Zog of Albania

Zog I, Skanderbeg III
King of the Albanians
ReignSeptember 1, 1928April 7, 1939
CoronationSeptember 1, 1928
BornOctober 8, 1895
Castle Burgajet, Albania
DiedApril 9, 1961
Hauts-de-Seine, France
PredecessorNew Kingdom
SuccessorItalian invasion of Albania
Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
ConsortGeraldine Apponyi
IssueLeka, Crown Prince of Albania
DynastyZogu
FatherXhemal Pasha Zogu
MotherSadijé Toptani
Ahmet Zogu
Preceded by
Succeeded by

NationalityAlbanian

Zog I, Skanderbeg III [1] [2] [3] of Albania (born Ahmet Zogolli, later changed to Ahmet Zogu) (October 8, 1895April 9, 1961) was King of Albania from 1928 to 1939. He was previously Prime Minister of Albania between 1922 and 1924 and President of Albania between 1925 and 1928.

Background and early political career

Born as Ahmet Muhtar Bey Zogolli, he changed his family name to Zogu, meaning "bird" in the Albanian language, dropping the Turkish suffix "olli (oğlu)", meaning "son of".

Ahmet Zogolli was born in Castle Burgajet, Albania, third son to Xhemal Pasha Zogolli and Sadijé Toptani. Zog was educated at Galatasaray College in Istanbul [4]. His family was a beylik family, with feudal authority over the region of Mati. The family claimed descent from Skanderbeg. Their lands were in the same districts as Skanderbeg's family's had been, and certainly the Zogu family had deep roots in indigenous clannish nobility. No historically-attested genealogy has been shown for his alleged lineage from the Middle Ages, although his wife has a pedigree from Albania).

Upon his father's death in 1911, Ahmet Zogolli at age sixteen became governor of Mat. He was appointed over his elder brother Xhelal Bey, who had been deemed mentally unfit.

As a young man during the First World War, Zog supported the cause of Austria-Hungary. He was detained at Vienna in 1917 and 1918 and in Rome in 1918 and 1919 before returning to Albania in 1919. During his time in Vienna, he grew to enjoy a Western European lifestyle, and was rumoured to be very popular among the Viennese women.

Upon his return, Zog became involved in the political life of the fledgling Albanian government that had been created in 1920. He became leader of a major reformist party, and his political supporters included many southern feudal landowners (called beys, Turkish for "village chieftain", the social group to which he belonged) and noble families in the north, along with merchants, industrialists, and intellectuals. During the early 1920s, Zog served as Governor of Shkodër (1920-1), Minister of the Interior (March-November 1920, 1921-1924), and chief of the Albanian military (1921-1922). His primary rivals were Luigj Gurakuqi and Fan S. Noli.

It was a dangerous time to be an Albanian politician. In 1923, Zog was shot and wounded in parliament. A crisis arose in 1924 after the assassination of one of Zog's industrialist opponent, Avni Rustemi (the man who in 1920 assassinated Esad Pasha Toptani); in the aftermath, a leftist revolt was raised by Noli, which forced Zog, along with 600 of his allies, into exile in June 1924. He returned to Albania with the assistance of Yugoslav forces and Yugoslavia-based White Russian troops, and became Prime Minister.

President of Albania

Zog was officially elected to the post of President of Albania by the Constituent Assembly on January 21, 1925, taking office on February 1. Zog's government followed the European model, though large parts of Albania still maintained a social structure unchanged from the days of Ottoman rule, and most villages were serf plantations run by the Beys. A Muslim himself, Zog's reforms included the prohibition of veils and prohibitions against cruelty to animals. Zog's principal ally during this period was Italy, which loaned his government funds in exchange for a greater role in Albania's fiscal policy. During Zog's presidency, serfdom was gradually eliminated. For the first time since the death of Skanderbeg, Albania began to emerge as a nation, rather than a feudal patchwork of local Beyliks. His administration was marred by disputes with Kosovar leaders, primarily Hasan Prishtina and Bajram Curri.

During his presidency, many referred to him as "King", as they had no idea what the word "President" meant.

