Serbo-Montenegrins in Albania part 02

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Ottoman period

1582 Ottoman census

In 1582, in Ottoman defter "Tahrir defterleri", most of northern Albania had Serb populations; the Sanjak of Scutari had 81,700 Serbs, while Durrës Sandjak had 8,600 Serbs. In the east of the Shkodra lake there were Serb enclaves, also attested in place-names: Zlogora, Brezje, Grnčar, Podgor, Kosmač, Gradič, Dobre, Trnoslav, Gradec, Rumište, Maličevo, Kosovo, Brdence, Poljičani, Popine, and the village Srbin and city of Šklav. The 1582—1583 Scutari defter show many nahiyah with a total of 709 villages, of which the following were located within Albania:

  • Shkodër with 128 villages
  • Dušmen (Dushmani) with 24 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, minority with a Serbian character.
    • Toponyms show some South Slavic influence, indicating a presence of a South Slavic-speaking population that later depopulated the region
    • Islamisation was slowly occurring within the nahiyah, based on the presence of characteristically Muslim names within its population
  • Zabojana with 48 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, minority with a Serbian character.
  • Gorje Šestan (Džebel-i Šestan) with 7 villages; majority had personal names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian character.
  • Pobor with 11 villages; overwhelming majority had personal names with a Serbian character
  • Klemente with 2 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, minority with a Serbian character.
  • Altin (Altun li) with 41 villages; relative majority had names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian character
  • Petrišpan with 33 villages
  • Komoran with 20 villages; overwhelming majority had personal names with a Serbian character
    • Presence of Muslim inhabitants shown in two villages within the nahiyah

Early modern

Montenegrins and Serbs began migrating to Vraka in the late 17th century. From confirmed documents, one of the first families to inhabit the area of Vraka was in 1705 were the Đurčevići from the village of Momče in Kuči. A certain Jerko Đurčević was the only one from his clan in Vraka to convert to Islam. His descendants later became known as the Jerkovići, who are found in the village of Štoj, near Ulcinj.


In 1828, a Serbian school was opened in Shkodra, which Nikola Musulin attended.

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić was not certain "how far there are Serbs in Albania and Macedonia".

In 1909, the Eparchy of Raška–Prizren had 15 protopresbyteriates, the last of which was Skadar, in which the parishes of:

  • Skadar: 105 households in a part of the town Skadar, parish under protojerej Obrad Popović, the Metropolitan's vicar for the Skadar protopresbyteriate. 84 in the other part, with villages Deregnjat, Brdica Bušat, parish under Mihailo Štirkić. Churches in Skadar: Church of St. Nicholas and Church of St. Alexander Nevsky.
  • Vraka: 119 households (villages Novi Borič, Stari Borič, Grilj, Raš, Kule, Omara, Turajlije, Kamenica) with Church in Novi Borič dedicated to Assumption of the Holy Virgin, parish under Petar Mreković.
  • Vranj: 69 households (villages Vranj, Mataluž, town of Tuzi), Church in Vranj dedicated to St. Nicholas, parish under Filip Majić.

In 1918, besides the Serb Orthodox in Scutari, there were communities in different neighbouring villages such as Vraka, Vramenica, Derigniat, etc., as well as several thousands of Slavic Muslims of Montenegrin and Bosnia-Herzegovina origin. With the establishment of Yugoslavia, almost all of the ethnic Serbs had been united into one state, except for those scattered in Hungary, Romania and a small number in Albania. In 1920, the following villages had Serb majority or plurality: "Brch, Basits, Vraka, Sterbets, Kadrum" and farming was the chief occupation.

According to Russian consulate Ivan Yastrebov's estimations published in 1874, there were 80.000 Catholic males, 20.000 Orthodox males, and 9.500 Muslim males in the Sanjak of Scutari. The majority of the population spoke the Albanian language. He asserted that the Orthodox, and a number of Catholics and Muslims spoke the Serbian language.

In 1939 there were ca. 4,000 Serbs west of Ohrid, and several villages were inhabited by Serbian refugees.

According to Jovan Erdeljanović, in his book "Stara Crna Gora", all descendants of Jovan Martinović, who has been mentioned since 1687, have emigrated to Vraka.

In the Zog period, the Yugoslav-Albanian borders offered free movement. In 1921, Albanian government declared that the Greeks were to be registered as a minority, the Orthodox Serbs however were to register themselves as Albanians (thus becoming nationals of Albania) in a two-year period. In the Albanian census the Greeks numbered 15,000 while Serbs and Bulgarians numbered 200 families. During the time of 1921-1928 the Serb community in Albania was strengthened through efforts of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which opened several Serbian private schools in 1923-1924 of which the school of Vrake had 72 pupils in 1930, three schools in Shkodra. An ethnic Serb football team existed in Shkodra that competed in the Albanian league. Two youth organizations (Guslar and Obilich) existed in Shkodra. The formation of Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania weakened the Serbs and Greeks in the country. The active 14 churches and Monastery were slowly closed by the Albanian government. The Serb school in Vrake was destroyed in 1934.

1928 data shows that Albania had 65,000 (7.83%) Serbs and Montenegrins.

Vraka is known for having been the place where poet Millosh Gjergj Nikolla became teacher on 23 April 1933, and it was in this period that he started to write prose sketches and verses.

