Zog I of Albania
|Zogu I, Skanderbeg III|
|King of the Albanians|
|King of Albania|
|Reign||1 September 1928 – 7 April 1939|
Vidi I (as Prince of Albania), deposed in 1914
|Successor||Victor Emmanuel III of Italy|
|1st President of Albania|
|Term||1 February 1925 – 1 September 1928|
|Marshal of Royal Albanian Army|
|Term||1 February 1925 – 1 September 1939|
|11th Prime Minister of Albania|
|Term 1||26 December 1922 – 25 February 1924|
|Predecessor||Xhafer Bej Ypi|
|Term 2||6 January 1925 – 1 September 1928|
|Predecessor||Iliaz Bej Vrioni|
8 October 1895|
Burgajet Castle, Ottoman Empire
9 April 1961 65) (aged|
Suresnes, Paris, France
|Burial||Mausoleum of the Albanian Royal Family|
|Consort||Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony|
|Issue||Leka, Crown Prince of Albania|
|Father||Xhemal Pasha Zogolli|
Zog I, King of the Albanians (Albanian: Nalt Madhnija e Tij Zogu I, Mbreti i Shqiptareve, IPA: [ˈzɔɡu]; 8 October 1895 – 9 April 1961), born Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli, taking the surname Zogu in 1922, was the leader of Albania from 1922 to 1939. He first served as Prime Minister of Albania (1922–1924), then as President (1925–1928), and finally as King (1928–1939).
Background and early political career
Zog was born as Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli in Burgajet Castle, near Burrel in the northern part of the Albanian section of the Ottoman Empire, second son to Xhemal Pasha Zogolli, and first son by his second wife Sadijé Toptani in 1895. His family was a beylik family of landowners, with feudal authority over the region of Mati. His mother's Toptani family claimed to be descended from the sister of Albania's greatest national hero, the 15th century general Skanderbeg. He was educated at Galatasaray High School (Lycée Impérial de Galatasaray) in Beyoglu, then the seat of the decaying Ottoman Empire, which controlled Albania. Upon his father's death in 1911, Zogolli became governor of Mat, being appointed ahead of his elder half-brother, Xhelal Bey Zogolli.
In 1912, he signed the Albanian Declaration of Independence as the representative of the Mat District. As a young man during the First World War, Zogolli volunteered on the side of Austria-Hungary. He was detained at Vienna in 1917 and 1918 and in Rome in 1918 and 1919 before returning to Albania in 1919. During his time in Vienna, he grew to enjoy a Western European lifestyle. Upon his return, Zogolli became involved in the political life of the fledgling Albanian government that had been created in the wake of the First World War. His political supporters included many southern feudal landowners (called beys, Turkish for "province chieftain", the social group to which he belonged) and noble families in the north, along with merchants, industrialists, and intellectuals. During the early 1920s, Zogolli served as Governor of Shkodër (1920–1921), Minister of the Interior (March–November 1920, 1921–1924), and chief of the Albanian military (1921–1922). His primary rivals were Luigj Gurakuqi and Fan S. Noli. In 1922, Zogolli formally changed his surname from Zogolli to Zogu, which sounds more Albanian.
In 1923, he was shot and wounded in Parliament. A crisis arose in 1924 after the assassination of one of Zogu's industrialist opponents, Avni Rustemi; in the aftermath, a leftist revolt forced Zogu, along with 600 of his allies, into exile in June 1924. He returned to Albania with the backing of Yugoslav forces and Yugoslavia-based General Pyotr Wrangel′s White Russian troops led by Russian Gen Sergei Ulagay and became Prime Minister.
President of Albania
Zogu was officially elected as the first President of Albania by the Constituent Assembly on 21 January 1925, taking office on 1 February for a seven-year term. Zogu's government followed the European model, though large parts of Albania still maintained a social structure unchanged from the days of Ottoman rule, and most villages were serf plantations run by the Beys. On 28 June 1925, Zogu ceded Sveti Naum to Yugoslavia as a gesture of recognition to the Yugoslav aid to him and in exchange for Peshkëpi (Pëshkupat) village and other minor concessions.
Zogu enacted several major reforms. His principal ally during this period was Italy, which lent his government funds in exchange for a greater role in Albania's fiscal policy. During Zogu's presidency, serfdom was gradually eliminated. For the first time since the death of Skanderbeg, Albania began to emerge as a nation, rather than a feudal patchwork of local Beyliks. His administration was marred by disputes with Kosovar leaders, primarily Hasan Prishtina and Bajram Curri.
