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Albanian revolt of 1910

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Albanian revolt of 1910
Albanian Revolt 1910-La Tribuna Illustrata article from August 16, 1910 (cropped).jpg

Depiction of the revolt by The Illustrated Tribune August, 1910
DateMay–24 July 1910
Result Rebellion suppressed
Albanian rebels  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Isa Boletini
Idriz Seferi
Shefqet Turgut Pasha
Mehmet Shefqet Pasha
3,000 up to 50,000

The Albanian revolt of 1910 (known as the Kryengritja e vitit 1910, or Uprising of 1910, in Albanian historiography) was a reaction to the new centralization policies of the Young Turk Ottoman government in Albania.[1] It was the first of a series of major uprisings. Rebels were supported by the Kingdom of Serbia.[2] New taxes levied in the early months of 1910 led to Isa Boletini's activity to convince Albanian leaders who had already been involved in a 1909 uprising to try another revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The Albanian attacks on the Ottomans in Priştine (now Pristina) and Ferizovik (now Ferizaj), the killing of the Ottoman commander in İpek (now Peć), and the insurgents' blocking of the railway to Skopje at the Kaçanik Pass led to the Ottoman government's declaration of martial law in the area.

After two weeks of fierce fighting the Albanian forces withdrew to the Drenica region, whereas the Ottoman army took possession of the cities of Prizren and Yakova (now Gjakova). The Ottomans retook İpek on 1 June 1910 and two months later they entered Shkodër. The reprisals against the Albanian population included several summary executions, and the burning of many villages and properties. Many schools were closed, and publications in the Albanian alphabet, which had been approved two years earlier, in the Congress of Manastir, were declared illegal. Journalists and publishers were fined or sentenced to death.

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  • ✪ The Gardeners Of Salonica Prepare A New Offensive I THE GREAT WAR Week 207


