Albania Veneta

Albania Veneta

Albania Veneta (English: "Venetian Albania") was the name for the possessions of the Republic of Venice in southern Dalmatia that existed from 1420 to 1797. It originally covered the coastal area of what is now northern Albania and the coast of Montenegro, but the Albanian and southern Montenegrin parts were lost to the Ottomans in 1571 [Cecchetti, Bartolomeo. "Intorno agli stabilimenti politici della repubblica veneta nell'Albania". pag. 978-983] .

Name and geography

The word "Veneta" in "Albania Veneta" was used to differentiate the area from the Ottoman Albania (called "Albania Ottomana" in those centuries), an area stretching from Kosovo to southern Albania [Paulucci, Luigi. "Le Bocche di Cattaro nel 1810". pag. 24] .

These Venetian possessions stretched from the southern borders of the Republic of Ragusa (modern-day Dubrovnik) to "Durazzo" (Durres) in coastal Albania. The Venetian territories never reached more than 20 km from the Adriatic Sea. After 1573 the southern limit was moved to the village of "Confin" (Kufin) near "Budua" (Budva), because of the Ottoman conquests of "Antivari" (Bar), and "Dulcigno" (Ulcinj) in the Balkans.
The Venetian territory was centered around the area of venetian Cattaro Bay of Kotor and included the towns of Cattaro (Kotor), Risano (Risan), Perasto (Perast), Tivat, Herceg Novi, Budva, and Sutomore.


Venice periodically controlled the small southern Dalmatian villages around in the 10th century, but did not permanently assume control until 1420. The Venetians assimilated the Dalmatian language into the Venetian dialect quickly. The Venetian territories around Kotor lasted from 1420 to 1797 and were called "Albania Veneta", a province of the Republic of Venice [Durant, Will. "The Renaissance". pag. 121] .

When the Turks started to conquer the Balkans in 15th century, the population of Christian Slavs in Venetian Dalmatia increased greatly. By the end of 17th century the Romance speaking population of the historical "Albania Veneta" was a minority, according to Oscar Randi in his book "Dalmazia etnica, incontri e fusioni" [Randi, Oscar. "Dalmazia etnica, incontri e fusioni". pag. 37-38] .

After the French Empire conquered and put and dissolved the Republic of Venice in 1797, the area of the "Albania Veneta" changed control many times:in 1805 was annexed to the Napoleonic "Kingdom of Italy" [ Sumrada, Janez. "Napoleon na Jadranu / Napoleon dans l'Adriatique".pag. 159] , then in 1809 became part of the French Illyrian Provinces and finally in 1815 was put under Habsburg control in the Dalmatia of the Austrian Empire.

In the Austrian Empire, the former venetian territories of "Albania Veneta" were part of Austrian Dalmatia, and in 1878 (at the Congress of Berlin) another 40 km² around Sutomore were added to this territory.

History of the Venetian speaking population of "Albania Veneta"

According to the Dalmatian historian Luigi Paulucci (in his book "Le Bocche di Cattaro nel 1810") the population of the "Albania Veneta", during the centuries of the Republic of Venice, was mainly Venetian speaking (approximately 66%) in the urban areas (Cattaro, Perasto, Budua, ecc..) around the "Bocche di Cattaro" (Bay of Kotor). But in the inland areas more than half of the population was Serbo-Croatian speaking, after the first years of the eighteenth century. Paulucci wrote even that near the border with Albania there were big communities of Albanian speaking people: Dulcigno (Ulcinj) was half Albanian, one quarter Venetian and one quarter Slavic-speaking [Paulucci, Luigi. "Le Bocche di Cattaro nel 1810". pag. 74-75] .

During the French rule of the area of Cattaro the schools were in Italian, when the former Albania Veneta was part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy [Sumrada, Janez. "Napoleon na Jadranu / Napoleon dans l'Adriatique".pag.37] .

The Slovenian Marko Trogrli in his essay "The French school system in French Dalmatia" wrote that "Vincenzo Dandolo, the French governor of Dalmatia as well as Bartolomeo Benincasa, an official from the local (Dalmatian) Education Department, published in May 1807 a plan for the province's public education ("Il piano generale della pubblica istruzione in Dalmazia"), which had to be consistent with the education system throughout the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy....Instruction was to be in Italian" [Sumrada, Janez. "Napoleon na Jadranu / Napoleon dans l'Adriatique".pag 335] .

