When George Castriota Scanderbeg raised the flag of revolt against Ottoman rule and seized his family fortress at Coya [Krujë] in November 1443, he realized the difficulty Albaians faced in defending their homeland. As one who had been a hostage at the Ottoman court and served in the Sultan’s army, he knew lack of political unity had been the principal cause for failure in previous Albanian encounters with the Islamic invaders. Konstantin Mihailović, a veteran of the janissary corps, noted: “The reason he [the Sultan] defeated them [the Albanians] so easily was that one looked on while he was defeating another.”
With this in mind, Scanderbeg and other Albanian nobles met at Alessio [Lezhë, in Albanian], a port city controlled by Venice on the Adriatic coast. The meeting took place at the cathedral of St. Nicholas on 2 March 1444. Venetian representatives attended the meeting as observers, interested in protecting their coastal possessions from Ottoman aggression, as well as hoping to prevent any Albanian leader from becoming so powerful that they could threaten Venetian territories or break their economic monopoly. Despite some hesitation by those who preferred to wait for the organization of a Christian crusade, the Albanian nobility agreed to pool their resources and organize a unified military resistance to the Ottomans.
His military and administrative experience, combined with his first-hand knowledge of the Ottomans made Scanderbeg the logical choice as General of the new army. The chronicler Marin Barletti recalled: “He was unanimously chosen the commander-in-chief of the armies, and to his sole direction was committed the conduct of the war. He was esteemed most worthy of the honor bestowed upon him on account of his skill and science in military affairs, his great prudence and deliberation, his long acquaintance with the manners and customs of the barbarians, and his wonderful judgement, which was confirmed by long use and daily experience.”
The League of Alessio proved a decisive moment in the Albanian resistance to the Islamic invasion as it gave Scanderbeg the resources to organize an effective defense of the country. As a result he would defy the Sultan’s power for a quarter of a century, until his death in 1468. The story is available in a new book from Histria Books – Scanderbeg: A History of George Castriota and the Albanian Resistance to Islamic Expansion in Fifteenth Century Europe by Dr. A.K. Brackob http://amzn.to/2hJdhwa available on Amazon.
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