Peasant Revolt in Albania

The Peasant Revolt in Albania

Hendrik Reimers, Dutch captain of the International Gendarmerie, captured by rebels (June 1914)
Date1914
LocationPrincipality of Albania
Belligerents
Albanian Muslim pro-Ottoman rebels Albania
Romanian volunteers
Austro-Hungarian volunteers
Kosovar Albanian units
Commanders and leaders
Haxhi Qamili, Arif Hiqmeti, Musa Qazimi and Mustafa Ndroqi
Units involved

The Peasant Revolt in Albania,[1][2] or the Muslim Uprising in Albania, was the uprising of peasants from central Albania, mostly Muslims, against the regime of Prince Wilhelm of Wied during 1914, and was one of the reasons for the prince's withdrawal from the country, marking the fall of the Principality of Albania.[3] The revolt was led by Muslim leaders Haxhi Qamili, Arif Hiqmeti, Musa Qazimi and Mustafa Ndroqi.[4] As well as total amnesty, the rebels demanded the return of Albania to the suzerainty of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Background

Prince Wilhelm of Wied took the throne of Principality of Albania on March 7, 1914, and had to face a chaotic political situation, both within the country and with its neighbours.[5] Based on the Treaty of London signed on May 30, 1913, the Great Powers resolved on July 29, 1913 that they should establish International gendarmerie to take care of public order and security on the territory of newly recognized Principality of Albania.[6] On the same basis they established International Commission of Control on October 15, 1913, to take care of the administration of newly established Albania until its own political institutions were in order.[7]

Prince Wilhelm of Wied had to deal with a difficult political situation:[8]

  1. Essad Pasha Toptani, who dominated new government of the Principality of Albania because he was both minister of interior and minister of war. By choosing to reside in Durres instead of Shkodër, the prince of Wied was at mercy of Essad Pasha.[9]
  2. the International Commission of Control and foreign advisers who still had great deal of authority
  3. the representatives of Austria-Hungary and Italy
  4. the resistance in Northern Epirus, which was finally given a special administration by Protocol of Corfu
  5. the fighting between forces under control of Essad Pasha Toptani and the Provisional Government of Albania[9]
  6. the major peasant revolt of mostly pro-Ottoman Muslim peasants.

There were numerous armed groups in Principality of Albania during regime of prince Wilhelm:[10]

  1. the International Gendarmerie under control of the International Commission of Control and prince Wilhelm
  2. the irregular bands of southerners led by local leaders
  3. the native outlaw
  4. the Bulgarian outlaw, Komitadjis
  5. the Greek rebels from the Northern Epirus
  6. the peasant rebels in central Albania
  7. Essad Pasha's gendarmerie
  8. the Romanian volunteers
  9. the Austro-Hungarian volunteers
  10. the volunteers from Kosovo led by Isa Boletini[11]
  11. the Mirdita Catholic volunteers from the northern mountains under the command of Prênk Bibë Doda[12]

Essad Pasha Toptani, as minister of war and interior, was against peaceful solution of problem with Northern Epirote Declaration of Independence of February 28, 1914. He opposed International Commission of Control which believed that problem can be solved by diplomatic means. Prince and his cabinet accepted proposals of Essad Pasha to decide for military solution. In order to increase the military strength of the Principality of Albania, several thousand Italian rifles and Austrian machine and mountain guns were purchased and distributed to the (predominantly Muslim) population of the central Albania.

Events

The plot of pro-Ottoman Albanians

In November 1913 the Albanian pro-Ottoman forces had offered the throne of Albania to the Ottoman war minister of Albanian origin, Izzet Pasha.[13] The Ottoman Empire sent agents to encourage a revolt, hoping to restore Ottoman suzerainty over Albania.[14] Izzet Pasha sent major Beqir Grebenali, another ethnic Albanian, to be one of his chief representatives in Albania. The Provisional Government of Albania under control of Ismail Qemali captured and executed major Beqir Grebenali. Such provocative and damaging display of independence of Qemali's government angered Great Powers and International Commission of Control forced Qemali to step aside and leave Albania.[15] At that time the Commission was not able to force Essad Pasha to leave Albania, because it did not have enough authority.

