Muzaka family

The Muzaka were an Albanian noble family that ruled over the region of Myzeqe (central Albania) in the Late Middle Ages. The Muzaka are also referred to by some authors as a tribe or a clan.[4][1] The earliest historical document that mention Muzaka family is written in 1090 by the Byzantine historian Anna Komnene. At the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century members of the Muzaka family controlled a region between the rivers of Devoll and Vjosë. Some of them were loyal to the Byzantine Empire while some of them allied with Charles of Anjou who gave them (and some other members of Albanian nobility) impressive Byzantine-like titles (such as sebastokrator) in order to subdue them more easily. During a short period, Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan (r. 1331-1355) occupied Albania including domains of Muzaka family but after Dušan's death they regained their former possessions. After the Battle of Savra in 1385 the territory of Albania came under the Ottoman Empire; they served the Ottomans until 1444 when Theodor Corona Musachi joined Skanderbeg's rebellion. When the Ottomans suppressed Skanderbeg's rebellion and captured the territory of Venetian Albania in the 15th century many members of the Muzaka family retreated to Italy. Those who stayed in Ottoman Albania lost their feudal rights, some converted to Islam and achieved high ranks in the Ottoman military and administrative hierarchy.

This article is about the Muzaka family. For the footballer Gjergji Muzaka, see this article.
Lordship of Berat (Muzaka Principality)
Place of originOpar, Byzantine Empire (modern-day Albania)
MembersAndrea II Muzaka,
Teodor I Muzaka,
Teodor II Muzaka,
Teodor III Muzaka
Gjon Muzaka
Connected familiesArianiti family
Kastrioti family
Different spellings of the name include Muzaki,[1] Musachi,[1] Molesachi,[2] Muzhaku, Musaka, Musaki, Musac,[3] and Musacus.[3]

Notable members of the family include Gjon Muzaka, Theodor Corona Musachi, Jakub Bey Musachi who was 15th century sanjakbey of the Ottoman Sanjak of Albania and Ahmet Pasha Kurt who was 18th century sanjakbey of the Sanjak of Avlona. The last notable member of Muzaka family who found refugee in Italy died in Naples in 1600.



The Muzaka were one of the most important families of Albanian origin.[5] According to Albanian historian S. Anamali the family originated from Opar in the Korça region,[6] a village which was said by Gjon Muzaka (who is regarded unreliable[7]) to have been inhabited by Slavs.[8] Gjon Muzaka further claimed that the family received its name from the Muzakija region, named after its population, the Molossians (an ancient Greek tribe), through the corruption of the name Molossi (into Molosachi and finally Musachi).[9] The coat of arms of Muzaka family was a two-headed eagle.[10]

Late Middle Ages

In 1090, the earliest mention of the Muzaka family, as a loyal commander of Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081-1118), was in the work of Byzantine historian Anna Komnene.[11] One of the first notable members of the family was Andrea I Muzaki who was, like some other members of the Albanian nobility, given impressive Byzantine-like title like sebastokrator by Charles of Anjou in order to subdue them more easily.[12][2] In 1279, Gjon I Muzaka, who remained loyal to the Byzantines and resisted the Angevin conquest of Albania, was captured by the forces of Charles of Anjou, but under the pressure of local Albanian nobles he was later released. The Muzaka family continued to remain loyal to the Byzantine Empire and resisted the expansion of the Serbian Kingdom. At the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century members of the Muzaka family controlled a region between the rivers of Devoll and Vjosë. Andrea I ruled in the period of 1280—1313; Andrea II ruled, with some interruptions, in the period between 1319 and 1372.[13] In 1319 three members of the Muzaka family even tried to get help from the Pope. For their loyalty to Byzantium, the head of the family Andrea II Muzaka gained the title of Despot in 1335, while other Muzakas continued to pursue careers in the Byzantine government in Constantinople.[14]

As soon as Andrea II Muzaka had obtained the title of despot, he endorsed an anti-Byzantine revolt (1335-1341) in his domains, and also formed an alliance with the Anjou from Naples on 30 December 1336, whereas he was recognized as a vassal of Robert, Prince of Taranto. As proof of his fidelity to the Capetian House of Anjou, Andrea II Muzaka had to leave one of his sons as hostage in Durazzo.[14]