By now, there was a raging influenza epidemic, ravaging both Central Powers and Allied armies, and we’ll see more of that, but today I’d like to look at another type of illness, one not often talked about during the war, but one that affected soldiers in the millions- venereal disease. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week on the Western Front came the Battle of Hamel. It was a small battle, but remarkable for being the first combined use of air power, tanks, infantry, and machine guns in one integrated battle plan. The Bulgarian and Ottoman citizenry were starving, and German High Command decided to ditch their Foreign Minister for daring to suggest that the war could not be won militarily. They certainly did not agree, and had already finalized their plans for the next phase of their Western Front Offensives. They actually considered postponing it, though, because of the spread of flu among the German troops, but it will go ahead as planned. But illness was complicating things. I know we haven’t spoke about it really, even though it’s been growing and growing for the past couple months, but by now the Spanish Flu had reached epidemic proportions. It was affecting both armies, but chronic malnutrition supposedly made it worse on the Germans side. Thousands of men were becoming too sick for duty. According the G.J. Meyer in “A World Undone” as many as 2,000 PER German division, and just over the rest of 1918, 186,000 German soldiers would die of the flu. There was one battlefront where epidemic disease had been rampant the whole time, and which we haven’t heard much from in a while, the Macedonian Front. Now, I mentioned last month that Adolphe Guillaumat had been called home from that front to be military governor of Paris and had been replaced as Commander by Franchet “Desperate Frankie” D’Espérey. There was a nice irony here- the idea of the Army of the Orient, to attack through the Balkans out of Salonika, had actually been Desperate Frankie’s idea in the first place back in 1914, when he had suggested it to French President Raymond Poincaré. However, by the time he’d actually gotten a proposal together, the Allies were occupied with the Dardanelles and then Gallipoli in that region. But still, the multi-national army at Salonika began building under Maurice Sarrail in late 1915, and was 300,000 men by the summer of 1916. There was some fighting that summer, as we saw, and then the stalemate resumed, and by 1917 there were 500,000 Allied troops there. But by then, Salonika was something of a joke to the European command. German generals called it their largest internment camp, and Clemenceau called the troops “the gardeners of Salonika”. Thing is, it was anything but pleasant there. Men by the hundreds of thousands had gotten malaria, which was endemic, and the city itself was no picnic. It had been part of the Ottoman Empire until just a few years ago, and thousands upon thousands of refugees from the Balkan Wars were living on top of each other in hellish slums. Well, anyhow, Guillaumat had replaced Sarrail, and he had spent the early part of this year making preparations for a limited attack against the Bulgarians, which seemed promising, especially with the Germans pulling out troops from the region to use in the Western Front Offensives. But now Desperate Frankie was finally in charge of what had been his idea nearly four years ago. And now in addition to the Allied forces already there, he had a quarter of a million Greek troops, and he was now demanding from Paris permission for a major offensive. They hadn’t said anything definite yet, but with Americans arriving by the hundreds of thousands in France, none of his troops were really going to be needed over there, so he keeps on asking. There might soon be action for the gardeners. I want to get back to diseases, though, but ones that were not region specific. Now, there’s this idea that many young men left for war and died on the fields as virgins. This is largely a myth. If they were virgins when they left home, they most probably weren’t by the time they met their fate. If you didn’t have the luck to meet a local the ‘normal way’, there were plenty of other options. On all of the fronts and on all sides, brothels were not only tolerated, they were systematically organized and in some cases even regulated by the armies to keep them as clean and as healthy as possible. There is the inevitable fact that young fighting men, facing potential death, will do whatever they can to get some comfort and solace in the arms of another, but the customs of the different nations’ armies made for different ways of dealing with that. The French, for example, have been issuing condoms to the troops to fight disease and prevent unwanted pregnancies as a standard part of equipment since the end of the 19th century. The Germans, the Russians, the Austrians, The Italians… all of those have been handing out condoms. Nations that do not do so for reasons of supposed morality are the nations of the Commonwealth and the United States, and this had pretty serious consequences. Here are some numbers that might surprise you: during the war 416,891 soldiers of the British Empire’s Army were admitted to hospital for treatment of venereal disease. Yep, over 400,000. Compare that to just 74,711 cases of the more spoken of condition trench foot. Canadian soldiers, who were better paid than their English counterparts, for example, and thus can afford more visits to brothels- and who also can’t go home to their sweethearts on leave because they’re overseas- had it worse. In 1915 they have a VD infection rate of 22%. Consider also the amount of cases of VD that were not treated. Some diseases like Chlamydia or Syphilis present little or no symptoms initially. There’s also the embarrassment and shame that stops many from seeking treatment. And although many other armies are handing out condoms, that’s not a foolproof solution either. First of all you have to actually use the condoms, and even if you do; in the 1910s condoms are less than perfect. So the soldiers bring the diseases back home with predictable results, and you get epidemics of venereal disease among civilians all over the world. And it’s not like civilians don’t have enough to worry about as it is. Even in countries that were technically no longer part of the war, like Russia, there was still war going on all over, much of it fought by civilians, and all of it affecting daily life. On the 6th, the Allies declared Vladivostok, way to the east, a protectorate. Woodrow Wilson suggests the Japanese send 12,000 troops to aid the Czechoslovak Legion, that’s been making its way across Russia eastward, and Japan accepts. The Legion was fighting and beating the Bolsheviks all week in Siberia, occupied Irkutsk the 8th, and under General Horvath proclaimed a new Siberian government at Grodekovo, NW of Vladivostok the 10th. They capture Kazan the 12th and now control the Siberian railway east of Penza. Also, the Bolsheviks declared martial law in Moscow this week after the German ambassador there was assassinated. Gotta say a bit about that here. On July 6th, two members of the Left SR Party entered the embassy and killed Ambassador Count Wilhelm von Mirbach. He had taken part in the Brest-Litovsk negotiations earlier this year and became Ambassador in April. Over the following days after the assassination, troops loyal to the Left SRs seize the Moscow post and the telegraph, but the Bolsheviks soon re established control. These events are the final split between the two once-allies, and were a big step toward the establishment of a one-party system in Russia. The Left SRs and the Bolsheviks certainly described it differently on July 8th: The Left SRs, “The executioner of the laboring Russian people... has been assassinated by the avenging hand of a revolutionary... just on the day and the hour when the death sentence of the laboring masses was finally being signed... and all the wealth of the laboring people were being surrendered to the German landowners and capitalists...” The Bolsheviks: “The insane rising of the so-called Left SRs has been suppressed.” They go on and on, and there’s a link in the description to read the whole thing but that first sentence pretty much sums up their attitude. Historians still question the purpose of his assassination, though. Was it part of an attempt to take power? Was it to coincide with Right SR uprising in Yaroslav, as historian E.H. Carr implies? Though we talked a lot about the big split between the Left and Right SRs over the winter. Was it to provoke the Germans into cancelling the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and attacking Russia, and then removing the Soviets from power by war? Well, whatever it was, the Bolsheviks saw it as a betrayal, and soon will have removed all SRs from any positions of power in Russia. And as the Bolsheviks re-establish control, and as the French and Italians launch a minor, but successful series of attacks in Southern Albania, the week comes to an end; a week of flu, malaria, and venereal disease in the summer sunshine. But you know, soldiers weren’t just affected by naturally occurring diseases, they were creating “diseases” themselves. I read in Martin Gilbert’s “The First World War” that on July 12th the Allies premiered a new method of gas warfare. They used a train and the train’s cars were loaded with gas cylinders. This was brought up by light rail to the war zone and then the cars manually pushed up to close to the front. Then they detonated 5,000 gas cylinders at once, and a huge grey cloud formed and rolled across to the Germans, widening as it went. It worked well, causing hundreds of casualties. Someone in one of the gas companies- anonymously- wrote this about their work that day: “Science of the ages; the highest arts of man, Degraded and prostituted, that Might should take the van, Whilst Empire, Justice, Freedom slumbered. Then chemist, student, artisan answered Duty’s call; Our arms, our arts, our poison fumes Gained liberty for all.” Thanks to Spartacus Olsson for his VD research. If you want to learn more about one of the Serbian generals that fought at the Salonika front, you can click right here for our episode about Stepa Stepanovic. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Filip Radulovic. We could not do this show without you, so please consider supporting us on Patreon at And don’t forget to subscribe, see you next week.



