2. Illyria under Roman Rule, First Century B.C.
Based on information from R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy,
The Encyclopedia of Military History, New York, 1970, 95; Herman
Kinder and Werner Hilgemann, The Anchor Atlas of World History,
1, New York, 1974, 90, 94; and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15,
New York, 1975, 1092.
historians of the Balkans believe the Albanian people are descendants
of the ancient Illyrians, who, like other Balkan peoples, were
subdivided into tribes and clans. The name Albania is derived
from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Arber, or Arbereshë,
and later Albanoi, that lived near Durrës. The Illyrians
were Indo-European tribesmen who appeared in the western part
of the Balkan Peninsula about 1000 B.C., a period coinciding
with the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age.
They inhabited much of the area for at least the next millennium.
Archaeologists associate the Illyrians with the Hallstatt culture,
an Iron Age people noted for production of iron and bronze swords
with winged-shaped handles and for domestication of horses.
The Illyrians occupied lands extending from the Danube, Sava,
and Morava rivers to the Adriatic Sea and the Sar Mountains.
At various times, groups of Illyrians migrated over land and
sea into Italy.
Illyrians carried on commerce and warfare with their neighbors.
The ancient Macedonians probably had some Illyrian roots, but
their ruling class adopted Greek cultural characteristics. The
Illyrians also mingled with the Thracians, another ancient people
with adjoining lands on the east. In the south and along the
Adriatic Sea coast.
Illyrians produced and traded cattle, horses, agricultural goods,
and wares fashioned from locally mined copper and iron. Feuds
and warfare were constant facts of life for the Illyrian tribes,
and Illyrian pirates plagued shipping on the Adriatic Sea. Councils
of elders chose the chieftains who headed each of the numerous
Illyrian tribes. From time to time, local chieftains extended
their rule over other tribes and formed short-lived kingdoms.
During the fifth century B.C., a well-developed Illyrian population
center existed as far north as the upper Sava River valley in
what is now Slovenia. Illyrian friezes discovered near the present-day
Slovenian city of Ljubljana depict ritual sacrifices, feasts,
battles, sporting events, and other activities.
Illyrian kingdom of Bardhyllus became a formidable local power
in the fourth century B.C. In 358 B.C., however, Macedonia's
Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, defeated the Illyrians
and assumed control of their territory as far as Lake Ohrid
Alexander himself routed the forces of the Illyrian chieftain
Clitus in 335 B.C., and Illyrian tribal leaders and soldiers
accompanied Alexander on his conquest of Persia. After Alexander's
death in 323 B.C., independent Illyrian kingdoms again arose.
In 312 B.C., King Glaucius expelled the Greeks from Durrës.
By the end of the third century, an Illyrian kingdom based near
what is now the Albanian city of Shkodër controlled parts
of northern Albania, Montenegro, and Hercegovina. Under Queen
Teuta, Illyrians attacked Roman merchant vessels plying the
Adriatic Sea and gave Rome an excuse to invade the Balkans.
the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 B.C., Rome overran the Illyrian
settlements in the Neretva River valley. The Romans made new
gains in 168 B.C., and Roman forces captured Illyria's King
Gentius at Shkodër, which they called Scodra, and brought
him to Rome in 165 B.C. A century later, Julius Caesar and his
rival Pompey fought their decisive battle near Durrës (Dyrrachium).
Rome finally subjugated recalcitrant Illyrian tribes in the
western Balkans dwing the region of Emperor Tiberius in A.D.
9. The Romans divided the lands that make up present-day Albania
among the provinces of Macedonia, Dalmatia, and Epirus.
about four centuries, Roman rule brought the Illyrian-populated
lands economic and cultural advancement and ended most of the
enervating clashes among local tribes. The Illyrian mountain
clansmen retained local authority but pledged allegiance to
the emperor and acknowledged the authority of his envoys. During
a yearly holiday honoring the Caesars, the Illyrian mountaineers
swore loyalty to the emperor and reaffirmed their political
rights. A form of this tradition, known as the kuvend, has survived
to the present day in northern Albania.
Romans established numerous military camps and colonies and
completely latinized the coastal cities. They also oversaw the
construction of aqueducts and roads, including the Via Egnatia,
a famous military highway and trade route that led from Durrës
through the Shkumbin River valley to Macedonia and Byzantium
(later Constantinople. Copper, asphalt, and silver were extracted
from the mountains. The main exports were wine, cheese, oil,
and fish from Lake Scutari and Lake Ohrid. Imports included
tools, metalware, luxury goods, and other manufactured articles.
Apollonia became a cultural center, and Julius Caesar himself
sent his nephew, later the Emperor Augustus, to study there.
distinguished themselves as warriors in the Roman legions and
made up a significant portion of the Praetorian Guard. Several
of the Roman emperors were of Illyrian origin, including Diocletian
(284-305), who saved the empire from disintegration by introducing
institutional reforms, and Constantine the Great (324-37)--who
accepted Christianity and transferred the empire's capital from
Rome to Byzantium, which he called Constantinople. Emperor Justinian
(527-65)--who codified Roman law, built the most famous Byzantine
church, the Hagia Sofia, and reextended the empire's control
over lost territories- -was also an Illyrian.
came to the Illyrian-populated lands in the first century A.D.
Saint Paul wrote that he preached in the Roman province of Illyricum,
and legend holds that he visited Durrës. When the Roman
Empire was divided into eastern and western halves in A.D. 395,
the lands that now make up Albania were administered by the
Eastern Empire but were ecclesiastically dependent on Rome.
In A.D. 732, however, a Byzantine emperor, Leo the Isaurian,
subordinated the area to the patriarchate of Constantinople.
For centuries thereafter, the Albanian lands became an arena
for the ecclesiastical struggle between Rome and Constantinople.
Most Albanians living in the mountainous north became Roman
Catholic, while in the southern and central regions, the majority