Albanian King



On September 1 1928 Zogu was crowned King of the Albanians (Mbret i Shqiptarëve in Albanian). Afterwards he was also declared Field Marshal of the Royal Albanian Army on September 1, 1928. He proclaimed a constitutional monarchy similar to the contemporary regime in Italy. He created a strong police force and instituted the Zogist salute (flat hand over the heart with palm facing downwards). He claimed to be a successor of Skanderbeg, a lineage which was correct to an extent. Zog hoarded gold coins and precious stones, which were used to back Albania's first paper currency.

Zog's mother, Sadijé, was declared Queen Mother of Albania, and Zog also gave his brother and sisters Royal status as Prince and Princesses Zogu. One of his sisters, Senijé, Princess Zogu (1897-1969), married His Imperial Highness Prince Shehzade Mehmed Abid Efendi of Turkey, a son of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Zog attempted to further reinforce his regime's legitimacy by ruling as a constitutional monarch. His kingdom's constitution forbade any Prince of the Royal House from serving as Prime Minister or a member of the Cabinet and contained provisions for the potential extinction of the Royal Family. Ironically, in light of later events, the constitution also forbade the union of the Albanian throne with that of any other country. Under the Zogist constitution, the King of the Albanians, like the King of the Belgians, exercised Royal powers only after taking an oath before Parliament; Zog himself swore an oath on the Bible and the Qur'an in an attempt to unify the country.

Zog's regime brought stability to Albania and the King organized an educational system. He also attempted to modernize the Albanian military, though the costs involved in this project were high.

Life as king

Although born as an aristocrat and hereditary Bey, King Zog was somewhat ignored by other monarchs in Europe because he had no links to European royal bloodlines, although he did have strong connections with Muslim Royal families in the Middle-East and Egypt. As King he was, however, honoured by the governments of Italy, Luxembourg, Egypt, Yugoslavia, France, Romania, Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria [5]. In the absence of nightclubs or theatre in Tirana, the King spent much of his time playing poker, usually with his sisters. He was also addicted to perfumed cigarettes, and smoked about 150 a day. His household expenses made up nearly two percent of the national budget.

Zog had been engaged to the daughter of Shefqet Bey Verlaci before he became King. Soon after his coronation, however, he broke off the engagement. According to traditional customs of blood vengeance prevalent in Albania at the time, Verlaci had the right to kill Zog. The King made more than a few enemies - rumour had it that he was the subject of over 600 blood vendettas in addition to Verlaci's - and he frequently surrounded himself with a personal guard and avoided public appearances. He also feared that he might be poisoned, so the Queen Mother assumed supervision of the Royal Kitchen.

During his reign he is said to have survived over 55 assassination attempts. One of these occurred in 1931 while Zog was visiting a Vienna opera house for a performance of Pagliacci. The attackers struck whilst Zog was getting into his car, and he survived by drawing his own pistol (which he always carried) and firing back at his would-be assassins. This is the only occasion in modern history when a Head of State has returned fire with potential assassins.

Enlarge picture
Queen Geraldine


In April 1938, Zog married Countess Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi, a Roman Catholic aristocrat who was half Hungarian and half American. Their only child, HRH Crown Prince Leka, was born in Albania on April 5, 1939.

Relations with Italy

The fascist government of Benito Mussolini's Italy had supported Zog since early in his presidency; that support leading to increased Italian influence in Albanian affairs. The Italians forced Zog to refuse to renew the First Treaty of Tirana (1926), although Zog still retained British officers in the Gendarmerie as a counterbalance against the Italians, who had pressured Zog to remove them.

During the worldwide depression of the early 1930s, Zog's government became almost completely dependent on Mussolini (to the point that the Albanian national bank had its seat in Rome). Grain had to be imported from abroad and many Albanians emigrated and Italian settlers were allowed to settle in Albania. In 1932 and 1933, Albania was unable to pay the interest payments on its loans from the Society for the Economic Development of Albania, and the Italians used this as a pretext for further dominance. They demanded that Tirana put Italians in charge of the Gendarmerie, join Italy in a customs union, and grant the Italian Kingdom control of Albania's sugar, telegraph, and electrical monopolies. Finally, Italy called for the Albanian government to establish teaching of the Italian language in all Albanian schools, a demand that was swiftly refused by Zog. In defiance of Italian demands, he ordered for the national budget to be slashed by 30 percent, dismissed all Italian military advisers, and nationalized Italian-run Roman Catholic schools in the north of Albania to decrease Italian influence on the population of Albania. In 1934 he tried without success to build ties with France, Germany, and the Balkan states, and Albania drifted back into the Italian orbit.