In 1336, the Serbian Empire under Stefan Dušan captured Angevin-controlled Durazzo, including the territory under the control of the Muzaka family. Although Angevins managed to recapture Durazzo, Dušan continued his expansion, and in the period of 1337—45 he had captured Kanina and Valona (in modern-day southern Albania).[15] Muzaka nobility waged against Serbian forces was around 1340 when forces of Andrew II Muzaka defeated the Serbian army at the Pelister mountain.[15] After the death of Stefan Dušan in 1355 and collapse of the Serbian Empire, the Muzaka family of Berat regained control over parts of the south-eastern modern-day Albania and also over northern Greece with Kastoria[14][16] that Andrew II Musachi captured from Prince Marko after the Battle of Marica in 1371.[17]

After the death of Andrew II Muzaka in 1372 his descendants inherited control over his former domains. Theodor II Muzaka inherited control over Muzaqeya and Berat while Kastoria was inherited by his son Gjin (1337—1389).[18] According to chronicle of Gjon Muzaka (repeated in some historical works) Comita, one of the daughters of Andrew II Muzaka, married Balša II. Other authors confirm that Balša II married in 1372 and gained control over the territory south of Durazzo, including Valona and Kanine, as dowry. Still, many scholars believe that Balša II did not marry Comita Muzaka but Komnena, daughter of John Komnenos Asen who succeeded control over Valona and Kanine after the death of her brother Alexander in early 1372. The same chronicle mentions Theodor II Muzaka as one of participants of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, together with Prince Marko[9] which is widely disputed by many historians. The Muzaka family was in conflict with Prince Marko before his death in 1396 which is probably why Theodor Corona Musachi is commemorated in south Slavic and Serbian epic poetry as Korun Aramija, Marko's enemy.[19]

A Greek Orthodox church (Church of St Athanasius of Mouzaki) located in Kastoria, Greece was built in 1383–84 by Teodor II Muzaka[20] and dedicated to St. Athanasius.

Ottoman Empire period

After the Battle of Savra in 1385 the region of Myzeqe and most of Albanian nobility, came under control of the Ottoman Empire. The first signs of the rivalry between Venice and Ottomans in Albania appeared first in 1387 and after the death of Gjergj Thopia in 1391, when many Albanian noblemen including Andrea III Muzaka came under strong influence of Venice. To break out the influence of Venice Bayezid I launched a campaign in 1394 and restored Ottoman control over most of Albania.[21]

In period 1415—17 Ottoman Empire annexed Vlorë and Berat and ended the rule of Muzaka family, though some of its members converted to Islam and became Ottoman officials, like Jakub Bey son of Theodor Corona Musachi, who was sanjakbey of the Ottoman Sanjak of Albania during the Albanian Revolt of 1432–36.[22] There are claims that Jakub's father Theodor Corona Musachi participated in the revolt while some sources emphasize that no contemporary documents support such claims.[23] Jakub Bey Muzaka was on the position of the sanjakbey of the Sanjak of Albania until September 1442[24] when he was one of 16 Ottoman sanjakbeys under command of Sihàb ed-Dîn Pasa who were all killed by Christian forces commanded by Janos Hunyadi in a battle near Ialomița River.[25]

In 1444 Theodor Corona Musachi joined Skanderbeg's rebellion. In 1455 Skanderbeg tried to recapture the city but failed. After his death many members of noble families from Albania who were before opposed to the Ottomans, like Arianiti, Zenebishi and Muzaka family, converted to Islam and achieved high ranks in the military and administrative hierarchy in Ottoman Albania.[26] Although they were often left to rule lands they inherited from their ancestors, the new Ottoman regime obliged them to abandon part of their territories and their feudal rights.[27]

According to some sources the last member of Muzaka family died in Naples in 1600.[28] Still, there are other notable people recorded as members of the Muzaka family after 1600. In the middle of the 18th century a sanjakbey of the Sanjak of Avlona was Ahmet Pasha Kurt from the Muzaka family who was later appointed to the position of derbendci aga (guardian of the mountain passes) which he held until the sultan appointed Ahmet's grandson, Ali Pasha Tepelena, instead of him.[29]

Notable members

Notable members of Muzaka family include:

