The Congress of Manastir (Albanian : Kongresi i Manastirit) was an academic conference held in the city of Manastir (now Bitola) from November 14 to 22, 1908, with the goal of standardizing the Albanian alphabet. November 22 is now a commemorative day in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia, as well as among the Albanian diaspora, known as Alphabet Day (Albanian : Dita e Alfabetit). Prior to the Congress, the Albanian language was represented by a combination of six or more distinct alphabets, plus a number of sub-variants.
The congress was held by the Union Association (Albanian language: Bashkimi) literary society[ citation needed ] at the house of Fehim Zavalani, which served as the headquarters of the union. The participants of the congress were prominent figures of the cultural and political life from Albanian-inhabited territories in the Balkans, as well as throughout the Albanian diaspora. There were fifty delegates, representing twenty-three Albanian-inhabited cities, towns, and cultural and patriotic associations of whom thirty-two had voting rights in the congress, and eighteen were observers.[ citation needed ] Below is the list of the participants with the right to vote:
The speeches of the first two days with regard to the alphabet were general in character, and helped to create the atmosphere in which to carry out the serious work. The representatives understood the importance of unity, regardless which alphabet was chosen. Gjergj Fishta, who praised the development of the Bashkimi alphabet, declared: “I have not come here to defend any one of the alphabets, but I have come here to unite with you and adopt that alphabet which the Congress decides upon as most useful for uplifting the people”. The audience was deeply moved by Fishta. Hodja Ibrahim Effendi, a Muslim clergyman, rushed to Fishta and embraced him with tears in his eyes.
At the beginning of the Congress, the delegates elected a commission consisting of eleven members (four Muslims, four Orthodox and three Catholics) to make a decision before the other delegates arrived.Gjergj Fishta was elected chairman of the commission, Parashqevi Qiriazi chairwoman and Mit'hat Frashëri its vice-chairman. Luigj Gurakuqi became the secretary of the commission while the other five members of the commission were Bajo Topulli, Ndre Mjeda, Shahin Kolonja, Gjergj Qiriazi and Sotir Peçi. Mit'hat Frashëri was also elected chairman of the congress. The delegates took a besa to accept the decision of the committee. The committee deliberated on the question of a common alphabet for three successive days. They promised, through said besa, that nothing would be known before the ultimate decision.
However, the Congress was unable to choose one single alphabet and instead opted for a compromise solution, using both the Istanbul and Bashkimi alphabets, but with some changes to reduce the differences between them. Usage of the alphabet of Istanbul declined rapidly and it became obsolete over the following years as Albania declared its independence.The Bashkimi alphabet is the predecessor of the official alphabet for the Albanian language in use today. Gjergj Fishta noted that German had two written scripts to those disappointed, as here there not one alphabet was chosen, but two. After some discussion, the decision for the use of both the Bashkimi and Istanbul alphabets was accepted by all the delegates. It was also agreed to have every local Albanian authority report to the Union Association, monthly, about developments in their areas. Another agreement resulted in another congress in Ioannina on July 10, 1910.
On November 20, when the congress was coming to an end, Hodja Vildan, Fazil Pasha and Colonel Riza, three members of the Albanian community of Istanbul, arrived. They were to attend the congress and later advise smaller, similar Albanian societies that operated throughout Albania. At first, the three members sought to protect the writing of Albanian with the use of an Ottoman Turkish alphabet. However, Hodja Vildan nullified his concerns. He denounced Sultan Abdul Hamid and defended the importance of unity among Albanians for self-determination and national spirit. Vildan argued that they had a right to use a Latin script, and that this would be a ‘tool’ for progress. He did not take the same position on the direction of writing and matters of religion, however. Said ideas continued to be defended by him in the other places the three members visited.
The adoption of a Latin character-based Albanian alphabet was considered an important step for Albanian unification. [ citation needed ]Some Albanian Muslims and clerics, preferring an Arabic-based alphabet, expressed their opposition towards the Latin script due to concerns that it would undermine ties with the Muslim world. The situation was also alarming for the Ottoman government, as the Albanians were the largest Muslim community in the European part of the empire, apart from the population of Istanbul. The Albanian national movement was regarded as proof that others also felt a relationship to the nation, not just Christians, and that Islam alone could not keep Ottoman Muslims united.
