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Frashëri’s paper on Himara: “Conversation with the Greek historians” ) by Dr. Kristaq V. Jorgji “The Dilemma about Himara. based on the Greek studies... it comes Prof. Frasheri...” was the over-all title of the papers published in the newspaper Korrieri. It was a series of papers about the history of the region that we all belong to in “Himara-Club”. The article had a promise that we will have an opportunity to read a book later (which turned out to be a book on Himara History, a unique case for a specific region published by the Albanian Academy of Sciences) and in 2005 by the book of the same author K. Frasheri in July 2005. Ben Andoni (from Vuno of Himara) wrote the introduction for each of the papers of Mr. Frasheri. It’s worth mentioning the introduction written for the last of papers as it contained the indication that the Albanian readers, usually very sensitive even to the mentioning of the name of Himara, stayed quite to these papers. Andoni wrote the following: “Both Greeks or Albanians, whatever they are, should not forget something: that Himara is Himara above all. With this logic in their minds, Himariotes fought against Turks and everybody they didn’t like, without any attention on nationality. This is how people of Himara are made of. They have their own opinions more sacred that of that of different curses or different invitations about collaboration offered by beggars. What remains pure in the very end is their different mentality”. “NEITHER, WE ARE HIMARIOTES”-1848 I share the same opinion with Mr. Andoni, an opinion that for the sake of the history had been said much more early from the same Himariotes. An English traveller, misused by Mr. Frasheri, wrote in 1848 when he visits the region “We serve the Sultan say they; but if asked whether they are Albanians, Christians or Turks they say- “Neither, we are Himariotes”. This memorial phrase for people who in difference with all the rest of the regions in Albania stayed independent; who in difference to other regions suffered alone the assault of the three most mightiest Turkish Sultans (including Suleiman the LawGiver – during which reign, the Ottoman Empire reached the maximum of power); that unlike other regions of Albania continued to keep their ancestor’s religion; which opened the first school in today’s Albanian territory; that opposed the first communistic election in 1945 as no other region of Albania. Mr. Frasheri skips all this history and wrote that “sometimes the people of Himara, in order to soften the objection of the Albanians, try to introduce the viewpoint that people of Himara were neither Greek nor Albanians, that they were Himariotes and their political problem was not to be neither Greek nor Albanian country, but to create another small state or ethnicity that will be the “little Republic of Himara” that will include 7 or at least 10 or 12 villages”.
“ALMOST THE WHOLE HISTORY OF ALBANIA OR MANY HISTORICAL BOOKS INCLUDE TERRIBLE MISTAKES.”-Robert Eslie- http://www.elsie.de My first question while reading the paper of Mr. Frasheri was to whom this paper was directed to? I would guessed that Mr. Frasheri as a historian should be directed to the general public, including that of Himara, for clarifying some hot questioned topics. It obvious for those who knew something about the debate, that there are different standings even contrary ones, and he could choose as target of his work as recognized professional to give explanations (including here the option that this topic should be enlighten even further). Another option was to address the question by the nationalistic rhetoric perspective, not understand yet that the Himariotes will not accept whatever other people declare them to be. The second choice would have been less preferable for any historian, as the Himariotes can and will write their own history after they will be convinced by the facts, like they were doing it all these years.
A) BIBLIOGRAPHY FROM THE STRANGE TRAVELLERS IN HIMARA 1. “The people of Khimara are all of Greek origin - Edward Lire But let me go back to the paper and let me start with Edward Lear’s words. Edward Lear is second known Englishmen to visit Himara in 1848 (while Martin Leak was the first visitor as we are going to discuss later). We should make clear from the beginning that there exist a huge difference with Mr. Frasheri’s opinions. In fact, Lear in few sentences describes the issue of the ethnicity in Himara. “The people of Khimara are all of Greek origin, and speak Romaic, though those of the towns that I passed on my way, although Christians, are all Albanian with the exception of a few families such Kasnetzi”. Someone would doubt immediately that I am on the Greek part. No way! I only want to prove and confirm that Mr. Frasheri’s paper has some serious faults, without accusing him for preferential use of facts. Maybe Mr. Frasheri does not know English the same way he knows Greek – at least judging by his title of the Korrieri papers. As I do not know the Greek as he knows it, I can serve to him some data to be used from English and other sources. But, first of all, I really feel that remains truewhat Robert Elsie said about Albania history. I am repeating the declaration of R. Elsie, famous Albanologist from Canada, which seems to me to have done an accurate diagnosis, that, although it can hurt, might be the only way leading to recovery. “The fact is that there are many opinions of historians that are not accurate, while the Albanian history has a kind of tendency to write things as it fits to them, but not as really are. Therefore, almost the whole history of Albania, many books, contains terrible mistakes. This situation should be improved, as it doesn’t favor the Albanian people”. Klosi, Lubonja, Vehbiu and other intellectuals have expressed the same attitude towards this phenomenon, in several papers.