Revolt

The pro-Ottoman peasants believed that the new regime of the Principality of Albania was a tool of the six Christian Great Powers and the landowners that owned half of the arable land.[16] Revolt was led by Muslim leaders Haxhi Qamili, Arif Hiqmeti, Musa Qazimi and Mustafa Ndroqi.[17] This group of discontented Muslim clerics gathered around Essad Pasha Toptani who proclaimed himself the savior of Albania and Islam.[18]

After receiving the news that thousands of rebels surrounded Shijak on May 17 (only 10 km from Durres), Essad Pasha Toptani was accused of fomenting the revolt against William of Wied.[19] He was exiled to Italy on May 20, without trial.[20][21] In Italy, he was received with honor since both Italian and Austrian representatives played roles in intrigues that surrounded the revolt.[22]

The chaos and revolts deteriorated after Essad Pasha was exiled.[23] In order to gain support of the Mirdita Catholic volunteers from the northern mountains Prince of Wied appointed their leader, Prênk Bibë Doda, to be the foreign minister of the Principality of Albania. The International Dutch Gendarmerie was also joined by Isa Boletini and his men, mostly from Kosovo.[24] Dutch gendarmes together with northern Mirdita Catholics attempted to capture Shijak, but when they engaged the rebels on May 23, they were surrounded and captured, as well as another expedition from Durres which attempted to release the captured gendarmes. Rebels launched the attack on Durres and even started firing on it with their light weapons. The people in Durres panicked and the Prince and his family found shelter on an Italian ship anchored in the bay.[25]

On the same evening the rebels released Dutch officer and sent him to Prince of Wied with their demands:[26]

On 14 August, the rebels attacked the capital, which was protected mainly by Romanian and Austrian volunteers. The first insurgent attack lasted half an hour and was repulsed with heavy losses for the attackers. The second attack began after an hour, and lasted also for an hour, before it was once again repulsed, mainly due to the brave actions of the Romanians, who were greatly praised by their Christian Albanian comrades. After half an hour, the insurgents launched their third and final attack, but they were repelled everywhere by stiff Romanian resistance.[27]

Prince of Wied appointed Colonel Thomson to be commander of defence of Durrës. He was killed on June 15, during a rebel attack. During next week Dutch officers were captured by rebels in most of the central Albania. The rebels captured Berat on July 12 and Vlore, without fight, on August 21.[28]

Only a week after prince Wilhelm of Wied's departure from Durres on September 3, 1914, another violent revolt arose. The rebels managed to lay siege on Durres, imprison Wied's supporters, to call for Muslim prince and to establish the Senate of Central Albania.[29] Insurgents hoisted the flag of the Ottoman Empire.[30] Vast majority of population living in the northern and the southern part of Albania disassociated themselves from the Senate of Central Albania.[31]

Haxhi Qamili and his supporters were reported to have persecuted, bound, tortured and killed many teachers of the Albanian language. Because he supported the usage of the Arabic alphabet (as opposed to the Latin one), he viewed them as enemies of Turkey. [32]

The revolt failed to generate much support in the regions surrounding Elbasan, which were inhabited by mix of Sunni, Bektashi and Orthodox Albanians, with the Sunnis being the most numerous. The local Muslims were noted for their opposition to ideas deemed "fanatical", and their identification with Albanian nationalism. Much of this is attributed to the charismatic leadership of the Albanian nationalist Aqif Pasha. Local Islamic leaders also denounced the "archaic" ideas of Haxhi Qamili, and supported the adoption of the Latin alphabet, contradicting much of the Sunni clergy elsewhere. The representative of Elbasan in Haxhi Qamili's uprising, Haxhi Feza, withdrew from the movement in protest against Haxhi Qamili's excesses, and for this, Haxhi Qamili personally ordered him to be imprisoned.[33]

