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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Malakasi were a historical Albanian tribe in medieval Epirus, Thessaly and later southern Greece. Their name is a reference to their area of origin, Mallakastër in southern Albania. They appear in historical record as one the Albanian tribes which raided and invaded Thessaly after 1318 and throughout the 14th century were active in the struggles of the Albanian Despotate of Arta against the Despotate of Epirus.


The primary historical sources for the Malakasi are the History of John VI Kantakouzenos written in second half of the 14th century and the Chronicle of the Tocco written in the early 15th century. In the History and the chronicle, the tribe is recorded as Malakasaioi.[1] In Venetian registries of Albanian settlers in southern Greece, they are mentioned as Malacassi. The name most probably refers to their region of origin in the plain of Mallakastër in southern Albania.[2] It is of Aromanian etymology meaning bad encampments.[3] Several waves of migrations from this region settled in southern Greece and Italy. As such as a surname, Malakasa was a typical Albanian surname of settlers who were invited mainly by the Venetians to settle in southern Greece, some of which later settled in Italy. Among them it is found in the surnames of the founders of the Arbëreshë communities of San Demetrio Corone and Palazzo Adriano in 1488.[2]


The Malakasi along with other Albanian tribes, the Bua and the Mesareti invaded Thessaly after 1318.[4] According to Alain Ducellier they left their areas of origin in Albania due to social oppression and upheavals.[5] N.G.L Hammond mentions overpopulation in Albania and underpopulation of mainland Greece as a contributing factor to the migrations.[6] Byzantine emperor John VI Kantakouzenos in his History records them as one of the Albanian tribes which reached a truce with the Byzantine Empire in 1332-33.[7] In the history of the medieval Despotate of Epirus, they appear as one the tribes who supported the local Albanian leaders in their struggles to gain control of the region against the despotate. The Malakasi and the Mazaraki sieged the city of Ioannina in 1367-70 and again in 1374-75 under Peter Losha, who was their leader.[8] Peace was concluded at the time, but in 1377 the Malakasi attacked again Ioannina but were defeated.[9] In 1379, they were again among those who besieged the city. The Malakasi rebelled in 1389 against Esau de' Buondelmonti.[10] Buondelmonti was an Ottoman vassal who relied on Ottoman support for his rule again the Albanians. As soon as Murad I died in 1389 in the battle of Kosovo, the Albanian in Epirus rose up against him. The Malakasi raided Esau's territories around Ioannina and John Spata attacked the city.[11] The Malakasi and Spata formed an alliance for a direct attack against the city. Esau concluded a pact with the Byzantine ruler of Thessaly. In the following battle, the Malakasi were defeated. In 1390, Esau secured Ottoman support again and a large Ottoman army under Evrenos came in Epirus to fight against the Albanian tribes, who were forced to withdraw in the mountainous areas. In 1396, a new anti-Ottoman pact was reached between Spata and Esau against the Ottomans, who were defeated. In 1411, Carlo I Tocco rose as lord of Ioannina and as recorded in the Chronicle one Stephanos Bouisavos who might be from the Malakasii received the title of protostrator,[12], though most sources consider Bouisavos to be a Serb.[13][14]

At the same time, they also began to settle in southern Greece. In Attica (Malakasa) and Elis, two distinct settlements were founded by them. They also figure in the Albanian refugees who founded San Demetrio Corone and Palazzo Adriano. In the Pindus mountains and the border between Thessaly and Epirus, there's a Malakasi and in Ottoman times a nahiya named Malakasi existed in the region. Its inhabitants were recorded in the 19th century as Vlach-speaking. Their origins are disputed. Giuseppe Valentini supported the theory that they were descendants of the original Malakasi who had adopted Aromanian after centuries-long cohabitation with Vlachs.[2] N. G. L. Hammond considered them to be a different tribe from the Albanian one, which descended in Thessaly in 1334 after the first Albanian incursions and was recorded by a similar name in historical records because they both came originally from the Mallakastër plain.[6][15]


  1. ^ Nicol 1984, p. 145.
  2. ^ a b c Valentini 1956, p. 306
  3. ^ Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1976). Migrations and Invasions in Greece and Adjacent Areas. Noyes Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8155-5047-1. One of the tribal names used by Cantacuzenus, 'Malakasii', was derived most probably from the plain 'Malakasa' or 'Malakastra' between Valona and Berat, which provides superb winter pasture. The name is evidently of Vlach origin, and means 'bad encampments', so called probably because of the malaria which was the scourge of this area until the post-war period.
  4. ^ Sansaridou-Hendrickx 2017, p. 289.
  5. ^ Kukudes 2003, p. 214
  6. ^ a b Hammond 1976, p. 59: While Mazaraki is in central Epirus by the river Kalamas, Malakasa is the coastal plain of central Albania farther north and the words ‘of his own race' were used to distinguish the Albanian-speaking Malakasaei from the Vlach-speaking Malakasii.
  7. ^ Fine 1994, p. 253.
  8. ^ Sansaridou-Hendrickx 2017, p. 294.
  9. ^ Fine 1994, p. 352.
  10. ^ Sansaridou-Hendrickx 2017, p. 295.
  11. ^ Fine 1994, p. 355.
  12. ^ PLP, 19769. Μπουΐσαβος, Στέφανος.
  13. ^ Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (2007). Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities. Edizioni Plus. p. 152. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7. VIII, n. 19769) and A. Rigo (Lo Horismòs di Sinân Pascià, la presa di Ioannina (1430) e la “lettera” del sultano MurâdII, in “Θησαυρίσματα“, 1998, XXVIII, p. 64) have a different opinion and say he is an Albanian from the clan of the Malakasaioi.
  14. ^ Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (2007). Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities. Edizioni Plus. p. 152. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7. It seems probable, from an onomastic and political point of view, that he was a Serb, an opinion shared by D. Nicol, Kordoses, Schiro and after him the PLP and A Rigo, in 'Θησαυρίσματα' have a different opinion and say he is an Albanian from the Malakasaioi.
  15. ^ Hammond 1987, p. 120: They were Albanians with no king, called after their tribal chiefs, Malakasii, Bouii, and Mesaritae. But these were probably Vlachs; there were in Pouqeuville's time Vlachs in the Pindus who called themselves Bovi and there is still a village called Malakasi. Elsewhere we hear of the Albanian leader Peter Leosas , leading Malakasii of his own race ,and this would seem to suggest two kinds of Malakasii..


This page was last edited on 3 October 2020, at 01:11
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