2. Victor Hugo and S. Godo Let leave again temporarily Mr. Frasheri’s paper in question and bring another fact in support of the argument we brought for discussion. Sabri Godo, in his interesting book for Ali Pacha, published in 1970, brought into the attention of the Albanian public a phrase in which the famous French writer Victor Hugo make a comparison between the ruler of Yaninna and the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte. He writes that “The ruler of Yaninna and the French emperor used to see each other “as the tiger the lion”. Godo mentioned exactly only that phrase referring it, not telling that this is only one part of Hugo’s comparison that continues with “ as the vulture the eagle”. Surely, it remains to Hugo’s right to write what he wishes, but definitely the second part of that expression shouldn’t be skipped at all. The historians should not allow this kind of bluntness in order to make a nice impression about the hero or the topic presented in the book. It leaves you with a bitter taste after you learn the other half of the truth, with the consequences already quoted by Elsie. 3. A letter of Eqerem bej Vlora and the “unknown” response of Spiro Milo Another example of the same mentality comes from a famous Albanian nationalist Eqerem Bej Vlora. In his memories book, he describes the war in Himara mentioning Spiro Milo, another name important for the history of Himara. Here is the text published in Albanian language: “Meanwhile, I wrote another letter to the commandant of the Greek army in Himara, colonel Spiro SpiroMilo, who without any remorse called himself the leader of Himara (Archegos tis Himara). I knew him personally very well and his clan that still lives in Himara and I can affirm that we had a kind of friendship. We were divided by the political viewpoints and there we were opponents. Spiro Milo’s point of view is on the side of Greek nationalist for whom the religious backwardness always tried to merge Himara with Greece. On the other side I was Albanian nationalist, but at the same time even as a loyal follower of the Ottoman – Turkish state’s principle. Despite this, I can say that I respected this family, because it was famous for their character, loyalty towards their friends, bravery and persistence. I knew very well that my letter in these circumstances shouldn’t have any influence. Despite this, I wrote it saying that Albanians whether they are Orthodox or Muslims, are brothers. I mentioned their Albanian origin of his (Spiro Milo) family and begged him not to cause bloodshed between populations of the same country, otherwise, we would attack. Of course, I received no answer. Instead of that, a strong Cretan-Himariote detachment assaulted the pass. This what Eqerem Bey Vlora writes in his “Memories”. The other part of the story is that, although Eqerem Bej Vlora denies it, there has been an answer to this letter addresses to him and Shefqet Gjoleka by Spiro SpiroMilo dated December 12, 1912. Here is its text as reported by Cassavetti D. J. in his book “Hellas and the Balkan Wars. p 237-239: “You say that Italy and Austria will settle the Albanian principality: we are waiting its erection we shall rejoice at such an event, for even in that case we shall prove ourselves brothers toward that principality for our noble sentiments are ever the same and will not alter for we shall not forget that you are our brothers that have been separated from us denying your religion. Is it really necessary to remind the inhabitants of Kuçi that 90 years ago they were still Christians and that they have relatives among the inhabitants of
Himara? The very name of Gjoleka shows the religion to which Shefket Bey’s ancestors belonged. And for your threats I believe they meant neither for Spiro Milo nor for the inhabitants of Chimara, for even the children of Gjoleka know that we are as much used to Mausers and Martini rifles as they are. It is another who threatens while concealing himself behind, but that other has himself never fought, nor have his ancestors. . Somebody is hiding behind him. But this somebody is fighting neither for himself nor for his forefathers”. This is the answer written by Spiro Milo, the origin of whom according to Eqerem Bey Vlora is from Progonati. 