As a result, the Ottoman Empire organised a congress in Debar in 1909, with the intention that Albanians formally declare themselves as Ottomans, promising to defend their territorial sovereignty and adopting an Arabic-based alphabet.They faced strong opposition from nationally minded Albanians, and the Albanian element took total control of the proceedings. While the congress was progressing, members of the CUP in Tirana orchestrated a demonstration, criticising the adoption of a Latin-based alphabet to the local branch of the Union Association. Talat Bey, the interior minister, claimed that the Albanian population supported the use of the Ottoman Turkish alphabet, and not a Latin-based one. The Union Association did not stop the demonstration, instead organizing a congress with 120 attendees in Elbasan.
Due to the alphabet matter and other Young Turk policies, relations among Albanian elites, nationalists, and Ottoman authorities broke down.Though at first Albanian nationalist clubs were not curtailed, the demands for political, cultural, and linguistic rights eventually made the Ottomans adopt measures to repress Albanian nationalism, which resulted in two Albanian revolts (1910 and 1912) towards the end of Ottoman rule.
The Congress of Manastir represents one of the most important events for Albanians, [ citation needed ]and the most important after the establishment the League of Prizren, not only because of the decisions made, but also because those decisions were to be legally implemented by the Ottoman authorities. In 2008, festivities were organized in Bitola, Tirana and Pristina to celebrate the centenary of the congress. In all schools in Albania, Kosovo and Albanian-majority areas in North Macedonia, the first school hour was dedicated to honouring the Congress and teaching students about it.
The Albanian alphabet is a variant of the Latin alphabet used to write the Albanian language. It consists of 36 letters:
The Albanian National Awakening, commonly known as the Albanian Renaissance or Albanian Revival, is a period throughout the 19th and 20th century of a cultural, political and social movement in the Albanian history where the Albanian people gathered strength to establish an independent cultural and political life as well as the country of Albania.
The League of Prizren, officially the League for the Defense of the Rights of the Albanian Nation, was an Albanian political organization officially founded on June 10, 1878 in the old town of Prizren, in the Kosova Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire, and suppressed in 1881.
Ndre Mjeda was an Albanian philologist, poet, priest, rilindas, translator and writer of the Albanian Renaissance. He was a member of the Mjeda family.
Mid'hat Frashëri was an Albanian diplomat, writer and politician. The son of Abdyl Frashëri, one of the most important activists of the Albanian National Awakening in 1908 he participated in the Congress of Monastir. In 1942 he became the president of Balli Kombëtar, an Albanian anti-fascist and anti-communist resistance movement. Frashëri was one among others, a father of Albanian Nationalism.
Gjergj Fishta was an Albanian Franciscan friar, poet, educator, politician, rilindas, translator and writer. He is regarded as one of the most influential Albanian writers of the 20th century due to his epic masterpiece Lahuta e Malcís and the editor of two of the most autoritative magazines after Albania's independence, Posta e Shypniës and Hylli i Dritës.
Parashqevi Qiriazi, also known as Paraskevi D. Kyrias was an Albanian teacher who dedicated her life to the Albanian alphabet and to the instruction of written Albanian language. She was a woman participant at the Congress of Manastir, which decided the form of the Albanian alphabet, and the founder of the Yll' i Mengjesit, a women's association. Parashqevi was also a participant in the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 as a member of the Albanian-American community. She was the sister of Sevasti Qiriazi, who was the director of the Mësonjëtorja, the first Albanian School for girls to open in 1891.
Gjergj Qiriazi was an Albanian publisher and writer. He was born in Monastir, Ottoman Empire, where he attended the local school. Like his brother Gjerasim, he studied at the American College in Samokov, Bulgaria. He worked for the British and Foreign Bible Society and took over the direction of the first Albanian girls' school in Korçë upon the death of his brother. In 1908 he was the president of the Albanian Bashkimi club in Monastir and later became vice-president. In 1908, he was a delegate at the Congress of Monastir. Qiriazi also worked as an interpreter at the Austro-Hungarian consulate in Bitola. A Turkish language high school (idadiye) for boys was created in 1908 and Qiriazi was appointed as a teacher of the Albanian language. In 1909, the Young Turk government planned to assassinate Qiriazi for his involvement in the Albanian national movement.
