On the Autochthony of Albanians in Kosova and the Postulated Massive Serb Migration at the End of the XVIIth Century SelamiPulaha Institute of History


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A major problem of the modern historiography of the Balkan countries during the last century is the matter of the auctochthony of the Albanians in Kosova. Another related issue which continues to remain at the foci of historiographic research is the presumed “massive migration” of the Serbs from this region at the end of the seventeenth century, as well as other supposedly massive migratory waves that took place in later centuries. In particular, there are poignant problems with Yugoslav historiography, and to a certain extent, with the historiography of other states bordering Albania and Kosova.

Why is there such a keen interest on these issues? During the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, one of the most important centers of the Albanian Renaissance, and the Albanian National Movement, was the Albanian region of Kosova. At that time, Kosova was still a part of the Ottoman Empire. Parallel with the growth of the Albanian National Movement that aimed to achieve the independence of Albania from Turkey, came an intensification of attempts by neighboring states to annex the territories inhabited by Albanians. The pursuit of such chauvinistic and expansionistic policies, which had as an exclusive goal the foundation of the states dominated by a nation and not the creation of nation-states based on citizenship, needed a convincing justification. After the 1840’s, the diplomatic activity of these states, especially Serbia, intensified dramatically. The purpose of their diplomacy was to justify the rationale for the annexation of the Albanian territories and obtain the consent of the Great Powers. In order to do so, the Serb monarchy did not hesitate to use the press, publications, and scientific activity. These publications were expected to provide an acceptable scientific and historical defense that could justify the expansionist policy of the Serb state towards the region of Kosova.

These studies sought to prove that, in the Middle Ages, the region of Kosova had been the center of the Serb state. Furthermore, they argued that Kosova had been an area inhabited by the Serbs until the end of XVIIth century and the beginning of the XVIIIth century. According to Serbian interpretations, immediately following the Austro-Ottoman War of 1683-1699, a portion of the Serb population which had sided with Austria, migrated to the North and its place was taken by the Albanians that came from the mountainous hinterland of Northern Albania. This argument was used by the Serb ruling elite to create the impression, within Serbia itself and internationally, that its predatory policies towards the Albanians and their territories were justified by sound historical reasons. It was unavoidable that this kind of unscientific literature would soon acquire anti-Albanian overtones. In order to bolster this argument, a whole cottage industry that sought to justify the ‘historical rights’ of the Serbs over the ethnic Albanian territories was developed. Later, when these territories were incorporated in the Serb Kingdom, the same arguments were used to provide the framework that justified the oppression, assimilation, and the mass expulsion of the Albanians from their territories.

Some of the most renowned representatives of this contentious literature (and it is primarily the conspicuous lack of scientific objectivity that makes it highly unreliable) were A. Jovicevic, V. Djordevic, T. Stankovic, J. Tomic. One of the more influential attempts to defend this argument has been made by the anthropological-geographical school founded by Jovan Cvijic. Led by Cvijic, these scholars published Naselja i poreklo stanovnistva, a publication that continues to this day under the auspices of the Serb Academy of Sciences and Arts. A large part of the works published by this school has been dedicated to the Stara Srbija (The Old Serbia), a geopolitical concept invented by them and used to justify the annexation of Kosova. Many of these scholars held high administrative positions in the pre-WWII Yugoslav administration which was dominated by the Serbs. The works of these authors are not based upon a rigorous examination of the available historical documents of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Not surprisingly, their works are based on oral materials chosen carefully and very selectively. Above all, these oral materials are of a very doubtful origin. Moreover, their studies are characterized by a remarkable unfamiliarity with documentary and historical sources. It must be said that the method of historical research implemented by these authors is dubious and leaves a lot to be desired.

In contrast to the authors mentioned above, well-known and reputable historians such as Milan Suflay and C. Jirecek have pointed out that during the Middle Ages (the period of Serb domination of the region), the Albanian presence in the towns of Kosova was considerable. Their studies did not rely on oral materials or the interpretations of toponomastic material. In short, these studies did not assume that every inhabited place that had a Slavic name was a territory inhabited by Slavs, as other authors such as Selisev had done. However, a major shortcoming with these studies was the limited historical documents known at the time they were writing in 1910’s and 1920’s. Due to the limited availability of historical documents, these authors concluded that the names Albania and Albanon were used to identify the Albanian territories that were found within the quadrangle Tivar-Prizren-Ohër-Vlorë, and that this must have been the ancient territory inhabited by the Albanians. However, there are two important factors that were not taken into consideration by Suflay and Jirecek. First, Suflay and Jirecek failed to consider the dynamic of identification by this label of various territories. That is, from the eleventh century (when the name Albanon was mentioned for the first time) to the fifteenth century, there were territories outside this quadrangle which were identified sometimes as Albanon and sometimes not. This brings us to the second factor. Suflay and Jirecek fail to note that the absence of a stable and lasting Albanian state contributed to the lack of coincidence between the political and the ethnic boundaries of the Albanian people. This lack between the ethnic and the political boundaries is not a unique case in the history of the Balkan and the European peoples.

The arguments of past Serb ethnologues and historians that deny the auctochthony of the Albanians in Kosova have gained ground and are considered valid by many contemporary historiographers. This is especially true in contemporary Yugoslav (Serb) schools of thought. They continue to be used it for the same goals. This point of view has been defended by Filipovic, Urosevic, Nusic, Popovic, Trifunovski and others. It has also been enshrined in the former official history textbook The History of the Peoples of Yugoslavia. The section of the book that covers this sensitive topic was written by Vasa Cubrilovic, one of the formulators of the genocidal and oppressive policy implemented over the Albanians in Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini.
During the recent decades, especially with the publication of the Ragusan and Ottoman archival documents regarding Kosova during the fourteenth and the fifteenth century, a number of Yugoslav authors such as M. Dinic and A. Handzic, brought new data strongly supporting the thesis of an Albanian presence in Kosova during the fifteenth century. Nevertheless, they continue to follow the old thesis of the Serb historiography. They admitted the Albanian presence in Kosova in the Middle Ages, but only as a minority vis a vis the Serb population. The same line of argument has been followed by the contemporary Bulgarian historiography who admit that the Albanians lived in Kosova during the Middle Ages. However, the Bulgarian historiographers still continue to follow the earlier opinions of Selisev. According to Selisev, a large part of the Eastern and Southeastern Albanian territories, “during the Middle Ages, were inhabited by Bulgarian population.”

These lines of argument have been challenged effectively by the contemporary Albanologists and historiographers. They have challenged the methodological criteria adopted by the Serbian school, and brought ample evidence to show that the examination of the historical documents currently available yields another view. Using scientific and objective historical method, several contemporary Albanian and non-Albanian historiographers have convincingly supported the thesis of the continuity of the Albanian presence in the territories where they currently live. Archeological data, historical records, folklore and linguistics indicate clearly and unequivocally that Illyro-Albanian residency in the region of Kosova has continued unabated since the Early Middle Ages. They also confirm the presence of an overwhelming majority of the Albanian population during the period of the Serb domination of these areas, (from the twelfth to the fifteenth century), and during the first part of the Turkish occupation that lasted from 1450 until 1690. As I have noted, the Serb historiographers state that at this time, in 1690, the Serbs were expelled from Kosova and their place was taken by the Albanians. Let us consider these issues one by one in chronological order.


It is a widely known and an uncontested postulate of the modern historiography that the ancient inhabitants of Kosova were the Dardans and that ancient authors considered the Dardans to be Illyrians. The Dardans lived in the Southern region of Illyria. This region was characterized by a relatively high level of cultural, economic, and social development. In the Southern Illyrian region, we find political formations such as the Illyrian state, the state of Epirus, and the Dardan Kingdom. This region, that today is inhabited by Albanians, was developed within a diversified Illyrian etnos. The Dardans, although clearly belonging to the Illyrian ethnie, had their distinctive etno-linguistic and cultural features. Earlier arguments suggesting the Dardans were not a part of the Illyrian etnos but were either a distinct Balkanic ethnie or linked to the Eastern region of the Balkan peninsula, have not been supported by archeological, historical, and linguistical data. Archeological excavations, the typological analysis of their material culture, distinct elements of their spiritual culture and onomastic examinations indicate convincingly that, in ancient times and the Early Middle Ages, Dardania was a part of Illyricum.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire at the beginning of the last quarter of the fifth century, the region of Kosova was included in the province of Dardania. This province, like the other Southern Illyrian provinces, became a part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. The relatively few sites of archeological excavations in Kosova dating from this period have shown that Dardania was similar to other states of the Southern Illyrian region. This is seen in the manufactured goods, ceramics, in the construction of buildings and in numerous other aspects. The existence of the same distinct material culture during the late antiquity in the provinces of Southern Illyria (regions now inhabited by Albanians) is further proof that the ‘Romanization’ did not go to the point where we could say that the Southern Illyrians had been assimilated by Romans or that their culture and language were extinct. On the other hand, this does not mean that they were not influenced by the Roman culture; through the intensive contacts with the Roman culture, new elements were introduced in Illyricum, and this is clearly evidenced by the archeological excavations in Kosova. However, underneath this crust of Romanization, it appears that at the lower strata of the provincial Illyrian population a distinct material and spiritual culture was preserved intact. This culture preserved ancient and distinct features inherited for millennia. Later, during the new social and economic conditions created by contact with Byzantium, and especially under the influence of the Byzantine culture, these distinct characteristics of the Albanian culture continued to be developed in their specific mode.

The Dardania, like the large part of Southern Illyricum, remained either unaffected or slightly affected from the massive migratory waves of the sixth and seventh century AD, including the migratory waves of the Slavs. The direction and the itinerary of the migratory waves and migrations directed towards the Southern Illiricum usually began at the shores of the river Danube, at the ford near Singidum (the ancient Roman name of the city of Belgrade). Then, their itinerary followed the valleys of the rivers Vardar and Morava to end at the city of Thesalonic. A flourished trading center, Thesalonic was a central attraction of the ‘barbarian’ hordes.