See also


  1. Fine 1994, p. 290.
  2. Denkschriften: Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters. Die illuminierten Handschriften und Inkunabeln der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 1869. p. 1. Herr Andreas Molesachi' (oder Musachi Sebastokrator”)
  3. Heide Brigitte Buschhausen; Helmut Buschhausen (1976). Die Marienkirche von Apollonia in Albanien: Byzantiner, Normannen u. Serben im Kampf um die Via Egnatia. Verlag d. Österr. Akad. d. Wiss. p. 26. ISBN 978-3-7001-0122-2. Adelsfamilie Musachi (Musac, Musacus)
  4. Hasan Celâl Güzel; Cem Oğuz; Osman Karatay; Murat Ocak (2002). The Turks: Ottomans (2 v. ). Yeni Türkiye. p. 2v. Albanian tribes such as Bua, Muzaka ... Kostandin Muzaka
  5. Elsie, Robert (2010), Historical Dictionary of Albania, p. 315
  6. Anamali, Skënder (2002), Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime (in Albanian), I, Botimet Toena, pp. 252–255, OCLC 52411919
  7. Elsie 2003, para. 1 (introduction): "While the chronicle is no work of great scholarship and may prove confusing to students of history"
  8. Elsie 2003, para. ?: "He also possessed and ruled over the region of Opari (Opar) which is inhabited by Slavs,"
  9. Elsie 2003, para. ?
  10. H. T. Norris (1993). Islam in the Balkans: Religion and Society Between Europe and the Arab World. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-87249-977-5. ...a two-headed eagle for the Muzakis...
  11. Studia Albanica. L'Institut. 1990. p. 179. Dès la fin du XIe siècle, un descendant Muzaka est . compte parmi les fideles de l'empereur Alexis Ier Comnene.
  12. Elsie 2012, p. 27
  13. Buletin për shkencat shoqërore. Botim i institutit te shkencave. 1956. p. 208. të cilët sundonin në disa kra- hina të Devollit e Viosës, Andrea I (1280-1313) dhe Andrea II Muzaka (1319-1372),
  14. Anamali, Skënder (2002), Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime (in Albanian), I, Botimet Toena, p. 252, OCLC 52411919
  15. Fine, John V. A. (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. pp. 290–291. ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5.
  16. Gillian Gloyer (1 June 2010). Albania (in Spanish). Alhena Media. p. 103. ISBN 978-84-92963-50-8. Tras la muerte de Stefan Dušan en 1355, el área que se corresponde con el sureste de la actual Albania y hasta Kastoria (que hoy en día pertenece a Grecia) cayó en manos de la familia Muzaka de Berati, uno de los poderosos clanes
  17. John V. A. Fine; John Van Antwerp Fine (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. p. 380. ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5. ... Andrew Musachi .... took Kastoria from Marko...
  18. Codices manuscripti. B. Hollinek. 1997. p. 7. II Teodoro Musachi di cui parla il nostra inventario era figlio del secondo Signore della dinastía, Andrea II Musachi (1319-1372), il quale aveva diviso, morendo, i suoi possedimenti tra i figli maschi, attribuendo la Musachia e Berat a Teodoro, Castoria al figlio Gin (1337-1389; alla sua morte gli succedette il fratello Stoia).
  19. Studia Albanica (in French). Académie des sciences de la République Populaire d'Albanie, Institut d'histoire, Institut de linguistique et littérature. 1988. p. 90. Il est possible que Theodore Korona Muzaka alt ete un jeune homme avant la mort de Marko Krali (1396) et qu'il ait participe dans les combats contre lui. Cest ainsi qu'on peut expliquer pourquoi il est entre avec le nom Korun Kesexhia
  20. Cvetan Grozdanov; Ǵorǵi Krsteski; Petar Alčev (1980). Ohridsko zidno slikarstvo XIV veka. Institut za istoriju umetnosti, Filozofski fakultet. p. 233. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  21. Studia Albanica. Académie des sciences de la République Populaire d'Albanie, Institut d'histoire, Institut de linguistique et littérature. 2005. p. 86. Pogon Skura, Andrea III Muzaka and other Albanian seigneurs, ail allies of
