This book gives a general view of Albania during quite a long period from the varied impressions of several travellers. Throughout I have attempted to discuss both the journeys of the travellers and their works based mainly in chronological order. Travellers were not many during the age of Humanism, although the activity of cartographers and their maps shows that travel occurred throughout the rest of the world, and many maps, especially those focused on the Mediterranean, where Albania is included. There are no substantial traces of the Albanian language predating the 15th century when the first texts occur: the somewhat mysterious Bellifortis text from 1405, the well-known Baptismal Formula of Paulus Angelus of 1462, a curse from the year 1483 the so-called Easter Gospel or Pericope, which is generally thought to date from the end of the 15th century and the short vocabulary of Arnold von Harff, a German pilgrim on his way to the Holy Land who, during a stopover in Durrës in the spring of 1497, recorded twenty-six words, eight phrases and twelve numbers of Albanian. The first major period of foreign travellers in Albania occurred in connection with the Napoleonic Wars (1796-1815), and even more under the subsequent rule of Ali Pasha of Tepelena, the Albanian ruler from southern Albania, given the title by the Sultan as the Pasha of Trikalla and Ioannina (Janina). The next major period coincides with the establishment of the Albanian League of Prizren (1878- 1881) the stated purpose of which was for the Defense of the Rights of the Albanian Nation. The Declaration of Independence in Albania was on November 28, 1912, and six days later the first Government of Albania convened, led by Ismail Qemali. Less than a month later, Albania became officially independent, when the Conference of Ambassadors decided in favor of a new Albanian State on December 20, 1912, and this in turn happened after the National Congress assembled in Vlora proclaimed officially the independence of Albania on November 28 of the same year. The flag of Scanderbeg was live for the first time in 444-445 years. I would like to recall a list with names of political figures who have been the movers and shapers of the 20th century: In 1912 Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov (Lenin) (1870-1924) was forty-two years old, Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Stalin) (1878-1953) was thirty-four, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was thirty, John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was twenty-nine, Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was twentythree, Konrad Adenaur (1876-1967) (maker of the post-1945 German Federal Republic) was thirtysix, Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was thirty-eight, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was forty-three, Jawaharlal Nehhru (1889-1964) was twenty-three, Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) was nineteen, Hô ChíMinh (1890-1969) and Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) were twenty-two, Josip Broz (Tito) (1892-1980) was twenty, the same age as Francisco Franco Bahamonde, General Franco of Spain (1892-1975) and Benito Mussolini (1883-1943) was twenty-nine. William of Wied (1876-1945), Prince of Albania (1914, March 7-September 3) was thirty-six. Considering Albanian political figures I have to mention that Ismail Qemal bey Vlora (1844-1919), the Ist Head of Albanian State, was sixty-eight in 1912, Ahmet bey Zogu (1895-1961), the leader of Albania (1922-1939) was seventeen, Theofan (Fan) Stilian Noli (1882- 1965) was thirty. The First World War (1914-1918) and the continuing insurrections, however, created further attempts at direct intervention and partition by Greece, Austria, and Italy. The Great War had been extraordinarily destructive of state structures and of power relationship and this was especially true in central and Eastern Europe, where four great empires had disappeared-the German, the AustroHungarian, the Russian, and the Turkish. The war nominally ended in 1918 but hostilities continued to flare up sporadically throughout the European continent for other five years. Travellers were noticeably rare to the end of the World War I, but soon after it ended, requests were submitted for archaeological excavations from French, Swiss, Italian, and Serbo Croatian archaeological teams. In the end, only two missions were established: the French, who focused on excavations in Apollonia, and the Italian, who concentrated on excavations in the Saranda region. Albania suffered Italian conquest (1939), the Italo-Greek War (1940-1941), and German occupation (1943-1944). During World War II, foreign travellers were mostly diplomats, Italian and German soldiers, Italian architects, archaeologists, and engineers, as well as members of the archaeological missions and members of some other missions. Although it was unprovoked Axis aggression that had extinguished Albania as a nation-state, it was by no means certain that Allied victory in World War II would necessarily result in its restoration. In December 1944, Great Britain, the USA, and the USSR declared in favor of the independence of Albania. On November 29, 1944, it was declared that Albania was liberated by her own people entirely and with its complete seizure of power the Communist régime now became the undisputed master of Albania. Albania did recover its statehood at the end of the World War II, but, under an extremely secretive and isolationist régime, it remained for the next half-century much the least known nation in Europe. In this book I focused mainly to introduce a part of Albania’s long history, mostly based on the perspectives of the numerous foreign travellers, who passed through and published about Albania, this beautiful and interesting country. Travellers from several different countries came and stayed here for different reasons and desires. A list of those travellers and writers, whom I have cited, is included at the end of this work. I must mention that this work can not be considered as finished, because other materials could come to light in the future. Thomas Mann’s massive four-novel work titled Joseph and His Brothers (1933-1943) opens with a vivid metaphor of vast distance: ‘Very deep is the well of the past. Should we not call it bottomless?’ But because of the importance of the well and well-like structures in the narrative, it is also a figure of the tale itself. To enter into this novel is to descent into a well that the narrator warns us that the outset is ‘bottomless’. There may be a certain unintentional irony here, since Mann himself did not know when he wrote these lines that his novel would turn out to be so vast that many readers who start it never finish it. But he did know that the deeper one gets into this story, the further its conclusion seems to recede.
Even if the reader does manage to reach the conclusion, it is only to discover that this ending too is only provisional: there is more story beyond the narrative. Joseph reminds his brothers that ‘it is the future we are interested in’ at the close of his final speech, thus also reminding the reader of the importance of the untold continuation of the story. Mann puts to flight also the idea that ‘For the deeper we sound, the further down into the lower world of the past we probe and press, the more do we find that the earliest foundation of humanity, its history and culture, reveal themselves unfathomable. No matter to what hazardous lengths we let out our line, they still withdraw again, and further, into the depths. Again, and further are the right words, for the unresearchable plays a kind of maching ardours; it offers apparent holds and goals, behind which, when we have gained them, new reaches of the past still open out-as happens to the coastwise voyager, who finds no end to his journey, for behind each headland of clayey dune he conquers, fresh headlands and new distances lure him on’. Gustave Flaubert that influenced with his ‘Salammbô’ on Mann’s ‘Joseph und seine Brüder’, makes a remarkable assertion in two of his letters: ‘1. The historical sense is completely new in this work and 2. The historical sense was born yesterday, and it is perhaps one of the nineteenth century’s finest accomplishments’. The sense of history (however understood) is one of the central elements of our culture, and if it appeared, or even radically changed, only as recentes as the nineteenth century, it is surely worth investigating just what happened and why. The laws of memory are subject to the more general laws of habit. Habit is a compromise effected between the individual and his environment, or between the individual and his own organic eccentricities, the guarantee of a dull inviolability, the lightning-conductor of his existence. Breathing is habit. Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits, since the individual is a succession of individuals; the world being a projection of the individual’s consciousness (an objectivation of the individual’s will, Schopenhauer would say), the pact must be continually renewed, the letter of safeconduct brought up to date. The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time but takes place every day. Habit then in the generic term for the countless treaties concluded between the countless subjects that constitute the individual and their countless correlative objects. Inspired by the philosophical concepts of the past, memory, and habit, with this research I bring to light the stories of Albania from the Age of Humanism to the end of World War II, in the view of many foreign travellers.