Area 17: Rebellion against Durrës

  1. Zu Wied visits a mosque in Durrës (S/T Collection, Leiden)
  2. Tirana with bazaar, city tower and mosque (S/T Collection, Leiden)
  3. Durrës-Tirana on topographical map, 1902 (S/T Collection, Leiden)
  4. Essad Pasha arrested (S/T Collection, Leiden)
  5. The bridge at Shijak (S/T Collection, Leiden)
  6. Deputation of rebels (IMG, The Hague)

The inital positive feelings of many Albanians towards the government of Zu Wied turned to resentment as a result of the failure of the christian ruler to establish order. He was thought to be too positive towards the roman catholic Austrians and the eastern orthodox Greeks. Public demonstrations in the form of visits to mosques (A) no longer made any impression and in Tirana (B), calls went up for a circumcised (i.e. muslim) ruler. In that atmosphere, the rivalry between the Dutch officers who led the Albanian gendarmerie, on the one hand, and the Minister of Internal Affairs and War (who still had hundreds of armed reservists at his disposal), on the other hand, broke out into open conflict. Major Sluys was able to convince Zu Wied that Essad Pasha was conspiring with Serbs and Greeks. Essad Pasha was also said to be the evil genius behind rebellious farmers in the countryside between Shijak and Tirana (C). On 20 May, the roof of Essad’s palace in Durrës was destroyed by shellfire and he was arrested (D). Essad Pasha was banished to Italy, where he was welcomed as a hero!

Two days later, Captain Sar departed with one hundred gendarmes and a light cannon to investigate reports of a rebellion. Sar posted volunteers from the mountains at the bridge near Shijak (E) to cover his route of retreat. En route to Tirana, he encountered a furious demonstration. When Sar tried to disarm the farmers, a firefight ensued with deaths on both sides. The volunteers at the bridge deserted because Sar had broken their code of honour: to disarm a man is to emasculate him. Sar was forced to surrender along with forty gendarmes. A delegation of rebels (F), along with a Bektashi Baba, the Mufti of Tirana and prominent beys, negotiated with Zu Wied the release of the prisoners in exchange for general amnesty.