Skanderbeg(redirected from Gjerj Kastrioti)
, c.1404–1468, Albanian national hero. His original name was George Castriota or Kastriotes, but the Ottomans called him Iskender Bey, and this was corrupted into Scanderbeg.
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(also Scanderbeg; pseudonym of George Kas-trioti). Born circa 1405; died Jan. 17, 1468. Leader of the Albanian struggle for liberation from the Ottoman conquerors. National hero of Albania.
Skanderbeg came from the influential Kastrioti (Castriota) family, a line of feudal princes. As a child he was given as hostage to the Turkish sultan Murad II; he later served in the sultan’s army. For his skill as a military commander he received the title of bey, and in honor of Alexander the Great, the name Iskender; hence Iskender-bey, or, in an altered pronunciation, Skanderbeg.
Gradually, Skanderbeg prepared for a struggle against the sultan, maintaining relations with the sultan’s domestic and foreign enemies and carrying on negotiations with J. Hunyadi. After the Hungarian army defeated the sultan’s troops in a battle near Niš on Nov. 3, 1443, he left the Turkish camp with a cavalry detachment of 300 and arrived in Dibra. Relying upon the free peasantry, who supported his call for an anti-Turkish liberation struggle, he began a campaign to drive the Turks from Albania. Within a few days he entered Kruja and on November 28 was proclaimed ruler of Kastrioti Principality. Skanderbeg drove the Turkish garrisons out of the fortresses of Pe-trela, Petralba, Steliushi, Torchan, and Svetigrad. He undertook to unify the Albanian feudal lords and within the standing army formed a people’s volunteer corps consisting primarily of peasants. Under Skanderbeg’s leadership, the Albanian people in the course of 24 years repulsed the attempts by the Ottoman conquerors to restore their rule. An extraordinarily gifted statesman, Skanderbeg overcame great domestic and foreign political difficulties caused by the separatist tendencies of the Albanian feudal lords and by the mercenary policies of Venice and the papacy. He died in Lezha. The People’s Republic of Albania has established the Order of Skanderbeg.