- A mountainous Balkan country that was part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 450 years. During Ottoman rule, however, Albanian chiefs controlled most local matters and the people were converted to Islam. But after the 1780s, Albania came under the control of Ali Pasha of Jannina.Taking the lead from its neighbors, an Albanian nationalist movement evolved, taking as its rallying cry “the religion of Albanians is Albanianism!” In 1878, a group of Albanian leaders organized the League of Pizren, which called for self- government within the Ottoman Empire and initiated the development of the native language, literature, education, and a new alphabet. The movement remained active but was less noticeable than neighboring nationalist movements until in November 1908 an Albanian national congress representing Muslims, Catholics, and Orthodox met at Monastir and, although it supported the Young Turks, led a revolt in 1910.The Habsburg government stimulated the nationalist movement by subsidizing schools and newspapers, because an independent Albania was the best way of preventing Serbia from obtaining a foothold on the Adriatic coast. Both Germany and Britain seconded this policy. At the London Conference of Great Power ambassadors in December 1912, it was therefore agreed to establish an independent Albania. But the frontiers became an issue of dispute, as Austria- Hungary, Germany, and Italy wanted Albania to be as large as possible and to include Scutari. Russia, and France, and to a lesser extent Britain, believed the area to be disputed and that Serbia and Greece should also receive parts of it. Nothing was decided. During the Second Balkan War Albania was again a battleground, with Montenegrin forces capturing Scutari. Heavy pressure from the powers and Austro-Hungarian threats of military action forced the Montenegrins to relinquish claims to it.In July 1913, Austria-Hungary and the Albanian nationalists achieved an independent state. Russia deprived it of some Albanian villages, which went to Serbia, and Greece was also deprived of some Orthodox areas included in southern Albania. The powers agreed to guarantee Albania’s neutrality. A German army officer, the nephew of “Carmen Sylvia” Romania’s Queen, Prince William of Wied, was chosen to rule. But civil war and a lack of European Power support made his position untenable, and aid ceased during World War I. A successful rebellion in September 1914, under Essad Pasha, an Ottoman commander, forced William to flee. Essad then governed dictatorially and maintained himself, with Italian aid, until the Austrians defeated him in 1916. In 1920, a national legislative assembly met in Tirana and within month a government formed, but Albania’s frontiers were not fixed until 1926.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Pollo, Stefanaq, and Arben Pluto. The History of Albania: From Its Origins to the Present Day. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981;Skendi, Stavro. The Albanian National Awakening, 1878-1912. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967;Vickers, Miranda. The Albanians: A Modern History. London: I. B. Tauris, 1999.ANDREKOS VARNAVA
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.