Thopia family

Last updated
Topia, Theopias, Thopias, Topias
Noble house
Topia coat of arms.svg
Coat of arms of the Thopia family [1] [ page needed ] [2]
Founder Tanusio Thopia
Final ruler Niketa Thopia
Titlesconte (count), lord
Estate(s)Between rivers Mat and Shkumbin
Dissolutionafter 1479
Cadet branches Toptani family

Thopia family was one of the most powerful Albanian feudal families in the Late Middle Ages. It was initially part of the nobility of the Angevin Kingdom of Albania.

Albanians people of Southeast Europe

The Albanians are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian ancestry, culture, history and language. They primarily live in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as in Croatia, Greece and Italy. They also constitute a diaspora with several communities established in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

The Albanian nobility was an elite hereditary ruling class in Albania, parts of the western Balkans and later in parts of the Ottoman world. The Albanian nobility was composed of landowners of vast areas, often in allegiance to states like the Byzantine Empire, various Serbian states, the Republic of Venice, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Naples in addition to the Albanian principalities. They often used Byzantine, Latin or Slavic titles, such as sebastokrator, despot, dux, conte and zupan.

Late Middle Ages Period of European history between 1250 and 1500 CE

The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from 1250 to 1500 AD. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period.


Early history

The first mention of the Thopia is from 1329, [3] when Tanusio Thopia was mentioned as one of the counts of Albania. [4] In 1338, Tanusio was mentioned as Count of Matia (conte di Matia). [5] According to Anamali & Prifti, Tanusio had a brother, Dominik, who was a high cleric and served as a counsel of Robert of Anjou. [6] [ verification needed ]

Tanusio Thopia or Tanush Thopia was an Angevin Albanian count that served Princes of Taranto Philip I and Robert, and Dukes of Durazzo John and Charles. He had domains in Matia.

A counsel or a counsellor at law is a person who gives advice and deals with various issues, particularly in legal matters. It is a title often used interchangeably with the title of lawyer.

According to Karl Hopf, Tanusio's son or brother Andrea, as told by Gjon Muzaka (fl. 1510), had fallen in love with the daughter of Robert of Naples when her ship, en route to the Principality of the Morea to be wed with the bailli , had stopped at Durazzo where they met. Andrea abducted and married her, and they had two sons, Karl and George. King Robert, enraged, under the pretext of reconciliation had the couple invited to Naples where he had them executed. [7]

Karl Hopf or Carl Hermann Friedrich Johann Hopf was a historian and an expert in Medieval Greece, both Byzantine and Frankish.

Gjon Muzaka was an Albanian nobleman from the Muzaka family, that has historically ruled in the Myzeqe region, Albania. In 1510 he wrote a Breve memoria de li discendenti de nostra casa Musachi. The work was published in Karl Hopf's Chroniques gréco-romaines, Paris 1873, pp. 270-340.

The family converted from Eastern Orthodoxy to Catholicism. [8]

By 1340 the Thopia controlled much of the territory between the rivers Mati and Shkumbin rivers. Together with the Muzaka family, they agreed to recognize Angevin suzerainty after rebelling against the Serbs. However except for Andrea Muzaka who defeated the Serbs in a battle in the Peristeri mountains, no action was taken to realize the treaty with the Angevins. [9]

Mat (river) river in northern Albania

The Mat is a river in north-central Albania. Its overall length is 115 km (71 mi), while its catchment surface is 2,441 km2 (942 sq mi). Its average discharge is 103 m3/s (3,600 cu ft/s). The main tributary is Fan, flowing from the northeast, while the Mat flows from the southwest down to the confluence with Fan and then towards the Adriatic Sea.

Shkumbin river in Albania

The Shkumbin, also commonly Shkembi, is a river in Southern and Southeastern Europe. It is 181 km (112 mi) long and its drainage basin is 2,444 km2 (944 sq mi). Its average discharge is 61.5 m3/s (2,170 cu ft/s). The river originates in the eastern Valamara Mountains between Maja e Valamarës and Gur i Topit in Southeastern Albania.

