Golem of Kruja

Golem was an Albanian nobleman who ruled the Principality of Arbanon, in its phase of semi-independency. He was the last ruler of Arbanon before its final annexation in the reemerging Byzantine Empire. His holdings included Krujë and probably Ohrid.[1]

Golem of Krujë
Lord of Krujë (Arbanon)
PredecessorGregorios Kamonas
Other titlesarchon


He rose to rule Arbanon through marriage with the daughter of sebastos Gregorios Kamonas and Komnena Nemanjić and then succeeded him to rule Arbanon. The ascension of Golem is regarded as a reversion to the native rule of Albania.[2] Komnena was the daughter of Stefan the First-Crowned and grand-daughter of Alexios III Angelos, the last Byzantine Emperor before the Fourth Crusade.[2] This particular aspect of her origin would become important in later political developments as she was the niece of Irene Laskarina, Empress of Nicaea and thus related to the Nicaean Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes.[3]

The exact date of Golem's rise to power is unknown. In his time, Arbanon had moved from independence under Dhimitër Progoni to semi-independence under the high suzerainty of Theodore Komnenos Doukas of the Despotate of Epirus until 1230 when Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria expanded westwards. When he died in 1240, the Despotate of Epirus under the Komneno-Doukai exerted again its influence in central Albania. This was the era of the rise of the Nicaean Empire which sought to take hold of all post-Byzantine states and reform the Byzantine Empire. In this context, the struggle between Michael II Komnenos Doukas and John III Doukas Vatatzes developed. In 1246, the two expanded in the region of Macedonia and the new border between them in the area between Albania and western Macedonia. Golem was in control of Ohrid at the time. He, Theodore Petraliphas and others who were allies of Michael Doukas negotiated with Vatatzes and changed sides.[4][5] Golem was probably in control of Ohrid and Petraliphas of Kastoria.[3] Both men were in the region of Kastoria with their armies in order to support Michael against Vatatzes but instead of preparing to fight against him, they reached an agreement with Vatatzes who had also camped in western Macedonia. The exact details of the agreement are not known but contemporary historian George Pachymeres writes that Golem (Goulielmos) was "honored with Roman dignities" by the Nicaean Emperor.[6] Golem is last mentioned in the historical records among other 'notables' of Arbanon, in a meeting with George Akropolites in Durrës that occurred in the winter of 1256–1257. Akropolites subsequently annexed the statelet and installed a Byzantine civil, military and fiscal administration.[7]

In historiographyEdit

Golem of Kruja is mentioned in two contemporary accounts. As Goulamos in that of George Akropolites and as Goulielmos in that of George Pachymeres.[8][6] Thus, his name could either be a variant of William, which had entered Albanian as Gulielm or Golem, which had entered Albanian either via Latin Gulielmus or south Slavic/Bulgarian and signified one's high status.[9] In Albanian historiography, those scholars who have favored the second hypothesis have proposed a possible connection to the Arianiti family, some members of which also used Golem in their names (Moisi Golemi).


  • According to Donald M. Nicol, Golem was the "chieftain of Krujë and Elbasan".[10][5] Other modern sources also call him "Prince of Krujë and Elbasan",[10] "Prince of Arbanon",[11] or "Territorial lord of Albanon".[12]



  1. ^ Macrides 2007, p. 259
  2. ^ a b Nicol 1986, p. 161: "But he was overruled by Demetrios Chomatianos M. In due course the daughter of Kamonas married a local magnate called Golem (or Goulamos), and Kroia and Arbanon reverted to native rule. Golem was connected not only with the Serbian royal family but also by marriage with John Batatzes of Nicaea; and it was through this latter connexion that he was tempted into joining the winning side in Macedonia in 1252, when the armies..."
  3. ^ a b Macrides 2007, p. 273
  4. ^ Osswald 2007, p. 134 "In 1252, Prince Golem of Arbanon submitted to the empire of Nicaea, but this did not last, since, in 1257/58, the Albanians rebelled again and rejoined the party of Michael II, ruler of Epirus."
  5. ^ a b Nicol 1957, p. 152: "They had barely crossed the frontiers of Albania when Golem, the chieftain of Kroia and Elbassan, who had been helping Michael's army in the region of Kastoria, surrendered himself and his soldiers to Vatatzes.
  6. ^ a b Macrides 2007, p. 257
  7. ^ Ducellier 1999, p. 791: "In the winter of 1256–1257, George Akropolites, exercising authority over the newly acquired provinces, felt free to travel around the region, after bringing together at Durazzo the ‘notables’ of Arbanon, among them, no doubt, Prince Gulam (of whom subsequently no more would be heard); he thus annexed without a murmur the statelet in which he was able to install a civil, military and fiscal administration which was thoroughly Byzantine."
  8. ^ Grimm 1964, p. 170
  9. ^ Stüber 2009, p. 416
  10. ^ a b Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy & American Society of Genealogists 1980, p. 40 (Note #29): "29. For "Goulamos" or Golem, Prince of Kroia and Elbasan c.1254, see Karl Hopf, Chroniques gréco-romanes inedites ou peu connues (Berlin, 1873), p. 535 (table XI. 13) and Donald M. Nicol, The Despotate of Epiros (Oxford, 1957), pp. 152–53, 161–162, 237 (table III). Golem married the daughter of Gregorios Kamonas, Prince of Kroia c.1215 by his second wife, a daughter of Stefan II Prvovencani, King of Serbia and his first wife Eudokia Angelina."
  11. ^ Österreichisches Ost- und Südosteuropa-Institut & Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ost 2003, p. 114: "Als letzter einheimischer Fürst von Arbanon wird 1253 Golem [Goulamos] genannt."
  12. ^ Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës: Instituti i Historisë e Gjuhs̈isë 1964, p. 141: "Im Jahre 1253 wird als Landesherr von "Albanon' ein gewisser Golem, Goulâmos genannt, dessen Frau, Georgios..."


  • Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy; American Society of Genealogists (1980). The Genealogist, Volumes 1–2. New York: The Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy.
  • Ducellier, Alain (1981). La façade maritime de l'Albanie au Moyen âge. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
  • Grimm, Gerhard (1964). Albanische Forschungen, Issues 1–2 (in German). Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz.
  • Macrides, Ruth (2007). George Akropolites: The History – Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921067-1.
  • Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1986). Studies in Late Byzantine History and Prosopography. London: Variorum Reprints. ISBN 978-0-86078-190-5.
  • Nicol, Donald McGillivray (1957). The Despotate of Epiros. Oxford: Blackwell & Mott, Limited.
  • Osswald, Brendan (2007). "The Ethnic Composition of Medieval Epirus". In Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (eds.). Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities. Pisa: Edizioni Plus – Pisa University Press. pp. 125–154. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7.
  • Österreichisches Ost- und Südosteuropa-Institut; Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ost (2003). Österreichische Osthefte (in German). Vol. 45. Wien: Österreichisches Ost- und Südosteuropa-Institut.
  • Stüber, Karin (2009). Indogermanische Frauennamen. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter. ISBN 978-3-8253-5600-2.
  • Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës: Instituti i Historisë e Gjuhs̈isë (1964). Studia Albanica. Vol. 1. Tirana: L'Institut.
Preceded by Lord of Kruja and Elbasan
fl. 1252–1254
Succeeded by
Post abolished