For the Albanian people, the Early Middle Age is one of the most important periods in their history. By all available indications, this is the period when the Albanian nation, its culture and language were formed. As with other Balkan nations this period is one of the least documented in history. The written Byzantine documents dating from this period that are currently available are very few. Precisely because of the lack of the written materials other sources of information become particularly important. Among these sources that are reliable are the archeological and the linguistic sources. Based on the archeological findings that shed light on that particular period in time, we can argue that the culture of the Arbër (the medieval name of the Albanians), was a link in the chain of the uninterrupted Illyro-Albanian continuity. This is a strong argument in favor of the auctochthony of the Albanians as the ancient indigenous inhabitants of these territories. The archeological discoveries made in the village of Koman have helped us get a better idea of the culture of Arbër. As we have learned from the archeological excavations of sites contemporaneous to Koman, the culture of Arbër was extended in the area from the Lake of Shkodra to the city of Ohrid, including here the region of Kosova. The names we have inherited from the ancient and medieval toponymy, are explainable only through the Albanian language. This is further proof of the auctochthony of the Albanians in the regions of Kosova, Montenegro and Macedonia. Some of the ancient names of these areas are preserved as appellatives in the Albanian language. For example, the name Dardania itself (the territory of contemporary Kosova was part of the ancient Kingdom known by that name) is explained with the Albanian Dardhë. Similarly, the name of Ulqin, from the ancient name Ulcinium is linked by the scientists to the word ulk, ujk, of the Albanian language. Other ancient toponyms that belong to the Albanian territories in the former Yugoslavia have evolved in accordance to the historical phonetic rules of the Albanian language. Such cases are Naissus-Nish, Scupi-Shkup, Astibos-Shtip, Scardus-Shar, Ulpiana-Lipjan and many more. The explanation of why these ancient names have arrived to us in the form they did, is that these territories have been inhabited by Albanians continuously and not intermittingly. The presence of an Albanian speaking population has been preserved mostly in the names of the towns. This evidence demonstrates that the Albanian population could not have been made up of shepherds sheltered in the highlands or the mountains. Quite on the contrary, that population was urbanized and apparently with an advanced standard of living for its time.
Among other factors, the ancient toponomastic data, such as the contemporary names of places used by Slavs, which are explainable only through the phonetic rules of the ancient Albanian language, has convinced scientists that these territories were inhabited by Albanians. Distinguished linguists such as Norbert Jokl, Gustav Weygand, and Petrovici, and even some Yugoslav scholars like Henrik Baric and others, have argued that it was precisely the Dardania, defined as an enclave by the use of the ancient names such as Nish, Shkup, Shtip that was one of the centers of the formation of the Albanian people.

Although sometimes he tends to overestimate the role played by the Roman-Romanian population in the Balkans, Petrovici has affirmed that “the population found by the Slavs in the Eastern region of contemporary Serbia was not Romanized.” One of the arguments brought by Petrovici to support his theory are the contemporary names of the cities mentioned above. Linguists like Van Wejk have concluded that according to the toponymical arguments, the separation of the Serbs and Bulgarians from a non-Slavic population in the early Middle Ages, could be explained only with the presence of the Albanian population in these areas. According to him, the presence of a population which had Romanic origins belonged to a later phase of the Slav expansion. Some of these scholars, particularly Henrik Baric, have convincingly demonstrated this through the study of the ancient and medieval onomastic of the Dardania. Examining these ancient toponyms, Baric argues that,

“the phonetic characteristics show that they are ancient names that Southern Slavs have taken through the Albanian language. The reason for making this argument is that in these toponyms we find that the phonetic changes were performed before the arrival of the Southern Slavs in the historic territories of the Albanians.”

As we can see, Dardania was a center of formation for the Albanian ethnie and the Albanian language; an enclave where the Albanian language evolved without suffering the influence of the Slav languages surrounding it. Many scientists explain the intensive contacts between the Albanian and Romanian languages precisely through the ancient and the uninterrupted presence of Albanians in these areas. Under these conditions, the expansion of the Serb State in Kosova, during the twelve century onward was by no means a ‘liberation’ of the Serb lands but an annexation and occupation of Albanian territories.

Moving from antiquity to Middle Ages, it must be noted that studies on the medieval onomastics have convincingly proved the presence of the Albanian ethnie in Kosova, Montenegro and in Macedonia. A large number of place names and names of individuals, used in this enclave during the Middle Ages, has been accumulated mostly by the examination of numerous documents and various historical sources, such as church registers and documents, cadastral registers, chrisobulas, and other historical sources. It must be noted that an overwhelming majority of them are of Albanian origin.

A careful examination of the medieval onomastics of Kosova, Montenegro and Macedonia during the fourteenth and the fifteenth century not surprisingly yields a very extended list of Albanian toponyms. These toponyms can only be explained by the presence of an ethnic Albanian population in these areas. The list of these toponyms, even in the areas that nowadays are inhabited by Slavs, is being continuously expanded by scholars. Among the toponyms added recently are Pantalesh, Barzan (Bardhan) Bytidosi, Bankeqi, Lopari, Bardiçi, Kuçi (Kuc-Montenegro) Bukmir, Bushat (Pipër-Montenegro) Burmaz (Burmadh) in Stolac of Hercegovina, Zhur (Montenegro and Prizren). Also, there is a considerable number of Albanian anthroponyms which are used as microtoponyms or toponyms. For example, in the area of Prizren, there are Rudina e Leshit, the ground of Gjon Bardhi (a place to keep horses), Llazi i Tanushit, the Site of Komani, the House of Bushati, names of fraternities such as Gjinovci, Flokovci, Gjonovci, Shpinadinci, and many more.
The Albanian toponyms of the fifteenth and sixteenth century are also found in the area of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini. Among these names mentioned for the first time in the fourteenth century is Ujmirë, the name of a village on the east of Peja. Such toponyms in the nahija of Vuçitern are Shalc, Kuciq, Guri i Kuq. In the nahija of Llapi we find the village Arbanas; according to the cadastral registration of 1487 in the nahija of Morava we find the village Marash; in the nahija of Ostrolic we find the village Arbanashka Petrila; in the nahija of Treboshnica we find Arbanashka Brenica, Arbanas, Gjinofc Kulla; in the nahija of Morava we find Gjinofc e Marash. According to the cadastral registration of 1566-1574 in the nahija of Karatonlu we find the village Tanushofc. Similarly, in the region of Has we find the villages of Bunjaj, Guri and even the name of the whole district Shullan.

On the other hand, Albanian speeches in Yugoslavia are not linguistic islands, as would be expected if Albanians came late to the area of Kosova. The Albanian speeches there are a continuation of the Albanian dialects within the territory of Albania. The high degree of the unity of the dialects of the Albanian language could be evaluated as evidence that the inhabitants of these areas are living in their territories, and that they are auctochthonous and not a people who came only recently.

The Slav occupation of the Northern and Northeastern Albanian ethnic territories began in the eleventh century, a period when the Albanian people, its language and culture had already taken distinct forms. The little archeological evidence that could indicate the presence of Slavic culture in the Albanian territories at earlier times is very isolated and limited to a short period of time. The evidence shows that these Slavic elements did not constitute a distinctive culture that coexisted side by side with the Arbëresh (Albanian) culture of the early Middle Ages. The archeological findings that show the existence of a Slav culture date to a later time. These objects come from the ninth to the twelfth century and are related to the occupation of these areas initially by the Bulgarians and later by the Serbs.

Even the influence of the Slavic languages on the Albanian language begins at a time when the fundamental grammatical structures of the Albanian language were crystallized. At that time, the phonetic changes which gave an indelible Albanian mark to the words borrowed from Latin were completed. Linguist research has shown that words borrowed from the Slavic languages have been subjected to the unitary influence of a language already formed. This is strong evidence to support the argument of the ethno-cultural unity of an ancient auctochthonous population. The Slav-Albanian linguistic interaction did not begin during the first centuries of the Slav migratory waves but in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Therefore, the Slav-Albanian linguistic interaction began under circumstances dictated by the occupation of the Albanian territories from the Serb state.

Between the eleventh and the fourteenth century, with small periods of interruption, the Northern and Northeastern Albanian territories were subjected to the rule of the Serb feudals of the states of Dioklea (Zeta) and Raschka. During the time of Serb domination, this part of Albanian population shared with the Slavs the same form of political rule. In the eleventh century, the state of Dioklea began to expand by annexing the Western districts of Northern Albania. After a short period of Byzantine occupation, these territories became a part of the state of Raschka ruled by Stefan Nemanja (1165-1195). Nemanja occupied Kosova and expanded the Serb state to the line Lezhë-Prizren-Prishtinë. The Serbian kingdom continued to expand during the thirteenth century. During the rule of Stefan Dushan (1333-1355) altogether with a large part of the Balkan peninsula, the Serb dominions include also a large part of the territories inhabited by Albanians down the line Lezhë-Prizren-Prishtinë. It is at this period that the Serb autonomous Patriarchat (a religious institution autonomous from the Papacy and from the Patriarchat of Constantinople) with its main center in Peja is founded. After the dissolution of the Serb state in the second half of the fourteenth century, we witness the rising of the powerful Albanian feudal principalities such as Balshajt, Spanët, Dushmanët, Dukagjinët, which included most of the Northern Albania. Meanwhile a large part of Kosova remained under the domination of the Brankovic family until it was finally occupied by the Ottomans in the year 1455.

The period between the twelfth to the fourteenth century, was a period when the Albanian nation was already formed and consolidated. However, the territories of Kosova, the Plain of Dukagjini, and of what is called today Western Macedonia, the previous dwelling places of Dardans, Paion, Lynkest, and Penest, were not included under the denomination of Arbëri-Albania, or Albanum. Initially these areas retained the historical and traditional denominations of Macedonia and Epir, that had nothing to do with the ethnic composition of their population. Later, they were named after the states that occupied them. This phenomenon does not necessitate the non-existence or the absence of the Albanians in those areas; it is explainable with the fact that these territories were never part of a unified Albanian state. These territories were under an uninterrupted series of foreign conquests and domination by the Byzantine, the Serb, or the Bulgarian Empires. This is the main reason why in the historical sources they appear not with their ethnic denomination but with the names designed to express the dominant political-religious aspects of the ruling elite, and not the names of the linguistic and ethno-cultural community living there at the time. The uninterrupted foreign occupations and the religious differences were an obstacle which did not allow the Albanians to be represented by a common name which would identify all the territories that were inhabited by them.

The occupations and the domination of these territories by foreigners had grave consequences. They caused the geographical space occupied by the Albanians to be contracted and delimited continuously. The long and intense pressure exercised by the Slav Church and the Slav State, accompanied by the colonization of Albanian territories, especially in Kosova, has been the main cause of the contraction of the Albanian linguistic space. This argument has been advanced by a number of scholars. For example, the renowned historian Suflay, documents the presence of the compact Albanian enclaves in the vicinity of Ragusa and Kotor in the thirteenth century. He defined these enclaves as auctochthonous Illyrian remnants separated from the Albanian nucleus. He also noted that the Albanians were spread in the territories of Zeta and Montenegro, as witnessed by the Albanian names of the fraternities of Matagushëve, Mahinëve, Malonshiqëve (Malonsi), Matarugëve and of Golemadhëve. Milan Suflay argued convincingly that the settlement of the Slavs had fallen over the Albanian people as an ax that had cut in the North and South some of the branches and had constrained it to a narrower space.

