Australian Macedonian Advisory Council
October 04, 2009
With a great surprise we read an amazing historical quote that concerns various periods from European history that derives from Prof. William Maxwell and can be found in the article “Journey to Albania” (http://gaiaschool.info/Journey_to_Albania.html).
This quote reads:
“The Albanians are universally acknowledged as the descendants of the Illyrians who gave the world Alexander the Great, Emperor Constantine, several other Roman and Byzantine Emperors, one of the popes of the Roman Catholic Church, several Grand Vizirs of the Ottoman Empire, Muhammad Ali Pasha, father of modern Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, as well as Mother Teresa destined for sainthood because of her services to the poor of India. Albania was also the only country in Europe that protected all the Jews, i.e. the only European country where the Jewish population was increased during WWII.
I will try to analyze step by step the accuracies of the above quote. Not all of them because I am not expert of all these that William Maxwell wrote such as the Ottoman history.”
“Albanians are universally acknowledged as the descendants of the Illyrians…..
This myth systemically cultivated from known Albanian centres that promote the historical revisionism and extreme nationalism in the Balkans. Albanians are not universally acknowledged as the descendants of the Illyrians. This confirms from several studies and works such as ´Illyrians´ by John Wilkes, several works from the expert of the Albanian history Mrs Miranda Vickers, Albanian identities: myth and history by Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers and Bernd Jürgen Fischer, global wide collectively works such as the ancient, modern and medieval history of the Cambridge and Oxford Universities e.t.c.”
And finally: “…Albanians are universally acknowledged…who gave the world Alexander the Great…”
This is one from the most historically inaccurate arguments; similar with the FYROM argument that Alexander The Great was of Slavonic origin. Thousands of historical works and many writers (Hammond, Worthington, Borza, Stoneman, Ulrich Wilcken e.t.c.) have agreed that Alexander The Great was born in July 356 (Arr. 7.28.1, Plut. Alex. 3.5), was the son of Macedonian Philip´s fourth wife Olympias, a princess from Epirus, situated to Macedon´s west. None of them mention that Alexander was Illyrian, and the most inaccurate – Albanian (http://www.macedonia-evidence.org) as William Maxwell quoted. Macedonians according the same sources were a mix of Greek and older ancient tribes or were just Greek or of unknown origin (Borza). Epirotans according the same sources were Greeks and the most known tribe was the Mollosian. None of them mention Illyrian or Albanian.
“Albanians are universally acknowledged…who gave…Emperor Constantine, several other Roman and Byzantine Emperors (were Albanians)”.
Emperor Constantine and several other Roman and Byzantine Emperors were not Albanians, as William Maxwell claims. Byzantine Dynasties were Greek, Armenian, Roman, Anatolian origin. This is also confirmed from many writers and experts of the Byzantine history like George Ostrogorski, Paul Stephenson, Cyril Mango, Joan Hussey, John Norwich as also from global wide collectively works like European medieval history of the Cambridge, Oxford and Michigan Universities e.t.c..
“Albanians are universally acknowledged…who gave…pope in the Roman Catholic Church…”
Catholic Encyclopaedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/), the same source used by William Maxwell doesn´t even mention that any one of the Popes was Albanian!
” Albania was also the only country in Europe that protected all the Jews, i.e. the only European country where the Jewish population was increased during WWII…”
At the 30s and 40s and according the Albanian sources only 200 Jews lived! Jewish population actually grew during the Axis occupation; it is estimated that there were 1800 Jews in Albania at the end of war but the small Jewish community (200 souls) of Vlore was expelled from the country at the Nazis concentration´s camp.
Albania at the WWII also as is known was allied of the fascist Italy and thousands Albanians were enlisted in the known SS regiments (SS Division Skanderbeg and Handschar Division.
There is an Illyrian myth, with which Albanian culture has been flirting for at least 150 years, and as a myth it can’t be questioned for it has all the answers. There is also a very tentative Illyrian science, based mainly on archaeology, and on some data transmitted by Ancient Greek and Roman Historians. Those who are ready to accept that Illyrians and Albanians were one people should have a look at the Messapic inscriptions, in Puglia. These inscriptions show that the Illyrian question is extremely complicated, and that it isn’t likely to be resolved, unless fundamental epigraphic discoveries are made.
In the real world there are no examples of ancient Illyrian literature surviving (aside from the Messapian writings if they can be considered Illyrian), it is difficult to clarify its place within the Indo-European language family. Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late 11th century. At this point, they are already fully Christianized. Very little evidence of pre-Christian Albanian culture survives, and Albanian mythology and folklore as it presents itself is notoriously amalgamated from various sources; showing in particular Greek influence. Albanians are and have been referred to by other terms as well. Some of them are:
Arbër, Arbën, Arbëreshë; the old native term denoting ancient and medieval Albanians and sharing the same root with the latter. At the time the country was called Arbër (Gheg: Arbën) and Arbëria (Gheg: Arbënia). This term is still used for the Albanians that migrated to Italy during the Middle Ages.
Arnauts; old term used mainly from Turks and by extension by European authors during the Ottoman Empire. A derivate of Arbër, Albanian.
Skipetars; the historical rendering of the ethnonym Shqiptar (or Shqyptar by French, Austrian and German authors) in use from the 18th century (but probably earlier) to the present, the literal translation of which is subject of the eagle. The term Šiptari is a derivation used by Yugoslavs which the Albanians consider derogatory.
There is not any historical record as regards the connection of the Illyrians (that were last mentioned in 7th century AD, during the Slavic migration to the Balkans) and Albanians. Also, there is no linguistic connection of the unknown Illyrian language with the Albanian language.
Prof. William Maxwell must be more cautious when writing articles regarding history, as he is not a historical expert. There isn´t much difference between historical revisionism and historical ignorance; and this concludes to the legitimate scholastic correction of existing knowledge about an historical event, or to the illegitimate distortion of historical records.
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