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League of Lezhë

League of Lezhë
Lidhja e Lezhës
Љешка лига

Participant in Albanian–Venetian War
Ottoman-Albanian Wars
Active 1444–50
Ideology Christianity
Leaders Skanderbeg
Area of operations Albania Veneta
Sanjak of Albania
Sanjak of Dibra
Strength 8,000
Opponents Venetian Albania
Ottoman Army
Battles and wars See list

The League of Lezhë (2 March 1444 – ca. 1450) was a military alliance of

  • Barletius, Marinus (1508), Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum Principis (in Latin), Bernardinus de Vitalibus,  
  • Božić, Ivan (1979). Nemirno pomorje XV veka (in Serbian). Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga.  
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994), The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, University of Michigan Press,  
  • Frashëri, Kristo (1964), The history of Albania: a brief survey, s.n.,  
  • Housley, Norman (1992), The later Crusades, 1274-1580: from Lyons to Alcazar, Oxford University Press,  
  • Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1993), The last centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453, Cambridge University Press,  
  • Noli, Fan Stilian (1947), George Castrioti Scanderbeg (1405-1468), International Universities Press,  
  • Sedlar, Jean W. (1994), A history of East Central Europe: East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, University of Washington Press,  
  • Setton, Kenneth M. (1976), The papacy and the Levant, 1204-1571: The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, American Philosophical Society,  


  1. ^  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Božić 1979, p. 363
    Мада ниједан савремени млетачки документ не помиње овај скуп, сви старији и многи новији историчари прихватили су Барлецијеве вести не придајући им, разуме се, исти значај.
  4. ^ Biçoku, Kasem (2009). Kastriotët në Dardani. Prishtinë: Albanica. pp. 111–116.  
  5. ^ Sedlar 1994, p. 264
  6. ^ Frashëri 1964, p. 57
  7. ^ Noli 1947, p. ?
  8. ^ Noli 1947, p. 36
  9. ^ a b c d Schmitt 2001, p. 297
    Nikola und Paul Dukagjin, Leka Zaharia von Dagno, Peter Span, Herr der Berge hinter Drivasto, Georg Strez Balsha sowie Johann und Gojko Balsha, die sich zwischen Kruja und Alessio festgesetzt hatten, die Dushman von Klein-Polatum sowie Stefan (Stefanica) Crnojevic, der Herr der Oberzeta
  10. ^ Noli 1947, p. 36
    Andrea Thopia of Scuria between Tirana and Durazzo with his nephew, Tanush Thopia
  11. ^ Jean W Sedlar (January 1994). East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500. University of Washington Press.  
  12. ^ Georges Castellan (1992). History of the Balkans: From Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin. East European Monographs.  
  13. ^ Fox, Robert (1993), The inner sea: the Mediterranean and its people, Alfred A. Knopf, p. 195 
  14. ^ Vlora, Ekrem Bey (1956), The Ruling Families of Albania in the pre-Ottoman Period in: Contributions to the History of Turkish Rule in Albania: an Historical Sketch 
  15. ^ Kristo Frashëri (1964). The History of Albania: A Brief Survey. p. 71. Retrieved 22 June 2013. Scanderbeg too kept his domain. As president of the League he was merely primus inter pares. He had no right to interfere with the affairs of the domains of other nobles. 
  16. ^ Österreichische Osthefte. Österreichisches Ost- und Südosteuropa-Institut. 2003. p. 123. Retrieved 22 June 2013. Skanderbeg, der scheinbar dabei war, seine Rolle als primus inter pares zu verlassen und sich zum Herren des ganzen nichtosmanischen Albanien zu machen, stieß auf zunehmenden Widerstand. 
  17. ^ Stavro Skendi (1980). Balkan Cultural Studies. East European Monographs.  
  18. ^ Bozbora, Nuray (2002), Shqipëria dhe nacionalizmi shqiptar në Perandorinë Osmane] , Shqipëria: Tirana, p. 79, retrieved 25 September 2012, Por të pafuqishëm për t'i bërë ballë fuqisë së Skënderbeut, si rrugëdalje ata gjetën shkëputjen nga Lidhja. Të parët që ndërmorën një veprim të tillë ishin Pjetër Spani dhe Gjergj Dushmani. 
  19. ^ Frashëri, Kristo (1964), The history of Albania: a brief survey, Shqipëria: Tirana, p. 78,  
  20. ^ Robert Elsie (24 December 2012). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B.Tauris. p. 17.  
  21. ^ Housley 1992, p. 90
  22. ^ Fine 1994, p. 558
  23. ^ Housley 1992, p. 109
  24. ^
  25. ^ Lane–Poole, Stanley (1888), The story of Turkey, G.P. Putnam's sons, p. 135,  
  26. ^ Matanov, Christo (2010-06-21). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology. Oxford University Press. p. 363.  
  27. ^ Pickard, Rob; Çeliku, Florent (2008). Analysis and reform of cultural heritage policies in South-East Europe. Council of Europe. p. 16.  
  28. ^  


The League has been regarded as the first unified Albanian state.[26][27][28] The period of the Albanian League has been perceived as a peak in Albanian historiography, especially if compared with the subsequent failed attempts, until the beginning of the 20th century, to constitute an independent statehood.


