Gjon Kastrioti II

Gjon II Kastrioti (Italian: Ioanne Castrioto,[1] Giovanni Castrioto;[2]1456–1502), was the son of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the Albanian national hero, and of Donika Kastrioti, daughter of the powerful Albanian prince, Gjergj Arianiti. He was for a short time Lord of Kruja after his father's death, then Duke of San Pietro in Galatina (1485), Count of Soleto, Signore of Monte Sant'Angelo and San Giovanni Rotondo. In 1495, Ferdinand I of Naples gave him the title of the Signore of Gagliano del Capo and Oria. While in his teens, he was forced to leave the country after the death of his father in 1468. He is known also for his role in the Albanian Uprisings of 1481 , when, after reaching the Albanian coast from Italy settling in Himara, he tried to struggle against the Ottomans.[3] In June 1481, he supported forces of Ivan Crnojević to successfully recapture Zeta from the Ottomans.[4] He was unable to re-establish the Kastrioti Principality and liberate Albania from the Ottomans, and he retired in Italy after three years of war in 1484.[3]

Gjon Kastrioti II
Gjon II Kastrioti.jpg
Pietro Cavoti after his often visit to the house of the Galatian family he found an "antique drawing", namely the portrait of Gjon II Kastrioti, which he immediately copied, and marked the date of realization March 6. 1857
Noble familyCoa Kastrioti Family.svg Kastrioti
SpouseJerina Branković
MotherDonika Kastrioti

The return of Gjon II Kastrioti in Albania (1481-1484)Edit

With the death of his father, Skanderbeg, in 1468, Gjon II Kastrioti migrated with his mother, Donika Kastrioti, and for a short period of time lived in the Kingdom of Naples, in the properties he had inherited from his father, Skanderbeg. He was fighting against the Ottomans in Otranto, when representatives of the Albanian insurgents asked Gjon II Kastrioti to return to Albania and he accepted their request.

Taking advantage of the interest of the Neapolitan court at this time in expanding the front of the war against the Ottoman invaders, Gjon II Kastrioti managed to obtain from King Ferdinand the necessary means of navigation to come to Albania together with a number of warriors. In four Neapolitan ships (galleries) he loaded his forces and set sail for the homeland with his cousin, Konstandin Muzaka.

After Gjon II Kastrioti landed south of Durrës in 1481, Neapolitan ships headed for southern Albania and landed Konstandin Muzaka in the Himara area, where another hotbed of anti-Ottoman uprisings had been created. Meanwhile, in northern Albania, in the mountainous regions of Lezha and Shkodra, the forces of Nikollë and Lekë Dukagjini operated. They also attacked the city of Shkodra, which forced Sulejman Pasha to send military reinforcements to this area as well.

Gjon II Kastrioti was welcomed by the inhabitants of central Albania as the legal heir of the country. With his arrival the insurgents of these regions intensified the struggle for the expulsion of the Ottoman invaders. In these conditions, Sulejman saw Eunuku launched against them a part of the Ottoman army, which was preparing in the vicinity of Vlora to go to Italy.

To withstand the attack of the Ottoman army, Gjon II Kastrioti sent a part of his fighters to defend a path from which the enemy troops would pass. But the Albanian fighters could not withstand the attack of the Ottoman forces and almost all of the Albanian soldiers were taken prisoner. This loss shook Gjon II Kastrioti's confidence in the success of the uprising, so he thought of leaving Albania and returning to Italy. But the inhabitants of the Kastriot possessions expressed a massive readiness to continue the fight against the Ottoman invaders. About 7,000 Albanian infantry gathered around Gjon II Kastriot[5] and in the first half of August 1481 attacked and defeated an Ottoman army of 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers[6]. In addition to this victory, the Albanians who had been captured by the Ottomans in the previous battle were also released.

Also during August 1481, in the western parts of southern Albania, especially in the region of Himara, fierce fighting took place between Albanians and Ottoman troops. Under the leadership of Konstandin Muzaka, Albanian fighters surrounded and attacked the castles of Himara and Sopot (Borsh), capturing both of them[7]. The very difficult situation that was created for the Ottoman forces, operating in these areas, forced Sulejman Pasha to leave on his own at the head of 3,000 soldiers in the direction of Himara. But on the way they were defeated in battle by the Albanians and left over 1,000 Ottomans killed and prisoners. Among the captives was the beylerbey of Rumelia, Sulejman Pasha, whom the Albanians gave as a war trophy to Gjon II Kastrioti.

