After the death of Albania's famous hero Skenderbeu, the castle of Kruja fell to the ottoman occupiers, however the princedom of Mati, just like Kruja, never ceded, even after the entire invasion of Albania. Mati and Mirdita fought bloodily against the Ottoman invadors. In the center of the Mat valley at its highest point near the village of Burgajet once stood proud the Zogolli castle.
Numerous ottoman battles took place at this unconquerable fortress, it was even burnt twice by Serbian hordes. Sadly it was finally dimolished by the communists after the second World War.
Below you will find the the history of the Albanian Royal family and it's fight for Albania's freedom and independance.
Zogu The Great:
Sources show that towards the end of the XV century the Zogolli family migrated from north of the country to the Mati region, where Zogu the Great was born. The origins of the Zogolli clan are covered with mystery and have been subject of numerous legends and debate. Most likely the Zogolli kinship was one of the three main clans in Kosovo, near the region of “Rrafsh of Dukagjini”.
After the Kosovo invasion by the Ottomans, the Zogolli clan was forced to move and settled in the Mat valley. The war against the ottomans united the Zogolli clan with the kasriots, and joined an alliance against the invader developed. Zogu the great after the death of Skanderbeg retreated to the Mountains, in the area of the village Varosh of Mati, Burija of Lura and the city of Bulqizë, he continued his battles.
The Zogolli family lived for a long period in Varosh Vike of Mati, where even today ruins maybe found. Ottomans nicknamed Zogu the great “the Rage of God”. After many battles, Zogu the great at last attacked the Turkish garrison of Burgajet, where he burnt and destroyed Ballban Pasha's castle and killed the ottoman governator, Gazi Begun. After such success, Zogu took power and united the Matians.
Matians accepted the call to wage war, as they swore to ruin the rule of Ballaban Pasha, known as the betrayer of Mati, who carried the flag of the occupiers and fought against Skenderbeu and his compatriots, burning down the fatherland in the interest of the occupiers. Ballban Pasha was finally killed at the last battle in the region of Ledhet of Kruja, and was buried in Petrelë of Tirane.
The Sultan offered to acknowledge Zogu the Great as a ruler of Mati, He continued His battles with rage achieving consecutive wins. The ability and bravery of Great Zog insured pride and leadership of the clan families to recognize him as the Mati Leader, in wars of freedom and autonomy. Apart from that, the Turkish army never attempted to enter Mat again, and for five centuries, Mati was under the administration of Zogolli dynasty, with full autonomy, officially recognized by the High Gate. Meanwhile, Zogu the Great spread his influence to Dibër and Middle Albania, remaining the dread of the ottomans and governing according to the canon laws, traditions and the country’s customs.
In the city of Peladhisë near Bulqizë, the Albanians overrun the ottoman hordes followed a number of harsh battles, while the Albanian troops were headed by Muzhak Topia. Zogu was fighting in Fushë –Çidhnë of Dibër, he was informed that Muzhaku was killed and the Albanian troops were withdrawing to Qafë-Buall.
Zogu immediately headed to Qafë-Buall and Klos, leaving as his deputy in Fushë–Çidhnë his son Ymer Zogun and after organizing his forces, he attacked the ottomans from all sides and towards the directions of mountains of Plakth and Dhoksi. The ottoman troops withdrew in panic burning the city of Peladhi, but 9 days later they returned and Great Zogu was killed! An end of a dream.
Ymer Pashe Zogu:
After the death of Zogu the Great, the legitimate descendent of Zogolli dynasty and its power was left to his son Ymer Pashë Zogu, who carried on to preserve and consolidate the best of the family’s traditions and power.
Ymer Zogu, with his wisdom and prudence that characterized him, drew the attention of various clans and leaders of the country, which saw in him as the successor and a dignified leader. In his father’s footsteps he carried on incessant war of freedom and attempts in order to maintain the autonomy gained.
He maintained a very good relationship with the family of Kapedan Gjon Marku, as well as with the Dukagjin clans.
Ymer Pashë Zogu died in Mat and was buried in Zogaj of Lis. He was remembered as a symbol and a legend, even nowadays in Mat the well known saying “may you be shot with the gun of Ymer Aga” is still used. He was a well known military leader, a competent organizer and administrator.
