League of Lezhë


League of Lezhë

The League of Lezhë was the first coordinated Albanian Independence movement, led by Gjergj Kastrioti, or Skanderbeg. When the four Albanian-Ottoman vilayets attempted to secede from the Ottoman Empire they were weak and full of disunity. Skanderbeg organized a meeting of Albanian nobles, the Arianits, Dukagjin, Spani, Thopias, Muzakas, and the leaders of the free Albanian tribes from the high mountains, in the Venetian town of Alessio (now Lezhë) in March 3 of 1444. The nobles agreed to fight together for mutual gain against the common Turkish enemy and they voted Skanderbeg as their suzerain chief. The League of Lezhë was a union and each clan kept its sovereignty. The clans were only burdened by taxation which was used to solve collective problems concerning all of the vilayets.

Success

Under Skanderbeg's command the Albanian forces marched east capturing the cities of Dibra and Ohrid. For 25 years, from 14431468, Skanderbeg's 10,000 men army marched through Ottoman territory winning victory after victory against the consistently larger and better supplied Ottoman forces. Threatened by Ottoman advances in their homeland, Hungary, and later Naples and Venice - their former enemy -, provided the financial backbone and support for Skanderbeg's army.

Defeat

On May 14, 1450, an Ottoman army, larger than any previous force encountered by Skanderbeg or his men, stormed and overwhelmed the castle of the city of Kruja. This city was particularly symbolic to Skanderbeg because he had been appointed suba of Kruja in 1438 by the Ottomans. According to the Chronicles of Ragusa (also known as the Chronicles of Dubrovnik), the fighting lasted four months and thousands of Albanian soldiers lost their lives. Even so, the Ottoman forces were unable to capture the city and had no choice but to retreat before winter set in. In June of 1446, Mehmed II, known as "the conqueror", led an army of 150,000 soldiers back to Kruja and massacred the Albanian forces. Skanderbeg's death in 1468 did not end the struggle for independence, and fighting continued until 1479 when the vilayets were forced to succumb to the superior Ottoman armies.

ee also

* History of Albania
* Prizren League
* Second League of Prizren
* League of Peja

External links

* [http://www.omda.bg/imir/studies/alban_id9.html Albanian Identities]
* [http://www.seda.org.al/ACH/ottoman.htm Sustainable Economic Development Agency]
* [http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Rotunda/2209/Albania.html History of Albania]


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