Mihal Grameno was an Albanian nationalist, politician, writer, freedom fighter, and journalist.
Fehim Bey Zavalani (1859-1935) was an Albanian landowner from the Kolonjë area, journalist and activist of the Albanian National Awakening. He was also the editor of Bashkimi i Kombit, one of the most important Albanian newspapers of the era. In 1908 he became one of the head organizers of the Congress of Monastir, in which the Albanian alphabet was standardized.
Athanas Sina, also known as Thanas Sina, was an Albanian journalist, teacher and activist of the Albanian National Awakening. Sina was the second headmaster of the Mësonjëtorja, the first officially recognized Albanian-language school in the Ottoman Empire. He was also member of the Bashkimi organization, whose alphabet proposal in the Congress of Monastir would become the official alphabet of Albania.
Ahmed Niyazi Bey, , was an Ottoman revolutionary, who was the bey of the Resne area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An ethnic Albanian, Niyazi was one of the heroes of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution and of suppressing the 1909 Ottoman countercoup as he played leading roles in both events. Niyazi is also known for the Saraj, a French-style estate he built in Resne.
The Congress of Dibra was a congress held by members of Albanian committee in Debar from July 23 to July 29, 1909. The congress was chaired by Vehbi Dibra, Grand Mufti of the Sanjak of Dibra and was sponsored by the government of the Young Turks. It was held on the first anniversary of the Young Turk Revolution and was a countermeasure on the Latin script based Albanian alphabet which came out of the Congress of Manastir.
Society for the Publication of Albanian Letters was a patriotic organization of Albanian intellectuals, promoting publications in Albanian language, especially school texts, which were extremely important for the younger generation's education. It was founded on 12 October 1879 in Istanbul, Ottoman Empire.
Preng Doçi (1846–1917), Italian: Primus Docci, was and Albanian political and religious figure and poet. He was a main contributor in the Albanian Bashkimi Alphabet.
Shoqnia e Bashkimit të Gjuhës Shqipe, usually known as the Shoqnia Bashkimi, or simply Bashkimi i Shkodrës was a literary society founded in Shkodra, Ottoman Empire in 1899. The Bashkimi society was the union of three previously independent societies: Shpresa, Drita and Dituria. Drita, a journal was the official publication of the Bashkimi Society.
Agimi was an Albanian literary society founded in Shkodër, Ottoman Empire in 1901.
The Second Congress of Manastir was an Albanian congress held on 2–3 April 1910 in Manastir, back then Ottoman Empire, today's Bitola in the Republic of Macedonia. It dealt with the challenges that the Albanian language and schools faced at the time within the context of the empire, and the platform to overcome them.
The Congress of Elbasan, also known between Albanians as the Congress of the Albanian schools, was held from 2 to 8 September 1909 in Elbasan, today's Albania, back then part of the Vilayet of Monastir of the Ottoman Empire. The congress, sponsored by the local Bashkimi literary club, was attended by 35 delegates from central and southern Albania.
Menduh Zavalani (1889–1914) was an Albanian revolutionary and political leader active during the last years of the Albanian National Awakening. He formed his own revolutionary band and was one of the leaders that liberated Përmet and the environs from the Ottoman Empire. Menduh was an appointed delegate from his hometown Korça to the Albanian National Congress that proclaimed the Independence of Albania. In the intellectual level Menduh was noted for the translation of Friedrich Schiller's drama Wilhelm Tell into Albanian. He was assassinated at a very young age near Pogradec by a local collaborationist band.
Kongresi i parë i Manastirit, pas Lidhjes së Prizrenit, ishte ngjarja më e madhe e popullit shqiptar, që u hapi rrugën jo vetëm të kërkesave legjitime të shqiptarëve, por që edhe ato kërkesa të realizohen në mënyrë legale dhe të jenë të lejuara nga qeveria e Sulltanit përmes rrugës parlamentare. translated
First Congress of Monastir, after the League of Prizren, was the biggest event for the Albanian people, which not only opened the path to the legitimate demands of the Albanians, but those demands to come implemented pretty soon in a legal way by the Sultan's government through parliamentary channels