Malësia e Madhe, known as Malësia, is a historical and ethnographic region in northern Albania and southern Montenegro corresponding to the highlands of the geographical subdivision of the Malësi e Madhe District. Malësia e Madhe is Albanian for "great highlands", it is known as Malësia, or in the local Gheg dialect, Malcía, pronounced Malsia. Elsie describes the region as part of the Northern Albanian Alps; the tribes are called "highlanders", Albanian: malësorët, anglicized as "Malissori" or "Malisors". The region includes parts of the Prokletije mountain range and hinterland of the Lake Scutari, with valleys of the Cem river; the Malësors live within northern Albania and Malësia e Madhe contained five large tribes with four having a Catholic majority and Muslim minority with Gruda evenly split between both religions. Within Malësia e Madhe there were an additional seven small tribes. During times of war and mobilisation of troops, the bajraktar of Hoti was recognised by the Ottoman government as leader of all forces of the Malësia e Madhe tribes having collectively some 6,200 rifles during the late Ottoman period.
Malësia e Vogël with seven Catholic tribes such as the Shala with 4 bajaraktars, Shoshi and Nikaj contained some 1,250 households with a collective strength of 2,500 men that could be mobilised for war. Shoshi had a distinction in the region of possessing a legendary rock associated with Lekë Dukagjini. During the Ottoman period, when northern Albania was part of the Sanjak of Scutari, Albanian tribes in Malësia some times sided with Montenegrin tribes in fighting the Ottomans. An example is from 1658, when the seven tribes of Kuči, Vasojevići, Bratonožići, Kelmendi and Gruda allied themselves with the Republic of Venice against the Ottomans. In 1757, the Bushati family transformed the sanjak into the semi-autonomous Pashalik of Scutari. After this, the Albanian tribes sided with the Bushati. After the Ottoman Empire lost the Montenegrin–Ottoman War and Gusinje were ceded to Montenegro, which sparked Albanian attacks in the area organized by the nationalist League of Prizren in support of the Ottoman Empire.
In the early 20th century, the northern Albanian tribes switched sides against the Ottoman Empire and rose up with Serbian aid in 1910 and Montenegrin aid in 1911. The latter began with a memorandum signed by the Malësian tribal representatives; the Malësian tribes won a victory at Deçiq in April 1911. The Albanian revolt of 1912 led to the Albanian Declaration of Independence that year. On May 26, 1913, 130 leaders of Gruda, Kelmendi and Shkreli sent a petition to Cecil Burney in Shkodër against the incorporation of their territories into Montenegro. Gruda and parts of Hoti came under Montenegrin rule. During World War II, the northern Albanian tribes were anti-Communist. Prek Cali led the Kelmendi tribe; some leaders were persecuted by the new Communist regime. The region is inhabited by an Albanian majority, divided between Catholicism and Islam, while a small Serb-Montenegrin community is present in some villages; the Albanian population ethnographically belongs to the Ghegs group. Due to its rich culture, the highland region has attracted more attention from anthropologists, artists and scholars than any other Albanian-populated region.
It is Malësia that produced what has been considered the national epic of the Albanian people, Lahuta e Malcís. Author and Franciscan friar Gjergj Fishta spent 35 years composing this epic poem, in, chronicled the whole range of the ethnic Albainan cultural experience, it is as interesting to modern readers as an anthropological document. Anton Harapi, Albania's most distinguished Christian philosopher, dedicated his masterpiece "Ândrra e Pretashit" called "The Wise Men along Cemi River" to the people of Malcía; the oldest Albanian book was written by Malësor Catholic priest Gjon Buzuku. In 1908, anthropologist Edith Durham visited the Malësia region and catalogued her findings in her ethnographic work "High Albania," which was, for nearly a century, the most trusted source of information about the Albanian highlanders. Albanian anthropologist Kolë Berisha wrote, among other books, the four-volumes ethnography entitled "Malcía e Madhe" written between 1900 and 1945. Robert Elsie divided the tribes of Albania in his works according to regions.