Zogu the Small (i Vogul):
Ymer Pasha Zogu at the moment he passed away left “Zogu the Small” (i vogel) as his legitimate heir, who was fighting in the valley of Peqin against Ottoman troops.
Zogu the small quickly secured his clan power and gave his two sons, Selman and Abdullah, leadership positions within his military campaigns, both of whom had excellent relations with the clans and had previous combat experience. Zogu i vogul soon returned to Peqin and restored law and order.
After Karl Muzhak Topise was named commander of the army, Zogu i vogul was about to return to the mat valley, to continue his administrative duties when he was notified that the ottomans where marching in the Shkembin valley in the direction of Peqin. The two armies met head on and fought each other in the heights of Peqin, the battle lasted twelve days leaving Zogu the small dead, in the year 1614. He was buried next to the lane river in Tirana.
Abdullah Pashe Zogu:
The Son of Zogu the Small Abdullah and Selman Zogu, continued to defend the autonomy and to govern the valley.
Abdullah Pashë Zogu, in attempt to create military and strategically alliances against the ottomans went to Russia and met the Tsar and high rank military commandants requested their help, however, the attempts were not successful.
Meanwhile, the enemy attacks continued and precisely in one of the battles undertaken in White Drini, in çidhër of Diber, Abdullah Zogu was murdered. After 6 months, in another astringent battle in defence of Qafa of Bullit His younger brother was killed, Selman Zogu, the power was handed to the son of Abdullah Zogu, Ahmed Zogu.
Such wars were storms in which they toughened and recognized the glory of power and the contribution to the nation of four well known generations of Zogolli family, until in the murder of Abdullah Pasha Zogu in 1621. These generations were an example of patriotism and Albanian national pride.
Ahmed Pasha Zogolli:
He was seen as a respectable and honest leader, and followed the traditions of the family and the laws of Leke Dukagjini and of the great hero of Albania, Skanderbej. Until his beheading in Ohrid, killed by the Ottomans in 1633.
Mahmut Pashe Zogu:
Ahmed Pashë Zogu left as an inheritor Mahmut Pashë Zogun, due to His rare and extraordinary qualities and virtues, very soon became well known throughout the nation.
Such dignified progeny of Zogolli dynasty, until His death he governed with justice and dignity. During His governing, also based on the excellent tradition and the increased fame of the Zogolli kinship beyond the administrative borders of Albania of that time, Mahmut Pasha managed to create friendly and diplomatic connections with circuits in Istanbul and in the entire Europe, which improved the relationship between Him and the High Gate. The improvement of the relations between the Zogolli dynasty and the High Gate were vital particularly during that period of time.
After the death of Mahmut Pashës, in tragic circumstances, as a legal inheritor of Zogolli Dynasty remained Xhelal.
Xhelal Pashe Zogu:
Xhelal Pashe Zogu extended His influence not only in Turky and Albania but further in Europe. Ali Pashe Tepelena very much appreciated Him thus charged Him with a duty to represent Albanians and deliver a petition to the Sultan.
The Sultan accepted the petition of Xhelal Pashe Zogu, and accorded to Albanians only the freedom to learn the Albanian language, for this reason provided them with 2700 golden Turkish lira, to open Albanian schools. However, the proposal petitions of Xhelal Pashe Zogu were considered as radical, secessionist, and separatist according to the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan revoked his pledge.
During this period Xhelal gained great fame, particularly in Europe and was considered as the leader of the Albanian Movement of autonomy, independence. the separation from the three continental Empire which was considered to be weakening in the region.
Xhelal Pasha had maintained the role of the Turkish ambassador in Moscow and Vienna, and was appreciated for his qualities as an excellent diplomat as well as an implacable patriot.
The ottomans soon considered him a threat to the Empire, since He undoubtedly attempted for the Albanian autonomy. Finally, they found the way to physically eliminate him, by poisoning Him, in Vienna, before he was to undertake a promotion as "vali" in Bitlis.
To cover all traces, the ottomans took his corpse and sent it to Istanbul where they buried him with full honors. His grave can be found in ‘Haxhi Badem Uskunda” in Istanbul.
