Many foreigners ask: "-How is it possible that Albania was under the Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries and managed to survive again, even though fragmented, after such a long time under it?!"
Below, we will briefly show you two opposite tactics that the Ottoman Empire followed in the 500 years of its rule in Albania, which brought our nation into and out of the final extinction.
Around the year 1400, when the Albanian territories fell into the Ottoman clutches, Arberia was a country many times smaller and poorer than its opponent. This opponent managed to trick the Arber (Albanian) chiefs into sending their children to the imperial palace as a sign of peace. Not only that, but the Albanian princes were killed or deposed in distant countries and foreign military leaders who served their own interests and the High Porte were brought in their place.
But the Albanians, especially those in the high mountains, could never be governed by the Turks. Not only because of the terrain that the Ottomans did not know and did not care to know, but also because the strongest leadership unit for the Albanian has been for centuries the kinship- the tribe. Only the Albanian knows how to fix the Albanian's wires is an expression we Albanian have. For this reason, we are showing you an event from the years 1571-1572 in the mountains of Shkodra.
The population of that area was dissatisfied with the Ottoman leaders and rose in rebellion. The Ottoman commander (it is said that his name was Pazvanoglu) with 6 thousand soldiers arrested all the leaders of the uprisings and killed many artisans and merchants.
But Ibrahim bey Begolli, a proud man from a noble family who had the trust of the mountain tribes and the Shkodra people, gathered 20 thousand warriors and drove the Turks from the Shkodra region.
The Sultan didn’t have any other choice but to appoint Ibrahim as pasha of Shkodra. This was the first Albanian sandjakbey of Shkodër who paved the way for what happened later in the way that the Albanians would once again be lords of their own lands..."
Even Edith Durham wrote in her books:
"From here, it is inevitable to determine that in the inaccessible mountainous areas, where barely (or rather) where the foot of the Turk never stepped, was the organization of the tribe with its judiciary, its hereditary chiefs, and with its councils of elders that saved the mountains from anarchy. It was the tribe and only the tribe that had people with strong and tough personalities not slide into a war of all against all.
What can be called a sense of community in Albania has mainly to do with the uncompromising standing together of the people of a tribe."
There are different travelers, linguists, photographers, and historians who have traveled through the centuries, especially in the very rugged northern Albanian regions, and who have understood the extraordinary importance of tribal organization. Some of them have left material of rare value for Albanians and anyone who wants to research in depth about the tribes and the Albanian language.
Some of these have been Edith Durham, Baron Nopsca, Robert Elsie, etc. These have left us with a series of priceless books and materials organized, arranged, and recorded in writing and audio. One of the websites that we strongly suggest you visit is the one that contains the hard work of Robert Elsie.