The struggle of the Albanian people led by George Castriota Scanderbeg to defend Europe against the assault of the Ottoman Turks has been much celebrated. For a quarter of a century, from 1443 until his death in 1468, he used his military prowess to thwart the efforts of the most powerful Empire in the world at that time to subdue his tiny country.
As the 550th anniversary of the death of the great Albanian leader is commemorated, Scanderbeg remains as relevant as ever. One of the true heroes of the Middle Ages, his remarkable story remains little known outside of Albania. George Castriota defended Europe for a quarter of a century and, it can rightly be said, helped to save Western civilization from being overrun by Islam and suffering the same fate as the once mighty Byzantine Empire.
His achievements led Pope Paul VI in 1968 to declare: “This Holy See is pleased to join in the praise of this man of great nobility, a faithful son of the Church and a son whom sovereign pontiffs before us have praised possibly more glowingly than any other man of his time. For twenty-five years, he saved his country from the assault of enemies. He defended his country threatened by the greatest danger, at the head of an army which the rampart and defense of Christianity.”
Although the challenges have changed over the centuries, the clash of civilizations, which the history of the Albanian struggle to fend off the Islamic onslaught illustrates, continues today. As a result, it is all the more worth noting the contribution that this tiny land, led by Scanderbeg, made in the fight to preserve Western culture and civilization. Equally important is the example set by the Albanian people in ultimately harmonizing these two great civilizations.
As we commemorate the anniversary of his death, a new book from Histria Books, Scanderbeg: A History of George Castriota and the Albanian Resistance to Islamic Expansion in Fifteenth Century Europe, aims to draw attention to the genius and remarkable achievements of Scanderbeg who helped shape the identity of the Albanian people and to mark the important contribution this small but proud nation has made to European civilization.
The author, Dr. A.K. Brackob, has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois. He is a specialist on the history of southeastern Europe during the Middle Ages and author of Mircea the Old: Father of Wallachia, Grandfather of Dracula.
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