Riza Pashe Zogu:
Xhelal Pashe Zogu son Riza Zogu, was a well known personality and well educated, apart of the Albanian Movement of Prizren where he was Secretary, chosen by merit, even latter Riza Zogu remained an ardent patriot fighting for the rights of the Albanian people.
His house was always filled with patriots and well known personalities.
Ottomans being aware that Riza along with many nationalists were planning an insurgency, they surrounded him and killed him while he returned from Prizren to Mati. Another martir from the Zogolli Dinasty, lost His life for the national Cause, in the name of freedom, autonomy and the country’s independency.
Xhemal Pashë Zogu:
After the death of Reza Bey,Xhemal Pashë Zogu took over the leadership of the clans.
Xhemal Pasha was the father of King Zogu I, He governed Mati with grandeur and magnanimity which characterized generations after generations of the wisdom forefathers of Zogolli Family.
Xhemal Pasha, apart from the seldom benevolence, the manly character and His duty to maintain the best family morals and traditions of Mati region, has managed to form a wide political and administrative culture.His primary prudence was to raise and the education of His sons, particularly, the youngest, Ahmeti, at the most dignified way for his noble family, as well as with mold feelings of pure patriotism.
At that time Xhemal Pashë Zogu continued to protect and consolidate the national traditions of His Family, supporting patriots and as a result the Zogolli home was always full of guests which abounded as a nationalist nest. Xhemal Pashë Zogu in 1903 prepared together with many Albanian nationalists an insurgency for Albanian independence, and at the beginning He joined Dibra clans, which with pleasure accepted the life- saving proposal for an insurgency against ottomans.
As a consequence, through Hoxhe Vogli, Xhemal Pasha tried to insure the cooperation of some leaders in Manastir and Kercova as well as that of the Marshall of the ottoman army, Rexhep Pasha Mati, commander of the ottoman troops in Libya.
All nationalists informed about the insurgency were settled in Istanbul, Turkey. Apart from them, Albanians from Mirdita, Dukagjini, Shkodra, Elbasani, Korça, Tirana and other regions, agreed to attend and organize the insurgency. For the time being when all the preparations were about to be over and the plan was to take place, for the Albanian misfortune immense error was committed by informing Greeks with the hope of supporting Albanians in order to win the insurgency. This, as was proclaimed by Xhefer bej Breshtani (the courier, Xhafer beg Breshtani who predominantly stayed in Burgajet, at the house of Xhemal Pash Zogu and kept connections between Him and Marshall Rexhep Pashë Mati in Libya.) was the most tragic and the biggest mistake because the Greek government had informed the ottomans in details about the insurgency.
The beginning of this insurgency was June 1903, but after the plan was discovered the ottoman government took precautions to destroy this organization and to prosecute the nationalists and destroy their headquarters. This puerile and unpremeditated mistake inflicted the loss of the great cause in interest of Albanian independence. After this the Sultan Hamidi invited Xhemal Pash Zogun to Istanbul he refused to go with the excuse of His illness. At that time they were planning to submit the proposal to Sultan Hamidi, to give autonomy to Albania. At that time being, the ottoman administration was experiencing complication sand the political situation itself was intricate.
Moreover, in Macedonia an anti Turkish, pro-European, and pro-Balkanic propaganda appeared. Only Albania was still left under the Ottoman Empire occupation, although Albania was demanding the autonomy. In order to control all the movements of Xhemal Pasha, Turks asked Him to send His youngest son, Ahmet, to the The High Gate “to attend studies in Istanbul” whilst He was already registered and His scholarship insured to “Collegiums Theresianum” in Austria. The determination of Sultan Hamid at last obliged Xhemal Pashë Zogut to send Ahmet Zogu in Istanbul, since Xhemal Pasha did not wanted to cause the final disintegration of the discreet national movement, as well as the further elimination Albanian nationalists.
Xhemal Pasha together with other nationalists, not for even a second did not refrain from any other plans of the insurgency preparations and the imposed achievement of the Albanian autonomy. Within such overall schemes was Marshall Rexhep Pashë Mati, which continued to support and foster the insurgency.