There were ten tribes. Kelmendi Gruda Hoti Kastrati Shkreli Triesh KojaThe histories of the respective clans are amalgamations of both historical events and genealogies passed along by oral transmission. Prek Cali, Kelmendi chieftain Ded Gjo Luli, Hoti chieftain Sokol Baci, Gruda chieftain Baca Kurti, Gruda chieftain Tringe Smajli, Gruda member Nora of Kelmendi John D. Treadway; the Falcon and the Eagle: Montenegro and Austria-Hungary, 1908-1914. Purdue University Press. ISBN 978-1-55753-146-9. Owen Pearson. Albania in the Twentieth Century, A History: Volume I: Albania and King Zog, 1908-39. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-013-0. Jovićević, Andrija. Малесија. Срп. етн. зборник XXVII. SANU. OCLC 635033682. Slijepčević, Đoko M.. Српско-арбанашки односи кроз векове са посебним освртом на новије време. Iskra. Durham, Mary Edith. High Albania. Echo Library. ISBN 978-1-4068-2855
Gjakova or Đakovica is a city and municipality located in the Gjakova District of western Kosovo. According to the 2011 census, the city of Gjakova has 40,827 inhabitants, while the municipality has,94,556 inhabitants. Geographically, it is located in the south-western part of Kosovo, about halfway between the cities of Peć and Prizren, it is 100 km inland from the Adriatic Sea. The city is situated some 208 kilometres north-east of Tirana, 145 kilometres north-west of Skopje, 80 kilometres west of the capital Pristina, 435 kilometres south of Belgrade and 263 kilometres east of Podgorica; the city of Gjakova has been populated since the prehistoric era. During the Ottoman period, Gjakova served as a trading center on the route between Shkodër and Istanbul, it was one of the most developed trade centers at that time in the Balkans. The Albanian name for the town is Gjakova, while the Serbian name is Đakovica with the common -ica diminutive placename suffix. There are several theories on the origin such as from the personal name Jakov.
The "Jakov theory" derives its name from Jakov, a little known nobility in the service of lord Vuk Branković who founded and ruled the town, whose coins have been found, signed "Jakov". According to local Albanians, the name was derived from the name Jak, with the village name meaning "Jakov's field". According to Vujinović, it was wrongfully claimed by the Albanians that the name was derived from a Jak Vula, a local landlord who gave property where the Hadum Mosque was built in the 1590s. In Albanian, the name was pronounced Jakova, not Đakova or Đakovica; the "pupil theory" has it that the Serbian kings had schools there, the word đak is from earlier djak. Based on the study of the names, only two household heads were of possible Albanian origin. In the 17th century, Katip Çelebi and Evliya Çelebi mention this place as Jakovičse, with 2000 houses and 300 shops; the town had developed into an Ottoman trade center on the Shkodra–Istanbul route, with the marketplace being by the Hadum Mosque, built in 1594 by Mimar Sinan, financed by Hadum Aga.
Evliya Çelebi mentioned it as a town in 1662, described it as a flourishing and attractive town with 2,000 houses built of stone with roofs and gardens. The public buildings were situated on a broad plain and included two richly adorned congregational mosques, several prayer-houses, some inns with leaden roofs, a delightful bath-house, about 300 shops like nightingale-nests. Gjakova suffered from the Serbian and Montenegrin armies during the First Balkan War; the New York Times reported in 1912, citing Austro-Hungarian sources, that people on the gallows hung on both sides of the road, that the way to Gjakova became a "gallows alley." In the region of Gjakova, the Montenegrin military police formed the Royal Gendarmerie Corps, known as krilaši, which committed much abuse and violence against the non-Orthodox Christian population. The town was badly affected by the Kosovo war, suffering great physical destruction and large-scale human losses and human rights abuses. Yugoslav units were stationed in and near the town in two barracks due to the risk of an attack by the Kosovo Liberation Army from across the border in Albania.