  22. Historia e Shqipërisë: përgatitur nga një kolektiv punonjësish shkencorë të sektorëve të historisë së kohës së lashtë dhe të kohës së mesme, Volume 1. Instituti i Historisë dhe i Gjuhësise. 1959. p. 268. Pasi u larguan ushtritë turke të Rumelisë, shpërtheu aty nga viti 1437-1438 një kryengritje tjetër në rrethin e Beratit, e krye- suar nga Theodhor Korona Muzaka, biri i të cilit, Jakup Beu, ishte në atë kohë sanxhakbeu i sanxhakut të Shqipërisë
  23. Instituti i Historisë (Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë) (1970). Studime historike, Volume 7. Akademia e Shkencave, Instituti i Historisë.
  24. Türk Tarih Kongresi: Kongrenin çalişmaları, kongreye sunulan tebliğler. Kenan Matbaası. 1994. p. 1693. Yerli Hristiyan beylerden birisi olan Teodor Muzaka'nın oğlu Yakup Bey, İslâma geçerken, Osmanlı yönetimi kadrosu içine sokulmuş ve 1442 yılının dolaylarında Arvanid sancak beyi makamına kadar çıkmayı başarmıştır.3 Adı geçen sancağın
  25. Pulaha, Selami (1968). burime Osmane. Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës, Instituti i Historisë dhe i Gjuhësisë. p. 45. ... e Shehabedin pashait e nga sanxhakbejlerët si Firuz beu, Jakup beu, i biri i Teodor Muzakës 30, e gjithsej pesëmbëdhjetë bejlerë pri- jësa ranë aty të gjithë dëshmorë. Shumica e jeniçerëve u grinë. Vetëm Shehabedin pasha u arratis.
  26. Oliver Jens Schmitt (2010). Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa. Peter Lang. p. 56. ISBN 978-3-631-60295-9. Muslimisch gewordene Angehörige der Familien Muzaki, Arianiti und Zenebishi, die vorher am Abwehrkampf gegen die Türken beteiligt gewesen waren, wurden in das Militärlehenssystem eingegliedert und erhielten Posten in der Verwaltung im Turkischen Albanien.
  27. Halil İnalcık (1978). The Ottoman Empire: Conquest, Organization and Economy. Variorum Reprints. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-86078-032-8.
  28. Fernand Braudel (1995). The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. University of California Press. p. 664. ISBN 978-0-520-20330-3. The Musachi family did not survive: its last member died in Naples in 1600.
  29. Elsie 2012, pp. 265, 266
    KURT, AHMET PASHA ( -1787) Historical figure and Pasha of Berat. Ahmet Kurt Pasha, a descendent of the house of Muzaka,.... He was the sandjak bey of Vlora and was appointed derbenci aga (keeper of the mountain passes).... Among the bandits he caught around 1775 was his grandson Ali Pasha Tepelena.
  30. Pantelija Slavkov Srećković (1888). Istorija srpskoga naroda: Vreme kraljevstva i carstva (1159-1367) (in Serbian). Kraljevsko-srpska drž. štamparija. p. 256. Ментула Музаки граф Клисуре (Karouga a то је на граници средње Арбаније и Тесалије)
  31. Studime historike. Akademia e Shkencave, Instituti i Historisë. 1967. p. 76. Marie Muzaka nuk pat mundësi t'i sje- llë të shoqtë si prikë as Vlorën, as Kaninën, sepse, në kohën e mar- tesës së tyre, që ne e kemi vendosur në
  32. Wilhelm Gülich; Rudolf Vogel (1976). Südosteuropa. Südosteuropa-Verlagsgesellschaft. p. 263. Arianiti Komneno war zweimal verheiratet: das erste Mal mit Maria Musachi, älterer Tochter des Andreas Musachi aus der
  33. Peter Quennell (1962). History Today. s.n. p. 434. Among the last to go was John Kastriota, and Ghin III Musachi, titular Despot of Epiros, one of the earliest biographers of
  34. Kurt W. Treptow (1992). From Zalmoxis to Jan Palach: Studies in East European History. Eastern European Monographs. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-88033-225-5. The Albanian rebellion in Himara posed a serious threat to the Ottoman position in Vlora. Under the leadership of Konstantin Muzaka, the Himariotes, with the aid of Klada's galleys, besieged the coastal cities of Himara and Sopot, surrounding


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