Book review on “Albania and Albanians According to Distinguished Foreigners”, written by Piro M. Tase in Albanian Language.

“Albania and Albanians According to Foreign visitors” is a book volume with over 540 pages, written in Albanian language by Piro P. Tase and published in the United States at “Outskirts Press” (2007). 

This twenty years long research project encompasses the history of Albania and Albanians written by Distinguished Foreign Visitors who have traveled through many regions of Albania, have spent time in the 2400 years old city of Berat that has been included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.  The City of Berat is the stage where the history of Albania and Albanians is set forth and passionately written by missionaries, diplomats, ancient military generals; among them including William Martin Leake the world renowned antiquarian topographer of the British Empire who surveyed the coast of Albania to assist the Ottoman Empire in its defense from the French Forces and in 1808 became the official British Representative in the court - castle of Ali Pasha Tepelena in Ioannina (Greece). Piro Tase’s book embodies Albanian nationhood, rich cultural heritage, ethno-linguistic peculiarities, intensive ancient and modern history, consequences of major European battles,  that have been the central focus of many historians and statesmen from Herodotus to Javier Perez De Cuellar (5th Secretary General of United Nations, 1982-1991); as well as from Antipater, a statesman under King Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander the Great (320 BC) to Evliya Çelebi, a XVII Century Ottoman Explorer who traveled for forty years throughout the Balkans, Middle East and the Caucasus region. 

According to UNESCO: “the City of Berat is inscribed as a rare example of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman Period; located in Central Albania, Berat bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries.  It features a castle, most of which was built in the 13th century, although its origins date back to the IV Century BC.  The citadel area numbers many byzantine churches mainly from the XIII century as well as several mosques built under the Ottoman era in 1417.”

To shape the history of Albanian nation based on the travel diaries, observations and impressions of distinguished foreign visitors that have visited Albania throughout the waves of centuries, is a deeply attractive project. This is the mission undertaken by Piro M. Tase, who has brought into the international attention the history of Albania and Albanians under the apex of distinguished foreigners, envoys and visitors who have walked in this land, stories that are coming from the depths of centuries to discover the ‘foundational roots’ of an ancient nation’s origin and to help write its history.

Among them there are also great writers and artists such as: Lord George Gordon Byron, Edith Durham, François Laurent Pouqueville, Edward Lear, Henry Fanshawe Tozer, Antonio Baldacci, Robert Curzon, Thomas Smart Hughes, Carl Patch, Benjamin Disraeli, Johann Georg von Hahn, John Hobhouse, Peter Oluf Brønsted, Charles Cockerell, David Urquhart, William Martin Leake, Henry Holland, Ami Boué, Aubrey Herbert, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Philip Winn (British Historian) and to conclude with American Journalists, Wallace Schroeder, Tim Neville and Cathryn Drake of Wall Street Journal.

This edition includes on its last chapter, a number of thoughts from a distinguished Albanologist, Dr. Robert Elsie; therefore becoming one of the key foreign scholars that has further completed this attractive mosaic, built by voyage memoirs, chronicles written over the centuries for this country and its people, a mosaic that is at the zenith of this century of Albanians everywhere in the world; radiating brightness and a genuine portrait of Albania and Albanians.

Piro P. Tase has chronologically organized and compiled all of the notes from foreign dignitaries, to shape the history of a nation the very same way that it has been experienced by authors and foreign historians.  It is not a coincidence that Piro P. Tase has gathered all of these historians, to create a symposium for the history of Albania, in the ancient city of Berat.  They are coming from Rome …through the Adriatic; the cruel waves are setting them in the shores of Alesios, Durachium, Apollonia and Vlora, and the shores of Preveza and Himara.

They come from Kosovo and Montenegro, Turkey, Macedonia and Greece …and walking on their feet or mounting a horse, as well as taking a break ‘from a han to another han’, and stopping in the irreplaceable, impeccable city of Berat”, to jot on canvas, the prettiest landscapes and to write on paper the notes of their travels and voyages.  The author, has persistently selected Berat, this is “…a city that is carved like a crown over the top of a mountain, similar to a podium of an archbishop”, to showcase in the best way possible such a marvelous mosaic of a truly ‘infinite’ history written by ‘foreign statesmen.’

This Book is divided into ten chapters:

Chapter I – “In the Place of a Prologue”

Herodotus, “Father of History”, on the origins of Albanian People: his ancient story about Mount Tomorri  and the Temple of Dodona.

Titus Livius and the city of Antipatrea …Roman Consul Servius Sulpicius Galba terrorizes the people of the city and other surrounding areas…

Chapter II – “The ancient foundations of a city” 

Notes on the life of Antipatrea, “European General” and an inspiring source of Alexander the Great.

Chapter III – “Ancient Iliro – Roman Civilization”

Julius Ceasar and Pompey the Great, in front of one another, on both sides of River Osum (Apsus) in Berat.

Chapter IV – “Berat in the early medieval period”

With the Historians of Early Medieval period: from Anna Komnene (The World’s First Female historian), Georgius Pachymeres,  Deno John Geanakoplos and the invasion of Berat during the rule of Charles I of Anjou and  Michael VIII Palaiologos (1204); Rosario Jurlaro on the Despotate of Epirus and the fertile plains of Muzakia ...

Chapter V – “Berat under the rule of Skanderbeg”

Western writers: Possenti, Leonclavius and others on the invasion of the Castle of Albanian Belgrade.

The Presence of Sultan Mehmed II, makes Skanderbeg very famous, after this moment he would be called as the “Knight of Christianity”.

Chapter VI  - The Seyahatnameja of Evliya Çelebi, an interesting history for the rocks of the castle and a genuine description of the city and its people.  Lord James Caulfeild Charlemont (1749), the First European statesmen to visit Albania.

Chapter VII – XIX Century (Turkish Invasion continues)

Mission of William Martin Leake in the courtyard of Ali Pasha Tepelena, Lord Bayron, John Hobhouse, Thomas Smart Hughes, Robert Curzon and many others.  Travel Memoirs of Henry Fanshawe Tozer

Chapter VIII – the Begining of XX Century

Edith Durham, “I know everything about Albanians, it is the nation that is well known for its smiling faces, fiering eyes and grey hair!  Notes from Carl Patsch (1904).

Renaissance Movement throughout Albania.

Chapter IX – Independence

Leo Freundlich and the Albania Golgotha”

Chapter X - Instead of the Epilogue -

1991: After fifty years. Again with foreign dignitaries
Javier Perez de Cuellar, English Academician Philip Winn,
American Journalists: Wallace Schroeder, Tim Neville (a writer for The New York Times, The Financial Times), and other contemporary authors.  

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