However, Zogu's Albania was a police state. He all but eliminated civil liberties, muzzled the press and murdered political opponents. Under the constitution, Zogu was vested with sweeping executive and legislative powers, including the right to appoint one-third of the upper house. For all intents and purposes, he held all governing power in the nation.
On 1 September 1928, Albania was transformed into a kingdom, and President Zogu became Zog I, King of the Albanians (Mbreti i Shqiptarëve in Albanian). He took as his regnal name his surname rather than his forename, since the Islamic name Ahmet might have had the effect of isolating him on the European stage. He also initially took the parallel name "Skanderbeg III" (Zogu claimed to be a successor of Skanderbeg through descent through Skanderbeg's sister; "Skanderbeg II" was taken to be Gjon Kastrioti II, Skanderbeg's son, exiled to Italy, , but this fell out of use.
On the same day as he was declared king (he was never technically crowned), he was declared Field Marshal of the Royal Albanian Army. He proclaimed a constitutional monarchy similar to the contemporary regime in Italy, created a strong police force, and instituted the Zogist salute (flat hand over the heart with palm facing downwards). Zog hoarded gold coins and precious stones, which were used to back Albania's first paper currency.
Zog's mother, Sadije, was declared Queen Mother of Albania, and Zog also gave his brother and sisters Royal status as Prince and Princesses Zogu. One of his sisters, Senije, Princess Zogu (c. 1897–1969), married Prince Shehzade Mehmed Abid Efendi of Turkey, a son of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Zog's constitution forbade any Prince of the Royal House from serving as Prime Minister or a member of the Cabinet, and contained provisions for the potential extinction of the Royal Family. Ironically, in light of later events, the constitution also forbade the union of the Albanian throne with that of any other country. Under the Zogist constitution, the King of the Albanians, like the King of the Belgians, ascended the throne and exercised Royal powers only after taking an oath before Parliament; Zog himself swore an oath on the Bible and the Qur'an (the king being Muslim) in an attempt to unify the country. In 1929, King Zog abolished Islamic law in Albania, adopting in its place a civil code based on the Swiss one, as Ataturk's Turkey had done in the same decade. The price for such modernization was high, though. Although nominally a constitutional monarch, in practice Zog retained the dictatorial powers he had enjoyed as president. Thus, in effect, Albania remained a military dictatorship.
In 1938, Zog opened the borders of Albania to Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany.
Life as King
Although born as an aristocrat and hereditary Bey, King Zog was somewhat ignored by other monarchs in Europe because he was a self-proclaimed monarch who had no links to any other European royal families. Nonetheless, he did have strong connections with Muslim royal families in the Arab World, particularly Egypt, whose ruling dynasty had Albanian origins. As King, he was honoured by the governments of Italy, Luxembourg, Egypt, Yugoslavia, France, Romania, Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria.
Zog had been engaged to the daughter of Shefqet Bey Verlaci before he became king. Soon after he became king, however, he broke off the engagement. According to traditional customs of blood vengeance prevalent in Albania at the time, Verlaci had the right to kill Zog. The king frequently surrounded himself with a personal guard and avoided public appearances. He also feared that he might be poisoned, so the Mother of the King assumed supervision of the Royal Kitchen.
In April 1938 Zog married Countess Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Appony, a Roman Catholic aristocrat who was half-Hungarian and half-American. The ceremony was broadcast throughout Tirana via Radio Tirana that was officially launched by the monarch five months later. Their only child, HRH Crown Prince Leka, was born in Albania on 5 April 1939.
About 600 blood feuds reportedly existed against Zog, and during his reign he reputedly survived more than 55 assassination attempts. One of these occurred inside the corridors of the Albanian Parliament premises on 23 February 1924. Beqir Valteri, originating from the same area as Zog, was waiting for him and opened fire suddenly. Zog was shot twice. Meanwhile, Valteri fled but, surrounded by the militia, took refuge in one of the bathrooms, refusing to surrender and singing patriotic songs. According to the memoirs of Ekrem Vlora, he surrendered after the intervention of Qazim Koculi and Ali Klissura. Zog stepped down briefly from political activity, but promised to forgive Valteri. Valteri, a member of the revolutionary Bashkimi ("The union") committee led by Avni Rustemi, was set free by the Court of Tirana after declaring that it was an individual act. Meanwhile, all rumors pointed to the opposition, specifically to Rustemi. Two weeks later Zog and Valteri would meet in private. Soon after, Rustemi would be shot. It was absolutely clear that Zog was behind the attack.
