Albanian noble and military commander (1405–1468)

Gjergj Kastrioti (c. 1405 – 17 January 1468), commonly known as Skanderbeg, was an Albanian feudal lord and military commander who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire in what is today Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Quotes about Skanderbeg

  • Land of Albania! where Iskander rose,
    Theme of the young, and beacon of the wise,
    And he his namesake, whose oft-baffled foes
    Shrunk from his deeds of chivalrous emprize
  • [Skanderbeg is] an unshakable dam [who] stopped the fury of the Turkish tide and prevented it from overrunning Christian Europe.
    • Pope Callixtus III, quoted in Joseph Fracchia, ‘Hora: Social Conflicts and Collective Memories in Piana Degli Albanesi’, Past & Present, No. 209 (November 2010), p. 195
  • [Skanderbeg is] the most perfect, most fortunate and greatest master of warfare of all time.
    • Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer, Das albanische Element in Griechenland, part II (Munich, 1860), p. 7, quoted in Kemal Vokopola, 'The Albanian Customary Law', The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, Vol. 25, No. 4 (October 1968), p. 306
  • His manners were popular; but his discipline was severe; and every superfluous vice was banished from his camp: his example strengthened his command; and under his conduct, the Albanians were invincible in their own opinion and that of their enemies. The bravest adventurers of France and Germany were allured by his fame and retained in his service: his standing militia consisted of eight thousand horse and seven thousand foot; the horses were small, the men were active: but he viewed with a discerning eye the difficulties and resources of the mountains; and, at the blaze of the beacons, the whole nation was distributed in the strongest posts. With such unequal arms, Scanderbeg resisted twenty-three years the powers of the Ottoman empire; and two conquerors, Amurath the second, and his greater son, were repeatedly baffled by a rebel, whom they pursued with seeming contempt and implacable resentment.
  • In the fulness of conquest, Mahomet the second still felt at his bosom this domestic thorn: his lieutenants were permitted to negociate a truce; and the Albanian prince may justly be praised as a firm and able champion of his national independence. The enthusiasm of chivalry and religion has ranked him with the names of Alexander and Pyrrhus; nor would they blush to acknowledge their intrepid countrymen: but his narrow dominion, and slender powers, must leave him at an humble distance below the heroes of antiquity, who triumphed over the East and the Roman legions. His splendid atchievements, the bashas whom he encountered, the armies that he discomfited, and the three thousand Turks who were slain by his single hand, must be weighed in the scales of suspicious criticism.
  • If Skanderbeg had not been born, I would have long since put a turban on the head of the pope and the crescent moon on the top of St Peter's. Finally Europe and Asia are mine. Woe to Christianity. It has lost its sword and shield.
    • Mehmed II, remarks after Skanderbeg's death, quoted in Joseph Fracchia, ‘Hora: Social Conflicts and Collective Memories in Piana Degli Albanesi’, Past & Present, No. 209 (November 2010), p. 195
  • In 1912 Ismail Kemal raised the flag of Scanderbeg in Valona when he declared Albanian independence. Scanderbeg was our inspiration in those first arduous years during the birth pangs and growing pains of Albania. He has inspired our poets, historians, and sculptors. And he still inspires us. Sometimes I wonder whether there is any other living man who is alive today as he is!
    • Fan Noli, quoted in Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, 1468–1968 (1968), p. 203
  • The Albanians resisted them for 25 years with a tenacious and invincible spirit, because of the valor and courage of their greatest leader, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, and this day celebrates the 500th anniversary of his death. We are delighted to learn that all Albanians, at home and abroad, plan to honor this anniversary by offering homage and veneration to their national hero whom they will never forget. This Holy See is pleased to join in the praise of this man of great nobility, a faithful son of the Church and a son whom sovereign pontiffs before us have praised possibly more glowingly than any other man of his time. For 25 years he saved his country from the assault of enemies. He defended his country threatened by the greatest danger, at the head of an army which was the rampart and defense of Christianity.
    • Pope Paul VI (1968), quoted in Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, 1468–1968 (1968), p. 184
  • [I]f a tolerable account could be got of the exploits of Scanderbeg, it would be inestimable, for he exceeds all the officers, antient and modern, in the conduct of a small defensive army: I met with him in the Turkish History, but no where else.
    • James Wolfe, letter (18 July 1756), quoted in The Gentleman's Magazine, No. 3, Vol. LXI (March 1791), p. 213
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