Muzaka family

The Muzaka were an Albanian noble family that ruled over the region of Myzeqe in the Late Middle Ages. The Muzaka are also referred to by some authors as a tribe or a clan. The earliest historical document that mention Muzaka family is written in 1090 by the Byzantine historian Anna Komnene. At the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century members of the Muzaka family controlled a region between the rivers of Devoll and Vjosë. Some of them were loyal to the Byzantine Empire while some of them allied with Charles of Anjou who gave them impressive Byzantine-like titles in order to subdue them more easily. During a short period, Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan occupied Albania including domains of Muzaka family but after Dušan's death they regained their former possessions. After the Battle of Savra in 1385 the territory of Albania came under the Ottoman Empire; they served the Ottomans until 1444 when Theodor Corona Musachi joined Skanderbeg's rebellion. When the Ottomans suppressed Skanderbeg's rebellion and captured the territory of Venetian Albania in the 15th century many members of the Muzaka family retreated to Italy. Those who stayed in Ottoman Albania lost their feudal rights, some converted to Islam and achieved high ranks in the Ottoman military and administrative hierarchy.

Karl Thopia

Princedom of Albania before Karl Thopia's conquest of Durres Kingdom of Albania in 1368 AD.png
Princedom of Albania before Karl Thopia's conquest of Durrës

Under Karl Thopia the family reached its zenith. After the death of Emperor Stefan Dušan (1355), Karl managed to capture much of central Albania which was part of the Serbian Empire until then. In 1362 his forces attacked the city of Durrës, then in Angevin hands. Although he couldn't capture the city, he forced them to pay an annual tribute to his family. In 1368 Karl managed to capture the city of Durrës. [6] Around 1370 Karl attacked the dominions of the Muzaka family and managed to capture from them the territory between Shkumbin and Seman. Now the territory of Thopia extended from Mat river to Seman, reaching its maximum extension. [10] This aggressive behavior brought a complicated situation and many enemies. In 1376 Louis of Évreux, Duke of Durazzo who had gained the rights on the Albanian Kingdom from his second wife, attacked and conquered the city. However, in 1383, Karl Thopia took control of the city again. [11]

Stefan Dušan Emperor of Serbia 1331–1355

Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, known as Dušan the Mighty, was the King of Serbia from 8 September 1331 and Emperor and autocrat of the Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks and Albanians from 16 April 1346 until his death. Dušan conquered a large part of southeast Europe, becoming one of the most powerful monarchs of the era. Under Dušan's rule, Serbia was the major power in the Balkans, and a multi-lingual empire that stretched from the Danube in the north to the Gulf of Corynth in the south, with its capital in Skopje. He enacted the constitution of the Serbian Empire, known as Dušan's Code, perhaps the most important literary work of medieval Serbia.

Serbian Empire former country

The Serbian Empire is a historiographical term for the empire in the Balkan peninsula that emerged from the medieval Serbian Kingdom. It was established in 1346 by King Stefan Dušan, known as "the Mighty", who significantly expanded the state. Under Dušan's rule Serbia was the major power in the Balkans, and a multi-lingual empire that stretched from the Danube to the Gulf of Corinth, with its capital in Skopje. He also promoted the Serbian Archbishopric to the Serbian Patriarchate. His son and successor, Uroš the Weak, lost most of the territory conquered by Dušan, hence his epithet. The Serbian Empire effectively ended with the death of Uroš V in 1371 and the break-up of the Serbian state. Some successors of Stefan V claimed the title of Emperor in parts of Serbia until 1402, but the territory in Greece was never recovered.

Muzaka family allied with Balša II against Thopia. In the beginning of 1385, the city of Durrës was captured by Balša II in a surprise attack. Karl called for Ottoman help and Balša's forces were defeated in the Battle of Savra. Thopia recaptured the city of Durrës the same year and held it until his death in 1388. Afterwards, the city of Durrës was inherited by his son Gjergj, Lord of Durrës. In 1392 Gjergj surrendered the city of Durrës and his domains to the Venice. [12]

After Karl

Karl Thopia,Ardenica Monastery Karl Topia, by Kostandin Shpataraku, Ardenica Monastery.png
Karl Thopia,Ardenica Monastery

After the death of Karl, his dominion was divided between his daughter Helena Thopia and his son Gjergj Thopia. Gjergj kept the city of Durrës and his surroundings which he later surrendered to Venice Republic, while Helen Thopia kept the city of Krujë and its surroundings. She was married to Venetian nobleman Marco Barbarigo. The count Niketa Thopia, a cousin of Gjergj, ruled in the region south of Durrës. In 1403, Niketa Thopia managed to capture the city of Krujë from his cousin Helena, thus gaining another part of the territory previously held by Thopia. He had good relations with Venice which was interested in having some buffer zone between them and advancing Ottoman army. However, in 1412, Niketa Thopia suffered a heavy defeat from the forces of Teodor II Muzaka. He himself felt prisoner and with the intervention of Ragusan Republic he was released, but only after giving some territories around Shkumbin river to Muzaka family. Upon his death in 1415, the castle of Krujë felt to the Ottomans. [13]

Later representatives

Later well known representatives include Tanush Thopia a famous commander of Skanderbeg army and the commander of Krujë garrison during Second Siege of Krujë.