After the victory of the Albanians over the troops of Sinan Pasha, in the coastal areas of southern Albania, the castle of Himara was liberated on August 31, 1481 and then the castle of Sopot[8].

The defeat of Sulejman Pasha's army in Albania greatly facilitated the anti-Ottoman military actions that took place in the Kingdom of Naples. On September 10, 1481, the army of Naples liberated the castle of Otranto and thus expelled the Ottomans from Italy.

After the victories of the Albanians during the month of August 1481 against the army of Sulejman Pasha, their military actions for the liberation of the cities and castles in Albania were expanded. Gjon II Kastriot's fighters turned to Kruja and launched attacks to liberate it. Although the Albanian army failed to take Kruja, because the castle of Kruja was very fortified and impregnable by force of arms, by the end of 1481 the Albanians liberated a considerable part of the Kastrioti possessions. Gjon II Kastrioti became known as the Prince of the liberated Albanian lands.

After the peace agreement of 1483 between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Naples, the Ottoman armies strengthened their activity for the reconquest of the Kastrioti possessions and other free Albanian territories. Although in January 1484, Gjon II Kastriot's fighters defeated an Ottoman army near the Erzen River, but the resistance and organized struggle of the Albanians temporarily began to weaken due to the great and unceasing pressure of the invading Ottoman forces. In the summer of 1484 the Ottomans reconquered the castle of Himara. The fall of the anti-Ottoman resistance forced Gjon II Kastrioti to leave Albania and settle again in the properties that the Kastriots had in Italy. The same thing was done by other Albanian rulers, who had emigrated and came to Albania in the early 1480s to lead the anti-Ottoman uprisings.


He married Jerina Branković,[1][2] daughter of Serbian Despot Lazar Branković.[9] They had the following issue:

Gjon II Kastrioti died in 1502 and left five children: Gjergj (known as the new Skanderbeg), Konstandin, bishop of Izernia who died in 1500 at the age of 20, Ferrante who died in 156, Federico, who died in 1503 at the age of 15 in Valencia, Spain, where he was buried with royal honors, and Maria, who dedicated herself to art. The Castriota descendants living in Italy today represent the only descendants of Manuel II Palaiologos, great-grandfather of Jerina.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Theodore Spandounes (Spandugnino), De la origine deli Imperatori Ottomani, Sathas, C. N. (ed.) (1890) Documents inédits relatifs à l'histoire de la Grèce au moyen âge, IX (Paris), p. 159
  2. ^ a b c d Breve memoria de li discendenti de nostra casa Musachi, p. 284
  3. ^ a b Anamali 2002, pp. 413–416
  4. ^ Евгениј Љвович Немировски (1996). Почеци штампарства у Црној Гори, 1492-1496. ЦНБ "Ђурђе Црнојевић". p. 99. Retrieved 24 April 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë 2002, p. 474

    Rreth 7 mijë luftëtarë u grumbulluan rreth Gjon Kastriotit

  6. ^ Noli 1962, p. 120

    Më 1481, i biri i Skënderbeut, Gjon Kastrioti, i thirrur prej Shqiptarëve, shkoi nga Italia në Himarë, zaptoi një pjesë të madhe të Labërisë, edhe theu një ushtëri turke prej 2000 që u dërgua kundër tij. Kryengritja u përhap në veri dhe në jugë, po u thye pas disa vjetësh.

  7. ^ Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë 2002, p. 474

    [...] në viset bregdetare të Shqipërisë së Poshtme u çliruan kështjella e Himarës më 31 gusht 1481 dhe më pas ajo e Sopotit.

  8. ^ Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë 2002, p. 474

    [...] në viset bregdetare të Shqipërisë së Poshtme u çliruan kështjella e Himarës më 31 gusht 1481 dhe më pas ajo e Sopotit.

  9. ^ Dejan Nikolić (1996). Svi vladari Srbije. Narodna biblioteka "Resavska škola". већ само кћерке - Јелачу (Јелену), Ирину и Милицу
  10. ^ Runciman 1990, pp. 183–185