Friday, 15 March 2013

Men of Yore: Skanderbeg

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form.  Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards.  We, as men, are the frontiersmen/the vanguard, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

It is also partly intended to show images, be they paintings, statues or photographs of the countenances of men of yore.  Because, quite frankly, many men wear the countenances of women these days: smiling, smirking, cooing, rolling their eyes, looking smug etc.  It's a sign of the times, and by showing some images of men from the past, I hope to show some modern men why looking surly, frowning and giving hard-ball stares at people is something to do, something to practise.

George Kastrioti

Skanderbeg, byname of George Kastrioti, or Castriota, Albanian Gjergj Kastrioti   (born 1405, northern Albania—died Jan. 17, 1468, Lezhë, Albania), national hero of the Albanians.

A son of John (Gjon) Kastrioti, prince of Emathia, George was early given as hostage to the Turkish sultan. Converted to Islām and educated at Edirne, Turkey, he was given the name Iskander—after Alexander the Great—and the rank of bey (hence Skanderbeg) by Sultan Murad II. During the defeat of the Turks at Niš (1443), in Serbia, Skanderbeg abandoned the Turkish service and joined his Albanian countrymen against the forces of Islām. He embraced Christianity, reclaimed his family possessions, and in 1444 organized a league of Albanian princes, over which he was appointed commander in chief.

In the period 1444–66 he effectively repulsed 13 Turkish invasions, his successful resistance to the armies of Murad II in 1450 making him a hero throughout the Western world. Through the years he elicited some support from Naples, Venice, and the papacy and was named by Pope Calixtus III captain general of the Holy See. In 1463 he secured an alliance with Venice that helped launch a new offensive against the Turks. Until the end of his life he continued to resist successfully all Turkish invasions. Within a few years of his death, however, his citadel at Krujë had fallen (1478), and Albania passed into several centuries of obscurity under Turkish rule.


There are many nationalist heroes throughout the Balkan area who fought for their Right to self-determination despite the seemingly overwhelming might of the Ottoman army, Skanderbeg is just one of them.  It demonstrates that despite overwhelming odds, smaller nation-states like Albania, can hold their own against mighty empires.

Check out some of the other entries from the 'Men of Yore' series:
King Alfred, the Great
John MacDouall Stuart
Richard Trevithick
Wyatt Earp
William 'Wild Bill' Cody
Andrew Carnegie
Duke of Viseu (Henry the Navigator)
Meriwether Lewis
Arthur Schopenhauer
Theodore Roosevelt
Rudolph Diesel
John Snow
Ludwig van Beethoven
Henry Ford
George Custer


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