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The Siege of Shkodra: Albania's Courageous Stand Against Ottoman Conquest, 1478


Ismail Kadare Libri


The first English translation of an eyewitness account of the Ottoman sieges of Shkodra (Albania) in 1474 and 1478-79, written by a besieged Shkodran citizen who fought in the battles and would later become a priest in Italy The book is considered both history and literature, written in classical Latin in 1504 for a Western audience concerned about the advance of the Ottomans into the heart of Europe. It is considered by scholars to be a seminal source of history providing significant details about the Balkans, the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Albanians, Sultan Mehmed II "The Conqueror," religious conflict, late-medieval siege tactics, and the development of weaponry. Though the account is history, it unfolds as a gripping story with all the human drama and pathos that accompanies warfare. Inside are rousing speeches, intense battle scenes, passionate prayers, and counsel for future generations. Barleti and his contemporaries considered Shkodra to be the shield of Europe (indeed this was the final great battle before the Ottomans attacked Otronto in 1480). Barleti's work comprises only 50% of the work, as this edition includes supplemental material such a brief foreword by Ismail Kadare, a historical preface by Prof. David Abulafia, the original introduction by Prof. Aleks Buda, "The War of Shkodra" ("Bellum Scodrense") by George Merula, a panegyric to the Venetian Senate by Marin Beikemi, passages from Ottoman chroniclers about the siege (A. Pashazade, Tursun, Kivami, Idris-i Bidlisi, K. Pashazade), and new maps and historical commentary by translator-editor David Hosaflook. MINI-REVIEWS "If one were to search for a literary creation wholly worthy of the expression 'monumental work,' it would be hard to find a better example than 'The Siege of Shkodra' by Marin Barleti ... It earned monumentality throughout the centuries ... This is what happens with the great books, the ones that enter the world as grand testimonies. The siege of Shkodra is the final act of a tragedy that would not only alter the face of Albania, but also of all the Balkans and a portion of the continent for nearly six hundred years. ?ISMAIL KADARE, renown and revered Albanian author "David Hosaflook has brought vividly back to life an extraordinary chapter from the history of the fifteenth century--a gripping eyewitness account of the Albanian resistance to the advance of the Ottomans into the heart of Europe. Their defense of Shkodra was as heroic and thrilling as the better-known siege of Malta. Barleti's narrative does it full justice, and Hosaflook's translation is both scholarly and highly readable." ?ROGER CROWLEY, best-selling author of Mediterranean narrative history such as Empires of the Sea and City of Fortune" "I felt like Howard Carter peering into the tomb of King Tut for the first time when I started reading Hosaflook's masterful new translation of the epic story recounted by Barleti. Beautifully crafted and painstakingly researched, the work fills an important gap and provides unique and compelling new scholarship in the field of Renaissance history." ?KIRSTIN DOWNEY, former Washington Post reporter, historical biographer, and author of books such as "The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins" and "Isabella: The Warrior Queen." "The Ottoman Empire spread into southeastern Europe, with the banners of Islam looming on the horizon. One of the key moments of this expansion, and a turning point in Albanian history, was the siege of Shkodra in the late fifteenth century. We would know little of the dramatic events were it not for historian Marin Barleti. His account (1504) is a seminal source of Balkan history. The English-speaking reader can now finally savour this gripping tale, in the flowing rendition of David Hosaflook." ?ROBERT ELSIE, author and specialist in Albanian studies
 
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