4. “The Greek language is spoken by almost all the men- captain Leak After this rather long argument, let’s turn our attention back to Mr. Frasheri. He claims that a proof that people of Himara aren’t Greeks can be also found in the works of English major, Martin Leak. “The Greek language is spoken by almost all the men, and the Italian by those who lived abroad; but the women in general know little of any language but the Albanian”. The phrase is rightly cited. And it should be taken in consideration. This is important as Leak, in contrast to Edward Lear, knew some Albanian. In fact, he even has published a study of an Albanian language.I would like to draw attention in the fact that Leak stayed only one day in Himara and according to the habits of those years, women were not shown in front of the guests. Lear writes later more about this habit. “When I asked Anastasi” (Lear’s companion from Vuno KVJ) “why his wife and his mother did come for lunch he answered that women never eat with men. And his wife Mariana will come and stay with them during lunch”. Therefore it will hard for Lear to know what women speak. Of course it might be possible that Leak might heard the women’s conversation in the kitchen like there is a possibility to doubt in his saying that women spoke mainly only Albanian. Another thing that attracts attention is the name of the brotherhood in Himara, which Leak note it down in Greek language. Zaho Jorgji which is noted in English Zakho Ghiorgi and in Greek letters is written as Ζαχαρίς Γεωργίουι; the tribe/fisi or brotherhood Koykadhes is noted as Κωγνκάδεες while the leader Andrea Polo is written in English like Andrew Polus and in Greek letters like Aνδρέας Πόλoς. One thing is clear from the reading of the Lear’s and Leak’s memories - both Englishmen testify that the people of Himara have spoken Greek language. But, there is one but. It should be noted that although they might be good observers, they spent a very short time in Himara. Lear slept there only 4 nights (24, 25, 26 and 27 of October 1848 –of which three nights in Vuno and one night in Palasa); while Leak has slept in Himara only night (on 11 September 1804). Therefore, the two Englishmen testimonies should be taken in consideration with the necessary precautions, especially if we have other reports. I will try to bring a proof that sometimes some observations are not true. Hobhouse, the traveler companion of Lord Byron wrote that “The Albanese is a mixture of Greek, Italian a country language” and undoubtedly I shouldn’t rely on his affirmation. (Even some quotes that have been said to come from the wise Erasmus of Rotterdam who have never visited Himara or without giving us the facts from where he took this information).
B. THE MISSION OF THE BAZILIAN MONKS IN HIMARA 1) The greek Neofitos Rodinos was baptised as “Arberesh from Sicily” by K. Frasheri We are lucky as Himara has other alternative sources of information. One of the most important comes from the beginning of 1700, one century before the two Englishmen visited the area. I am referring to the mission of the Bazilian monks, mentioned even by Mr. Frasheri in his work on Himara. Mr. Frasheri writes: “It is enough if we shortly mention the local mission in Himara in 1633 and that the first missionare was Neofit Rodinoi, who is mentioned in the documents as Monakus Grekus. Neofit Rodinoj was an Arberesh from Sicily. The mission found support of the inhabitants living in Himara since the very beginning. At the same time, it encountered the objection of the Archbishop of Yaninna and later that of the Patriarch of Istanbul, who did not hesitate to curse those who join the missionaries especially against those villages like Vuno and Himara where the mission has its own centre”. Latter talking about fast spreading of the Islamism in the province of Himara, he cites Schiro (one of several missionaries in Himara) that reports “that from 1729 till now have remained Christian only 14 of the villages among 3 (Himara, Drimades and Palasa) were referred as the villages where people of Greek nationality live (“di natione greci”) while the others (Iliasi, Vuno, Kallarati, Piluri, Qrparo, Piçeras, Lukova, Shen Vasili, Kudhes, Nevica, Lekursi) are populated with inhabitants of Albanian nationality(“di natione albanesi”). Mr. Frashëri continues “This is the first affirmation about the villages of Himara coastal area where it is mentioned that they are of Greek nationality. We are not able to explain the source only of this assumption which is in contradiction with other assumptions that are noted in the documents from the previous centuries. Schiro is the contradiction with another his affirmation where he says that it i was imperative for the people of Himara to learned by heart the Christian doctrine in the form of the dialogue in the public places in Greek or in Albanian “. Let’s put aside the origin of Rodinoi for whom Mr. Frasheri pretend that he is Arbëresh. Not because being Arberesh has something wrong, but as even Rodinoi’s surname shows that he is from the famous Rodos Island. This fact is also mentioned by Dhimiter Shuteriqi who quotes Korolevsky, an expert on Rodino life, who writes that “his surname means with origin from Rodos, a famous island in the Mediterranean”. 