Two days after the birth of his son and heir, on April 7, 1939, Italy invaded Albania. Mussolini declared Albania a protectorate under Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III. Zog and his family were forced into exile.

While in France, the Royal Family survived a German air raid during the invasion, reputedly because the entourage was travelling in a Mercedes-Benz identical to Adolf Hitler's (in fact it had been a wedding present from the German dictator). The effect of this was that none of the bombers had the nerve to fire on a car identical to the Führer's [6].

Former crown prince

Prior to the birth of Prince Leka, the position of Heir Presumptive was held by Prince Tati Esad Murad Kryziu, the son of the King's sister, Princess Nafisa. He was born 24th December 1923 in Tirana. He became honorary General of the Royal Albanian Army in 1928, at age five. He was made Heir Presumptive with the style of His Highness and title of "Prince of Kosova" (Princ i Kosoves) in 1931. After the Royal House's exile, he moved to France, where he died in August 1993.

Life in exile

Immediately after his deposition, Zog moved temporarily to Egypt, where he became a friend of King Farouk. He then began life in exile as a jet setter in various countries. The royal family settled in England, first at The Ritz in London, then moving for a very short period in 1941 to Ascot in Berkshire, (near his nieces who were at school in Ascot), and then in 1941 to Parmoor House, Parmoor, near Frieth, in Buckinghamshire with some staff of the court living in locations around Lane End.[7] He was an occasional guest at Claridge's on Brook Street in Mayfair. He once talked of using part of his huge fortune to buy The Times, telling Auberon Herbert: "I won't give a penny more than ten million for it". Records of his conversations with friends and family indicate that he wished to set up a feudal kingdom outside Albania if he was not restored to the throne.

In 1951, he bought the Knollwood estate in Muttontown, New York, for approximately $102,800, though some stories claim that he bought the mansion for a bucket of diamonds and rubies. The sixty-room estate was described as a castle. Zog intended Knollwood to be his kingdom-in-exile, staffed by loyal Albanian subjects, but he never moved into the mansion. The house was never used and Zog sold the estate in 1955, by which point vandals had done over $8,000 worth of damage, apparently hunting for treasure in his absence. The mansion was later further vandalized and parts of it have since been torn down.

When Zog briefly went to the United States, he wanted to bring along his Court, but the immigration authorities allowed only twenty members. Zog tried unsuccessfully to bribe the American Senate to permit the remainder to join him.

Zog finally chose to make his home in France, living the lifestyle favoured by exiled monarchs, that of the Riviera recluse. Zog passed away in Hospital Foch, Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine [8], on April 9, 1961 at the age of 65 but had been seriously ill for some time. Allegedly his son and Albanian officers, who stayed with Zog in exile, had to use force to prevent the hospital staff bringing his body to the Chapel (Zog was a Muslim) [9]. He was survived by his wife and son. He is buried at the Thiais Cemetery in Paris.
Enlarge picture
King Zog's son, Leka, and his wife
On his death his son Leka was pronounced H.M. King Leka of the Albanians by the exiled Albanian community (which is why he was not called King of Albania).

His widow, HM Queen Geraldine, died of natural causes in 2002 at the age of 87 in a military hospital in Tirana, Albania.

Political legacy

During World War II, the royalist resistance in northern Albania was largely ineffective. While the Albanian establishment mostly opted for collaboration with the Italians and Germans, it was the partisans who took control of the country. They were able to defeat the last Nazi remnants, as the war ended.