Related Research Articles

Kingdom of Albania (medieval) kingdom in Southeast Europe between 1272–1368

The Kingdom of Albania was established by Charles of Anjou in the Albanian territories he conquered from the Byzantine Empire in 1271. The Kingdom of Albania was declared in late February 1272. The kingdom extended from the region of Durazzo south along the coast to Butrint. A major attempt to advance further in direction of Constantinople failed at the Siege of Berat (1280–1281). A Byzantine counteroffensive soon ensued, which drove the Angevins out of the interior by 1281. The Sicilian Vespers further weakened the position of Charles, and the Kingdom was soon reduced by the Byzantines to a small area around Durazzo. The Angevins held out here, however, until 1368, when the city was captured by Karl Thopia. In 1392 Karl Thopia's son surrendered the city and his domains to the Republic of Venice.

Karl Thopia 14th century Albanian prince and warlord

Karl Thopia was an Albanian feudal prince and warlord who ruled Albania from the middle of the 14th century until the first Ottoman conquest of Albania. Thopia usually maintained good relations with the Roman Curia.

Konstantin Balšić, was a lord of the Balšić family, who ruled over lands in northern Albania.

Jakup Veseli was a leading figure in the Albanian independence movement one of the delegates of Albanian Declaration of Independence, representing the region of Chameria.

Rexhep Demi (1864-1929) was a leading member of the Albanian independence movement and one of the delegates of Albanian Declaration of Independence, representing the region of Çamëria. He was a minister in the Provisional Government of Albania.

Azis Tahir Ajdonati was a leading figure in the Albanian movement of Independence and one of the delegates of the Albanian Declaration of Independence, representing the region of Çamëria.

Principality of Albania (medieval) former country

Principality of Albania (1368–1392) was an Albanian principality formed after the disestablishment of Kingdom of Albania, by Karl Thopia. The principality changed hands between the Thopia dynasty and the Balšić dynasty, until 1392, when Durrës was annexed by the Republic of Venice.

Osman Resul Taka was a Cham dancer and unclear personage from 19th century. The Dance of Osman Taka is named after him. His early life is not clear. He belongs to the Taka clan of Filiates, also known for Alush Taka, an Albanian patriot.
According to narrative sources, his name became well-known during the mid 19th century. He was probably a kachak or klepht fighting the Ottomans in Epirus region. Other sources connect him with the Albanian National Awakening of late 19th century. He was jailed in Yanina and was sentenced to death. When he was asked to give his final wish, he wanted to dance. The folk tradition says that his dance was so beautiful that the local gendarmes of the Ottoman army, did not execute him. After some days he was caught again and was killed in Konispol.

The Assembly of Preveza was a meeting of Albanian delegates from 11 to 13 January 1879, in Preveza, Ottoman Empire, aiming to halt the annexation of Epirus by Greece, following the Congress of Berlin.

Thoma Çami was a Cham Albanian leader and one of the main contributors to the revival of Albanian culture during the National Renaissance of Albania. He was a founder and the first chairman of the organization "Bashkimi", the best-known cultural club of the Albanian National Awakening. He also wrote the first scholarly history book for Albanian schools, but died before the Albanian declaration of independence.

Tanush Thopia Albanian nobleman of the 15th century, ally of Skanderbeg

Tanush Thopia or Tanusio Thopia was an Albanian nobleman and one of the closest collaborators of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg.

Niketa Thopia was the Lord of Krujë between 1392—1394 and 1403—1415. He was a member of the Thopia family and the son of Karl Topia, the Prince of Albania.

Helena Thopia was an Albanian princess of the Thopia family who held the Krujë region as sovereign lady for two terms; 1388-1392 and 1394-1403.

Statutes of Scutari

The Statutes of Scutari were the highest form of expression of self-government of Scutari (Shkodër) during Venetian rule. There were other cities in Albania which had statutes but only those of Scutari are preserved in their fullest form. They are composed of 279 chapters written in the Venetian dialect of 15th century. They were held in two copies, one in the treasury office of the city and the other on the city court office. Although similar to other Italian and Dalmatian cities statutes, they have been incorporated into many Albanian elements and institutions, such as Besa and Gjakmarrja.

