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History of the City

History of the City of Elbasan

Elbasan's history dates to the 2nd century AD, with early Illyrian settlements. In the 2nd century, the city was known as Skampa and later Skampini in the administrative subordination of Durrah. Being located at the intersection of north to south and east to west roads, it had served as an important crossing point and as an important station, referred to as urban, military, and episcopal centers. After the blockade of the Egnatia road from the invasions of the barbarians, the city was no longer mentioned and recognized its destruction during the Slavic-Bulgarian migration sometime from the 6th to the 7th century.

Elbasan developed as an important strategic, administrative, military, and economic center of Central Albania. Handicrafts and commerce again gained significant growth by stretching ties and impact across the surrounding areas. A sensible development took the art of post-biennialism taught by the master and great painter, Onufri of Neokastra (Elbasani), who created a culminating art with the special strength of brilliant genius with the local tradition. His works, inherited to this day, were the frescoes and icons of Shelcan and Valsh churches of the mid-nineteenth century. A rushing development took the city of Elbasan in the nineteenth century with the creation, organization and operation of 60 types of crafts in 45 Esnafe. It is worth mentioning at this time the "Codex of the Essafs of Tabakë", 15 May 1658, which is considered among the oldest in the Balkans.

It is proven that in the middle of the 17th century Elbasan had 2000 houses, 900 stores, leather, wool, silk, metals and especially silver. The products of the city of Elbasan found a sale market both inside and outside the country. This is evidenced by the fact that local products were featured in two international exhibitions in Paris in 1867 and in Chicago in 1894. Turkey also exhibited the rifles, pistols, and products of Albanian production of Shkoder, Elbasan, Prizren, etc. It is important that Elbasan is known for organizing fairs. The first fair is that of 1381 followed by others in later periods.

During this time, Elbasan was recognized as a powerful educational and cultural center with the efforts made by Bugomil (Anonymous of Elbasan) and Dhaskal Todri, for spreading Albanian language and writing. In the era of the Albanian National Renaissance, Konstantin Kristoforidhi was the author of the Albanian alphabet, the gospel, and the lyric vocabulary and is considered the father of the Albanian language.

Incidentally, in 1922, a mass stone (tombstone) was excavated on the walls of the Elbasan Castle, where the name of the town Skampa was engraved. Today, the stone dating to the 2nd century B.C., is located in the Ethnographic Museum of Elbasan as proof of the ancient location of Skampis, Elbasan.

According to historians, this tombstone belongs to the legionnaire Mark Sabidi Emilia Maximus and fully corroborates the location of the city. The inscription document, considered to belong to the 2nd century BC, is the only epigraphic monument that mentions the ancient name of the city in abbreviated form, Skamp. He explains that from the 3rd to 4th centuries, the antiquity of this center is evidenced by the data provided by the various itineraries for the Egnatia road, with which the city was quite connected.

The latest data from Skampini dates back to the 6th century Emperor Justinian's rule of time. In Hierokee's Sinekdemos, Skampini is a town beside other cities in the province of Epirus. While in the Prokopi district of Çezare, Skampini is considered one of the newly built castles. But, the latest document mentioning the name Skampis dates back to the spring of the year 519. The change of name from Skampini to Elbasan seems to have happened with the Turkish invasion. In 1466 Sultan Mehmeti II built a fortress that was collapsed by the Romans, the Emperor Justinian, and later by the invasions of the Bulgarian tribes. The castle was built as a point of support for the largest tributary Ottoman troops in the Balkans and was named Elbasan, a Turkish name. In the inscription at the gate of the castle is written "Il-basan", which in Turkish means oppressor. Finally, "Ijl" was replaced with the letter E, giving the city the name it has today, Elbasan.

On November 15, 1912, 35 patriots from Elbasan and its other districts proclaimed the independence of this city in Middle Albania, setting up the flag of independence and thus leading the country's independence to 28 November. According to historians, the difficulties to reach the proclamation of Albania's independence were numerous, as the fate of the Albanian nation has gone through some dramatic orbits. The successive uprisings of Albanians in the years 1910-1911 were the prelude to the major event that would come later. The year 1912 was a year full of troubled events for Albanians. Balkan alliances between the states of Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria were intended eliminate Albania from the map. These countries declared war on the Ottoman Empire. They could not accept allied Albania because they had annexation purposes to Albanian lands. So, the press of the time would write and call to Albanians "to take the weapons and to defend the borders of our motherland" ...  