Aftermath

Dutch officers were gradually replaced with officers from Austria-Hungary and Germany, who arrived in Durrës on July 4.[34] Soon the First World War broke out and by August 4 most of Dutch officers returned to Netherlands. In autumn 1914 Essad Pasha decided to accept invitation of Senate of the Central Albania to return to Albania to take over the power.[35] First, he had to provide financial backing for his government. Therefore, he travelled to Niš, Kingdom of Serbia, where he and Serbian prime minister Pašić signed the secret treaty of Serbian-Albanian alliance on September 17, 1914.[36] In October 1914 Essad Pasha returned to Albania. With Italian and Serbian financial backing he established armed forces in Dibër and captured the interior of Albania, including Dures.

Atrocities

During the revolt the "disciplinary forces" of rebels headed by the mufti of Tirana, Musa Qazimi, carried out executions in order to "clean" the "Bektashi schismatics". [37]

Other targets besides "Bektashi schismatics" included Christians[38][39], Albanian nationalist teachers who had been teaching using the Latin alphabet,[39] and even Muslim clerics who were supporters of Albanian nationhood.[40]

See also

References

  1. Jelavich, Barbara (1999) [1983], History of the Balkans: Twentieth century, 2, Cambridge, UK: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, p. 103, ISBN 0-521-27459-1, retrieved January 25, 2011, Soon the government was faced with major peasant revolt
  2. "Fighting in Albania, The armistice broken". The Advertiser. Adelaide: 15. 1914. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Essad Pasha wished to obtain the Crown of Albania, and the peasants' revolt as well as Arif Hikmet's actions were his work.
  3. Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan (2005). "An Uprising in the Six-Month Kingdom". Gervase Belfield and Bejtullah Destani (IB Tauris, in association with the Centre for Albanian Studies). Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Muslim uprising in central Albania, one of the factors that led to the Prince’s withdrawal from the country and the fall of the so-called six-month kingdom on the eve of the First World War.
  4. "The Efforts to settle amputated Albania state". albaniainbrief.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2011. Thousands of muslim peasants, …were exploited by their leaders Haxhi Qamili, Arif Hiqmeti, Musa Qazimi and Mustafa Ndroqi, …to rebel
  5. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Wied agreed to accept the Albanian throne, and arrived in Durrës on 7 March 1914… The chaotic political situation both within Albania and with Albania’s neighbours
  6. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. they reached a formal decision on 29 July 1913 that Albania would be an autonomous, sovereign and hereditary principality… newly recognized principality of Albania needed not only a sovereign, but also fixed borders, a government and… public order and security should be assured by an internationally organised gendarmerie.
  7. Zaharia, Perikli (March 24, 2003). "The post-1989 constitutional course of south east europe". Athens: Centre for European Constitutional Law. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2011. Treaty of May 30, 1913. As it was decided at the London Conference of Ambassadors, the sovereignty of Albania was under the protection of the six great powers: Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy and Russia. At the same time, an International Control Commission was created.
  8. Jelavich, Barbara (1999) [1983], History of the Balkans: Twentieth century, 2, Cambridge, UK: The Press Syndicate of University of Cambridge, p. 103, ISBN 0-521-27459-1, retrieved January 25, 2011
  9. 1 2 Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. IB Tauris. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9.
  10. Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan (2005). "An Uprising in the Six-Month Kingdom". Gervase Belfield and Bejtullah Destani (I.B. Tauris, in association with the Centre for Albanian Studies). Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Southerners, whose local leaders... irregular bands ..native and Bulgarian “Komitadjis” (an outlaw or brigand)...“Royal” (Essad Pasha’s Own) mounted gendarmes.. Epirotes...troops... peasants...insurgents