In one incident, NATO aircraft attacked it. Actions on the ground had a devastating effect on the town. According to the ICTY, OSCE, international human rights organisations, about 75% of the population was expelled by Serbian police and paramilitaries as well as Yugoslav forces, while many civilians were killed in the process. Large areas of the town were destroyed, chiefly through arson and looting but in the course of localised fighting between government security forces and members of the KLA; the actions of the government forces in Gjakova formed a major part of the United Nations war crimes indictment of the then-President Slobodan Milošević. In 2011, several dozen corpses were identified and returned to their families, though the number is small compared to the figures of those who are still missing. Most of the Albanian population returned following the end of the war. In 2001 free elections were held, with a majority won by LDK. Thousands of new stores were rebuilt. Old town is a good example.
New television and radio media were launched such as Radio Gjakova, Radio Pandora, Radio Amadeus, TV Syri. Local businesses set up manufacturing enterprises such as the IMN brick factory was one of these. Gjakova is located in the south-western part of Kosovo. To the north-east of the city, the west Kosovan plain of Dukagjini opens, while in the south-west the peak of Dinaric alps rises; the city is situated at the entrance to the Erenik Valley, where the river Krena flows from the north to the Erenik mountain stream. After a few kilometers, it flows into the longest river in Kosovo; the municipality covers an area including the town of Gjakova and 84 villages. According to the 2011 census, the resident population was 94,556, of which urban inhabitants numbered 40,827 and rural 53,729; the ethnic groups include Albanians, Balkan Egyptians, Roma and smaller numbers of Bosniaks, Turks and others. Base
Independent Albania was a parliamentary state declared in Vlorë on 28 November 1912. Its assembly was constituted on the same day while its government and senate were established on 4 December 1912; the delegation of Albania submitted a memorandum to the London Conference of 1913 requesting international recognition of independent Albania. At the beginning of the conference it was decided that the region of Albania would be under Ottoman suzerainty but with an autonomous government; the requests by the delegation for recognition based on the ethnic rights of Albanians were rejected and the treaty signed on 30 May 1913 partitioned a major part of the claimed lands between Serbia and Montenegro, leaving as independent territory only a central region, put under the protection of the Great Powers. The ambassadors of six Great Powers met again on 29 July 1913 and decided to constitute a new state, the Principality of Albania, as a constitutional monarchy. With the Treaty of Bucharest being signed in August 1913, this new independent state was established, leaving about 30–40% of the ethnic Albanian population outside its borders.
The name of the state used in the text of declaration of independence of Albania is Shqipëria. It is referred to as the "independent Albania", the "Albanian State" or the "independent state of Albania"; the independent Albania established on 28 November 1912 is the first Albanian state in modern history. It was a parliamentary state, not a monarchy; some sources refer to it as the Republic of the Albanian Republic. Albania became an independent state through four constitutional decisions of the Assembly of Vlorë made on 28 November 1912: Albania, as of today, should be on her own and independent under a provisional government that a council of elders be elected to assist and supervise the government a commission is to be sent to Europe to defend Albanian interests among the Great Powers The authority of the state was limited to the regions of Vlore and Lushnje; the claimed territory was much larger than the territory of contemporary Albania and than the territory over which the Provisional Government exercised its power.
It comprised the territories of Kosovo Vilayet, Monastir Vilayet, Shkoder Vilayet and Janina Vilayet. The Treaty of London, signed on 30 May 1913, reduced the territory of Albanian state to its central regions after partitioning a significant part of territory claimed by Albania between the Balkan allies. Kosovo was given to Serbia at the London treaty at the insistence of Russia. During the First Balkan War the kingdoms of Greece, Serbia and Montenegro aspired to incorporate the entire region into their states, so most of the captured territory was occupied by their armies. Independent Albania did however exercise control over one pocket of land which included Vlore, Berat and Lushnje; until September 1912, the Ottoman government intentionally kept Albanians divided within four ethnically heterogeneous vilayets to prevent Albanian national unification. The reforms introduced by Young Turks provoked the Albanian Revolt of 1912 which lasted in the period from January to August 1912. In January 1912, Hasan Prishtina, Albanian deputy in Ottoman parliament, publicly warned members of the parliament that the policy of Young Turks government is leading to a revolution in Albania.