Another attempt occurred on 21 February 1931, while visiting the Vienna State Opera house for a performance of Pagliacci. The attackers (Aziz Çami and Ndok Gjeloshi) struck whilst Zog was getting into his car. The attempt was organized by "National Union" (Albanian: Bashkimi Kombëtar"), a union of Zog opponents in exile which was formed in Vienna (1925) with the initiative of Ali Këlcyra, Sejfi Vllamasi, Xhemal Bushati etc. Zog was in the company of Minister Eqrem Libohova who was wounded, while Zog's guard Llesh Topallaj was mistaken for Zog by Gjeloshi, who shot him three times in the back of the head. Çami's gun was stuck and did not fire. Zog came out of the event unharmed, thanks also to the prompt intervention of Albanian Consul Zef Serreqi and local police. The Austrian authorities would arrest Çami, Gjeloshi, and later Qazim Mulleti, Rexhep Mitrovica, Menduh Angoni, Angjelin Suma, Luigj Shkurti, Sejfi Vllamasi, etc. All the Albanian political émigré in Vienna would be arrested, beside Hasan Prishtina. Most of them would be shortly released and definitely expelled from Austria. Gjeloshi would be sentenced to 3 years and 6 months of jail, while Çami got 2 years and 6 months.
Relations with Italy
The fascist government of Benito Mussolini's Italy had supported Zog since early in his presidency; that support had led to increased Italian influence in Albanian affairs. The Italians compelled Zog to refuse to renew the First Treaty of Tirana (1926), although Zog still retained British officers in the Gendarmerie as a counterbalance against the Italians, who had pressured Zog to remove them.
During the worldwide depression of the early 1930s Zog's government became almost completely dependent on Mussolini, to the point that the Albanian national bank had its seat in Rome. Grain had to be imported, many Albanians emigrated, and Italians were allowed to settle in Albania. In 1932 and 1933, Albania was unable to pay the interest on its loans from the Society for the Economic Development of Albania, and the Italians used this as a pretext for further dominance. They demanded that Tirana put Italians in charge of the Gendarmerie, join Italy in a customs union, and grant the Italian Kingdom control of Albania's sugar, telegraph, and electrical monopolies. Finally, Italy called for the Albanian government to establish teaching of the Italian language in all Albanian schools, a demand that was swiftly refused by Zog. In defiance of Italian demands, he ordered the national budget to be slashed by 30 percent, dismissed all Italian military advisers, and nationalized Italian-run Roman Catholic schools in the north of Albania to decrease Italian influence on the population of Albania. In 1934, he tried without success to build ties with France, Germany, and the Balkan states, and Albania drifted back into the Italian orbit.
Two days after the birth of Zog's son and heir apparent, on 7 April 1939 (Good Friday), Mussolini's Italy invaded, facing no significant resistance. The Albanian army was ill-equipped to resist, as it was almost entirely dominated by Italian advisors and officers and was no match for the Italian Army. The Italians were, however, resisted by small elements in the gendarmerie and general population. The Royal Family, realising that their lives were in danger, fled into exile, taking with them a considerable amount of gold from the National Bank of Tirana and Durrës. Since the Royal Family had expected an Italian invasion, the gathering of gold had started in advance. "Oh God, it was so short" were King Zog's last words to Geraldine on Albanian soil. Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, arrived the following day; on searching the Palace in Tirana, he found the labour room in the Queen's suite; seeing a pile of linen on the floor, stained by the afterbirth, he kicked it across the room. "The cub has escaped!" he said. Mussolini declared Albania a protectorate under Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III. While some Albanians continued to resist, "a large part of the population ... welcomed the Italians with cheers", according to one contemporary account.
Former heir presumptive
Prior to the birth of Prince Leka, the position of Heir Presumptive was held by Prince of Kosova (Kosovo) Tati Esad Murad Kryziu, born 24 December 1923 in Tirana, who was the son of the King's sister, Princess Nafije. He became honorary General of the Royal Albanian Army in 1928, at age five. He was made Heir Presumptive with the style of His Highness and title of "Prince of Kosova" (Princ i Kosovës) in 1931. After the Royal House's exile, he moved to France, where he died in August 1993, aged 69.
Life in exile and death
The royal family settled initially in England. Their first residence was at The Ritz in London. This was followed in 1941 by a brief stay at Forest Ridge, a house in the South Ascot area of Sunninghill in Berkshire, near where Zog's nieces had been at school in Ascot. In 1941 they moved to Parmoor House, Parmoor, near Frieth in Buckinghamshire, with some staff of the court living in locations around Lane End.
In 1946, Zog and most of his family left England and went to live in Egypt at the behest of King Farouk. In 1951, Zog bought the Knollwood estate in Muttontown, New York, USA, but the sixty-room estate was never occupied and Zog sold the estate in 1955. Farouk was overthrown in 1952, and the family left for France in 1955.