During the nineteenth century, according to the historian Scaglioni Marzio, the wars of independence of Italy from the Austro-Hungarian empire created a situation of harassment against the Italian (or Venetian speaking) communities in the Austrian southern Dalmatia [Scaglioni Marzio "La presenza italiana in Dalmazia 1866-1943". pag. 69] .

The result was that in 1880 there were in Cattaro, according to the Austrian census, only 930 ethnic Italians (or only 32% of a total population of 2910 people). Furthermore, in the Austrian census of 1910, the Italians were reduced to only 13.6% in that city, according to Diego De Castro in his book "Dalmazia, popolazione e composizione etnica. Cenno storico sul rapporto etnico tra Italiani e Slavi nella Dalmazia" [De Castro, Diego. "Dalmazia, popolazione e composizione etnica. Cenno storico sul rapporto etnico tra Italiani e Slavi nella Dalmazia". pag 104] .

There are currently 500 Italian speakers in Montenegro, mainly in the area of Cattaro (Kotor) and Perasto (Perast), who constitute the "Comunitá Nazionale Italiana del Montenegro".

The "disappearance" of the Italian speaking populations in Dalmatia was nearly complete after World War II. The linguist Matteo Bartoli calculated that the Italians were 33% of the Dalmatian population during the Napoleonic wars, while currently there are only 300 Italians in Croatian Dalmatia and 500 Italians in coastal Montenegro. [Bartoli, Matteo. "Le parlate italiane della Venezia Giulia e della Dalmazia". pag. 46] .


Albanians lived in the south of the "Albania veneta" around Ulcinj (Venetian Dulcigno) and Durrës (Durazzo). The area around Kotor (Venetian Cattaro) was populated by Slavs and Latins and was fully Catholic [Durant, Will. "The Renaissance".pag. 139] .

Perasto: an enduring example

An enduring example of the Italian presence in coastal Montenegro is the small town of Perast (Perasto in Italian) in the Bay of Kotor. Perasto was at its peak in the 18th century under the Republic of Venice, when it had as many as four active shipyards, a fleet of around one hundred ships, and 1,643 residents. At that time a number of architecturally significant buildings were constructed in this fortified town. Many ornate baroque palaces and magnificent dwelling-houses decorated the town of Perast, full of typical Venetian architecture [Citizens of the Venetian Perasto (in that period the city had 1,600 citizens) became privileged in the Venetian Republic. They were allowed to trade with large ships and to sell goods without tax on the Venetian market, which made them very rich.As an example of the wealth of people from Perast, at the end of 18th century they managed to collect 50,000 Venetian gold coins (about 200 kg of gold) in order to pay the famous Venetian constructor Giuseppe Beati to build them the highest campanile (55 m) on the East-Adriatic coast. Right in front of Perasto there are two small islands. St George with its small church from the 12th century and the artificial island "Gospa od Skrpjela" (in venetian "Madonna dello Scarpello") with a very interesting legend. On the reef whose top was 1m above the surface of the water, people from Perasto had been throwing rocks and sinking old shipwrecks for 200 years, thus creating a plateau of 3,030 square meters, which they then built a church on. Along with the impression that the island gives with its architecture, for centuries the church received many gifts and now it is a type of gallery and treasury of various objects. Beside 68 oil on canvas works done by Tripo Cocolia (the most talented baroque painter on the East-Mediterranean coast during the 17th century), on the church walls there are 2,500 golden and silver votive tablets which people from the Cattaro area donated to the church, in order to avoid various human disasters.] Perasto had the privilege to keep a war-flag of the Venetian Navy in peacetime (it was called "La fedelissma Gonfaloniera") [] .

The sailors of Perasto participated in the last battle of the Venetian navy, fought in Venice in 1797 [] . On 12 May of that year, the Republic of Venice ended, but a few places in the Albania Veneta remained loyal to the Venetian Republic for several months afterwards: Perasto was the last place of the Republic to surrender. On 22 August 1797 the Count Giuseppe Viscovich, Captain of Perasto, lowered the Venetian war-flag of the Lion of Saint Mark pronouncing the farewell words in front of the crying people of the city, then buried the "Gonfalon of Venice" under the altar of the main church of Perasto.

