The Origins of Mirdita

Though the mirditas do not appear among the classic authors who write on Albania prior to the Ottoman rule, the long-standing tradition of these highlanders is that they are descended from the Princes of Dukagjin.

These great nobles of the North, seeing the unravelling of their power and dominion after the death of Skanderbeg, are said to have left the plain that bears their name and taken to the highlands, bringing with them their desire for freedom, their Christianity and their refusal to submit to the Ottoman sultans.

Despite many and repeated attempts to bring these people and their highlands to heel, the Ottomans could not overcome the traitorous mountains and narrow defiles, guarded day and night with the terrible determination to be killed, rather than allow their land to be touched by the Ottoman.
Unable to conquer by force, the Sultan extended them a generous peace offer, whereby their chieftain was officially recognized and their internal governance left undisturbed - with freedom of worship and exemption from any and all taxes - on the single condition that they provide a number of armed bannermen, under their own chieftain, to serve the Sultan in time of war. Local tales have it that this generous peace and their privileges date from the reign of Sultan Bayezid and some of them mention the battle of Kosova as the precise time of their granting. Once the battle had been won, the chieftain of the mirditas is said to have received an inscribed metal plate from the Sultan, on which were listed all the privileges they enjoyed. 


Hyacynthe Hecquard, Histoire et description de la Haute Albanie ou Guégarie. (Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1858), k. 4. 

Mark Tirta, Mitologjia ndër shqiptarë. (Tiranë: Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë, 2004). 

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