What do the historical sources tell us about the continuity of the Albanian presence in Kosova during the period of Serb rule between the twelfth and the fifteenth century? Are the Albanians mentioned as the inhabitants of these areas? The historical sources testify to a continuous presence of the Albanian population in Kosova during this period of Serb rule. First of all, this is witnessed by the numerous medieval Serb documents. Among these documents, of primary importance is The Code of the Laws of Stefan Dushan which mentions Albanians - arbanas - as inhabitants in these areas. Then we do have the chrisobulas (the equivalent of a charter) of the Serb rulers given to different Churches and monasteries. In his chrisobula of the year 1330, Stefan Decanski explicitly mentions the Albanians in Kosova and their villages by their Albanian names. For example, in the chrisobula of Stefan Decanski, a village that today is named Dobrovoda, there is mentioned with the Albanian name of Ujmir (Goodwater).

These documents tell us that the Albanians were also living in the districts of Prizren and Shkup. The chrisobula of Tzar Stefan Dushan given to the Monastery of the Saints Mihail and Gavril in Prizren between the years 1348 and 1353 clearly speaks about the presence of Albanians in the Plain of Dukagjini, in the vicinity of Prizren and in the villages of Drenica. In this chrisobula are explicitly mentioned nine Albanian stock-breeding villages located in the vicinity of Prizren. These villages are known with the names of Gjinovci, (Gjinajt), Magjerci, Bjellogllavci (Kryebardhët), Flokovci (Flokajt), Crnça, Çaparci (Çaparajt), Gjonovci ( Gjonajt), Shpinadinci (Shpinajt), Novaci.
The Albanians are also mentioned as frequentators in the Fair of Saint George held in the vicinity of Shkup. They are mentioned as farmers and soldiers in the district of Tetova, and as farmers in the villages of the great feud of Decan. Entire Albanian villages were given by Serb Kings, and especially by Stefan Dushan, as a present to the Serb Monasteries of Prizren, Decan and Tetova. The unequivocal Albanian anthroponymy of a part of the inhabitants of the villages mentioned in the Serb state and church documents between the thirteen to the fifteen century, is clear evidence for their presence there.
For example, what does the chrisobula (the charter) of the feud of Decan, issued in the year 1330, tell us about the Albanians in that feud? According to that chrisobula, we find inhabitants that have Albanian names in most places. In the Plain of Dukagjini, inhabitants that have Albanian names were in the villages of Isniq, Gramoçel, Xerxë, Çabiq, Sushiçan, in the village Arbanas, in the city of Prizren, in Suharekë and Llapushë. In the feud of Decan in Kosova, Albanian names are found in Gracanica and Vinarc. The Albanians anthroponymy was made up of the Albanian traditional and distinctive names as Gjon, Gjin, Lul, Llesh, Bardh, Progon, Prenk, Lalë, Dedë, Lum, and Muzak. In the Serb Church documents, these Albanian names appear as Gon, Ginac, Gonko, Gonshin, Gin, Lul, Lesh, Bardi, Progon, Prenko, Bardonja, Laloje, Lalzim, Dedoje, Dedac, Lumas, and Muzak.

The Ragusan archives and documents witness the presence of a considerable number of Albanians in the city of Novobërda. At that time, Novobërda was not separated from the compact territories inhabited by the Albanians. Novobërda continued to be a part of the Albanian compact territory well into the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century. In the Ragusan documents, citizens with Albanian names such as Gjergjash and Gjinko (1399) or Albanian Catholic priests are mentioned. Such Albanian priests mentioned in the Ragusan documents are Gjini, the son of Gjergj, the presbyter (1382); the reverend Gjergj Gega, Nikollë Tanushi, Gjergj Andrea Pellini, and Nikolla Progonovic in the fifteenth century. There is ample evidence to prove that in Novobërda there was a considerable Albanian Catholic population.

In this context, an important source is the book of debtors held by the Ragusan merchant Mihail Lukarevic. During the third decade of the fifteenth century, Lukarevic resided in Novobërda. Approximately 150 Albanian heads of households that were living in Novobërda with their families are mentioned in his book of debtors. They worked as artisans, specialists and miners in the mines of the town. The anthropomyny of the heads of households was distinctively and uniquely Albanian; they had distinctive Albanian names such as Gjon, Progon, Gjin, Lek, Tanush, Gjergj, Bibë. Some of them had a mixed Slav-Albanian anthroponymy. Said differently, they have a Slav name but their last name is Albanian or they held Albanian patronyms which were adopted to the Slav norm such as Gjonoviç, Gjinoviq, Progonoviq, Bushatoviq, Dodishiq, Kondiq, Lekiq and similar names to these. Among the Catholic clergy many Albanians priests as residing in Novobërda, as well as in towns such as in Janjeva, Trepçë, Prizren and others are mentioned.

Furthermore, the presence of the Albanians in Kosova has been proven by their extensive participation in the great Battle of 1389 against the Ottoman armies. According to the historical sources, the battle was not only a battle between Ottoman invaders and the Serb state, but a battle among the Ottomans and the coalition of the armies of Balkanian feudals headed by the Serb king Lazar. Lazar was chosen to lead the coalition primarily due to the fact that his dominium in Kosova was being threatened directly by the Ottoman hordes. The Ottoman chroniclers tell us that the most important rulers that made up this coalition were the Serb King Lazar, the Bosnian King Tvartko, and the Albanian prince Gjergji II Balsha. Gjergji II Balsha, defined in the documents of that time as ‘The Ruler of the Albanians,’ played a first hand role in this coalition. This can be indirectly proven by the fact that after Gjergji II Balsha had rejected the Ottoman vassality in the year 1387, he had allied with King Tvarko, the Bosnian ruler. They fought together the Ottoman army in Trebinjë, which is located in the valley of the river Toplica and he continued to resist to the Ottomans quite successfully. It is beyond any doubt that Gjergji II Balsha played a decisive role in the battle against the Ottoman armies in 1389. Besides Gjergj II Balsha, in the battle participated other Albanian feudals. Among the powerful Albanian feudals, the most important figure was Theodori II Muzaka, who died in the battle with 4000 of his soldiers. Historical sources tell us that the Albanians participated in the battle in ways other than serving in the armies of the Albanian feudals. When they speak about the recruitment of soldiers from the Serb King Lazar in his dominion, historical sources affirm that Lazar had gathered soldiers “from the Serbs, Raschians, and Albanians...” Since the feud of Lazar was in Kosova, it is quite clear that these Albanians were from Kosova.

In favor of the Albanian presence in Kosova speaks the existence and the continuity of the songs that echo the events of the Battle of 1389 (the killing of the Sultan Murad I from Milosh Kopiliq and other facts) among the Albanians in Kosova. One of the fundamental characteristics of the historical songs is that, as a norm, these songs are not inspired by events that are remote in time and space. Quite on the contrary, the historical songs are born as an immediate artistical reflection of the events and the historical facts experienced by the people. The creation of these songs and their preservation until our time, cannot be explained without assuming the presence of the Albanian population in the fourteenth century and without recognizing its continuing and uninterrupted presence in these areas. Their continuous presence in these areas is something which would have made possible their transmission from one generation to another. Also, the preservation of other legendary and epic songs among the Albanians in Kosova, like that of Gjergj Elez Alia, that were created in the early medieval period in which is spoken about the resistance to the foreign invasion and pressure from the Albanian populations in Kosova speaks in favor of this thesis.

The medieval documents written by the Chancellery of the Serb state and from the Orthodox religious institutions, such as the Patriarchat of Pejë, make extensive reference to the regions of Kosova and Plain of Dukagjini. However, from a geographical and demographical perspective, the data contained in these documents represent a very narrow and limited view of the situation in those areas. These documents reflect the official reasons that necessitated and made possible their writing as well as the distinct class position of their compilers. Furthermore, these documents do not deal with all the villages of the Plain of Dukagjini and Kosova but only with those villages that were owned by certain institutions. What makes these documents highly unreliable is the fact that in the villages mentioned in those documents only the Albanians of the Catholic creed are defined as arbanas. There is no distinction made between the Albanian Orthodox population and the minority of the Orthodox Slavs. Since the Albanian Orthodox population belonged to the same religious and political community as the Serbs, they are usually considered from the medieval writers, chancellors and scribes to be ‘Serbs’ in the North and ‘Greeks’ in the South. The same process happened with the Albanian Muslims; when they converted to Islam, they were considered to be ‘Turks.’

After 1455, the time when the Ottomans conquered Kosova, many documents concerning the composition of population in were drafted by the Ottomans and these documents are more detailed than the Serb documents. These documents do not confuse the religious with the ethnic identification as the Serb medieval documents did. Precisely for this reason, the Ottoman documents throw a better light on the demographic situation of Kosova in the fifteenth century. These documents tell us that these territories were predominantly inhabited by the Albanians. The Serbs, who had come as colonists and the members of the ruling class during the period of Serb domination, although politically dominant, were a negligible minority. Although the Ottoman documents are numerous, the situation is better described by the registers of the cadastral office and the census data of the Ottoman Empire. During the fifteenth and the sixteenth century, the census was conducted periodically by the new Ottoman state. These registers, among many other things, give the toponymy of the dwellings and the anthroponymy of a considerable part of the population (heads of households, bachelors, celibates, widows, and so on). The evidence contained in these documentary and archival sources contributes to expose the fallacy of one of the ‘myths’ and ‘taboos’ of the Serb historiography which holds that the population of Kosova had an ancient and uninterrupted Serb character and that the Albanians entered Kosova under the Ottoman aegis and then the Albanians proceeded to eliminate the Serb ‘majority’ especially after the presumed massive migrations and expulsions of Serbs which happened after the uprisings of the years 1690 and 1738. The falsity of this thesis was exposed by the cadastral register of Kosova of the year 1455 (the year when the Ottomans occupied Kosova), which was published in 1972 by the Oriental Institute of Sarajevo. The cadastral registers clearly show that even before the large scale process of massive Islamization had begun, the Albanians constituted the overwhelming majority in the Eastern parts of Kosova. Similarly, the Albanians were in massive numbers, according to a register of the Sanxhak of Kystendil, in Kratova of Eastern Macedonia. An examination of the cadastral registers would prove that the thesis of the Serb migration and their expulsion from Kosova has no longer any credibility and validity whatsoever.