Unfortunately, Xhemal Pasha Zogu, it was believed to have suffered a severe cold and died in October in 1911, (even though there were suspicions he was poisoned at an early age, only 44). When Xhemal died, in the Mat valley gathered over 1000 nationalists and many other European friends.
The premature and the suspicious death of Xhemal Pashë Zogu gravely concussed the Albanian nationalists as well His foreign friends. This loss was bewailed in the entire Mati, Dibra, and amongst all Albanian nationalists.
Queen Mother Sadije:
Queen Mother Sadije Zogu-Toptani, was born in Tirana in 1876. The Toptanis' where the most powerful family in central Albania at the time.
Sadija married Xhemal Pashë Zogu in 1891, and later gave birth to 7 children. After the death of Xhemal Pasha, Sadija took over the leadership of the family and the clans in the name of her son, the young Ahmet Zogu, the future King of the Albanians.
This noblewoman not only guided her family with valued principles but also provided patriotic education to her sons and her daughters.
King Zog, was her second son, born on 8th of October 1895.
Queen Mother Sadije died in Durrës, on 24 November 1934. The funeral ceremony in Her honor was held on 26 November 1934 in the Albanian capital, Tirana. She was buried in the cemetery ‘Kodra e Gështenjës’.
The cemetery land was bought on a 6 thousand meter square surface and a mausoleum was built on it which was designed by the well known architect Qemal Butka. The doors of this mausoleum were opened on the 30 December 1935, with the participation of King Zog I, His princess sisters, the Albanian Prime Minister Mehdi Frashëri, etc., followed by the body of the Mother Queen to be placed in the impressive eternal mausoleum-cemetery.
The Mausoleum was destroyed by the communists on the 17 November 1944, the so called First Brigade exactly on the day when these forces invaded the city of Tirana. After that year, the ruins of mausoleum have remained untouched, nonetheless, the grave of Queen Sadije still exists intact.
Prince Xhelal Bey Zogu 1881 - 1944
Prince Xhelal Zogu, was the elder brother of King Zog
Prince Xhelal was educated at the University of Darusafaka in Istanbul, Turkey. He served as an advocate before he returned to Albania. On his return he entered parliament as a deputy and served three mandates ( for Dibra in 1924 until 1928, and for Kosova in 1925-1928).
He resigned his political career with the proclamation of the Monarchy. Prince Xhelal supported his brother King Zog in national reforms and donated him personal properties as a gesture towards land distribution.
He immigrated with the royal family to Turkey where he reconnected with his uncle's nephew, Zia Pasha Zogolli. Xhelal Zogu's son, Skender Zogu is still very active and head of the Legality Senate. Xhelal later died in 1944 and was buried at the cemetery in Ferikoy Mezarligi.
Tati Esad Murad Kryeziu, Prince of Kosova:
Born 24 December 1923(1923-12-24)
Died 17 August 1993(1993-08-17) (aged 69)
The heir presumptive to the throne of Albania prior to 1939, before the Birth of King Leka I. Tati Kryeziu was born in Tirana the son of Nafijé Zogu and Cenu Bey Kryziu. His father was an hereditary Bey of the Gjakova region of Kosova and his mother, Nafijé, was King Zogs sister. Their marriage in 1922 consolidated an alliance between the Zogolli and Kryziu families. very much apart of the political vision of the Monarchy to bring togeather Kosova and Albania.
After the murder of his father 1927 in Prag, Tati was adopted by his uncle, King Zog.He was then brought up in the Royal Palace in Tirana, where he became a honorary General of the Royal Albanian Army, at the age of five. In 1931 Tati was made heir apparent, with the title HIs Highness the Prince of Kosova, to insure the Royal line.
1. Zogu the First king of the Albanians, by: Christo A.Dako 1937
2. Historical notes of the life of HM. Zog I King of the Albanians, By Kristo Dako
3. King Zog I dairy, by Hysen Selmani, Shtator 2008
4. 10 years of the Kingdom 1928-1938 1 September 1938 Dr. Zoi Xoxa
Note: Ymer Pasha Zogolli is not mentioned in the family tree, but is refered to by Hysen Selmani.