He made his final home in France, where he died at the Hôpital Foch, Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine on 9 April 1961, aged 65, of an undisclosed condition. Zog was said to have regularly consumed 200 cigarettes a day giving him a possible claim to the dubious title of the world's heaviest smoker in 1929, but had been seriously ill for some time. He was survived by his wife and son, and was initially buried at the cimetière parisien de Thiais, near Paris. On his death, his son Leka was pronounced H.M. King Leka of the Albanians by the exiled Albanian community.
His widow, Geraldine, died of natural causes in 2002 at the age of 87 in a military hospital in Tirana, Albania. Albania's Communist government abolished the monarchy in 1946, but, even in exile, the royal family insisted that Leka Zogu was Albania's legitimate ruler until his death on 30 November 2011.
During World War II, three resistance groups were operating in Albania: the nationalists, the royalists and the communists. Some of the Albanian establishment opted for collaboration. The communist partisans refused to co-operate with the other resistance groups and took control of the country. They were able to defeat the Nazi remnants and take over the country in November 1944.
Zog attempted to reclaim his throne after the war, but the new Communist-dominated government barred Zog from returning soon after it took power, and formally deposed him in 1946. Sponsored by the British and Americans, some forces loyal to Zog attempted to mount invasions and incursions, but most were ambushed due to intelligence sent to the Soviet Union by spy Kim Philby. A referendum in 1997—seven years after the end of Communist rule—proposed to restore the monarchy in the person of Zog's son Leka Zogu who, since 1961, had been styled "Leka I, King of the Albanians". The official but disputed results stated that about two-thirds of voters favoured a continued republican government. Leka, believing the result to be fraudulent, attempted an armed uprising: he was unsuccessful and was forced into exile, although he later returned and lived in Tirana until his death on 30 November 2011. A main street in Tirana was later renamed "Boulevard Zog I" by the Albanian government.
Repatriation to Albania
In October 2012, the government of Albania decided to bring back the remains of the former king from France, where he died in 1961. Zog's body was exhumed from the Thiais Cemetery, Paris on 15 November 2012. A guard of honour was provided by the French President, in the form of French Legionnaires in ceremonial dress.
Zog's remains were returned in a state ceremony on 17 November 2012, coinciding with celebrations for Albania's independence centennial. The bodies of the king and his family members now lie in the reconstructed royal mausoleum in the capital Tirana. The interment was attended by the government of Albania, including the President and Prime Minister, and senior figures from the Romanian, Montenegrin, Russian and Albanian royal families.
Honours and awards
Sovereign Head of the Order of Fidelity Sovereign Head of the Order of Skanderbeg Sovereign Head of the Order of Bravery & Military Merit: First Class or Hero, breast star National Flag Order (posthumous)
From other countries:
Commander of the Order of Franz Joseph with Swords (Austrian Empire, January 1917) Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France, 1926) Knight of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (Kingdom of Italy, 16 December 1928 by Vittorio Emanuele III) Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Kingdom of Italy, 16 December 1928) Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy (Kingdom of Italy, 16 December 1928) Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau (Netherlands) Collar of the Order of Muhammad Ali (Kingdom of Egypt) Grand Collar of the Order of Carol I (Kingdom of Romania, 1928) Grand Cross of the Order of the Karađorđe's Star (Kingdom of Yugoslavia) Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Kingdom of Greece) Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (Belgium, 4 November 1929) Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit of Bulgaria (Kingdom of Bulgaria) Order of the White Eagle (Poland) Collar First Class of the Order of the White Lion (Czechoslovakia) Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (Austria) Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau (Luxembourg) Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary (Hungary, 1938)
Zog's name was in use by 1972 in the English language palaeontological mnemonic for the names of zonal index fossils in part of the Lower Carboniferous System of Great Britain (namely Cleistopora, which geologists decided to call 'zone k', Zaphrentis, Caninia, Seminula and Dibanophylum): "King Zog caught syphilis and died".
In the James Bond novel The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming writes of the villainous Francisco Scaramanga telling his compatriots that the Rastafari of Jamaica "believes it owes allegiance" to the King of Ethiopia, this "King Zog or what-have-you." Fleming had been assigned with the task of escorting Zog when in exile after Albania was annexed by Italy.
In 1983, British author Jack Smithers wrote an amusing thriller about a fictional attempt to recover the treasure of King Zog, and use it to finance the overthrow of the Communist Enver Hoxha regime and restore Zog to the throne. It was called "Combined Forces", as Zog was aided by a combination of John Buchan's Richard Hannay, "Sapper"'s (H.C. McNeile) Bulldog Drummond, and Dornford Yates's Jonah Mansell (and the rest of Berry and Co. besides.). Smithers wrote the pastiche as a tribute to the three thriller writers of the interwar period.