The successive victories of the Balkan neighbors against the Ottoman Empire created new conditions for Albanian patriots outside of the homeland, who decided to undertake a new political act whose purpose was to save Albania by breaking up and gathering a National Assembly that would decide on the fate of Albania. The Serbian army was progressing rapidly in Albanian lands. It was approaching Elbasan, which put the patriotic circles of the city in the face of the urgent task of the Declaration of Independence, in order for Serbian military authorities to be brought before a committed fact. On November 25, 1912, Elbasan proclaimed independence first, thus laying the first stone on the foundations of Albanian independence.

Lef Nosi, in his book Historical Documents 1912 -1918, writes for the city's remarkable day: “The Elbasan people, without any external or internal tribulation, but with our free will, along with all the citizens of are familiar with the entire civilized world that today we declare our own independence from the Ottoman kingdom, you are counted as a free nation who with the help of the great Lord, the advocate of all the nations of Europe, I pronounce that we will govern with honor, justice and complete piousness without noticing the change of religion or dogma. Any Albanian or migrant can freely live, enjoying all human rights. We also have the right to live furiously with neighboring governments, without even having to deal with the dam, but also to help in our self-government with the collapse of the Ottoman government. Long live Free Albania. Thus, is the Lord worshiping”.

While in the telegram sent to Ismail Qemali for the proclamation of independence, it is underlined that: "All our people (Elbasan), Muslims and Christians, with one I have accepted the independence of Albania. The 35 signers of the declaration of Independence of Elbasan were Aqif Pasha Elbasani, Abdulla Bey Tirana, Venemin Deliana, Ali Agjahu, Refik Mufti, Sheh Mahmut Guma, Sheh Hysen Sulova, Ruzhdi Alushi, Alush Saraci, Venemin Nosi, Kolë Papajani, Emin Haxhiadem Shijaku , Ymer Peni, Hysen Dakli, Hysen Hostopalli, Serafin Jorgaqi, Dhimitër Paparisto, Shefqet Bej Vërlaci, Hasan Bej Bicakciu, Fuat Bej Kahremani, Servet Bej Zylfi, Demir Bej Sulcebeu, Sheh Xhaferr Pasmaqi, Taqi Buda, Haxhi Nikolla Jorgaqi, Rrapush Demeti, Mahmut Hakani, Isuf Bej Taushani, Hasan Ciftja, Demir Zenelhoxha, Hafëz Sulejman Kungulli, si dhe Dhimitër Dhimitruka. The raising of the flag in Elbasan on 25 November was an important moment, where Aqif Pasha Elbasan is particularly noted.

Aqif Pasha Elbasan, as it is known in the city, helped the general anti-Ottoman uprising in 1912 and the organization of the Elbasan Canal. It is known as Ismail Qemali's closest associate in the Declaration of Independence and for the full support he gave to the government. He and the people of Elbasan raised the National Flag on November 25, 1912 and declared independence first by showing the Serbian army approaching Elbasan that it had violated the area of ​​Independent Albania. On November 25, 1912, Elbasan proclaimed First National Independence, thus laying the first stone on the foundations of this independence. In the Historical Assembly of Vlora, on 28 November 1912, Elbasan would be represented by Lef Nosi, Shefqet Daiu, Mit'hat Frashëri, Qemal Karaosmani, while Dervish Biçaku went as a delegate of Peqin.

The proclamation of Independence was an honor for Elbasan, but also a legitimate right for the country that occupied and the role played by this city in proclaiming National Independence. By the act of November 28, 1912, it was sanctioned the undeniable historical right of the Albanian nation to be united, free and independent in its own lands. No matter how the events later spurted, the Vlora Assembly laid the foundations of the new sovereign Albanian state.

The proclamation of Independence was an honor for Elbasan, but also a legitimate right for the country that occupied and the role played by this city in proclaiming National Independence. By the act of November 28, 1912, it was sanctioned the undeniable historical right of the Albanian nation to be united, free, and independent in its own lands. No matter how the events later spurted, the Vlora Assembly laid the foundations of the new sovereign Albanian state.​

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