Isa Boletini, one of the leaders of the revolt.
Isa Boletini, one of the leaders of the revolt.

During the first months of 1910, Isa Boletini tried to coordinate forces for a new insurrection by visiting the Albanian clans, which had taken refuge in Montenegro after the failure of a previous minor uprising in 1909. In the meantime the new governor, Masar Bey, introduced a new tax on commodities, which immediately became highly unpopular. Albanian leaders held two other meetings in İpek (now Peć) and Ferizoviç (now Ferizaj), where they took the oath of besa to be united against the new Ottoman government policy of centralization. Forces led by Isa Boletini attacked the Ottoman forces in Pristina and Ferizoviç, while the commander of Ottoman forces in Peć was killed by the local population. The Ottoman government declared martial law and sent a military expedition of 16,000 men led by Shefqet Turgut Pasha who went to Skopje in April 1910.[3][4]

Idriz Seferi, one of the leaders of the rebellion.
Idriz Seferi, one of the leaders of the rebellion.

At the same time 3,000 Albanians under Idriz Seferi[4][5] blocked the railway to Skopje at the Kaçanik Pass. They captured a train conveying soldiers and military supplies to the Ottoman garrison of Pristina, disarmed the soldiers and held the supplies.[5] The Ottoman forces attacked the Kaçanik Pass but the resistance given there by the Albanians led by Idriz Seferi made it clear that the 16,000 Ottoman forces were insufficient to crush the rebellion so their numbers increased to 40,000 men.[4][6] After two weeks of fierce fighting, the Ottoman forces captured the Kaçanik Pass[5] and attacked the Albanian forces led by Isa Boletini and Hasan Budakova, which meanwhile were blocking the Ferizovik-Prizren road to Carraleva Pass.[5][6] Superior in numbers, the Ottoman forces tried at first a frontal attack but the stiff resistance offered made them change their tactics. They made a pincer movement, trying to encircle the Albanian forces in Carralevo pass.

