The glorious history of a family from the first sign of ‘life’, to the ‘extinction’ of the last sucker. This is contained in the book "Aranitas", a study by Dhimitër Shuteriq published by "Toena" this month. History of the Aranites from the century. XI, when the name of this family first appears in the Byzantine chronicles until 1551, when the last sucker is extinguished, seen in the documents of the time, comes already complete. Luan Malltezi, historian and director of the National Historical Museum tells us about the importance and values of the book in an interview. From chapter to chapter, from case to case and seen from different angles, we will be able to have in our hands the conclusions of a colossal work. Centuries of history have been selected and summarized to tell us the full portrait of the medieval Aranites.
Professor, a detailed study on the Aranites was conducted by Shuteriqi. This month it is published in full by the publishing house "Toena". What does it contain?
The book "Aranites", which we have in our hands reflects the history of this powerful feudal family, starting from the century. XI, when the name of this family appears for the first time in the Byzantine chronicles until 1551, when its last sucker, Araniti, son of Constantine and grandson of George Araniti, disappears. The publication of the book is important to the reader for many reasons.
The Aranites played an important role in the political history of the country until the Ottoman conquest of the country in the 15th century. The well-known head of this family in the 14th century, Gjergj Araniti, led the Albanians in the anti-Ottoman uprisings of the 1930s. Barleti and other sources testify that he was one of the main leaders who supported Skanderbeg in the Assembly of Lezha; he was by his side even during the general anti-Ottoman uprising undertaken by the Albanians under his leadership. From the Aranites came Donika, the wife of our national hero Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu.
The author's interest in the Aranites dates back to his childhood; as a friend of the well-known patriot Shaban Blloshmi, he had often stayed at his home in the village of Bërzeshta. Then he heard for the first time, the legend spread on the Slope of Chermenika about the prince of Sopot Gjorg Golemi.
How did the author organize his study?
Summarizing in a few words in a letter the work done, the author writes “It has been many years since I decided to write a complete monograph on the Aranites. I wrote the first two chapters: 1. On David and Constantine Aranit of the XI century and 2. On the XIII-XIV century, on the Golem of Arber, Aran Shpataj, Komnen Shpata, with as complete notes as possible. The author noted below that he had to write a chapter on the Aranites in the 15th century, on George, Moses, the Angel of Muzakelina. According to him, this would be the main chapter of the book about the wars of the Aranites against the Ottomans, starting from the 30s of the XV century until 1467. Shuteriqi also thought that he should write another chapter on the Aranites in the west, the sons of George, his third son and his end in Himara. The book would close at the end with the relevant conclusions. These chapters remained in fact unworked by the author; the reasons are apparently to be sought in the numerous literary engagements of Prof. Shuteriq.
Where did he rely to write about this family?
He entered this work by doing detailed research in all possible documentary and literary sources of the century. XI-XVII. The author found that the Aranites appear in the Byzantine sources of the time in 1001; Byzantine chronicles mention for the first time at this time David Aranit as a "patriarch" in the service of the Byzantine emperor Vasil II. The author has examined the data with particular attention as a historian. He has borne in mind that the documents of the time have a first-hand value compared to literary sources, and he has pointed this out, in any case, in his work. He values data extracted from domestic chronicles more than foreign chronicles. "Among historians and chroniclers," he writes, the attention should be drawn in the first place to contemporaries and especially to those of the country, Barleti and Gjon Muzaka. " But, even after this correct assertion, the author has been forced to point out that foreign chronicles can have as important data as domestic ones.
What conclusions has he reached, as far as the name of the Aranites is concerned?
Shuteriqi addressed in detail the name of the Aranites. "One of the first problems posed by the scholar when dealing with the Aranites, he writes, is that of their name," he writes. The problem is actually difficult; The names of the Aranites in the sources of the time are written in different forms such as: Arainiti, Arayniti, Areniti, Arniti, Arnith, Arrianiti, Harryaniti, Haraniti, Harianites. Which of these names was their correct name? Shuteriqi gave a fair solution to this problem; he found that the name of Gjergj Araniti was encountered 16 times in the form of Aranit and only once in the form of Arianit. Henceforth the author thought that the form of Aran was the proper form of their name. The author investigated their name in the chronicles of the time, in the history of Barleti, in the chronicle of Gjon Muzaka, etc. He noticed in these sources that besides the name Arian he also bore the name Komnenë, Golemë, Topiaj, Spata, Çermeniçi etc. According to prof. Shuteriq, the name Spata can be related to the province of Shpati, which was in the possession of the Aranites, while the name Çerminiçi must have been related to the possessions in the province of today's Çermenika. Shuteriqi noticed that Barleti called Gjergj Araniti in Latin Aranites Thopia Golemus sive latinorum uocabule commatus. The author thought that these names came from the marital ties that the Aranites had with other lords of the country.
In what other perspective did Shuteriqi see this family?
He has treated the issue of the Genealogy of the Aranites as a second chapter. Shuteriqi is not the first author to deal with this problem. The author also notes the opinions of others and this makes the work quite interesting for the reader. He rightly criticizes Gega's opinion regarding their origin from the village of Aranitas in Mallakastra, based on the fact that this village is not found in the medieval archival documents of the time and does not even appear in the "Turkish register of 1431-1432". For the Aranites we are on a stable historical footing, especially in the twentieth century. XIII-XIV; archival sources prove that at this time they were powerful lords in Central Albania; In 1319, the pope turned to Gulielm Aranit, the "protolegator" (protholegaturo), and several other gentlemen, to rise up against Tsar Urosh II of Serbia, who had stretched as far as Ishëm and under Debar. The author proves that between the years 1274-1319, the Aranites had possessions in central Albania, between Kërraba and Shpat.