The League of Lezhë fought the following battles against the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Venice:


Though an official date of dissolution is unknown, the League of Lezhë fragmented soon after its founding, with many of its members breaking away. By 1450 it had certainly ceased to function as originally intended, and only the core of the alliance under Scanderbeg and Araniti Comino continued to fight on.[24] After Skanderbeg's death in 1468, the sultan "easily subdued Albania," but Skanderbeg's death did not end the struggle for independence,[25] and fighting continued until the Ottoman siege of Shkodra in 1478–79, a siege ending when the Republic of Venice ceded Shkodra to the Ottomans in the peace treaty of 1479.


For 25 years, from 1443–1468, Skanderbeg's 10,000 man army marched through Ottoman territory winning against consistently larger and better supplied Ottoman forces.[21] Threatened by Ottoman advances in their homeland, Hungary, and later Naples and Venice – their former enemies – provided the financial backbone and support for Skanderbeg's army.[22] 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. The Ottoman forces were unable to capture the city and fell back as winter arrived. In June 1466, Mehmed II led an army of 150,000 soldiers back to Kruja but failed to capture the city.[23]

Albanian assault on a Turkish encampment


After Peter Spani and George Dushmani left the League of Lezha,[18] and after the Arianiti and Dukagjini left it in 1450, members of Dukagjini family concluded peace with the Ottoman Empire and started their actions against Skanderbeg.[19] Robert Elsie emphasizes that Gjergj Arianiti was often Skanderbeg's rival and that he actually left his alliance with Skanderbeg by 1459.[20]

Through treaties, the league was put under King Alfonso V, with Skanderbeg as captain general.[17]

The military alliance[11] was made up of the feudal lords in Albania, and was according to Georges Castellan "a precarious alliance".[12] Skanderbeg was elected its leader and commander-in-chief of its combined armed forces numbering 8,000 warriors.[13][14] All the territorial lords had their own domains and affairs; "Skanderbeg had no right to interfere with the affairs of the domains of other nobles", acting only as the supreme military leader, as primus inter pares.[15][16]

The League of Lezhë was founded on 2 March 1444 by:[8]



In November 1443, Skanderbeg captured Kruja with his troops and declared its independence from the Sultan.[7]

Together with occupation, new rulers were appointed and the registration process of the population and properties was done by Ottoman tax officers. Local populations and old nobility were not happy with that and various local rebellions took place, the most famous ones being those of Gjon Kastrioti in 1429–1430 and Gjergj Araniti in 1432–1435.

In the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire established itself in the Balkans with no significant resistance offered by local Christian nobles during this period. Many of them were still fighting amongst themselves and didn't see the advance of the Ottoman Empire as a threat to their power. Although a civil war broke out between Bayezid I sons', during 1402–1413, none of the Christian noblemen in the Balkans at the time seized the opportunity to repel the Ottomans; in the contrary, Serbs and Hungarians even helped the future Sultan Mohammed I seize power, by participating as his allies in the final battle against his brother.[5] After the Ottoman civil war was over in favor of Mehmed I, his forces captured Kruja from the Thopia family in 1415, Berat in 1417 from Muzaka, Vlora and Kanina in 1417 from the widow of Balsha and Gjirokastër in 1418 from the Zenevisi family. Under pressure from the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice, the Albanian principalities began to vacillate.[6]

After the death of Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan in 1355, the magnates in Albania established their own dominions. When Ottoman forces entered Albania, they were faced with small principalities that were engaged in vicious fights among themselves. The first battle against the Ottoman forces in Albania was that of Balša II, the Lord of Zeta, whose forces were defeated in the battle of Savra (18 September 1385) and Balša II himself was killed.



  • Background 1
  • History 2
    • Formation 2.1
    • Success 2.2
    • Demise 2.3
  • Battles 3
  • Legacy 4
  • References 5
  • Sources 6

[4] [general or whole council]; the term "League of Lezhë" was coined by subsequent historians.universum concilium or generalis concilium Barleti referred to the meeting as the [3] news about this meeting in Lezhë (without giving it equal weight), although no contemporary Venetian document mentions it.Marin Barleti's. All earlier and many modern historians accepted Crnojevići and Thopia, Spani, Muzaka, Dukagjini, Balšić, Arianiti The main members of the league were the [2].Ottoman Empire as leader of the regional Albanian and Serbian chieftains united against the Skanderbeg with [1]

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