After three days of fighting the Albanian forces withdrew to the Drenica region.[7] Ottoman forces entered Prizren in the middle of May 1910. They proceeded to Yakova and İpek where they entered on June 1, 1910. By government orders[4][8] part of the force proceeded in the direction of Scutari (now Shkodër), while another column marched toward the Debre region (now known as Dibër in Albania, and Debar in the Republic of Macedonia). The first column marching to Scutari managed to capture the Morinë pass, after fighting with the Albanian forces of Gash, Krasniq and Bytyç areas, led by Zeqir Halili, Abdulla Hoxha, and Shaban Binaku. Ottoman forces were stopped for more than 20 days in the Agri Pass, from the Albanian forces of Shalë, Shoshë, Nikaj and Mërtur areas, led by Prel Tuli, Mehmet Shpendi, and Marash Delia. Unable to repress their resistance, this column took another way to Scutari, passing from the Pukë region.[8] On July 24, 1910, Ottoman forces entered the city of Scutari (now known as Shkodër). During this period martial courts were put in action and summary executions took place. A large number of firearms were collected and many villages and properties were burned by the Ottoman army.[9]

The Ottoman army, made up of irregular Kurds, flogged the leaders in public, burnt villages, and drove some 150,000 from their homes, two thirds being Serbs.[10]


Although the numbers of the Ottoman forces were now up to 50,000,[5] they controlled only the lowlands and the cities, and failed to take control of the mountainous regions.[9][11] At the request of the Ottoman commander Mehmet Shefqet Pasha, the Ottoman government declared the abrogation of the "Lekë Dukagjini Code" which was the mountain law of the Albanian clans.[4] Some Albanian clans went to seek refuge in Montenegro, requesting an amnesty from the Ottoman government and the return of the conditions obtaining before the rebellion. This was not accepted by the Ottoman government, which also declared the prohibition of the Albanian alphabet and books published in it. Albanian-language schools were declared illegal, and possessing a book in Albanian letters became a penal act.[12][13] Strong through numbers and position, the Ottoman expedition continued its march towards central and southern Albania imposing the new prohibitions. Albanian schools were closed and publications in the Latin alphabet were declared illegal. A number of journalists and publishers were fined or sentenced to death while the entry of Albanian books published outside the Ottoman Empire was prohibited. After these events, Albania became a wasteland for Albanian patriots, and Albanian culture was fully oppressed.[13][14] One year later, Sultan Mehmed V visited Pristina and declared an amnesty for all who had participated in the revolt, except for those who had committed murder.[15][16]

The Albanian revolts of 1910 and 1912 were a turning point that impacted the Young Turk government which increasingly moved from a policy direction of pan-Ottomanism and Islam toward a singular national Turkish outlook.[17][18]

See also


  1. ^ Akçam 2004, p. 129
  2. ^ John R. Lampe (28 March 2000). Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country. Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-521-77401-7. Retrieved 22 July 2013. By 1910, an armed Albanian revolt was spreading from Pristina, ironically supported by aid of Serbia.
  3. ^ Frashëri 1984, p. 439
  4. ^ a b c d e Gawrych 2006, p. 177
  5. ^ a b c d e Pearson 2004, p. 11
  6. ^ a b Frashëri 1984, p. 440
  7. ^ Frashëri 1984, pp. 440–441
  8. ^ a b Frashëri 1984, p. 441
  9. ^ a b Gawrych 2006, p. 178
  10. ^ Iain King; Whit Mason (2006). Peace at Any Price: How the World Failed Kosovo. Cornell University Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-8014-4539-6.
  11. ^ Jelavich 1983, p. 188
  12. ^ Frashëri 1984, pp. 444–445
  13. ^ a b Gawrych 2006, p. 183
  14. ^ Frashëri 1984, p. 445
  15. ^ Elsie 2004, pp. xxix–xxx
  16. ^ Finkel 2006, p. 521
  17. ^ Karpat 2001, pp. 369–370.
  18. ^ Bloxham 2005, p. 60.


Further reading

This page was last edited on 28 November 2018, at 17:04
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