Following the liberation of the Balkan states, Serbs from Albania began to migrate to Serbia and Montenegro. A period of migration occurred between 1925 and 1934. This wave marked the return of many Montenegrin families to Montenegro, leaving their homes in Vraka behind.

Socialist Albania (1944–1992)

Enver Hoxha decided to destroy the Serbian cemeteries and 2 of the Serb temples. In 1966, the state abolished religion, and in 1968 the state forced parents to name their children with contemporary and revolutionary (Illyrian) names. The surnames were forcibly changed by the Albanian government, from Slavic into Albanian ones, as part of Albanianization.

After the 1981 student protest in Kosovo, Albanian Serbs complained on harassment and pressure to leave the country.


In 1992, the Morača-Rozafa Association was established.

During the Yugoslav Wars, there were incidents of violence against the Serb-Montenegrin minority in places like Vraka, Boriç i Vogël and Boriç i Madh, where the Albanian government also tried to forcibly take land from them. The Albanian government also planned to forcibly resettle Serb-Montenegrins and Podgoričani from Boriç i Vogël, Boriç i Madh, Vraka and other places. Many moved to Serbia and Montenegro. Another wave came with the Kosovo War.

Demographic history

  • According to the 1928 population census, there were ca. 65,000 Serbs and Montenegrins in Albania, forming around 8% of Albania's total population and the largest of its minorities.



Serb-Montenegrins in Albania are adherents of two rellgions: Eastern Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam.

The Serbian minority in Scutari had always celebrated its liturgy in Serbian. The Serbian Metropolitan of Scutari participated in the Albanian Synod.


As part of assimilation politics, Serbs were not allowed to have Serbian names. Many Serbs took simple words as surnames: Druri (drvo, tree), Arra (orah, walnut), Guri (kamen, stone), Hekuri (gvožđe, iron), Qershia (trešnja, cherry), Dritarja (prozor, window).


On the small route from Elbasan to Djuhaze are the remains of 99 Serbian Orthodox buildings. In Shkodra is the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, in Donja the church of Mother Mary.


Many towns with historical Serb population derive their name from the early Middle Ages when Slavs ruled Albania.

In the Shkodra region, especially in Vrakë, and on the outskirts of Elbasan, Korça, there were villages with Serbian population. Albanianized Serbs exist in Cermenikë, Bulqizë, in Mokër, in Malësia, etc.

Serb-Albanian tribal contacts

There are accounts that various northern Albanian (Malësor) tribes have connection to Serbs. H. Hecquard, M. Velimirović, J. Tomić, concluded that the Kelmendi ancestor originated in Serb territory.

K. Jireček and others concluded based on oral tradition that the ancestor of Kastrati, Krsto, was the son of Grča Nenadin, the ancestor of the Kuči. In a work of Jovan Cvijić it was recorded that in one of the villages (Kamenicë) of the Kastrati region the majority of the population were Orthodox Serbs. Cvijić also recorded that the Kastrati themselves have a story about their mixed Serbian-Albanian origin. According to the founding legend of the Kastrati, 300 houses descend from a Delti or Dedli from Drekalovići of Kuči, while 200 houses descend from Slavs who were living on the territory before arrival of Delti.

Serbian and Montenegrin graves in Shkodra from the First World War

  • Allegedly some 10,000 Serbian and Montenegrin soldiers were buried in the surroundings of Shkodra with the First World War.

Notable people

  • Komnena Nemanjić (fl. 1208–1215), the Duchess consort of the megas archon of Kruja, and later the archon of Elbasan
  • Konstantin Balšić (fl. 1378–died 1402), Lord of Krujë
  • Gojko Balšić (fl. 1444), Lord of Misia
  • Ivan Strez Balšić (fl. 1444–1469), Lord of Misia
  • Đorđe Strez Balšić (1444–57), Lord of Misia
  • Ninac Vukosalić (1450–59), scribe and chancellor of Skanderbeg
  • Stefan Marinović (fl. 1563), Venetian printer, born in Shkodër.
  • Jovan Četirević Grabovan (ca. 1720–1790), Serbian painter, of Aromanian descent from Albania.
  • Nikola Musulin (1830–fl. 1897), Serbian teacher who found the Prizren manuscript of Dušan's Code.
  • George Berovich (1845–1897), Ottoman official, born in Shkodër.
  • Anastas Bocarić (1864–1944), Yugoslav painter, born in Durrës.
  • Nikola Vulić (1872–1945), Serbian historian, classical philologist and archaeologist, born in Shkodër, member of SANU.
  • Kosta Miličević (1877–1920), Serbian painter, born in Vrakë.
  • Radivoje Berović (1900–1975), Serbian physician, born in Shkodër, member of SANU.
  • Miloš Nikolić (1911-1938), poet and writer, born in Shkodër.
  • Vasilije Popović Cico (1914–1962), Yugoslav painter and caricaturist, born in Shkodër.
  • Branko Kadia and Jordan Misja (d. 1942), Albanian communists and Heroes of Albania, born in Shkodër.
  • Vojo Kushi (1918–1942), Albanian communist, Hero of Albania and Hero of Yugoslavia, born in Shkodër.
  • Nada Matić, Serbian paralympic table tennis player

See also

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