The History of the Life and Deeds of Scanderbeg, the Prince of Epirus


Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarvm principis (The history of the life and deeds of Scanderbeg, the Prince of Epirus) is a biography of George Castriota (also seen as Kastrioti, circa 1405−68), the Albanian national hero known by his Ottoman appellation Scanderbeg (a combination of Iskander, or Alexander, and the rank of bey). The work is by Marin Barleti (circa 1460−1512 or 1513),one of the first Albanian historians, a distinguished author, and a priest from Scodra (present-day Shkodër). Scanderbeg, the son of a noble family, was taken hostage at a young age by the Ottoman sultan, Murad II. In 1443, Scanderbeg turned against the Ottomans and led the military campaign that drove the Turks from Albania. He maintained Albania’s independence for 25 years, but after his death opposition to the Turks collapsed. This work describes the influence of Scanderbeg on the political life of the Albanian people, the Balkan Peninsula, as well as the continent of Europe. The title page is printed in red and black and is surrounded with an engraving on wood that shows the bicephalous (two-headed) eagle, the emblem of the Castriota family. The name of the author appears at the beginning of the detailed table of contents and again at the top of the preface. Following the table of contents is a portrait of Scanderbeg engraved on wood. The colophon indicates that the book was published in Rome by “B.V.,” the initials of the Venetian printer Bernardino dei Vitali, who was active in Rome in 1508−10, suggesting this as the probable date of publication. Barleti's History of Scanderbeg became known all over Europe. It was translated into German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Polish, Russian, and Albanian. It was also the basis for other works about the life of Scanderbeg, for example, Jacques de Lavardin’s Histoire de Georges Castriot Surnommé Scanderbeg, Roy d'Albanie, which was published in France in 1576 and reprinted in numerous editions.

Last updated: March 24, 2015