With the cadastral registration of 1455, the Ottomans created a new unified administrative unit in Kosova that they called sanxhak. In this sanxhak were included all the lands which had been the dominion of Brankovic family, except the Plain of Dukagjini. In this register are mentioned a considerable number of heads of families with distinctive and typical Albanian names such as Gjon, Gjin, Llesh as well as with Slav names but that are explicitly qualified as Albanian-Arbanas. Such names are mentioned in the commercial centers, in the towns, as well as in over 100 villages distributed in all the nahija of the sanxhak. They are found in Morava, Prishtinë, Lab, Topolnicë, Vuçitern, Dolc, Klopotnik, Tërgovishta, and even at the villages that neighbored villages inhabited by the Slav population. These inhabitants, especially those with Albanian anthroponymy, were Catholics. However, the Albanians in the region of Kosova, by and large were of the Orthodox religion and linked with the religious administration of the Patriarchat of Pejë. Their names were mixed Albanian-Slav names or names that were coming from the orthodox religious Slav or Byzantine anthroponymy. The reason why Albanians embraced the Orthodoxy during the period between the twelfth and the fifteenth century, when Kosova was under Serb domination, shows that they had been forced to be exposed to a religious-ideological assimilation campaign. Since this assimilation campaign was combined with an intensive colonization of the territories by the Serbs, then one could say that a prolongation of these conditions could have led to a complete ethnic assimilation of the Orthodox Albanians.

The publication of the Ottoman cadastral registers has been instrumental in the creation of a thorough set of data for all the population of the Plain of Dukagjini and for the population of the towns of Kosova during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This set of data has allowed us to formulate a different argument and to present a broader and a better picture of the demographic composition of Kosova during the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. The historical evidence which we use to support this argument is, by far, more thorough and more accurate than what we have been used to getting from the historiographical works that have coped with this issue before the publication of the cadastral registers. This new complete set of data allows us to formulate an argument which definitely exposes the fallacy of the unscientific and chauvinistic viewpoint defended by the Serb historiographers.

The most important conclusion one can draw from the Ottoman cadastral registers of the fifteenth and sixteenth century for the Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini, is that the overwhelming majority of the heads of households and the majority of bachelors registered as living in these areas had Albanian names. This was especially true for the Plain of Dukagjini, and its main nahijas, nahija of Altun-ili, nahija of Rudinë, nahija of Domeshtiç, nahija of Pashtrik, nahija of Opoja, nahija of Hoça and nahija of Prizren. During the sixteenth century when the process of Islamization was intensified, part of the heads of households were forced to become Muslims. Afterwards, they held Islamic names.

During the Serb rule, the Albanian population of these areas was politically and socially dominated by Serbs. Yet, there is not the slightest doubt that Albanian people managed to preserve its customs, its language and its customary law largely intact. That the Albanian anthroponymy, which later was partially substituted by an Islamic anthroponymy, could only be a unique and a distinctive characteristic of the Albanian population is certain. There are no reasons to suggest that the Slav population, which was politically and socially dominant, would adopt and carry Albanian names.
Even in the cases when an Albanian name is accompanied by a last name which is of the Slav anthroponymy, there is little doubt that the individual is an Albanian. We must keep in mind the fact that under the enormous political pressure exercised by the administration of the Serb state and the religious pressure exercised by the Serb Church, the auctochthonous Albanians of these areas were forced to take Slav surnames and Slav last name. It is very significant that once they were liberated from this pressure, they returned to the Albanian names of their forefathers. This shows that the Albanians were quite aware of their distinct ethnic identity.
Let us consider the situation as it appears in the cadastral registers. From the cadastral materials published up to now, we find out that the nahija of Altun-ili (an area included in the triangle Gjakovë-Junik-Tropojë) was inhabited almost entirely by the Albanians. Thus, according to the registration of year 1485, the inhabitants of the villages of the plain of Gjakova-Junik, such as Plakani, Mel, Dujak, Gorna Çirna Gonja, Dolina Çirna Gonja, Peronja, Rodosh, Dolina Buqani, Bozhani, Vuçidol, Brekoc, Trenova, Vogova, Kaliq, Popoci, Bonoshuci, Stubla, Rogam, had typical and distinct Albanian names such as Gjin, Gjon, Leka, Kola, Gega, Progon, Llesh, Gjec, Tanush, Bushat, Mazarak, Pal, Duka, and other names similar to these.

In the registration of the year 1485, in the nahija of Peja we find 15 villages-such as Oç, Çirna Potok, Dujak, Usak, Dobriçadol, Kolivaça, Lepovaç, Trenova, Nika, Vraniq, Romaniça and others-whose inhabitants, with rare exceptions, have Albanian names. Although in smaller %ages, in 86 other villages out of 194 of the nahija of Pejë, we find that the majority of inhabitants had Albanian names. Similarly, out of 28 villages in the nahija of Suhagërlë, fourteen villages had a majority of inhabitants who carried Albanian names. Out of the fifteen villages that had the nahija of Plava, twelve villages had a majority of inhabitants who carried Albanian names.

According to the registrations of the years 1571 and 1591, the Northeastern region of the Sanxhak of Dukagjini, or to use the name given to it in the sixteenth century, the region of Hasi, were territories inhabited entirely by the Albanians. The region of Hasi was divided in the nahija of Rudina (Gjakova with its villages in its south), nahija of Domeshtiçi (villages that were located in the area between Gjakova and Prizren), and the nahija of Pashtrik (villages in the eastern and western sides of the mountain of Pashtrik). This is proven by the fact that, similarly to the inhabitants of the mountainous regions of the hinterland of the Northern Albania, the inhabitants of these areas had overwhelmingly distinct and typical Albanian names, such as Gjin, Gjon, Gac, Bac, Kol, Gjec, Doda, Prend, Biba, Nue, Dida, Shtepan, Vata, and other similar names. The influence of Slav anthroponymy in these areas was extremely weak. The differences between inhabitants with Albanian anthroponymy and those with Slav anthroponymy in these three nahija taken together are striking. Out of 2507 heads of households and bachelors that were Christians, 1768 had Albanian names, 643 had mixed Albanian-Slav names and 96 had only Slav names. On the other hand, out of the 492 Muslim heads of family, 205 had Albanian last names and only 37 had Slav last names. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the relationes that we have from Catholic clergymen confirm that there was an overwhelming Albanian majority in the region. The region of Hasi, writes in his report of the 1634 the Catholic Archbishop of Antivar, Pjetër Mazreku, is “inhabited by the Albanians.” Out of the fifty villages, there were only five Catholic villages while all other 45 villages were converted to Islam.

The nahija of Opoja (south of the city of Prizren) was inhabited entirely by Albanians. The Albanian population had converted to Islam and consequently, the anthroponymy of the inhabitants was Islamic. However, these registrations bring evidence which proves that the Islamicized inhabitants were Albanians. During the second half of the sixteenth century, these inhabitants continued to carry as their last names, the Christian names of their parents. These last names, by and large, were distinct Albanian names. The influence of the Slav anthroponymy is found only in very rare cases. According to the registration of the year 1591, in the nahija of Opoja there were 369 Muslim heads of households and bachelors and 78 Christian heads of households and bachelors, the overwhelming majority of whom had distinctive Albanian names.

The nahija of Hoça (north of the city of Prizren) was inhabited by the Albanian population divided in three different religions; Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Islam. According to the data from the registry of the year 1591, in this nahije were 409 heads of households and bachelors as well as 104 owners of land parcels who had typical and distinct Albanian names. In addition, there were 248 Muslim households and 172 owners of land parcels that were Muslims. However, among these, 81 heads of households carried as their last name, the Albanian names of their parents and 28 had as their last names, the Slav names of their parents. Besides the Catholics and that stratum of population which had just converted to Islam, a considerable part of the population in this area was Orthodox. As a consequence, its anthroponymy was drawn from the traditional religious Slav and Byzantine anthroponymy. It must be noted that in numerous cases, the Orthodox Christians carried, in a mixed manner, a distinctive Catholic Albanian anthroponymy. In the villages of the nahija of Hoça, there were approximately 883 heads of households and bachelors who carried Albanian Catholic and Orthodox mixed names. That the majority of the heads of households registered in the nahija of Hoça carried Albanian names and not Slav anthroponymy, should not induce us to think that only these people were Albanians. The reason is that since they were of the Orthodox rite, a large part of the Albanian population of these districts was using Slav and Byzantine anthroponymy. This phenomenon is seen clearly in the nahija of Peja and in the villages of the nahija of Prishtina, the nahija of Vuçitern, the nahija of Labi, and the nahija of Topolnica. During the fifteenth and the sixteenth century, in these districts, the heads of households, carried more Slav and Byzantine names than Albanian and Muslim ones. To a certain extent, this phenomenon is detectable even in the nahija of Prizren, although in this nahija the heads of households that had an Orthodox - that is, a Slav and Byzantine anthroponymy - were a minority compared to those heads of households who carried Albanian and Muslim names. The borrowing of Orthodox Slav names from the Albanians was a common phenomenon. This phenomenon was widespread during the period before the Ottoman occupation of Kosova, more intensively in Kosova and less in the Plain of Dukagjini and the bordering districts of the sanxhak of Shkodra. The evidence we have gotten from the cadastral registers allows us to explain why it did happen this way.

The cadastral registers show us that the Albanian population of the Orthodox faith was linked to the administration of the Patriarchat of Pejë. Thus, while they were the property of, and under the jurisdiction of, the religious administration of the Patriarchat of Pejë, the anthroponymy of the Albanians within this group of the population had lost its distinctive character, and as a consequence they had taken names from the Slav and Byzantine anthroponymy.

That the Orthodox population of these areas was Albanian is supported by another element of evidence. Alongside the Catholic clergy who carry distinctive Albanian names, we find Orthodox clergymen called with appellatives which are still in use among Albanians and whose phonetic characteristics are distinctively Albanian such as ‘papa, pop, kallogjer.’ Thus, in the nahija of Altun-Ili are mentioned Gjini, the son of Popa; Popi, the son of Pavli; Popi, the son of Martini; Popi, the brother of Progon Pavlos; Popi, the son of Nikolla. In the nahija of Peja, we find Jaku the son of Popi; kallogjer Pepa and kallogjer Gjonja; in the nahija of Suhagërla we find Gjoni, the son of Popi; we find a Pop Pjetri in the nahija of Vuçitern; Pop Jaku in the town of Trepçë; Pop Mati in the town of Janjevë and many more. These cases make unacceptable the viewpoint of Jirecek who had said that the Albanians in the North must be identified with the Catholicism and as a consequence, Catholicism must be identified as ‘the religion of the Albanians.’ This point of view is very narrow and exclusivist.