2. Mr. Frasheri is “not able to explain the sources of the account” reported by Skiroi Mr. Frasheri says that he is “not able to explain the sources of the account” that is writing about 3 villages of Palasa, Dhermi or exactly “Drimades” and Himara are of Greek nationality. We should emphasize that according Nilo Borgia, the same Schiro had wrote three relations to the Holy See (or Propaganda Fide). It’s is important to mention two of those that mention the ethnicity of Himara. The first had been done in 1729 and says “Primieramente questa provincia, che anticamente era popolatissima di cristiani, presentemente non ha piu che quattordici ville. Le quale professano la legge di Cristo nel rito greco; cioe Cimmara capitale della provincial, Drimades e Balasa di natione greci; Egliates, Vuno, Caloghirates, Piluri, Clapero,
Pichierassi, Luculo, S. Basili, Gdezzona, Nivizza e Licunis di natione albanesi”. This is the same Mr. Frasheri analyzes. The third report from 1730-1735 says: “Himara, the province of Epirus that lies between two chains of between Vlora and Delvina, above the abyss of which lies many villages, through the bishopal city of Himara (after which the whole region is called) of Himara), Dhermi or Drimades and Palasa that are inhabited by Greeks, while the other are Albanians obeyed by the Ottoman rule “. So, there is not an accident, as Mr. Frasheri mentioned, but a confirmed data, always according to the publication of Nilo Borgia. And we would like to go back to the Englishmen travellers In contrast to them, Schiro is not only passing by Himara - he lived there and for a long time. Schiro came first in 1716 to Himara and stayed there until 1729- 13 years. Later, he returned and stayed in the period of 1730 to 1735- five more years. Here we could see that Schiro has a long term experience, which cannot be skipped that easily as Mr. Frasheri does with his phrase “that it cannot be explained” (“nuk është në gjëndje të shpjegohet”). Schiro’s relations to Holly See should be taken in consideration seriously as Schiro had a contact with the people of Himara for period of time that is 1,000 times longer than that of Lear and 5,000 times longer than that of Leak. I believe that we should stop arguing any longer.
3. “We loved and appreciated them a lot in comparison to other Greeks”-Nilo Borgia In his description of the missionaries in Himara, Nilo Borgia cites an author when writes: We loved and appreciated them a lot in comparison to other Greeks who hate so much Latins. It is true that Greeks of Himara love and appreciate the missionaries mainly because of their interest to educate their children, but this is not against the missionaries’ strategy, instead is a tool for arriving to the main target”. 4. Interpretation of the antagonism between the Catholic mission and the Orthodoxy by the Albanian historians. The most of the Albanian historians that have dealt with the history of Himara never neglect to point out the antagonism that existed between the Catholic mission and the Orthodox church/priests. Even Shuteriqi and Frasheri pay a special attention to this. As if they would want to show “Here are good and there are bad guys”. But we should clarify that this “hate” is not specific for Himara and has a good explanation in that the anger is greater the closer you are with the one you hate. This is what happened between two sects of the Christian church in the previous centuries. Mazower gives a typical example of this antagonism when he reports about the conversation between an Orthodox monk and the Catholics missionary in Kios Island in 1694. “I would prefer to become a Turk instead of joining you Latin’s that you do anything except hate us and prosecute us”. Castellan brings another supporting evidence when explaining the Balkans history of 1425 he reports a high Byzantium official says that “better to see the turban in the middle of the capital city that the Latin mitre”.
