans from Anatolia forced the authority to rely on the service and loyalty of the Islamised indigenous population.45

Another portion of the north Albanian lands was included in the sancak of Debar, namely Kruja, Debar and the areas lying between the rivers of Mat and Black Drin. The bulky register of this sancak is another confirmation of the limited scope of the Ottoman colonisation in Northern Albania. The lack of Ottoman administrative officials in the sancak of Debar, as well as the low density of the Christian population in the villages during the second half of the 15th century resulted from the long-lasting resistance of the native people, taking into consideration that this province was the centre of the insurrectionary campaigns of the Albanian and Slav population against the conquerors. The great number of villages in the neighbourhood of Kruja, entered as Akçahisar in the Ottoman defters, which were registered in the inventories as deserted - over 27 altogether, evidenced that the price of the stubborn Albanian resistance against the Ottoman expansion was high. From a demographic point of view, the negative consequences were a great number of deaths, flights from the devastated areas, hundreds of abducted into slavery, thousands of migrants to the Italian coast and adoption of Islam by most of the princes, former companions in arms of Skanderbeg.46






 
Historical background. Ethnogenesis
The Albanian identity and the geographical environment.
George Kastrioti - Skanderbeg's resistance to the Ottomans. Heroicity as part of the Albanian individuality.
Ottoman colonisation and establishment of the new administration.
The Islamisation of the Albanians and its impact on the Albanian religious identity.
The Balkans Revival in the 19th century and the Albanian patriotic ideas
The two world wars, the occupation periods and the frustration of the Albanian national strivings and anticipations for independence.
The survival of the Albanian identities under Enver Hoxha. The role of the isolationist policy of the regime in Tirana.

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