In the documentation of the time, we find numerous examples that support the existence of an Albanian Orthodox population, which used Slav or Byzantine names. A good example to illustrate this point is the case of the anthroponymy of the heads of households in the nine Albanian stock-breeding villages existing in the vicinity of Prizren since the fourteenth century. The majority of their inhabitants during the fifteenth and sixteenth century had Slav names. However, the names of their villages were Albanian and according to the Serb documentation, the inhabitants were defined as Albanian. This came as a result of their conversion to Orthodoxy, a conversion which becomes even more understandable when we are reminded that these villages were the property of an Orthodox religious institution. A similar case is the village of Bilush in the nahija of Opoja. This was the only village of the nahija of Opoja where more inhabitants had Slav names than Albanian ones. The same phenomenon happened even in the villages of Kelmend and Pipër. These villages, which were known by the names of Liçeni, Gjonovoq, Leshoviq, Muriq, Kolemadi, Bukmir, and Bushat, carry distinctive Albanian names. However, besides the inhabitants with distinctive Albanian names we find a number of inhabitants which carry Slav names or Albanian names adapted to Slav forms, such as Stepan, Radiç, Nikaç, Gjonoviq, and so on. Similarly, one could find inhabitants that carried Slav names or names adjusted to Slav forms even in the known Albanian fraternity of the village Arbanas of Tuz. During the fifteenth century this fraternity was spread in 11 different villages. This was a consequence of a conversion of a part of them from Catholicism to Orthodoxy. A better example, that shows that the Albanian Orthodox of the other areas had borrowed names which were characteristically Slav, is found in the registration of the town of Kërçova at the end of the fifteenth century. In this registration a majority of the orthodox inhabitants of the quartier of the Albanians (clearly defined as Arbanas), carried Slav names.

Numerous other evidence has been provided for the region of Kosova. These documents are a further proof that the Orthodox anthroponymy was a common and widespread phenomenon among the Albanians who lived there. The Albanians in Kosova had carried Slav anthroponymy - names such as Radosav, Brajko, Petko, Bogdan, Radoslav, Branislav, Bozhidar, Millosh, Miloslav and other names - not only during the period before the Turkish occupation of Kosova, but also after the Turks occupied Kosova in 1455. For example, in the book of debtors of the Ragusan merchant Mihail Lukarevic in the third decade of the fifteenth century, together with the names of the inhabitants with names and last names which are distinctively Albanian, we find mentioned there even Albanians with mixed names, Albanian-Slav or with the Albanian names but with the Serb characteristic suffix -ic ,-ovic. For example, there we find names such as Radosav Gjonovic, Ivan Gjonovic, Dimiter Bushatovic, Tanush Bodganovic, Petko Progonovic, Radosav e Jakob Leshovic and others. In the cadastral registration of the year 1455 in the villages of the nahijas of Vuçiternë and Prishtinë, we find Albanians who carry Slav names. However, they are identified as Albanians from the qualification arbanas, or from the Albanian names of their parents. Among such cases are Todori, the son of Arbanas; Bogdani and Radoslavi the sons of Todor; Branislav, the son of Arbanas (the village of Kuçica); Radoslavi, the son of Gjon (the village Çikatovo); Bogdani, the son of Gjon and Bogdani, his son (the village Sivojevo); Gjoka, the son of Miloslav (the village of Gornja Trepz). Even more explicit evidence has been offered by the register of the sanxhak of Vuçitern of the years 1566-1567. According to the register of the sanxhak, over half of the inhabitants of the Albanian quartier in Janjeva had Albanian names. However, although they were clearly defined as Albanians by nationality (Arbanas) they either carried Orthodox Slav names - such as Pejo, Stepan, Jovan, Mlladen, Bozha, Raja, Stoja and others - or had a mixed Albanian-Slav anthroponymy such as Jova Jaku, Mati Stepa, Gjura Kola, Koka Dobroshi, Dida Stojini. Similarly, in Prizren we find entire Albanian quartiers which have Albanian names as Madhiq, which have Catholic churches such as that of Dimitri Pulitit (Pulti), but whose inhabitants carry distinct Orthodox Slav and Byzantine anthroponymy.

Moreover, the Orthodox Christian inhabitants of these areas do not carry an anthroponymy which is completely distinct for the Orthodox Slavs. In fact, their anthroponymy is of a mixed character. The names used by the Orthodox Christian inhabitants are heterogeneous. We can distinguish names that are distinctively Albanian or names which are used exclusively by the Albanian Roman Catholics, or that are Orthodox but non-Slavic; that is, names which belonged to the sphere of the Greek Byzantine anthroponymy widely carried by the Albanians at the time. For example, among these Orthodox Christians we find names that are more characteristic for the Catholics than for the Orthodoxs and that are used predominantly by Catholics, among the Albanians and others, such as Lukë, Nikolla, Pjetri, David, Jaku, Marin, Filip, Mati. Among the Orthodox inhabitants of Kosova we usually find names that are more characteristic to be used by the Byzantine Orthodoxs than by the Slav Orthodoxs. These names are found here in the forms commonly used by the Albanians such as Ilia, Dimitri, Damjan, Mihal, Komnen, and so on. There is other evidence of a linguistic character which shows us that this population was Albanian and that it did speak in the Albanian language. Quite often, in the original copies of the cadastral registers we find names which are used in the definitive form. Only in the Albanian language, this form ends with an -i. For example names such as Pjetër and Dimitër are found in the form Pjetri, Dimitri and not in the Slav forms Petar, Dimitar-Dimitrije. The name Mati is not found in the traditional and distinctive Slav forms, Matija, Matko, Mate, or Matic. From a comparison between the forms of the name Pjetri, Dimitri and Mati that are commonly found among the heads of the households in the sanxhak of Vuçitern with the same names used from the Slav population of the sanxhaks of Belgrade, Montenegro, Kystendil, and Vidin it has been concluded that these definitive forms which are unique for the Albanian language are used only in the region of Kosova. The number of surnames that end with the characteristic suffixes for the Serb language, such as -ic, -evic, -in, is very limited among the head of the households in this area.
Even in the second half of the sixteenth century, in spite of the growing number of the conversions to Islam, a large part of the Albanian population, especially that of the villages of the nahija of Prishtinë, the nahija of Vuçitern, the nahija of Labi, and the nahija of Peja, continued to retain their Orthodox beliefs. Also, they continued to carry religious Slav or Byzantine anthroponymy. The presence of the Albanian Orthodox population in this area is proved by evidence which does not come solely from the Turkish sources. For example, in the Project for the Liberation of Albania Approved by the Assembly of Chiefs of the fourteen Albanian regions that was held in Dukagjini of Mati on February 15, 1602 it is clearly said:

We, the Catholics are a force of forty thousand swordsmen, valuable fighters that can fight with bravery. Moreover, with us will be united all the Albanians that are of the Greek rite (the Albanians that were linked to Archbishopric of Ohrid of the Greek Orthodox rite) and those of the Serb rite (Albanian Orthodoxs linked to the Serb Church) that are our neighbors.”

This shows that although after the Ottoman occupation the Serb state and the Serb feudal class had disappeared, the Serb Orthodox Church still had managed to preserve some authority among the Albanian believers of the Orthodox faith. During the sixteenth century, although other factors were at work, the Serb Orthodox Church was losing ground due to the spread of Islam. Under these conditions, the common religious denomination, and to a certain extent even the cultural affinity that the Albanian Orthodoxs shared with the Serb minority - to this minority belonged the ruling elite which had controlled the state apparatus, the cultural, and the religious institutions - declined in intensity. Admittedly, it had been quite strong in the pre-Ottoman period. Also, this religious and cultural affinity had been the main cause which had created favorable conditions for the cultural and the ethnic assimilation of the Albanians. With the Ottoman occupation, a situation which was not very favorable to the colonization of these areas by the Slavs and to the Slavization of the Albanian population was created. Nonetheless, it must be noted that the a number of Slav ethnic elements continued to migrate in these areas well into the fifteenth century. Yet, neither the Orthodoxy during the period of Serb occupation nor the Islam during the period of Turkish domination - if we consider these religions as ideologies which were used to achieve at one time the Slavization of the Albanians and at another time, the cultural and the political assimilation of the Albanians in the Ottoman Empire - were able to render a final and conclusive solution in the form of a full assimilation. The reason why they failed must be sought in the presence of a compact and a massive Albanian population in this region, a component of the Albanian nation that had been formed several centuries ago. Although these pressures have left their mark on the Albanian culture, the Albanians in these areas managed to resist the divisive action of the religious factor, primarily thanks to their ethno-cultural unity and their inheritance.

From this point of view, neither the physical presence of the churches nor the previous existence of the statal and religious Serb institutions that the medieval Serb rulers built or invested with land property rights can be used as an argument of absolute validity. so They cannot be used to prove - as it has been done by the Serb historiography - that these territories were ethnically Serb. One cannot use the presence of the mosques and the existence of the Muslim religious institutions to prove that the population that lives in this region is Turkish. The existence of these institutions is linked to the political, social and ideological transformations which happened during the Serb or Ottoman domination of these areas and it has nothing to do with the ethnic character of population that lived in these areas. Furthermore, the occupation and the establishment of the administrative and religious center of the Serb state in Kosova during the thirteenth and the fourteenth century does not mean that this region was ethnically Serb. During the Serb domination of Kosova, the feudal class was predominantly Serb while the lower strata of population were overwhelmingly Albanian. The fact that the ruling class was Serb does not make Kosova an ethnically Serb region. This is neither the first nor the last case in the history of the Balkans and Europe when the ruling elite which controlled the state apparatus, the military and the religious authority belonged to one ethnic group and the auctochthonous population which was relegated to a lower status belonged to another ethnic group. Although in these regions the ethnic communities were living in the same conditions, Islam was spread to the Albanian Orthodox and Catholic population but not to the Slav minority. This becomes understandable when one is reminded of the enormous influence of the Patriarchat of Pejë. For obvious reasons, its influence was far greater among the Slav Orthodox minority than among the Albanian Orthodoxs and its existence was a greater obstacle to the conversion of Slav Orthodoxs to Islam. For the Albanians who lacked religious unity and a unified Church, the Patriarchat of Pejë represented an institution which was connected to the Serb ruling elite and its authority among the Albanians was weak. Other factors that contributed to the Islamization of the Albanian population were the socio-political factors. For instance, through repressive economic and political measures, the Ottoman authorities sought to break down the Albanians and to convert them to Islam.