C. THE SUBSCRIPTION IN THE CHURCHES While discussing religion in Himara ,Mr. Frasheri’s argues the Albanian origin of inhabitants, mentioning the churches of Dhrimadhes “That the inhabitants of this area are not Greeks, can be supported by the inscriptions of 1751 in the walls of the church Ipapandis in Dhrimadhes, where are mentioned two inhabitants of Dhrimadhes. These are priest Papa Ilia Leka and Andon Starat Gjika - both names of which undoubtedly are of Albanian anthroponomy”. I believe that Mr. Frasheri refers to the names Leka and Gjika when he calls them as an Albanian onomastics. We should make clear first that Dhrimadhes, where this argument comes from, has (if I am not wrong) more than 30 churches and in the town of Himara there have been more than 80 of churches. To argue that the inhabitants are Greek, because in one church out of 30 churches there is an inscription that could tell for Albanian inhabitants, is very wrong. The late Theofan Popa in his book “Inscriptions in Albanian churches” reports eights such inscriptions at different eight churches in Dhrimadhes. (The one that is mentioned by Mr. Frasheri is number 826 in the page 323 of the book). But the same names appear in the church of Saint Friday (Ag. Paraskevi), the church of John the Theologue, Gospel church (Ungjëllimit) and that of Saint Thanasi (Ag. Thanasi). Considering the names such as Lek, Gjon, Gjikë as pure Albanian is not correct, admitted even from Albanian scientists (see Androkli Kostallarin) that define these names as adapted and with Christian origin. Perhaps we should remind that Illyrian/Albanian names are such as Bardhyl, Teuta, Dardan, ecc. I have an impression that Mr. Frasheri has been too fast coming to these conclusions. One of the myths of Albanian history is violent conversion to Islam. Many of historians, whose work had been translated in Albanian, have discussed this conversion. Here you can read Sheville Castellan, Mazower, etc. Todorova, a Bulgarian, notes in her book that “although there were clear cases of violent conversion, the biggest part falls under the category of those that are not obliged with violence named as voluntarily euphemically” (eufemikisht vullnetare). D. THE GREEK DIALECT USED BY THE VILLAGERS OF HIMARA AREA. 1. In three Greek speaking villages Greek is the first language and not vice versa. On the one hand, I would like to take part on the debate for the dialect used by the inhabitants of Himara. But on the other hand, this is worthless because if they speak Greek the historians should focus on how come that this language is spoken particularly in those 3 villages (Palasa, Dhrimadhes and Himara itself) and not in the others. In particular it will be important to explain this as for the period from the 17-th century onward, people living in other villages (Vuno, Kudhesi, Pilur and Qeparo) spoke another language, the Albanian one. Let me correct Mr. Frasheri that in three Greek speaking villages Greek is the first language and not vice versa. And of course there should be done special analysis in order to find out why the lament songs are in Albanian language. This is what I would like to call a behavioral enigma . Mr. Frasheri’s has done a correct analysis of hypothesis about the origin of Greek language spoken in these three villages favoring that of trading relations and commercial
exchange with the Greek Islands. This hypothesis is mentioned even in the book of Petro Marko, the most famous writer from Dhrimadhes. 2. “The inhabitants of Himara region (among which are only 3000 people that have always spoken Greek and that all derive from the same, one root although it is distant in time they are all of Greek origin)-from Eqerem bej Vlora
But they are others that don’t agree with this hypothesis. To Mr. Frasheri paper, it isn’t mentioned the argument Eqerem Bej of Vlora where he said: “The inhabitants of Himara region (among which are only 3000 people that have always spoken Greek and that all derive from the same single root, although distant in time, they are all of Greek origin) they have gone that far in their Helenistic tendency, proves that they were people with more character than their compatriots”, and although they are my adversaries, I have always honored and respected them “. I believe that it cannot be doubted about the Albanian nationalism of Eqerem Bej of Vlora and as such it should be found an explanation for this reference, if acceptable. In the papers of many historians, it is often felt the smell of modern times. With this, I would like to say that they are many of those who envision the Turkish or the ancient world as one with states, borders, passports and visas. This is very superficial point of view. We should recall in our mind that up to the 18 century there were no nation states as we have them nowadays. Even the ancient Greeks were united once in four years during the Olimpics games and after the games are over, Sparta, Athens, Thebe, Megara can be enemies as they were with Persians. 3. “until 1726 the name Albania was unknown in the region of Shkodra and till now we do not have proves that have been known in any other region of Albania”-- Ludwig Van Thalloczye
In the book “Albanian –Illyrian Observations “(Vëzhgime Iliro-Shqiptare) written by Ludwig Van Thalloczy, translated by Mustafa Merlika of Kruja, is quoted that “until 1726, the name of Albania was unknown in the region of Shkodra and till now we do not have proves that have been known in any other region of Albania”. As Castellan writes “It will be oversimplifying to imagine, as did in the 19 century the nationalist historians, solid ethnic blocks in order to justify the untouchable modern borders” E. AUTHORS FROM ANTIQUITY AND MODERN TIME 1. Can we change the Strabons’s Geography ? I would agree with some authors who affirm that in the Albanian historiography exists a confusion of the terms Illyria and Illyrians and Epirus and Epirotes. Perhaps it would be better to ask the geographers of ancient times.
