Albania, which played a strategically important role as the gateway to the Adriatic Sea in the political history of Southeast Europe, was settled by Illyrian tribes since the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). Via Greek settlements that were established during the Greek colonization movement of the 7th – 3rd centuries. Century in the Adriatic coastal zone (Epidamnos / Dyrrhachion, Apollonia, Lissos, Buthronton), were the Illyrians involved in the Mediterranean trade and cultural exchange as well as in the power politics of the neighboring countries (Macedonia, Epirus, northern Greek states). The widespread piracy that took place in the Illyrian Ardiean Empire of Skodra in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. B.C. had a backing prompted the Romans to intervene militarily. In three Illyrian Wars (229–228, 219–218, 168 BC) they conquered the coastal areas, which became part of the Roman province of Macedonia in 148 AD and since the division of the empire (395) to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire belonged.
Slavic tribes invaded the Balkan Peninsula from the end of the 6th century; the partially Romanized Christian Illyrians withdrew to the northern Albanian mountainous region in the 7th century. What role they play in the ethnogenesis of the Albanians is still controversial in research. In the Albanian national ideology, the Illyrian origin and the autochthony in today’s settlement areas are firmly anchored. In 896 Albania was conquered by the Bulgarians and came back under Byzantine rule in 1018 as Ducat Dyrrhachion. 1081–85 and 1185 Albania was occupied by the Normans. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Latin crusaders in 1204, Albania belonged to the despotate of Epirus, and from 1230 to the Bulgarian state of Ivan Asens II., since 1252 to the Greek empire Nikaia, while the coastal cities were mostly under Venetian or Sicilian (Angiovinian) rule. In 1272 the Kingdom of Naples temporarily controlled all of Albania (Regnum Albaniae); the population, known since the 11th century under the name “Albanians” (Greek Arbanitai), often hired themselves out as mercenaries in the surrounding empires. At the turn of the 13th century there was an independent principality of Arbanon in the hinterland of Durazzo for a short time. The Albanian settlement movement to Kosovo, Thessaly, Epirus and on to Attica, Euboea and (around 1400) the Peloponnese began in the 13th century.
After the disintegration of the Serbian empire of Stephan Dušan Uroš, who had conquered Albania in 1343, Serbian sub-principalities were formed in the north (Zeta) and south (Epirus), which were soon replaced by Albanian tribal principalities. The city lords sought protection from the Turkish threat from the Venetians, who gained control of the coastal region through individual treaties and temporarily (1392–1479) incorporated Albania into the Venetian Levant Empire (Venice). See a2zgov for travel to Europe.
Under Turkish rule
The northern Albanian prince G. Kastriota, known as Skanderbeg, organized against the advance of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), since 1443 a heroic, but altogether futile resistance; after his death, Albania became Turkish. Parts of the population fled to southern Italy and Sicily, the majority of those who remained converted to Islam during the 17th and 18th centuries. The frequent uprisings against Turkish rule were supported in the south by the Orthodox Church and in the north by the Roman Catholic Church. Powerful provincial rulers (including the Bushati family in northern Albania or Ali Tepedelenli, Pasha of Jannina in southern Albania) achieved extensive autonomy in the 18th century. The national movement (Rilindja, Liga von Prizren), which emerged in 1878 as a reaction to the territorial division of the Berlin Congress, found it difficult to balance the denominational differences and the patriarchal social structure. Young Turks.
The Albanian uprisings (1909-12) against the policy of Turkification and the first Balkan war (Balkan wars) took advantage of Ismail Kemal In Vlora (Ismail Qemali * 1844, † 1916) the proclamation of the Albanian in Valona (Vlora) on 28. 11. 1912 Independence, which, after lengthy negotiations in London, was recognized by the great powers with the rejection of Serbian territorial claims on July 29, 1913 (however, Kosovo was separated from the Albanian state association). Prince Wilhelm zu Wied (* 1876, † 1945) appointed by the London Ambassadors’ Conferencecould not assert itself in the country and had to leave Albania on September 3, 1914. Until the end of the First World War, northern Albania was occupied by the Central Powers and the south by Italy. In the Treaty of Tirana (August 2, 1919), Italy recognized the independence of Albania as a state, but did not vacate the country until 1920.
With its admission to the League of Nations (December 17, 1920) Albania achieved international recognition as an independent state. The national territory was only determined by the decision of the conference of ambassadors on November 9, 1921, largely based on the Albanian borders of 1913; In 1923 there was another correction of the border towards Greece. Despite these international border agreements, Albania repeatedly had to fend off territorial claims by Greece and the new South Slav state (later Yugoslavia).
From the numerous changes of government and uprisings (e.g. 1921 uprising of the Albanian tribe of the Mirdites) that accompanied the establishment of the young state, A. Zogu emerged as the dominant political figure of the country from 1920 onwards. As Prime Minister (December 1922–24) he set up a reform program, but had to go into exile after an uprising (May / June 1924). His opponent and head of the parliamentary unsupported revolutionary government (June to December 1924), F. Noli, announced v. a. a land reform. With Yugoslav help, Zogu returned to Albania in December 1924 and took over the government again as Prime Minister (1925-28). On January 21, 1925 the parliament proclaimed the republic; Zogu chose it on January 31, 1925 to the president.
In the years between 1925 and 1939, Zogu’s system of government developed into a dictatorship that suppressed all opposition, but was particularly keen to modernize the state administration. In the force field of Yugoslav, Greek and Italian interests, Albania v. a. with the 1st and 2nd Tirana Pacts (November 27th, 1926; November 22nd, 1927) ever closer to fascist Italy under B. Mussolini.
On September 1, 1928, Zogu, as Zogu I, was proclaimed “King of the Albanians”. Attempts by Albania in the 1930s to loosen its dependence on Italy created tension between the two countries. When Italian troops marched into Albania (April 7, 1939), Mussolini forced the unification of Albania with Italy; Zogu fled the country and King Victor Emmanuel III. from Italy also took over the crown of Albania (repealed in October 1943).