David Hosaflook (trans.)Apr 15, 2021
The Siege of Shkodra
Albania's Courageous Stand Against Ottoman Conquest, 1478
Mehmet the Conqueror shook Europe to its foundations when he captured Constantinople in 1453 and, over the next decades, the Ottoman sultan continued his westward advance through the Balkans and the Mediterranean. But one Albanian fortress became an “unexpected bone in Mehmed’s throat” (xviii). David Hosaflook’s The Siege of Shkodra is the first English rendition of Marin Barleti’s 1504 eye-witness account of that standoff that includes the Christian victory in 1474 and subsequent defeat in 1479. The year after that, the Turks were in Italy (Otranto, 1480), though they would not keep it their foothold. This volume includes Barleti’s compelling story, essays that place it in historical and cultural context, and a number of Ottoman sources that corroborate or contrast with the Christian version. Barleti is also important today as “the first Albanian author” and thus an important national figure in the last century since the end of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War.
In the discussion today, Professor Hosaflook explains the siege, its political and strategic importance, and the Albanian position between the Ottoman Empire, Venice, and the Christian West. He talks about Early Modern Mediterranean slavery, religion, and diplomacy. In addition, he discusses the military lessons we find in this primary source, and his own exploration of castle ruins. He also reflects on his scholarship and three decades of living in a rapidly-changing Albania.
David Hosaflook is a professor of European History, Intercultural Studies, Philosophy of Religion, and Christianity. He’s also the cofounder and executive director of the Institute of Albanian and Protestant Studies. In 2019, he became laureate of the (first annual) ‘22nd of November Prize’ from the Republic of North Macedonia.
Krzysztof Odyniec is a historian of the Early Modern Europe and the Atlantic World, specializing in sixteenth-century diplomacy and travel.