The onomastic data of the cadastral registrations of the Plain of Dukagjini and Kosova bring strong evidence to prove the argument that the population which lived in these territories was overwhelmingly an agricultural Albanian population of the Catholic and Orthodox religions. This population carried Albanian names as well as Slav and Byzantine names. However, after the sixteenth century, with the spread of Islam, these names are substituted by Muslim names. The registers show that in the villages the ethnic Serb element was a negligible minority. This becomes even more clearer when we consider the conditions of the towns in the sixteenth century.
What was the ethnic composition of the towns in the Plain of Dukagjini and in Kosova during the second half of the sixteenth century (there are plenty of data for this period), almost a century before the supposedly massive migration of Serbs from Kosova happened? Historical documents clearly prove that the Albanian population was present and constituted the overwhelming majority of the urban population. The best way to clarify this matter is to consider the evidence we have from the cadastral registration conducted by the Ottoman Empire during that time. According to these data, the number of urban households appears as follows: the town of Prizren had 557 houses; the town of Prishtina had 506 houses; the town of Trepça had 447 houses; the town of Novobërda had 366 houses; the town of Vuçitern had 286 houses; Janjeva had 288 houses; Peja had 158 houses; while Gjakova, at that time only a village, had only 46 houses.
In the cities, the process of conversions to Islam had progressed with accelerated rhythms. When taken together, the inhabitants of the towns of Peja, Prizren, Vuçitern, and Prishtina had 1000 Muslim houses or about 65 % of their population compared to 547 Christian houses which constituted only 35%. In the towns of Janjeva, Trepça, and Novoberda, where at the time of registration, the Muslim population constituted something around 25% of the population, the process of Islamization had been less effective. Taken together, these three towns had 273 Muslim houses and 828 Christian houses.

If we take every town separately, the percentage of the households which had converted to Islam is as follows: Peja, 90%; Vuçitern, 80%; Prishtina, 60%; Trepça, about 21%; Novobërda, 37%; and Janjeva 14%. There is not the slightest doubt that the population which converted to Islam were Albanians. This is clearly shown by the fact that in most cases the people who converted to Islam preserved the Christian surnames of their parents, or they carried last names that were distinctive and characteristic for the Albanians. Among many such cases are Ali Gjoci, Hysein Barda, Hasan Gjini, Ali Deda, Ferhat Reçi, Hasan Bardhi, Iljaz Gaçja, Hëzër Koka in Prizren; Mustafa Gjergji, Aliu the son of Bardhi, Ahmeti, the son of Ali Deda, Rexhep Deda in the town of Vuçitern. Outside these towns, such as for example in the villages of the nahija of Peja, the nahija of Altun-Ili, the nahija of Rudina, the nahija of Domeshtiç, the nahija of Pashtrik, the nahija of Hoça and the nahija of Opoja in the Plain of Dukagjini - an area where the process of Islamization was still going on at the time of this registration - we find numerous Muslim inhabitants that during the second part of the sixteenth century continued to retain their Albanian surnames. In the Plain of Dukagjini, the population was almost entirely Albanian and the process of conversions to Islam in the towns and in the villages continued with the same pace. However, a distinctive feature of the pattern of conversion to Islam in the urban areas was that the rhythms of conversions there were accelerated when compared to the countryside. To be sure, the same factors that pressured the peasantry to convert to Islam - the repressive economic and political measures - determined the pace of conversions in the towns. The relative acceleration of the conversion process in the towns was mainly due to other factors which were more influential in the urban environment, such as the presence of administrative apparatus, the cultural influence and the concentration of religious institutions.

Evidence that the Muslim population was Albanian is attained by the reports of the various emissaries of Papacy, such as Pjetër Mazreku, and Gjergj Bardhi. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, these high Catholic prelates, were often traveling and visiting the territories under consideration. Speaking about several cities, these authors explicitly point out that the Muslim population there was of the Albanian nationality. In many cases, the relators of the sixteenth century tell us that the term ‘Turk’ used by them to define the Albanians converted to Islam, was employed due to the religious significance and without any considerations about the ethnic aspect of the individual. This is quite clear when they write about the Muslim peasants. On the other hand, the ethnic element is clearly distinguished in the registrations of the cities where Turkish ethnic elements are clearly distinguished by the Albanians, such as the Bali the Turk, Ahmet the Turk, or Hasan the Turk, in the town of Janjeva. The need on the part of the registrar to make such a distinction shows that the Muslim population which was not Turkish, was Albanian. In short, the conversion of the Albanians to Islam did not bring about their cultural and ethnic assimilation. Independently of the conversion to another religion, the population remained ethnic Albanians. In the urban areas of Kosova, in addition to the Albanian population that converted to Islam and which was in clear majority in the towns, there lived other inhabitants who carried distinctive and characteristic Albanian names such as Pal, Gjon, Lika, Deda, Doda, Kola and others. There are 188 heads of households who carry these names in the towns of Prizren, Janjeva, Trepçë, and Novobërdë. They make up 17.5% of the heads of the households that are Christians (Orthodox and Roman Catholics) in the town of Prizren, 33% in the town of Janjeva, 12% in the town of Novobërdë, and 7% in the town of Trepçë.

If taken as a single unit, the towns of Pejë, Gjakovë, Prizren, Vuçitern, and Prishtinë had a majority of the heads of households that were Muslims (1006 households). They also had 547 Christian households. Within this group, about 217 heads of household carried distinctive Albanian names or mixed Albanian-Slav names. Only 330 heads of households carried names that are characteristic for the anthroponimic sphere of the Orthodox Serb and Byzantine Greek denominations. Clearly the ethnic Slav element is in minority. It must be remembered that within the Slav anthroponymy there are many families that are actually Albanians that were Orthodox Christians. Therefore, the number of ethnic Slav households could not have been as high as 330. The Albanian Orthodox element was spread more in Prizren and in Prishtina. In addition, as we can deduce from the Slav names held by the Catholic inhabitants of the Quartier of Latins (Catholics) in Prishtina, there must have had also colonies of the Ragusan merchants. From the anthroponymic evidence, we can conclude that even in the towns of Trepçë, Janjeva and Novobërdë, the Albanians constituted the majority of population. If these three towns are taken as a single unit, there were a total of 273 heads of households that were Muslims, 222 that held distinctive Albanian names, and 606 that had Slav and Byzantine names. However, the Slav element in these towns must have been more numerous than in Prizren and Prishtinë. These areas were very important minerary centers and of particular importance to the Serb state. The Slav colonization of these towns - mainly people employed in the administrative apparatus of the Serb state, Serb Orthodox clergy and Serb merchants - was more consistent and of greater intensity. As we know from the documentation of the pre-Ottoman occupation of Kosova, in these towns, there must have been present Slav Orthodox elements and Slav Catholics who had come from other places. An exemplary such case is the presence of the Ragusan merchants in Janjeva. Similarly, in Trepçë, more here than in the other towns, we find inhabitants who carry names characteristic for the Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. These names have suffixes characteristic of Slav names. We also find remnants of the German Saxons who, in the previous centuries, had come to these areas to work as specialists in the mines. The existence of the Serb minorities in these towns is quite understandable. Due to their geographic proximity to the Serb enclaves, these areas were a target for the neighboring Serb. On the other hand, these territories had been for centuries occupied by Serbs. They had become very important state, administrative, and religious centers. For all these reasons, these towns were more exposed to the colonization by Serb elements.

As the evidence shows, in the sixteenth century, the towns of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini were inhabited almost entirely by the Albanians. This is almost one century before the so-called massive Serb migration supposedly occurred in 1690’s. At least this is the thesis which is being defended by the Yugoslav and Serb historiography. In so far as the villages of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini are concerned, it is quite clear that we cannot speak of a significant presence of the Serb minorities in the peasant dwellings of Kosova. The Serb colonization of the villages had been very limited.

That the population of Kosova was Albanian is proven also from another important source. During the second half of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century, there were a number of Assemblies of the representatives of the Albanian nation. These Assemblies sought to organize the resistance of the Albanian people against Turkish occupation and coordinate that resistance with the efforts of other Balkan nations and European states. This resistance movement was institutionalized and politically organized. In the documents of the time these are known as the “Albanian Assemblies.” In these Assemblies participated only representatives of the regions that were rebelled against the Turks. One of these Assemblies, the ‘Assembly of Dukagjini’ of the year 1601-1602 was held in the village of Macukull in the region of Mati. At this Assembly there were representatives from the fourteen Albanian regions. There were four representatives of the Albanians from Kosova: Pjetër Kolamari, Andrea Kolesi (Koleshi) Feta Kuka, and the Catholic priest Mark Belaçi. In the Albanian Assemblies of the sixteenth and seventeenth century participated exclusively only representatives of the Albanian regions that were rebelled against the Turks. In these Assemblies were not allowed to participate representatives who belonged to other neighboring ethnic groups. The representatives of Kosova participated in the Assembly because Kosova was a territory inhabited from the Albanians.
Another way to document the presence of Albanians in Kosova is to refer to the reports that tell us about the beginnings of the spread of the language and writing in Albanian in these areas. Most authors of Albanian literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth century worked in the region of Kosova. Among other things, they worked intensively to spread education in the Albanian language and to open Albanian schools in these areas. The writer Pal Hasi, who lived and worked in this area in the second half of the sixteenth century was from the Northeastern district between Prizren and Kukës. Pjetër Budi, a parish priest, a writer and a renowned linguist started to work at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Budi served in Kosova for many years. We do have a report concerning his work in these areas which was sent to the Vatican in the year 1621. Among many other things, Budi writes that,

“In these areas I stayed for 17 years and I tried as hard as I could to help and strengthen the people and those priests with my great care... with devoted books that I wrote in their languages, for the Servians and for the Albanians.”

In this letter, which is written in the Albanian language, Budi complains to the Vatican that the people in the region are very poor and ignorant, and he expresses his regret especially when he speaks about the lack of schools in the Albanian language. Even Pjetër Bogdani, Andrea Bogdani and Lukë Bogdani, who continued the tradition of the Albanian writing after Buzuku and Budi, were from the region of Kosova.