One of those, Straboni, writes in his book “Geography”: “Now Epiriotes are 14 tribes. According to Theopompus the most famous tribes among them are Chaones and Molossians. They had ruled the whole Epirus, Chaones earlier and later Molossians. Molosians strengthen their powers partly because of the family of their kings that were part of the Achides family and partly because of Dodona’s oracle that was in their territory, an old oracle recently recognized.. Now the Chaonians and Thesprotians and immediately after them the Chasopeids (deriving from Thesprotia) dwelt in the coast from Accroceraunian mountains up to Ambracian bay and have a very rich place. If you depart from the country of Chaonians and travel from the east (where is the sunset) toward the direction of Ambracia and Corinthus leaving with Ausonia Sea on the right and Epirus on the left, is about 1.300 stades. In the middle of this passage is Panormus, a huge bay in the centre of Cheraunian Mountains and after these mountains comse Onchesmus (present Saranda) another bay toward the western part of Corfu. Then follows another bay, Kasiopea, which is distant 1.7000 stades”. 2. New Plini said: “Epirus in general starts at the Aceraunian mountains
Another serious name of ancient history, New Plinus writes “Epirus in general starts at the Accroceraunian mountains and includes Chaones, Thesprotians and Antighonus, place of Aron with bad smell of chicken or birds, Kestrinians, Perbanians where is situated Pindus, Chesopians, Driopians, Selonians, Helopians, Molosians where Dodona and Zeus temple known by oracles are situated and Thomar mountains with 100 streams that suffle in their feets, a mountain that is mentioned by Theopompus”. According to the data available, the Illyrians spread from Danube (north) to the area where Shkodra is nowadays (South). Of course, taking in account the expansions and invasions that might have occurred. Mr. Frasheri states that “Helen historians look at the people of Himara as of Greek origin. These people have once in the history emigrated from Greek region to the coastal area of Himara where they live nowadays. While the antic inhabitants of this area were Chaonians who according to their ethnicity belong to Illyrians”. I might be wrong, but in the map of Straboni, the Chaonians are located in the region named Epirus, a different region from both Illyria and Macedonia. (This should be known well and not confused. Otherwise Pyrrus would be called as Pyrrus the Illyrian, while Skenderbeu would be called prince of Illyria and not of Epirus. If the contrary was to be true, then in 1830 Napoleon would declare the Ilyrian province to be governed by the famous Fouche, to be located south from Vlora and not in Slovenia and Croatia). By treating these terms geographically and not ethnically, we could finally clarify the mentioned confusion that has been created. 1. (Vlora KVJ)… where Albania ended was ‘il fine dell Albania’” – the end of Albania- Konstandin Jirecek
Konstandin Jirecek said: “According to Venetians of 16 century here in this area (south of Vlora KVJ) was ‘il fine dell Albania’ “where Albania ended”. Later in the Roman
period the border between two provinces of Epirus Nova (New Epirus) with Durres as capital) and Epirus Vetus (Old Epirus) was found in the south of Vlora”. In the same book, Milan Sufflay further explains “the historical and scientific definition of Albania it is conventional and defines the mountain region that forms a square between Tivar, Prizren, Ochrid and Vlora” (see Albanian Ilyrian observations published by Camaj Pipa 2004, Shkodra – translated by Mustafa Kruja Merlika in 1916, on page 141-42). It’s worth to note that these scholars are Albanian historians and foreigner historians that have a long-term experience in Albanian history. These facts will definitely mean anything for territorial claims, as those exist only in the rotten mind of some nationalists from both sides of the border, moreover here we should look towards the future towards which is oriented toward merging with EU. F. THE DARK AGES IN HIMARA 1. Corcondilo Clada according K. Frasheri Let me turn back to the paper of Mr. Frasheri. “Corcondilo Clada, who was according to Greek historians was leader of the” Greek” colony supposed to be located in Himara. He was stradiote from Corona and not from Man. He is descendant of Clada tribe, an arvanite community of Corona. For the Albanian origin of the C. Clajda we can bring documents....More, the Albanianship of C. Clada and his followers should explain also their participation in the expedition led by the son of Skenderbeu. Let me comment the assumption which says that C. Clada and his warriors staid in Himara during the expedition of John Kastrioti at that time. Before that let me note that none of these documents doesn’t include any testimony that can qualify Clada’s warriors as Greeks”. 2. Paolo Peta about Klada “None of these documents doesn’t include any note that qualifies Clada’s warriors as Greeks”. With this phrase Mr. Frasheri has entered in a special chapter of the history of Albanian medieval times – the stradiotes history, where Himara deserves a special chapter. But there is another viewpoint on Clada’s origin –that of Paolo Peta who wrote in his book “Stradioti - soldati Albanesi in Italia” “Stradiotes-Albanian soldiers in Italy” which was published in Italy in 1996. On the page 87 it is written….. “In 1480 after peace between Venice and Sultan the Albanian area of Morea was in danger because of the revolt of group of warriors led by the Greek stradiote Corkondilo Clada”. [Here let me note for those who do not know the author, Paolo Peta, that he is Arbëresh with parents from Piana degli Albanesi and he was working as director of editing and revision of legislations in the Senate of Italian Republic till 1999. On his death day, 14 January 1999 was a meeting of the Senate of the Italian Republic where its members expressed a deep sorrow about the death of Dr. Paolo Peta as one of the best representatives of the Senate’s administration].