The revolt was successful and until August 1912 rebels managed to gain control over whole Kosovo vilayet, a part of the Scutari Vilayet, Konitsa in Janina Vilayet and Debar in Monastir Vilayet. The Ottoman government ended the Albanian revolt on 4 September 1912 by accepting all demands related to establishing the unified autonomous system of administration and justice for Albanians within one vilayet—the Albanian vilayet; the success of the Albanian revolt sent a strong signal to the neighbouring countries that the Ottoman Empire was weak. Besides, the Kingdom of Serbia opposed the plan for an Albanian vilayet, preferring a partition of the European territory of the Ottoman Empire among the four Balkan allies. In the meantime it was agreed. Albanian leaders, including Faik Konitza and Fan Noli, organized a large meeting on 7 October 1913 in Boston, they decided that Albanians should "unite with the Ottoman government against the enemies of the Empire" because "if Turkey is defeated, the Balkan states would shred Albania."
That decision was risky, because if the Ottomans were defeated, Albanian participation in the Balkan war on the Ottoman side would serve as justification for the Balkan allies to partition Albania as an Ottoman province. Albanians who were mobilized in the Ottoman army fought for their country rather than for the Ottoman Empire. During the First Balkan War the combined armies of the Balkan allies overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success, they occupied all the remaining European territories of the Ottoman Empire including the territory of Albanian Vilayet. At the beginning of November 1912, Albanian leaders appealed to Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, explaining the difficult situation in their country because parts of the four vilayets were claimed by the Balkan League who were present on the disputed lands. Austria-Hungary and Italy strongly
Albania under the Ottoman Empire
Albania was ruled by the Ottoman Empire in different periods from 1480 to 1912. Ottoman rule began after the fall of Shkodra; the Albanians revolted again in 1481 but the Ottomans controlled Albania by 1488. The Ottomans had ruled some Albanian regions after the Battle of Savra in 1385; the Ottomans placed garrisons throughout southern Albania by 1418 and established formal jurisdiction in central Albania by 1431. Though The Ottomans claimed rule of all Albanian lands, most Albanian ethnic territories were still governed by Albanian Princes who were free of Ottoman rule. In 1431 Many Albanian Princes including Gjergj Arianiti, Zenevisi family and Gjon Kastrioti started a war against the Ottoman Empire which resulted in defeat of Gjon Kastrioti but victory in 5 battles for Gjergj Arianiti; these Albanian victories opened the way for the coming of Skanderbeg in 1443 in Kruja. Independence for most of the Albanian regions was maintained during 1443-1479, with the uprising under the lead of Skanderbeg.
The Albanian resistance and war against Ottomans continued for 37 years. The last towns captured by the Ottomans were Shkodër in 1479 and Durrës in 1501. A period of the semi independence started in 1750s with the Independent Albanian Pashas. In 1754 the autonomous Albanian Pashalik of Bushati dynasty would be established with center the city of Shkodra called Pashalik of Shkodra. On the same autonomous Pashalik of Berat would be established and culminating with the Albanian Pashalik of Ali Pashe Tepelena in 1787. Albanian Pashaliks would end in 1831 with the last one being the Bushati Pashalik. Albanians would enter on in the 16th and 17th centuries a period of Islamization; the territory which today belongs to the Republic of Albania remained part of the Ottoman Empire until it declared independence in 1912, during the Balkan Wars. The Ottomans expanded their control from Anatolia to the Balkans in the middle of the 14th century, they entered European territory in 1352, they defeated a Serbian army in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.
Ottoman pressure lessened in 1402 when the Mongol leader, attacked Anatolia from the east, killed the Sultan, sparked a civil war. When order was restored, the Ottomans renewed their westward progress. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II's forces overran killed the last Byzantine emperor; the division of the Albanian-populated lands into small, quarreling fiefdoms ruled by independent feudal lords and tribal chiefs made them easy prey for the Ottoman armies. In 1385, the Albanian ruler of Durrës, Karl Thopia, appealed to the sultan for support against his rivals, the Balšić noble family. An Ottoman force marched into Albania along the Via Egnatia and routed Balsha II in the Battle of Savra; some of the Albanian Principalities soon started to become vassals of the Ottoman Empire after 1420. Gjirokastra became the county town of the Sanjak of Albania in 1420. and than Kruja was established as the center of Sanjak of Albania after Gjergj Arianiti defeated the Ottomans between 1431-1435. The Ottomans allowed Albanian clan chiefs to maintain their positions and property, but they had to pay tribute, sometimes send their sons to the Ottoman court as hostages, provide the Ottoman army with auxiliary troops.