Another priest, Pjetër Mazreku, also from Prizren, arrived to Janjeva around the year 1665, immediately after he had finished his studies in Italy. In Janjeva, he worked hard to teach the Catholic children in the school of Janjeva. As long as Pjetër Mazreku was teaching there, the language that was used in the school was the Albanian language. However, after the coming of Vinçenc Matoviq as a teacher, it is possible that afterwards the teaching might have been conducted in the Serb language. Similar schools were active in many other areas. In the year 1671, in the parish of Janjeva was open a new school where teaching was conducted in the Albanian language. In another relation, Mazreku remarks:

“The Southern people have numerous languages. The Catholics in Prizren speak the Albanian and the Serb language, while those in the villages, speak only Albanian. In the poor district of Prizren are needed five priests, but these priests must speak the Albanian language. Similarly to the other nations, Albanians want to have priests that speak their own language.”

In other reports sent to the Vatican, Pjetër Mazreku continues to stress the important role of the education and the need to educate the Albanians that live in these areas in their own language.
A similar example is Pjetër Bogdani, the Albanian Catholic Archbishop of Prizren, who lived and served in this area during the second half of the seventeenth century. In the reports that he sent to the Vatican, Bogdani quite often insisted on the need to educate the Albanian youth. The movement to develop the teaching of the Albanian language had started as early as the end of sixteenth century. Documents indicate that its epicenters were the towns of Prizren and Gjakova but the network of the schools was spread towards the east, including Gjilan and Janjeva and going as far as in the vicinity of Shkup. This ancient tradition of the teaching of Albanian language and the cultivation of the Albanian language and literature in Kosova is additional proof that Albanians were living there from the remote past. The Albanians simply did not migrate there at the end of seventeenth century as Serb authors would like us to believe.

Although the Ottoman occupation of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini caused some very important changes in the ideological, economical, political and social relations, it did not substantially change the physiognomy and the ethno-cultural structure of the Albanian nation. The state apparatus, that had been at the hands of the Serb feudal class, in the fifteenth century was destroyed with the establishment of the new Ottoman administration. Also, the Serb Church lost its dominant position and many of its privileges. The feudal class of Kosova, that until the Turkish occupation had been predominantly Serb, had lost a considerable number of its members during the military conflicts with the Ottoman state. Furthermore, immediately after the establishment of the Ottoman administration in 1455, the remnants of the Serb feudal class were expropriated and they lost their ownership of the land. This was made possible with the establishment of the Ottoman system of state property and the creation of the 259 feuds which were given to the members of the Ottoman ruling elite. It is for these two reasons, that the Serb feudal class lost its land property. Almost overnight, the feudal class was eliminated as an independent economical and political class. This is clearly seen from the fact that in the new ruling elite of the area were integrated as Catholic Spahi and Gulam, a limited number of small feudals. These were more Serbs than Albanians and they owned 20.8% of the feuds and received 13.2% of the feudal spahi rent. Seen from its ethnic composition, the feudal class, at the beginning of the occupation was mostly composed of the Muslim Spahi. Their nationality was mostly Turkish. However, some of them were provenient from other areas of the Balkans; they had converted to Islam and had been integrated for quite some time in the Ottoman feudal class. For example in the year 1455, we find these Muslim spahi in Kosova: nine Spahi are from the nahija of Vardar; two are from the nahija of Vidin; three are from the nahija of Manastir, two are from the nahija of Kostur, two are from the Shehirkoj; two are from Kopryly; one is from Serez; four are from Tërhalla; two are from Vranja; four from Anadoll, and so on. With time, the Christian Spahis of the area slowly integrated in the local Turkish feudal class.

There was a number of Albanian Christian Spahi in Kosova. Besides them, the Albanian element within the Ottoman feudal class there was represented by other former feudals that already had converted to Islam. Some of these feudals owned important ziamets such as that of Altun-Ili (Gjakova) and that of Joshanica. During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, this element within the Albanian feudal class became predominant. This is made clear from the vakufname they left. These vakufname tell us that from the very beginning of the sixteenth century, the feudal aristocracy of these areas was mostly composed of Albanians. Representatives of the Albanian aristocracy were assigned high positions in the central and local military and state administration of the Ottoman Empire. They made vakufs of lands, stores, and other property dedicated to Muslim religious institutions that they had build in the major cities. During this time we do not observe a filling of the local Ottoman feudal class with Serb ethnic elements as it happened in Serbia proper. This is explained with the fact that the former Serb feudal class was transplanted in a foreign ethnic land.
The changing political conditions made possible the incorporation in the Ottoman feudal class of a larger number of elements provenient from the population of these areas and other areas inhabited by the Albanians. The large number of Albanian elements who entered the Ottoman feudal ranks could have come only from an area inhabited by Albanians. The emergence and the prominence of the Albanian feudal class in the Northeastern Albanian territories was remarkable. Moreover, its emergence was not hindered by the presence of the centralized religious and administrative apparatus of the Serb state and the higher ranks of the Serb feudal hierarchy. In the past, these important positions had been controlled predominantly by the Serbs. The policy of the Serb state and the Serb Church had been based on ethnic preferences. By and large, they had managed to exclude Albanians from being incorporated in the Serb feudal class.

These had been determinant factors in preventing the development of the Albanian feudal class in the territory of Kosova and Plain of Dukagjini. Other Albanian territories had been only for a short period of time part of the Serb state, they were in its periphery, and the feudal class was Albanian. In contrast to the territories of Northern Albania, where a chain of state political formations were created during the thirteenth and fourteenth century, in the territories dominated by the Serb state the Albanian feudal class could not emerge easily in the political scene. However, after the new Ottoman rulers destroyed the state apparatus and the Serb feudal class, they were constrained to admit in the Ottoman local feudal stratum, indigenous elements without discriminating on the basis of religion or ethnic affiliation. This was a normal practice that Ottomans had followed in all other areas they had previously conquered. Slowly, that ethnic distinction which existed between the lower strata and the ruling class mostly composed of elements that belonged to a different ethnic group (a situation which had characterized the period of the Serb domination) disappeared. This was a phenomenon which had happened in an analogous way in the numerous other areas of the Balkans and the Europe during the Middle Ages.

Let us consider now the problem of the presumed Albanian migrations from the mountainous Albanian hinterland to Kosova. This is asserted constantly by the Serb historiographers. In spite of all the facts at the contrary, the Serb historiographers continue to insist on the existence of this migration.

The Albanian population in the Plain of Dukagjini and in Kosova was an auctochthonous population that it not appear there as a result of a massive migration as it is pretended by the Serb historiography. The evidence and documents we have from the historical sources that pertain to the period of Serb domination are fragmentary and do not allow us to create a complete picture of the Albanian population in these areas. However, the cadastral registrations of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, reveal to us what was the demographic composition of the Plain of Dukagjini and Kosova. These cadastral registers show clearly and convincingly that these territories were inhabited by an overwhelming Albanian majority; they give us the incontestable argument that the Albanian population even during the period of Serb domination had been present in these territories. Moreover, the cadastral registers tell us that the Albanian population was auctochthonous and did not migrate from somewhere else. This is also proven by the fact that all the known historical sources and documents do not mention any kind of massive movement of the Albanian population from the mountainous hinterland and regions such as Mirdita, Dukagjini and Mbishkodra (Pult, Kelmend, Shosh, and Shalë). There is not mentioned any massive movements that would have caused radical changes in the demographic composition of these areas. Quite on the contrary, the documents we now possess give us very clear indications that there was absolutely no real possibility for such demographic movements in the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. At the time when the Turkish occupation began, the core mountainous regions of the sanxhak of Dukagjini such as Iballa, Spasi, Fandi i Madh, Fandi i Vogël and Puka as well as the districts of the sanxhak of Shkodra (Pulti and Kelmendi) - according to the registrations of the years 1485 and 1529 - had a total of only 2014 households. On the other hand, the region of the Plain of Dukagjini and Kosova had around 28000 households. Moreover, even when it is compared with the number of the houses of a number of nahija in Kosova taken separately, the number of households in the core mountainous Albanian region was very small.

For example, in 1455, the nahija of Vuçitern had 3267 households, the nahija of Morava had 3152 households, and the nahija of Labi had 4092 households. In 1485, the nahija of Peja had 4196 households. The total number of households of the Northern mountainous region of Albania was only one-seventh of the houses of the sanxhak of Vuçitern which had 14782 houses. For that matter, the total number of households in the Northern mountainous region of Albania was almost the half of the houses of the nahija of Peja. Even if the whole population of the mountainous region had migrated - something which is really inconceivable - and even if we would assume that the population of Kosova before that had been entirely Serb, the ethnic character of the population would not have changed. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we find that there was a relative growth in the number of the population and dwellings in the mountainous regions of Albania. This shows that there were no possibilities for a considerable movement of the population in the neighboring regions, especially for migrations that would totally upset the ethnic ratio of the population in the region of Kosova.

The cadastral registers bring further evidence which proves that the Albanian population in Kosova was stable and aucthochtonous, while the Serb minority had been transitory and migratory. Contrary to what has been pretended by the Serb authors, the Serb population changed places quite often. Usually, in the cadastral registers, for the heads of the households who had moved in a village are added the remarks prishlac, doshlac-i (newcomers in Serbian language) or haymanegan for the peregrines. The names of the heads of households that are new carry overwhelmingly Slav names. These people were not coming from the hinterland of Northern Albania. If that supposition was true, they would have held Albanian names, similarly to the other inhabitants of these districts which were included in the sanxhaks of Shkodra and Dukagjini, a fact which is clearly proven by the registers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The majority of the newcomers were Slav ethnic elements that were moving within these regions or that came from other areas with the Slav population in the North of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini. Keeping in mind the large number of the heads of households with Slav names that are defined as newcomers in these areas in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, it convincingly appears that even in the sixteenth century the Serb minority was unsettled and continued to be unstable and wandering. This was due to the fact that it was not an indigenous population but that most of them had come as colons during the Serb domination of the region.