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Ahmet Zogu (who had changed his name from the Turkish sounding 'Zogolli' to the more Albanian sounding 'Zogu')
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...por kufini në vend që të vazhdonte që nga kodra e Zagoriçanit gjer te Qafa e Plloçit, ku ndodheshin dy versante: versanti i Maliqit dhe Liqeni i Ohrit, vija e kufinit të hidhej ke Mali i Thatë, e të përfshinte katundin shqiptaro-orthodoks Pëshkupat...
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Ky i fundit paska qënë një djalosh 17-vjeçar, Beqir Valteri, nga fshati Vinjall i Matit, të cilin Zogu e paska ndihmuar duke e dërguar në Itali për të studjuar.
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...Beqir Valteri, student nga Mati...[Beqir Valteri, e student from Mat]
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Më 23 Shkurt 1924, gati të gjithë ne deputetët, thuajse kishim zënë vendet tona për seancën e pasdites të Asamblesë. Mungonte vetëm Qeveria, pra edhe Kryeministri Ahmet Zogu. Unë rrija si gjithmonë pranë metropolitit Fan Noli, në bankën e radhës së parë pranë hyrjes. Më ra në sy se atë ditë, grupi i Partisë Demokratike prapa meje po rrinte çuditërisht i heshtur dhe i merakosur. Befas ushtuan dy krisma në shkallët e ndërtesës, që u pasuan nga një qetësi e ngrirë. Pastaj u hapën me vrull dyert e sallës dhe brenda hyri Ahmet Zogu me revolver në dorë. Ai ishte prerë në fytyrë, por ecte me shtatin drejt dhe pas disa çastesh e mori veten, madje buzëqeshi dhe vajti me çap të sigurt tek bangoja e qeverisë, ku u ul në një vend të caktuar për sekretarët...
Ahmet Zogu që ishte paralajmëruar për atentatin 2 javë më parë arriti të mësonte se Valteri ishte i shtyrë nga kundërshtarët e tij. Kujtimet e shumë protagonistëve të kohës, shënojnë faktin që ai u takua edhe vetë kokë më kokë me atentatorin. Në fakt atentati i Zogut përflitej në çdo kafene të Tiranës dhe njerëzit e tij, vunë gishtin mbi Avni Rustemin si organizator.
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They did. On 20 April Avni Rustemi was murdered in Tirane and was absolutely clear that Zog was behind the attack.
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Me gjithë këto fakte, hetuesia më 28 prill 1931 vendosi për ndalim gjyqi dhe na liroi, kurse në muajin korrik, liroi me po atë mënyrë Angjelin Sumën dhe Qazim Mulletin. Por, ndërkohë, policia na dëboi nga Vjena, me kusht që të mos kemi të drejtë edhe një herë të hyjmë në Austri.
Për atë arësye, qeveria e Vjenës, për t’i bërë një kompliment Italisë, vendosi ta bëjë gjyqin në një vend të vogël, ku populli ka qënë katolik fetar, pasues i Partisë Popullore; nga ana tjetër, për t’u bërë qejfin emigrantëve politikë, neve na liroi, me ndalim gjyqi, Gjyqi Ndok Gjeloshin e dënoi me tre vjet e gjysmë privim lirie dhe Azis Çamin me dy vjet e gjysmë.
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- Bobev, Bobi. "The Dictatorship of Ahmed Zogou." Etudes Balkaniques 29, no. 2 (1993): 16–33.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ahmet_Zogu.|
- Albanian Royal Court Official Site
- Maison Royale d'Albanie – Site officiel en français
- Histoire de l'Albanie et de sa Maison Royale 1443-2007
- L'Albanie et le sauvetage des Juifs
- King Zog
- Newspaper clippings about Zog I of Albania in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
Zog I of AlbaniaBorn: 8 October 1895 Died: 9 April 1961
| Prime Minister of Albania
Shefqet Bej Verlaci
Ilias Bej Vrioni
| Prime Minister of Albania
Title next held byKoço Kota
|New title|| President of Albania
Title next held byOmer Nishani
Title last held byWilliam of Wied
as Prince of Albania
| King of the Albanians
Victor Emmanuel III
Xhemal Pasha Zogu
| Hereditary Governor of Mati
|Titles in pretence|
|Loss of title
Italian invasion, communist regime
|— TITULAR —
King of the Albanians