However many Albanian clans and Principalities did not recognize the Ottoman authority and did not pay tribute. The Albanians' resistance to the Ottomans in the 14th century and in the 15th century won them acclaim all over Europe. Gjon Kastrioti of Krujë was one of the Albanian clan leaders who submitted to Ottoman suzerainty in 1425, he was compelled to send his four sons to the Ottoman capital to be trained for military service. The youngest, George Kastrioti, who would become the Albanians' national hero, captured the sultan's attention. Renamed Iskander when he converted to Islam, the young man participated in military expeditions to Asia Minor and Europe; when appointed to administer a Balkan district, Iskander became known as Skanderbeg. After Ottoman forces under Skanderbeg's command suffered defeat in a battle near Niš in present-day Serbia in 1443, Skanderbeg rushed to Krujë and tricked a Turkish pasha into surrendering the Albanian fortress. Skanderbeg embraced Roman Catholicism and declared a holy war against the Turks.
On 1 March 1444, Albanian chieftains gathered in the cathedral of Lezhë with the prince of Montenegro and delegates from Venice and proclaimed Skanderbeg commander of the Albanian resistance. All of Albania accepted his leadership against the Ottomans, but local leaders kept control of their own districts. Under a red flag bearing Skanderbeg's heraldic emblem, an Albanian force of about 10,000-15.000 men held off Ottoman campaigns against their lands for twenty-four years. Three times the Albanians overcame sieges of Krujë. In 1450, the Albanians routed Sultan Murad II himself, they repulsed attacks led by Sultan Mehmed II in 1466 and 1467. In 1461, Skanderbeg went to the aid of his suzerain, King Alfonso I of Naples, against the kings of Sicily; the government under Skanderbeg was unstable, at times local Albanian rulers cooperated with the Ottomans against him. With political and minor material support from the Kingdom of Naples and the Vatican, resistance to the Ottoman Empire continued for 35 years.
Krujë fell to the Ottomans only ten years after the death of Skanderbeg. The Venetians evacuated Durrës, in 1501; the conquests triggered a great Albanian exodus to Venice and Italy to the kingdom of Naples, as well as to Sicily and Egypt. Most of the Albanian refugees belonged to the Orthodox Church; the Albanians of Italy sign
Albania the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and a maritime border with Italy to the west. Geographically, the country displays varied climatic, geological and morphological conditions, defined in an area of 28,748 km2, it possesses remarkable diversity with the landscape ranging from the snow-capped mountains in the Albanian Alps as well as the Korab, Skanderbeg and Ceraunian Mountains to the hot and sunny coasts of the Albanian Adriatic and Ionian Sea along the Mediterranean Sea. The area of Albania was populated by various Illyrian and Ancient Greek tribes as well as several Greek colonies established in the Illyrian coast; the area was annexed in the 3rd century by Romans and became an integral part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Illyricum. The autonomous Principality of Arbër emerged in 1190, established by archon Progon in the Krujë, within the Byzantine Empire.
In the late thirteenth century, Charles of Anjou conquered Albanian territories from the Byzantines and established the medieval Kingdom of Albania, which at its maximal extension was extending from Durrës along the coast to Butrint in the south. In the mid-fifteenth century, it was conquered by the Ottomans; the modern nation state of Albania emerged in 1912 following the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars. The modern Kingdom of Albania was invaded by Italy in 1939, which formed Greater Albania, before becoming a Nazi German protectorate in 1943. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, a Communist state titled the People's Socialist Republic of Albania was founded under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour; the country experienced widespread social and political transformations in the communist era, as well as isolation from much of the international community. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the fourth Republic of Albania was established.