Zog attempted to reclaim his throne after the war. Sponsored by the British, some forces loyal to Zog attempted to mount invasions but were continually ambushed due to intelligence sent to the Soviet Union by spy Kim Philby. However, Albania now had a communist government led by Enver Hoxha who remained in power for 45 years. A referendum in 1997 proposed to restore the monarchy in the person of Zog's son Leka Zogu (who since 1961 has been styled as Leka I, King of the Albanians). Two-thirds of voters favoured a continued republican government. On learning of the result HM King Leka attempted an armed uprising as he believed the result to be fraudulent. He was unsuccessful, however and was forced into exile, although he later returned and now lives in Tirana.

A main street in Tirana has since been re-named by the current Albanian government to "Boulevard Zog".

In popular culture

A character bearing a striking similarity to the king, appeared in the Tintin comic book series as "Muskar XII" in King Ottokar's Sceptre.

In the fourth episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the first sketch was noted as having been "specially written for the pubescence of Ex-King Zog of Albania." Other passing references to Zog became something of a running gag on the show.

In Ian Fleming's James Bond novel The Man With the Golden Gun, Francisco Scaramanga says that the Rastafarians of Jamaica owe their allegiance to the ruler of Ethiopia, who he identifies as "this King Zog or what-have-you." Actually, the monarch that Scaramanga had in mind was Haile Selassie.

The song Don Juan by British synth duo the Pet Shop Boys (the B-side to their 1988 single "Domino Dancing") contains the phrase "King Zog's back from holiday, Marie Lupescu's grey and King Alexander is dead in Marseilles".

Anecdotes

There are many anecdotes about King Zog:
  • The King's chamberlain was instructed to accost visitors to the local hotel in the capital Tirana with the demand that they attend a Royal audience, at which formal morning dress should be worn. The visitor would be referred to a local outfitter where they could buy the requisite clothes, although this turned out to be quite expensive. The subsequent audience at the palace would be brief and perfunctory. The outfitters was owned by King Zog.
  • After Italy's invasion of Albania in 1939, King Zog, having been exiled by Mussolini, set out with his retinue for the Ritz Hotel in London. The hall porter, surprised by the unusual weight of the king's cases, asked him whether they contained anything valuable. "Yes," Zog replied, "Gold."
  • Zog was described by British Conservative politician Julian Amery as the cleverest man he had ever met.
  • Aubrey Herbert who met him in 1913, when Zog was only eighteen, described him as "a reader of Shakespeare and a fine fighting man".
  • Zog was said to have regularly consumed 200 cigarettes a day giving him a possible claim to the dubious title of the world's heaviest smoker.

See also

External links

References

  • Bernd Fischer - King Zog and the Struggle for Stability in Albania, (East European Monographs, Boulder, 1984.)
  • Jason Tomes - The Throne of Zog: Monarchy in Albania 1928-1939 (History Today September 2001)

Notes

1. ^ Flags of The World website
2. ^ Toptani blood in Albanian Royalty
3. ^ Royal Ark
4. ^ Royal Ark
5. ^ Royal Ark
6. ^ Jason Tomes - King Zog, Self-Made Monarch of Albania, 2003 (ISBN 0-7509-3077-2)
7. ^ Naçi collection, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, accessed 27 January 2007
8. ^ Royal Ark
9. ^ "Queen Geraldine of the Albanians" by Gwen Robyns

Bibliography

  • Bernd Fischer - King Zog and the Struggle for Stability in Albania, (East European Monographs, Boulder, 1984.)
  • O.S. Pearson, Albania and King Zog, I.B. Tauris. 2005 (ISBN 1-84511-013-7).
  • Jason Tomes - King Zog, Self-Made Monarch of Albania, 2003 (ISBN 0-7509-3077-2).
  • Gwen Robyns - Geraldine of the Albanians ISBN 0-584-11133-9
Zog of Albania
Born: October 8 1895 Died: April 9 1961
Political offices
Preceded by
Xhafer Ypi
Prime Minister of Albania
1922–1924
Succeeded by
Shefqet Bej Verlaci
Preceded by
Ilias Bej Vrioni
Prime Minister of Albania
1925
Vacant
Title next held by
Koço Kota
New titlePresident of Albania
1925–1928
Vacant
Title next held by
Omer Nishani
Vacant
Title last held by
William of Wied
as Prince of Albania
King of the Albanians
1928–1939
Succeeded by
Vittorio Emanuele III
(Italian occupation)
Preceded by
Xhemal Pasha Zogu
Hereditary Governor of Mati
1911–1939
Succeeded by
Leka Zogu
Titles in pretence
New title
Italian invasion, communist regime
— TITULAR —
King of the Albanians
1939–1961
Succeeded by
Leka Zogu
Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Church, the new Liturgical Year (Indiction) also begins.
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    Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Church, the new Liturgical Year (Indiction) also begins.
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      1892 1893 1894 - 1895 - 1896 1897 1898