  11. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. volunteers from Kosova under their leader Isa Boletini
  12. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. volunteers from Catholic Mirdita and the northern mountains under Simon Doda, nephew of Prenk Bibë Doda
  13. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. pro-Ottoman forces ...were opposed to the increasing Western influence ...In November 1913, these forces, ..., had offered the vacant Albanian throne to General Izzet Pasha ... War Minister who was of Albanian origin.
  14. Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9. ... hopes of restoring Ottoman suzerainty over Albania.... sent agents to encourage insurrection
  15. Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9. plot was discovered by Ismail Kemal's agents; one of the Porte's chief representatives, Major Beqir Grebnali... executed
  16. Jelavich, Barbara (1999) [1983], History of the Balkans: Twentieth century, 2, Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Press Syndicate of University of Cambridge, p. 103, ISBN 0-521-27459-1, retrieved January 25, 2011, peasants..willing listeners to Ottoman propaganda... attached the new regime as a tool of the beys and Christian powers
  17. "The Efforts to settle amputated Albania state". albaniainbrief.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2011. Thousands of muslim peasants,...were exploited by their leaders Haxhi Qamili, Arif Hiqmeti, Musa Qazimi and Mustafa Ndroqi, ...to rebel
  18. Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9. He gathered round him a group of discontented Muslim priests ... and proclaimed himself the savior of Albania and the Champion of Islam.
  19. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. It was obvious to Wied and the Dutch officers that Essad Pasha had his hand in the unrest.
  20. Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan (2005). "An Uprising in the Six-Month Kingdom". Gervase Belfield and Bejtullah Destani (I.B. Tauris, in association with the Centre for Albanian Studies). Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Essad would be sent into exile, without a trial.
  21. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. to exile Essad Pasha to Italy
  22. Jelavich, Barbara (1999) [1983], History of the Balkans: Twentieth century, 2, Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Press Syndicate of University of Cambridge, p. 103, ISBN 0-521-27459-1, retrieved January 25, 2011, The Italian and Austrian representatives played roles in intrigues surrounding this event...to Italy, and there received with honor.
  23. Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9.
  24. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. ... mostly volunteers from Kosova under their leader Isa Boletini
  25. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Panic broke out in Durrës, and the royal family sought refuge on an Italian vessel ....
  26. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. total amnesty and the restoration of the sultan...
  27. "Românul" newspaper, 9/22 august 1914 edition (Romanian)
  28. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. situation was not much better for the Dutch officers in the other parts of the country. ...Berat fell to the rebels on 12 July and Vlora was occupied without a struggle on 21 August.
  29. Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9. Barely a week after Wied's departure yet another violent revolt, this time led by supporters of Young Turks, laid siege on Durres. The rebels raised Ottoman flag, imprisoned Wied's supporters and called for, upon other things, a Muslim prince.... the insurgents set up a Senate for Central Albania
  30. Bataković, Dušan T., "Serbian government and Essad Pasha Toptani", The Kosovo Chronicles, Belgrade, Serbia: Knižara Plato, ISBN 86-447-0006-5, archived from the original on January 19, 2011, retrieved January 19, 2011, The insurgents hoisted the Turkish flag.