Politically, the country is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic and developing country with an upper-middle income economy dominated by the tertiary sector followed by the secondary and primary sector. It went through a process of transition, following the end of communism in 1990, from a centralized to a market-based economy, it provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens. The country is a member of the United Nations, World Bank, UNESCO, NATO, WTO, COE, OSCE and OIC, it is an official candidate for membership in the European Union. In addition it is one of the founding members of the Energy Community, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and Union for the Mediterranean; the term Albania is the medieval Latin name of the country. It may be derived from the Illyrian tribe of Albani recorded by Ptolemy, the geographer and astronomer from Alexandria, who drafted a map in 150 AD, which shows the city of Albanopolis located northeast of the city of Durrës.
The term may have a continuation in the name of a medieval settlement called Albanon or Arbanon, although it is not certain that this was the same place. In his history written in the 10th century, the Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates was the first to refer to Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the Duke of Dyrrachium. During the Middle Ages, the Albanians called their country Arbëri or Arbëni and referred to themselves as Arbëreshë or Arbëneshë. Nowadays, Albanians call their country Shqipëria; as early as the 17th century the placename Shqipëria and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh. The two terms are popularly interpreted as "Land of the Eagles" and "Children of the Eagles"; the first traces of human presence in Albania, dating to the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic eras, were found in the village of Xarrë close to Sarandë and Dajti near Tiranë. The objects found in a cave near Xarrë include flint and jasper objects and fossilized animal bones, while those found at Mount Dajt comprise bone and stone tools similar to those of the Aurignacian culture.
The Paleolithic finds of Albania show great similarities with objects of the same era found at Crvena Stijena in Montenegro and north-western Greece. Several Bronze Age artefacts from tumulus burials have been unearthed in central and southern Albania that show close connection with sites in south-western Macedonia and Lefkada, Greece. Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that these regions were inhabited from the middle of the third millennium BC by Indo-European people who spoke a Proto-Greek language. A part of this population moved to Mycenae around 1600 BC and founded the Mycenaean civilisation there. In ancient times, the territory of modern Albania was inhabited by a number of Illyrian tribes; the Illyrian tribes never collectively regarded themselves as'Illyrians', it is unlikely that they used any collective nomenclature for themselves. The name Illyrians seems to be the name applied to a specific Illyrian tribe, the first to come in contact with the ancient Greeks during the Bronze Age, causing the name Illyrians to be applied pars pro toto to all people of similar language and customs.
The territory known as Illyria corresponded to the area east of the Adriatic sea, extending in the south to the mouth of the Vjosë river. The first accou
Binak Alia was an Albanian leader from Yakova Highland region. He is remembered for his participation in the Albanian Revolt of 1845, as a wise old man who helped resolving blood feuds in the area. Alia was born in 1805 in Ottoman Empire, in today's Tropojë municipality of Albania, he belonged to the Mulosmanaj clan of the Krasniqi tribe. He is mentioned as the Albanian Revolt of 1845, together with Sokol Rama from the same village; the revolt was in the chain of Albanian revolts against the Sublime Porte and against Tanzimat reforms. The rebel were successful, they drove out the Ottoman garrison of Yakova. The revolt spread in the area of Reka, in up to Deçan, with their number reaching 8,000; the Ottomans managed to quell the revolt. His name gets mentioned again during the Revolts of 1860, as a participant of the League of Prizren sessions, though at an old age. Mic Sokoli, a People's Hero of Albania was Alia's nephew. Alia is remembered as a wise man. Many blood feuds were resolved with his intervention.
People from around the highland came to his oda to get advice conform to the Kanun law. A street in Tirana, Albania is named after him. Sulejman Vokshi Albanian Revolt of 1843–44 Sefë Kosharja
Islamization of Albania
The Islamization of Albania occurred as a result of the Ottoman conquest of Albania during the late 14th century. The Ottomans through their administration and military brought Islam to Albania through various policies and tax incentives, trade networks and transnational religious links. In the first few centuries of Ottoman rule, the spread of Islam in Albania was slow and intensified during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries due in part to greater Ottoman societal and military integration, geo-political factors and collapse of church structures, it was one of the most significant developments in Albanian history as Albanians in Albania went from being a Christian population to one, Muslim, while retaining significant ethnic Albanian Christian minorities in certain regions. The resulting situation where Sunni Islam was the largest faith in the Albanian ethnolinguistic area but other faiths were present in a regional patchwork played a major influence in shaping the political development of Albania in the late Ottoman period.