The population afterwards decreased to 430 in 1910 and around 360 in 2001. According to the "Comunita' nazionale italiana del Montenegro", in Perast there are currently 140 persons who still speak at home the original Venetian dialect of Perasto (called "veneto da mar"), and call themselves in the census "Montenegrins".

Italian writers from "Albania Veneta"

Writers from XV century to the end of the XVIII century.
* Giovanni Bona Boliris
* Ludovico Pasquali
* Cristoforo Ivanovich
* Giovanni Polizza
* Giorgio Bisanti
* Girolamo Pima
* Timoteo Cisilla
* Giovanni Crussala
* Giuseppe Bronza
* Girolamo Panizzola
* Bernardo Pima
* Nicola Chiurlo
* Luca Bisanti
* Alberto de Gliricis
* Domenico and Vincenzo Bucchia
* Vincenzo Ceci
* Antonio Zimbella
* Francesco Moranti




*Bartl, Peter. "Le picciole Indie dei Veneziani". Zur Stellung Albaniens in den Handelsbeziehungen zwischen der Balkan- und der Appenninenhalbinsel. In: Münchner Zeitschrift für Balkankunde 4 (1981-1982) 1-10.
*Bartl, Peter. "Der venezianische Türkenkrieg im Jahre 1690 nach den Briefen des päpstlichen Offiziers Guido Bonaventura". In: Südost-Forschungen 26 (1967) 88-101.
*Bartoli, Matteo. "Le parlate italiane della Venezia Giulia e della Dalmazia. Tipografia italo-orientale". Grottaferrata 1919.
*Cecchetti, Bartolomeo. "Intorno agli stabilimenti politici della repubblica veneta nell'Albania". In: Atti del Regio Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti. Bd. 3, Seria 4, S. 978-998. 1874.
*De Brodmann, Giuseppe. "Memorie politico-economiche della citta e territorio di Trieste, della penisola d’Istria, della Dalmazia fu Veneta, di Ragusi e dell’Albania, ora congiunti all’Austriaco Impero". Venezia 1821.
* De Castro, Diego. "Dalmazia, popolazione e composizione etnica. Cenno storico sul rapporto etnico tra Italiani e Slavi nella Dalmazia". ISPI 1978.
*Durant, Will. "The Renaissance". MJK Books. New York, 1981.
*Gelcich, Giuseppe. "Memorie storiche sulle bocche di Cattaro". Zara 1880.
* Martin, John Jeffries. "Venice Reconsidered. The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297–1797." Johns Hopkins UP. New York, 2002.
* Norwich, John Julius. "A History of Venice". Vintage Books. New York, 1989.
* Paulucci, Luigi. "Le Bocche di Cattaro nel 1810" Edizioni Italo Svevo.Trieste, 2005.
* Randi, Oscar. "Dalmazia etnica, incontri e fusioni". Tipografie venete. Venezia 1990.
* Scaglioni Marzio. "La presenza italiana in Dalmazia 1866-1943" Histria ed. Trieste,2000.
*Schmitt, Oliver. "Das venezianische Albanien (1392 - 1479)". (=Südosteuropäische Arbeiten. 110). München 2001.
* Sumrada, Janez. "Napoleon na Jadranu / Napoleon dans l'Adriatique". Zalozba Annales. Koper, 2006.
* Tagliavini, Carlo. "Le origini delle lingue neolatine". Patron Ed. Bologna 1982.
* Trogrli, Marko. "Školstvo u Dalmaciji za francuske uprave/The french school system in French Dalmatia". Knjižnica Annales Majora. Koper, 2006.


* [ The struggle between Venice and the Ottoman empire for the "Albania veneta" in the sixteenth century (italian)]
* [ Cattaro (Kotor) and the Montenegro's Venetian speaking area (italian)]
* [ UNESCO: Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor (Cattaro)]
* [ Historical review of the Italian traces in Montenegro (Italian)]
* [ Dante Alighieri association in Kotor (Cattaro)]

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