Statutes of Durazzo were the highest form of expression of self-government of Durrës during Medieval Ages. Durrës had a long experience of self-government and privileges charters since confirmed by Byzantine Emperors. When the city was captured by Karl Thopia the statutes were hidden by the community, reappearing in 1392 when the city was handed over to Venetians. The Venetians confirmed the statutes of the city in 1392 and reconfirmed them in 1401 and 1423.

Andrea Thopia or Andrew Thopia was 15th century noble man from Albania whose domains included the territory of Scuria. He was a member of the Thopia family and one of the founders of the League of Lezhë.

Komnen Arianiti was an Albanian nobleman of the Arianiti family, who held an area in central Albania around Durrës. His son Gjergj became a prominent leader of the Ottoman-Albanian wars.

Marco Barbarigo was a Venetian nobleman, who married Helena Thopia and thus inherited the rule of Croia (Krujë), which he initially held under Venetian and later, after quarrelling with Venetian noblemen, Ottoman suzerainty, until in late 1394 when he was defeated by Venetian subject Niketa Thopia and forced into exile at the court of Đurađ II Balšić. He was appointed the Venetian governor of Cattaro (Kotor) in ca. 1422.

Paternal Balšić family members in bold.


  1. Heraldika Shqiptare, Gjin Varfi, 2000, ISBN   9992731850 ISBN   978-9992731857
  2. Genc Myftiu. Albania, a patrimony of European values: a short encyclopedia of Albanian history and cultural heritage. The emblem of his principality was a lion with Angevin lilies.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. Johann Georg von Hahn (1867). Reise durch die Gebiete des Drin und Wardar: im Auftrage der K. Akademie der Wissenschaften unternommen im Jahre 1863. Aus der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei. p. 282.
  4. Émile G. Léonard (1932). Histoire de Jeanne 1re, reine de Naples, comtesse de Provence (1343-1382): La jeunesse de la reine Jeanne. Imprimerie de Monaco. p. 107.
  5. Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata. Scuola Tipografica Italo-Orientale "S.Nilo". 1978.
  6. 1 2 Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN   99927-1-622-3 p. 249
  7. Carl Hermann Friedrich Johann Hopf (1960). Geschichte Griechenlands vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis auf unsere Zeit. B. Franklin. darauf in der Hand jenes Tanussio Thopia (1328 — 1338) waren, dem König Robert von Neapel 1338 den Besitz der Grafschaft Mal bestätigte. Des letztem Sohn oder Bruder Andreas war es, der sich mit dem Haufe Eapet verschwägerte. König Robert, so erzählt Musachi, hatte seine natürliche Tochter dem Bailli von Morea — vielleicht dem Bertrand de Baux — zur' Gattin bestimmt und sie nach Durazzo gesandt, wo damals Thopia weilte. Er verliebte sich in sie, entführte und heirathete sie. Zwei Söhne, Karl und Georg, ent« sprossen dieser Ehe. Aber schwer traf die Gatten bald die Rache des erzürnten Vaters; unter dem Scheine der Versöhnung lud er beide zu sich nach Neapel ein und ließ sie dort hinrichten; die Kinder aber, in denen somit wirtlich das Blut der Angiovlnen stoß, wurden gerettet; in der festen Burg Kroja , die er später ausbaute, nicht, wie die Sage meldet , erst gründete "), wuchs Karl auf, entschlossen, den Mord des vaters zu rächen
  8. Kristaq Prifti (1993). The Truth on Kosova. Encyclopaedia Publishing House. p. 52. Retrieved 5 January 2014. ... Tanush Thopia from a family which passed easily from Orthodoxy to Catholicism ...
  9. Fine, John V. A.; Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994-01-01). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. p. 291. ISBN   0472082604.
  10. Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN   99927-1-622-3 p. 250
  11. Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994), The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, University of Michigan Press, ISBN   978-0-472-08260-5 p. 384
  12. Men of empire: power and negotiation in Venice's maritime state Johns Hopkins University studies in historical and political science Men of Empire Men of Empire: Power and Negotiation in Venice's Maritime State, Monique O'Connell Author Monique O'Connell Edition illustrated Publisher JHU Press, 2009 ISBN   0-8018-9145-0, ISBN   978-0-8018-9145-8 p.23
  13. Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN   99927-1-622-3 p.251-252
  14. Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë; K. Prifti; Xh. Gjeçovi; M. Korkuti; G. Shpuza; S. Anamali; K. Biçoku; F. Duka; S. Islami; S. Naçi; F. Prendi; S. Pulaha; P. Xhufi (2002). Historia e Popullit Shqiptar. Tirana, Albania: Toena. p. 309. ISBN   99927-1-622-3 . Retrieved 2012-04-23.