3. One more wrong estimation of Frasheri “The name Corkondil Clada or Cladian had not encountered in the popular tradition of Himara area. General Dimitri Leka-“ my Greek faith or trust”. Mr. Frasheri writes that “finally the name Corkondil Clada or Clada had not been encountered in the popular tradition of Himara area”. Maybe Mr. Frasheri haven not read a book of Mr. Dimitri Nina published in 2004, in which it is said that Corkondil Clada was a courageous “kapedan” from Dhrimadhes, a friend and fellow soldier of Skenderbeu. Close to the houses of the families Milo, Thimio and Vasili Milo in Dhrimadhes even today exists a square named Clada. In the book of Dimitri Nina is noted another name discussed by Mr. Frasheri, too. This is Dimiter Leka. While Mr. Frasheri says “even one the most outstanding commandant of this regiment who had the highest military degree was Marshal Dimiter Leka, Albanian of Dhermi”. Paolo Peta, already mentioned before, in his book when it comes to this name writes that: “His career was devoted to the king’s belief and trust that used to call him my faithful Greek ”. Not quite the same as Mr. Frasheri. Another reason that is brought to argue about the origin of the Himariotes is cited when is discussed the participation of the people of Himara in Assembly of Lezha by Marin Baleti, author of the most famous book on Scanderbeg, who wrotes: “In this historical meeting they were represented from Andrea Topia, a purely noble Albanian. The Topians were known were known as the rulers of Ulysses’ Himara. And Himara is a mountainous place that is situated opposite to Corfu where live the indomitable people that are brave, not to say combative people who are usually called Himariotes or people of Himara”. If I am not wrong this paragraph is brought into our attention to demonstrate that people of Himara had been represented in this important Assembly by their leader Andrea Topia. The implication is that they are Albanian. And if this is correct, then Mr. Frasheri should make clearer to us his passage in his new book “Skenderbeu his life and works ” (Skënderbeu-Jeta dhe Vepra): “Contemporary historians one of them is J. Fallmayer in (VII, 672) confirmed that Gjergji Arianiti besides the other areas, possessed also Vlora, Kanina and Himara… But as for Himara things are different. Himara was never in feudal possession as well it was never obedient to nobody. With Arianiti Himara was only in alliance relationship, as later with Skenderbeu”. This fact is confirmed by Mr. Frasheri himself in his book by presenting a map given at the end where are shown all Albanian feudal possessions. It is interesting to see below the feuds of Venetians, of Dukagjini, of Spani, Dushmani, Kastrioti, Arvaniti, Muzaka, and Gropa families, clear as well a special area called by Frashëri as the Community of Himara (Bashkësia e Himarës). This map is basically the same as the map of Himara’s present seven villages therefore we could use it to define what is Himara and what is Labëria. It seems to me that Mr. Frasheri should decide which version he wants to support – people of Himara had or have not been ruled by a feudal. In fact, Frasheri presents both versions where one is expressed in his article while another one in his book. This doesn’t make honor at all to him. 4. The correspondence of Propaganda fide and other letters from Himara
The exchange of letters that Himariotes have had with the Holy See and Propaganda Fide deserves a special place in their history. This correspondence showed that Himariotes in contrast with the conclusion of Frasheri’s writing has been able to be oriented correctly in the political scenario of the time. This correspondence has been used by Frasheri in order to argue the origin of the people of Himara when he quotes “the letter is concluded by addressing Himara as Albanian Epirus (Himare, d.m.th. prej Epirit të shqiptareve)” that undoubtedly is used as a valid argument. Definitely a good argument. But in the letter sent to Pope Gregory XIII there are other passages that are not as clear as that. Let’s cite “He (Dimiter Ferigon KVJ) has told us a lot about your grace and shown us that you are big lover of the Greek nation as you have opened high schools and churches and the all Greeks you gave a lot of benevolence and kindness. In the future you will give even more. After the reputation of