Apart from religious changes, conversion to Islam brought about other social and cultural transformations that have shaped and influenced Albanians and Albanian culture. Albanians began converting to Islam when they became part of the Ottoman Empire in the late 14th century. Albania differs from other regions in the Balkans such as Bulgaria and Bosnia in that until the 1500s, Islam remained confined to members of the co-opted aristocracy and sparse military outpost settlements of Yuruks. Thus, actual conversion to Islam at first occurred amongst the Christian elite, who retained some previous political and economic privileges, the emerging class of timar or estate holders of the sipahis in the new Ottoman system; these included aristocratic figures such as George Kastrioti who while in the service of the Ottomans was a convert to Islam and reverted to Christianity during the late 15th century northern Albanian uprising he initiated. In doing so, he ordered others who had embraced Islam or were Muslim colonists to convert to Christianity or face death.
Skanderbeg received military assistance from the Kingdom of Naples that sent in 1452 Ramon d’Ortafà, appointed as viceroy of Albania and tasked with maintaining Catholicism among the local population from the spread of Islam. During the conflicts between Skanderbeg and Ottomans the various battles and raiding pushed Sultan Mehmet II to construct the fortress of Elbasan in the lowlands to counter resistance coming from the mountain strongholds. Prior to and after Skanderbeg's death parts of the Albanian aristocracy migrated to southern Italy with some number of Albanians to escape the Ottoman conquest whose descendants still reside in many villages they settled. Long after the fall of Skanderbeg, large regions of the Albanian countryside rebelled against Ottoman rule incurring large human costs, including the decimation of whole villages. In the 1570s, a concerted effort by Ottoman rulers to convert the native population to Islam in order to stop the occurrence of seasonal rebellions began in Elbasan and Reka, a failed rebellion in 1596 among Catholics in the North preceded a series of heavy punitive measures that induced conversion to Islam.
The peak of Islamization in Albania occurred much than other Islamized or Islamized areas: 16th century Ottoman census data showed that sanjaks where Albanians lived remained overwhelmingly Christian with Muslims making up no more than 5% in most areas while during this period Muslims had risen to large proportions in parts of Bosnia, Northern Greece, urban Macedonia and Eastern Bulgaria. On, in the 19th century, when the process of Islamization had halted in most of the Balkans it continued to make significant progress in Albania in the South. In the early period of Ottoman rule the areas that form contemporary Albania were reorganised into an administrative unit named Sancak-i Arnavid or Sancak-i Arnavud. During the onset of Ottoman rule only prominent churches with significant symbolic meaning or cultural value of an urban settlement were converted into mosques. Most early mosques constructed in Albania were built within fortresses for Ottoman garrisons at times by Ottoman Sultans during their military campaigns in the area like Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque in Shkodër, the Red Mosque in Berat and others.
As a rule, Ottoman rule tolerated Christian subjects but discriminated against them, making them second-class citizens with higher taxes and various legal restrictions like being unable to take Muslims to court, have horses, have weapons, or have houses overlooking those of Muslims. While the Ottoman authorities were chronically suspicious of Catholicism, they allowed the Orthodox church to function unhindered, except during certain periods when the church was suppressed with expulsions of bishops and seizure of property and revenues. During the Ottoman period, most Christians as well as most Muslims employed a degree of syncretism, still practicing various pagan rites; the Ottoman conquest of certain northern cities from the Venetians happened separately to the initial conquest of Albania from local feudal lords. Cities such as Lezhë fell in 1478, Shkodër during 1478–79 and Durrës in 1501 with the bulk of their Christian population fleeing. Over the course of the sixteenth century the urban populations of these cities became Muslim.
In the north, the spread of Islam was slower due to resistance