Studies
ALBANIAN IDENTITIES
by Antonina Zhelyazkova
3
Historical background. Ethnogenesis... (3) 

Soon after the death of Dimiter, the despot of Epirus Theodore Angelos Comnenos (1216-1230) subjugated the principality of Arbania and launched campaigns to restore Byzantine power. His intentions were in conflict with the interests of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Assen, so in 1230 Theodore Comnenos was defeated, and Macedonia and Albania became part of the Bulgarian possessions. 

In 1253 the emperor of Nicaea tricked the Arbanians with pledges to grant them the right of self-determination, and spread his authority over them. His failure to fulfil his promises stirred the Albanians, who drove the Nicaean troops out of their territory and for about a year enjoyed an independent existence.
Through a dynastic marriage between King of Sicily Manfred Hohenstaufen and the daughter of the despot of Epirus, an attempt was made to consolidate the control of Epirus over the Albanian principality. This plan ended in failure, but the Sicilian king received Vlora (Valona, Avlona, modern Vlorë), Kanina, and Berat, as dowry, succeeding, through the agency of his German and Arbanian feudal lords, to keep his power over Arbania for several years. In 1266 Manfred died in a battle against Charles of Anjou, who, proclaiming himself the King of Sicily, took over the rule in Arbaria too. In the course of several years he expanded his power and in 1272 Durrës - the major medieval Albanian town -was already in his hands. In order to win over the support of the local population, Charles proclaimed in the same year in Naples the establishment of the Albanian Kingdom declaring himself its king. The Albanian princes were granted feudal estates and family titles corresponding to the western hierarchy. Despite this gesture, the Italian and French aristocrats, who moved to the Albanian lands, gradually took over all posts in the Kingdom of Albania and seized the largest feuds. The discontent among the native feudal lords and the population in general made them take the side of the Byzantines when the latter were waging war against the Anjou dynasty. . In 1304 the Anjou stepped in Albania once again, and then Philip of Anjou made energetic moves to restore the privileges and lean on the support of the princes of Albania, in order to ensure his allies not only against Byzantium, but also against the Serbs, who at that time were already striving to expand in Albania. The common interests caused Philip to share his power in Arbaria with the local princes. Thus a member of the Blinisht clan was appointed marshal of the Anjouan corps in Albania, a member of the Thopia clan was granted a count's title and was recognised as ruler of the lands lying between the rivers Mat and Shkumbin; Andrea Muzaki received the title of despot of Albania and the lands stretching between the Shkumbin and the Seman.

The Anjou-Albanian alliance could not prevent the occupation of Albania's territory by the Serbian Kingdom. In 1343-1347 Stefan Dushan conquered almost the entire territory of Albania without Durrës, which remained under the control of the Anjou dynasty. The Serbian Empire was short-lived and disintegrated with the death of Stefan Dushan in 1355. During that period the Albanian feudal lords founded numerous independent principalities.

Historical background. Ethnogenesis
The Albanian identity and the geographical environment.
George Castrioti - Scanderbeg'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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