      :
      Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Castle Burgajet was a large fortified house, located in the Mat District of Albania. It was the birth-place, and family seat of, King Zog I of the Albanians [1].
      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Motto
      Ti Shqipëri më jep nder më jep emrin shqipëtar ( Albania give me honor, give me the Albanian name.)
      Anthem
      Rreth flamurit të përbashkuar''
      ("United Around the Flag")

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      April 9 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

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      Hauts-de-Seine

      Coat of arms of the Hauts-de-Seine department
      Location

      Administration
      Department number: 92
      Region: Île-de-France
      Prefecture: Nanterre
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      Motto
      Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
      "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
      Anthem
      "La Marseillaise"


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      Albanian Kingdom (Albanian Mbretnia Shqiptare) was the constitutional monarchal rule in Albania between 1928 and 1939. Albania was declared a monarchy by the Constituent Assembly, and Zog I was crowned king.
      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Victor Emanuel III
      King of Italy, Caesar of Ethiopia, King of Albania

      Reign July 29, 1900 - May 9, 1946
      Coronation July 29, 1900
      Born November 11, 1869
      Naples, Italy
      Died December 28, 1947
      Alexandria, Egypt

      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Geraldine
      Queen of the Albanians

      Born July 6 1915(1915--)
      Budapest, Austria-Hungary
      Died 22 October 2002
      Tirana, Albania
      Consort April 27 1938 - April 7 1939

      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Leka, Crown Prince of Albania

      Born March 05 1939 (1939--) (age 68)

      Regnal name claimed Leka I
      Title(s) King
      ..... Click the link for more information.
      The Zogu dynasty was founded by Zogu Pasha who migrated to Mati, Albania in the late 15th century and was then appointed Governor of Mati by the Ottoman Sultan with the position of Governor then becoming hereditary among the Zogu clan.
      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Xhemal Pasha Zogu [IPA: dʒɛmal paʃa zɔgu] (1860-1911) (also known as Jamal Pasha, or Jamal Pasha Zogolli) was the Hereditary Governor of Mati, Albania. He was the father of Zog I of Albania.
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      HRH The Queen Mother of the Albanians, Sadijé Toptani (Nëna Mbretëreshë i Shqiptarëvet) (1876–1934).

      She was born on August 28, 1876 in Tirana as the daughter of Salah Bey Toptani and as sister to Essad Pasha and a member of the powerful Toptani family.
      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Motto
      Ti Shqipëri më jep nder më jep emrin shqipëtar ( Albania give me honor, give me the Albanian name.)
      Anthem
      Rreth flamurit të përbashkuar''
      ("United Around the Flag")

      ..... Click the link for more information.
      Motto
      Ti Shqipëri më jep nder më jep emrin shqipëtar ( Albania give me honor, give me the Albanian name.)
      Anthem
      Rreth flamurit të përbashkuar''
      ("United Around the Flag")

      ..... Click the link for more information.
        San Ernesto, answering prayers for rain.
      • Also see October 8 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
      • French Republican Calendar - Citrouille (Pumpkin) Day, seventeenth day in the Month of Vendémiaire
      • Independence Day in Croatia
      • Navy Day in Peru

      External links


        ..... Click the link for more information.
        18th century - 19th century - 20th century
        1860s  1870s  1880s  - 1890s -  1900s  1910s  1920s
        1892 1893 1894 - 1895 - 1896 1897 1898

        :
        Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
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        April 9 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

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        The modern state of Albania has twice been a monarchy. The first time was after it was declared independent in 1912. (The Angevin Kingdom of Albania did not encompass the entirety of the modern state.
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        19th century - 20th century - 21st century
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        19th century - 20th century - 21st century
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