your charity that you contributed to whole Greece, we are putting our hands up in the sky and pray God has gracious me and with the same feelings we pray your grace. It would be a big and important event for the heart of our God Jesus Christ if as result of your job, Holy and sacred father, we and all your Greek sons continually oppressed, cruelly or barbarously treated by Turks and obliged to become Turks to have the possibility to win independence.” All this should be explained and not skipped. CONCLUSION: WHAT ABOUT THE OBJECTIVITY OF THE FRASHERI’S STUDY? (Selection of data, manipulation and written in the frame of nationalism) I could continue with my questions to Mr. Frasheri about the selection of data, he has presented in his paper. As I have read and I can’t let myself to be manipulated, I allowed myself to be in the position of the “devil’s advocate”. I am sure that more people, and specifically more Himariotes, who will read Mr. Frasheri’s work, will have the same problems. Not because, we want to prove something, but because we want to know something more about our region. In our peninsula have been prevailing two big criteria’s of defining nationality: language and religion. People of Himara have had always only one religion Orthodox Christian. It is not Himariotes’s fault if the biggest part of Albania changed religion and we affirm this truth without any prejudice. Indeed this is their business (because we respect other’s choice as we like reciprocity). We, Himariotes, can say that we have already made our choice and is on our honor that we kept our religion. Considering the language, we have shown that we are both close to those who speak Albanian and those who speak Greek, bringing an example to be taken positively and as a merit. Mr. Frasheri’s paper is, in my humble opinion, clearly another example which shows that Albanian historians are not serious and that they are still writing in the guided by “old fashion” nationalism. Maria Todorova in her book “Imagining the Balkans”, Oxford University Press 1997, p. 183 writes: “The history of this type...was translated into an equally single-minded mission: to shape national consciousness, legitimate the nation-state and thus fullfill an import social function...... It is, morever...... not simply ignorance of the history of neighboring nations, but a conscious effort to belittle, ignore, deride and even negate”. Of course, we hope that with all reasons or arguments given to him, Mr. Frasheri will write it better and more seriously in his book.
Here let me quote Robert Elsie who writes for Albanians: “Let them live mindedness, nationalism, and ethnocentrism and let them become EU and world citizens”. We as people of Himara have learned and left behind these bad habits as result of our history. Himara is the region from where men and women like Damiani, Kanarisi, Dhimitër Leka, Petro Marko, Janko Pali, George Tenett, Andrea Vreto, Petro Cani, Robert Drenika, Anastas Kristofori, Neço Muka, Dhimiter Varfi, Dhimiter Anagnosti, Spiro Milo, Lefter Çipa, Gjike Bixhili, Bartolomeo Mitre, Jani Kocani, Agllai Zoto, Nase Beni ecc. come from. But it belongs to all those unknown men and women in the history that have set their seals in the behaviour of the region of Himara and its inhabitants; that haven’t have any prejudices; that have been open to the world and are cosmopolitan in their genes; that have loved education and knowledge with all their heart even when without schools and not educated; that have lived in harmony with everybody surrounding them: Labëria, Mirdita, Shkodra, Korça, Corfu, Napoli, Venice, America, Argentina, Greece, Italy, without having a complex and national pride; that have practiced democracy even in the most hard conditions and have never gave up their independence; that have been fighting against anybody who wanted to rule them without taking into consideration who they were; and above all who loved their country of origin as it is – rough, sun-burned, difficult, with twitches and creeks, with mountains and sea; a country that is open to all people, without national prejudice that the others projected on them. This is why I share the same opinion with Ben Andoni quoted in the beginning of this paper, hoping on his sincerity. Revised version, translate by author Dr. K. Jorgji
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