According to the historical and ethnographic data, during the seventeenth and nineteenth century, there was some migration from the hinterland of Northern Albania to Kosova and viceversa. However, these movements occurred within a territory where the overwhelming majority of population was already Albanian. In the Yugoslav historiography, the dimensions of these migrations are blown out of proportions, they are considered as one-directional and greatly exaggerated. Yugoslav historiography does not study these migrations based on the available historical documents. These migrations are studied more on the basis of the ethnographic evidence collected in the twentieth century. This, of course, does not allow us to offer a correct judgment about phenomena and processes that took place two or even three centuries ago. The data from reliable historical sources shows that the population of these areas which converted to Islam had been Albanian well before the beginnings of this process in the fifteenth century and in the second half of the sixteenth century. The same data prove that the thesis, according to which in these areas had happened a process of Islamization of the Slav elements that later brought about their “Albanization,” is erroneous and fundamentally mistaken because it is based on false premises. The Islamization, which served as an ideological instrument at the hands of the Ottomans to achieve the political and the cultural assimilation of the Albanians, could not have served as an instrument to achieve the Albanization of the Slavs. Islamization was a process that was imposed upon the Albanians, it hindered their unity against the Ottomans, it was an obstacle to their social, political and cultural development. For all matters and purposes, the conversion to Islam was used by the Ottomans to assimilate culturally and ethnically the Albanians themselves. It is inconceivable to think that a people who is oppressed and occupied has power to impose the ideology of the oppressor and occupier to another people that suffers under the same circumstances and carries the same yoke. It is unrealistic, to say the least, to argue that a people occupied, manages to assimilate another occupied people as it is pretended that happened with Albanians and the Serbs.
From another point of view, the authors of this thesis identify the position of the Albanian people that during the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries were continuing to fight and resist the Ottoman occupation, with the positions held by the Albanian feudal elements. The Albanian feudal elements were an integral part of the Ottoman feudal class. However, their pretension that the Albanian people was presumably privileged under the Ottoman occupation, that the Albanian people was not subjected to the same intensive form of exploitation and ruthless domination as the other peoples of the Ottoman Empire, is based on a mistaken methodology. Apparently, to them it does not matter much. Their goal is to deny that the Albanian population of these areas was Albanian and descendants of the ancient Illyrian population that lived there in their own land. Similarly it appears quite impossible to achieve a complete ethnic assimilation, an “Albanization” process of the Serb population through the conversion to Islam within such a short period of 100-150 years. This seems all the more impossible especially when we already know that in this area we have a considerable Albanian population of Muslim denomination and what is more important, when we did not have any migrations from the hinterland of Northern Albanian mountainous regions.
With regard to the assimilation of the Slavs by the Albanians we should also remember that objective and subjective suitable conditions for such a process to happen did not exist. The Albanian Muslims, as well as the Albanian Christians were under the occupation of the Ottomans. Similarly to other peoples of the Balkans, they were forced to defend their identity as a people and as a nation. Similarly to the other peoples in the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian people were not in that privileged position that could allow them to carry by force the assimilation of another population. Among the Albanian Muslims, the position of the Muslim raja was not very different from that of the oppressed and exploited class of the serfs, an integral part of which was the Christian raja population. By no means can we say that this was the position of the feudal class. The status of the lower strata of the population, as the worst exploited and oppressed (be it a peasant raja or an urban Muslim or Christian), is well-known and well-documented. Better than any other source, the documents that came out of the chancelleries of the Ottoman state clearly show us that this was the case. Once again, the authors of the thesis of “the Albanization” do not bring any historical facts whatsoever to support their argument. Historical materials, especially those that are published recently, have brought rich evidence to support the argument that the population of Kosova which later converted to Islam were of the Albanian population of the Catholic and Orthodox denominations.

Other historical documents help us to uncover the falsity of the argument that Albanians came to Kosova after the Austro-Ottoman War of the years 1683-1699, the time when the massive migration of Serbs from Kosova is supposed to have happened. One important source are the documents of the Austrian High Command. These documents offer a clear description of the situation in Kosova and these territories during the united fight of the Austrian Armies and the Albanian uprising against the Ottoman forces in the years 1689-1690. These documents describe the ethnic composition of the regions of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini only a few months before the presumed migration was supposed to have happened.

The evidence from the Austrian documentation proves once again that Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini were regions inhabited by the Albanians. One important indication is that the Austrian High Command includes these territories within the borders of Albania. The Austrian High Command does not use for these territories the label Serbia. This term had been used by numerous authors, especially by clergymen during the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The term Serbia had been used in a religious and political sense and as a continuation of the tradition that used to include these territories in the Serb state (these territories had been a part of that state for some centuries) or consider it in a separate dioceses altogether with other territories inhabited by Slavs in Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria. In the documents of the Austrian High Command, for example, in the promemorie on Albania of the General Marsiglio, a high ranking member of the Austrian General Staff dated April 1, 1690, in the letters of the Catholic Vicar of the Shkup, Thoma Raspasan who had substituted the leader of the Albanian uprising, the Archbishop of Albania, Pjetër Bogdani, it said clearly that “Prizren was the capital of Albania,” that “Peja and Shkup were parts of Albania,” and that in the area of Kosova people spoke the Albanian language.

When his armies entered into Kosova, the Emperor of Austria, Leopold I remarked that his armies were fighting in Albania. There were no reasons for Leopold I to alienate Serbs if they were as they say, the majority in Kosova. The Archbishop Pjetër Bogdani is called “Archbishop of Albania,” and the Bishopric of Shkup was included within Albania. In numerous works of Austrian and Italian historiography that also rely on these documentary sources, it is unequivocally admitted that the territories of Kosova were inhabited by Albanians and these territories were included within the territories of Albania.

Furthermore, the evidence we have shows that the number of Albanian fighters that came from these territories and that joined the Austrian Armies in the year 1689 was in such numbers that they could have come out only from a territory inhabited by the Albanians. At the time when the Austrian armies were entering in the Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini, the uprising against the Ottoman domination that here had started some time ago was reaching its peak. At the beginning of November 1689, when the Austrian forces entered in Prishtina they were received there by 5000 Albanian fighters. When Austrian armies entered in Prizren, they were received by 6000 other fighters. It is here that the Austrian Commander-in-Chief, General Piccolomini, met and spoke with the leaders of the uprising, the Catholic Archbishop of Shkup, Pjetër Bogdani and the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Peja, Andrea III Crnojevic that was leading the rebels from the Serb minority of Kosova.

The Austrian Command had paid special attention to the incitement of the revolt from the oppressed people of the Balkans and especially to the uprising of the Albanian people. The obvious reason is that by allying with Albanians the Austrians could reach an easier victory over the Ottoman Armies. For the sake of truth we must say that the easiness with which the Austrians swiftly swiped Turks and entered in Albania until they reached Luma was made possible only by the war fought by the Albanian fighters of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini. This is understandable if we remember the fact that the Austrian forces that were fighting in these areas did not exceed 8000 troops. If it were not for the Albanian fighters, that small army was clearly insufficient to defeat the Ottoman armies.

The Albanian insurgents participated also in the battle that the Austrian forces fought with the Ottomans on January 2, 1690 at the Valley of Kaçanik which ended with the defeat of the Austrian forces. After that, the Ottoman armies, within a brief time and before the Spring, managed to conquer once again, one after the other all the towns of the Plain of Dukagjini and Kosova. The Albanian insurgents were still fighting side by side to the Austrians against the Ottomans. Thus on March, 17, 1690, they participated in the battle fought between the Austrian military unit commanded by Kutschenbach against the Ottomans in Novobërda, a battle won by the Austrians. On March 23, 1690, 1500 Albanian insurgents, incorporated in a unit commanded by Schekendorf participated in the expedition against Ottoman forces in Pirot.

The fact that these areas were inhabited by Albanians and the very important role played by the Albanian uprisings on the international scene were a factor to which was paid very special attention in the military and long term plans of the European states against the Ottomans. These were among the reasons that convinced the Emperor Leopold I to address a proclamation to the oppressed peoples of the Balkans. This happened on April 6, 1690 and the proclamation was addressed first of all to the Albanian people. Albanians were encouraged to begin the fight against the Ottomans and to intensify their attempts to strengthen their relations with the Albanian insurgents in Kosova.
The data from the archival Austrian sources of the seventeenth century on the uprising of the Albanians in Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini are a further proof that these areas were almost completely inhabited by the Albanians. Recently, Serb historiographers like Veselinovic, have sought to deny the participation and the contribution of the Albanians in these uprisings. They aim to prove that the only participants in these uprisings was the Serb minority of Kosova. According to Veselinovic, those insurgents from Kosova that are mentioned as Albanians (albaner) and kelmendas (klimenten) were neither Albanian nor from Kelmendi. They were nothing less or else but Serbs. This deformation and distortion is done simply because, at this juncture, the Serb historiographers could not accept and justify such a massive presence of Albanians in Kosova. Otherwise, they would have no grounds to deny the auctochthony of the Albanians in Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini.
Other Serb scholars, for example Kostic, have polemicized with the authors like Veselinovic and they have admitted that in Kosova the uprising was Albanian-Serbian. They also have argued that when compared with the fifteenth century, the geopolitical concept of Albania at the end of the seventeenth century was expanded to include the territories of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini. Nevertheless, even these authors denied that the Albanians are auctochthonous. To the concept of Albania, these authors give only a geographical connotation that did not have an ethnic significance. The Yugoslav historiographers have recognized the presence of a limited number of Catholic Albanians in Kosova during the seventeenth century. However, they vehemently have denied the presence of the Albanian population of the Orthodox and Muslim denominations. As we have seen, the presence of Orthodox and Muslim Albanians is very well-documented from the reports of the Albanian clergy, from the Austrian documentary sources and especially from the cadastral registers of the Ottoman Empire. When added to the other evidence brought from the medieval documents on the presence and the auctochthony of the Albanians in these territories, the evidence brought by the Austrian documentation on the large number of the Albanian insurgents in Kosova, and the inclusion by the Austrian Command of this area within the Albanian territories, shows the falsity of the arguments defended and advanced by the Serb and Yugoslav authors. The presence of the Albanian population in these territories during the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries is extensively documented by domestic, Austrian, Ottoman, and other sources. It is apparent that from a scientific point of view, the argument defended and advanced by the Serb historiographers is fallacious. From a social relations standpoint this argument is biased and chauvinistic. The vast body of evidence available shows that the Albanians in Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini were auctochthonous and not migrants that came in the area after the seventeenth century. The documentation of the fifteenth and the sixteenth century proves definitively that the regions of Kosova and the Plain of Dukagjini were territories inhabited overwhelmingly by Albanians. Consequently, the supposed migration of the Serbs from Kosova after the Austro-Ottoman war has been blown out of proportion. The main reason why the Serb historiography claims that the exodus was massive, must be sought in the need to justify a radical change in the ethnic composition of such a broad territory. This was the only way that they could somehow build up the argument of de-Serbization of this area. In fact, the Serb migration from Kosova was a migration in far smaller numbers of the Serb insurgents led from the Patriarch of Peja. As we now know, from these areas did not migrate only these Serbs but with them went a lot of Albanian insurgents, the traces of whom we still can detect and find in Slavonia. If the Serb migration from Kosova would have been massive, it should have left traces in the records and the documents of the time, be they domestic, Turkish, or in Vatican archives (which by the way, was very well informed from its prelates and clergymen on the situation in these territories during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries). So far, a large amount of documents from these archives have been published, and there no mentioning of such massive migratory moves of population in and out the region of Kosova.

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