  31. Vickers, Miranda (1999). The Albanians: a modern history. I.B.Tauris. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-86064-541-9. vast majority of northern and southern Albanians disassociated themselves from the actions of the Senate.
  32. "A duhet ndryshuar historia e Kombit tonë?". noa.al (in Albanian). Retrieved 2017-10-29. Haxhi Qamili ishte një fshatar i paditur nga krahina e Tiranës. Pse histeriografia, diktuar nga regjimi komunist, e quajti Haxhiun “Pukaçovi Shqiptar”? Ky i paditur, me ca pasues si vetja e tij, në shërbim të xhonturqëve, për t’u bërë i besuar tek fshatarësia e varfër shqiptare dhe me ëndrrën për t’u bërë si kryetar i tyre, dogji kulla të pasurish, përfshi edhe atë të Toptanëve në Tiranë gjatë viteve 1914-15... Një inskinim i tillë nga regjimi komunist, ishte sfidë dhe përbuzje ndaj figurave patriotike, që drejtonin lëvizjet fshatare anekënd Shqipërisë, duke kundërshtuar me armë edhe çmenduritë e Haxhi Qamilit. Haxhi Qamili, propagandonte në popull me parrullën: “Duam – duam Babën, Turqinë!” Ai kërkonte që shkronjat e alfabetit tonë latin të zëvëndësoheshin me hiroglife turke-arabe. Haxhi Qamili filloi të persekutojë dhe vrasë mësues patriotë... Haxhi Qamili, me pasuesit e tij, të shtunave, ditë pazari, vinte në Kavajë. Arrestonte mësuesit e gjuhës shqipe, i lidhte dhe i torturonte. Pas torturave, i hipte mbi gomar, me fytyrë kthyer mbrapsht. Vetë bërtiste para turmës qytetare: “Shikojini kaurrët, duan të na ndajnë nga Turqia!?”.
  33. Carcani, Leonard. Fete ne Elbasan. Page 16: "Dhe së fundi nën ndikimin e patriotit mysliman me peshë Aqif Pasha qyteti I Elbasanit do të jetë ndër të parët që do e ngrejë flamurin e pavarësisë më 25 Nëntor 1912. Dhe ishte po ndikimi I tij siç do flasim më poshtë qo do pengojë përhapjen e kryengritjes pro osmane të Haxhi Qamilit në vitin 1914." Page 18: "Fanatizmi I theksuar I myslimanëve në Shqipërinë e mesme do të sillte si dukuri kryengritjen e haxhi qamilit në vitin 1914,por do të ishte ndikimi I Aqif Pashës dhe moderimi i banorëve myslimanë të trevës së Elbasanit do të bëjë që kjo kryengritje të mos marrë zhvillim në këtë trevë. Nga ana tjetër përfaqësuesi elbasanas në këtë kryengritje Qamil Haxhi Feza pasi pa qëllimet aventuriere të Haxhi Qamilit u tërhoq nga kryengritja. U fut në burg për këtë qëndrim me urdhër të vetë Haxhi Qamilit." Page 54: "Kurse Sheh Hysen Sulova do të kundërshtonte Haxhi Qamilin për qëndrimet e tij arkaike dhe do ishte kundër shkronajve arabe dhe I quan mëkat përdorimin e tyre dhe ishte për latinet." Page 77: "Një gjë është për tu theksuar se myslimanët syni elbasanas nuk u përfshinë në lëvizjen e Haxhi Qamilit,pavarësisht edhe nga ngjyrimet fetare që kishte marrë kjo lëvizje.Kjo edhe falë ndikimit të madh që kishte në këto shtresa patrioti Aqif Pasha"
  34. Elsie, Robert. "Albania under prince Wied". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. Dutch officers ... were gradually replaced by... German and Austrian officers who arrived in Durrës on 4 July
  35. Bataković, Dušan T., "Serbian government and Essad Pasha Toptani", The Kosovo Chronicles, Belgrade, Serbia: Knižara Plato, ISBN 86-447-0006-5, archived from the original on January 19, 2011, retrieved January 19, 2011, The senate of free towns in central Albania invited Essad Pasha to take over power.
  36. Bataković, Dušan T., "Serbian government and Essad Pasha Toptani", The Kosovo Chronicles, Belgrade, Serbia: Knižara Plato, ISBN 86-447-0006-5, archived from the original on January 19, 2011, retrieved January 19, 2011, Essad Pasha signed a secret alliance treaty with Pasic on September 17.
  37. Gazmend Bakiu and Kastriot Dervishi. "Musa QAZIMI -- N/Prefekt i Tiranes 1913-1914". Tirona.
  38. Lulzim Hoxha (October 2013). "The Making of Political Rituals in Albanian Society". Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy. 2 (8): 181. ISSN 2281-3993.
  39. 1 2 "A duhet ndryshuar historia e Kombit tonë?". noa.al (in Albanian). Retrieved 2017-10-29.
  40. Gazmend Shpuza (1986). Kryengritja fshatare e Shqipërisë së Mesme 1914-1915. Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë, Instituti i Historisë. p. 339.
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