What about the surname of this family?
The author deals long with the surname "Komnen", which accompanies the name of Gjergj Araniti and other people of his family in the chronicles of the time. His analysis in these difficult scientific researches is interesting. "Sevast Aleks Arianiti, of 1274" writes Shuteriqi "could have been a descendant of Golem of 1253, if not at the head of Arbër, at the head of a feudal family of central Albania. If we accept that this family "- he writes" derives from David Arianiti of the beginning of the XI century, then it becomes the oldest feudal family of the country, that we know until today ". The author goes on to discuss the thesis that the Aranites may have inherited the name Komnen from the Bulgarian lord of Kanina, Vlora and Berat, Joan Komnen-Asen, brother of the Bulgarian tsar Joan Alexander and the Serbian tsar Helena, the wife of Stefan Dushan . The author notes that the name Komnen in Venetian documents appears as a surname of Gjergj Araniti's son, Thomas Comino. The author notes that "Komnena" was also called a sister of Gjergj Araniti; in 1454, Ottoman documents mention a Komnenos, son of Ozgur (Skura), timariot in Myzeqe. Hence, the author suggests that the Aranites did not take the name Komnen from any clan; Komnen must have had a person / man who bore this name to the Aranites; the name "Komnen Araniti", - notes the author, was also carried by Gjergj Araniti's father. As can be seen, Prof. Shuteriq's analysis is very agile and well-argued.
If we talk about the possessions of this family, where did they lie?
Shuteriqi says this is a difficult problem. Possessions can be accurately determined by researchers when they have data from land cadastral registers. There are no such cadastral registers for the Aranites and other Albanian lords (Balshaj, Kastriotët, Topiaj, Muzakaj, etc.) in the XIV-XV century. Such registers have been destroyed, or lost over time. The data found in this regard are for the most part fragmentary, and in some cases dubious or uncertain. For the 11th century Aranites, the author could say nothing about where their possessions were; the author better defines the possessions of the Aranites in the years 1274 -1319 and in the years 1392-1407, when the Venetian sources mention Komin Spata, the side of Gjergj Araniti; these sources prove that his possessions were in Central Albania, not far from Durrës. For the century. XV the author notes the announcements given by Barleti, Halkokondili etc. for their possessions in Vlora, Himara, and even further south, as far as the Bay of Ambracia. Halkokondili, for example, calls the areas from Berat to Arta "Komen areas".
So they stretched too far south?
The author tries to verify the data with archival sources, but these are few or absent. He is obliged in these circumstances to give up the data of the chronicles and to stay in the data of the documents. According to him, the Aranites ruled in the south of Himara "only long after George's death in the years 1505-1507 when one of his Muslim nephews is Timariot in some villages of Berat and Kanina but also of Delvina and Gjirokastra". Such an attitude based on documents is right. Shuteriqi closes the study by saying that "Gjergj Araniti had possessions in the central and southern part of the areas where his family ruled in Çermenikë, Polis - Qukës and Mokër". The Aranites ruled in the key areas of Albania, in the main roads and valleys of central Albania, the Drini road, the entrances to Albania from Ohrid and Dibra, etc.
What does Shuteriqi say about the political history of the Aranites?
He also deals with the marriages established by the Aranites and notes the "Comin Spata" mentioned by the Venetians in the years 1392 -1407, "god in the lands of Durres" and his son-in-law, Niketa Topia, who was the god of Kruja. But, he also mentions the treaty, which Gjergj Araniti concluded in 1448 with the Venetians, where they allowed him to buy tax-free clothes in Durrës. Then Gjergj Araniti, like Skanderbeg before, established direct relations with Alfonsi V of Naples. Shuteriqi proves with these data the strength and weight of Gjergj Araniti in the first half of the XV century. The study notes that “two of the most prominent captains of the great hero (Skanderbeg) Moisi Golemi and Muzaka of Angjelina, grandsons of Gjergj Araniti, were among the first to be threatened on their lands by incessant enemy expeditions; the possessions of the Aranites were the first to rise up to withstand the attacks of the Ottomans. "Their resistance was strong and lasted almost three quarters of a century against them." The author writes that the Aranites organized the war mainly in their original possessions of the mountainous areas of Central Albania in the east, but also in the mountainous areas of Vlora.
Who is this study aimed at?
Publication as a separate book of this important study of prof. Shuteriq, is important for the qualified reader, for history teachers, for students and professors of the history faculty and scientific staff in general; the author worked for him for over 30 years; it provides the most extensive and qualified scientific information about the Aranites, their strength and weight in the 11th-15th centuries.
How do you remember the researcher Shuteriq?
I had the good fortune to know prof. Shuteriq up close. One afternoon he invited me home. I had had the opportunity to visit many houses by then but that of Shuteriq surprised me: as soon as I entered I saw books and only books placed on simple shelves across the corridors and sides of the walls. As a scholar I have been interested in knowing how files were made by historians. That afternoon, talking about his work, the professor went through hundreds of tabs; I noticed that they were simple, written on plain paper. In these "files", Shuteriqi kept the notes extracted from the books, which he passed through the hands of the National Library when he came in the late afternoon; on these "files" stood his numerous publications, as a writer, literary historian, researcher of our national history