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Hartmann Schedel:

On Macedonia, Epirus and Albania

Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) was a German physician, humanist and historian. He was born in Nuremberg in Bavaria and studied medicine in Padua. Schedel returned to Nuremberg in 1466 where he owned much property. His main work is a history of the world, known as the “Schedelsche Weltchronik” or “Nuremberg Chronicle” that was published in Nuremberg in 1493 in a German and a Latin version. This very large and richly illustrated incunabulum is said to have been, with the exception of the Gutenberg Bible (1454), the most widely read book in the fifteenth century, a best-seller of its time. The Nuremberg Chronicle contains what is possibly the earliest description of Albania and the western Balkans printed in central Europe. On Macedonia Macedonia – this country was once the ruler of the world. Bordering initially on the country of Thrace between the west and south, it stretches between the Aegean and Adriatic seas and has Thessaly and Magnesia behind it on the southern side. To the north are Paeonia and Paphlagonia. These latter countries were later added to Macedonian land. Epirus and Illyrian land also border on Macedonia. The former to the south and the latter to the north. On the Adriatic coast is the old city of Dirachium [Durrës] of Cheronesos, whence it takes its name. It was earlier called Epidana [Epidamnus] and was originally founded by the people of Corfu. And not far below this country is the city of Apollonia which was founded on very good laws. […] Of the Region of Epirus The region of Epirus is situated in the west at the Acroceraunian Mountains and stretches to the east right to the Ambracian valley, [a distance of] one thousand three hundred horse rides. (1) It borders to the north on Macedonia and to the east on Achaia right to the river Achelous. To the west it stretches the Ionian Sea. Theopompus writes that 24 peoples lived in this region. The historian notes that this region on the coast is prosperous and fertile and there were once many strong fortresses and castles there, but because the population revolted against the Romans, the province was destroyed. Polybius tells us that 70 Epirotic cities were razed to the ground by Aemilius Paullus for the Emperor following the defeat of the Macedonians and the King of Persia. The well-known Battle of Actium took place in this region of Epirus. In it, the Emperor Augustus fought and defeated Mark Anthony in a naval battle, as he did Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, who was also present. As a result, Augustus built the town of Nicopolis in the Ambracian valley as a token of his victory. A map of the world, from the “Nuremberg Chronicle” (1493) of the German humanist Hartmann Schedel. On the Region of Albania Albania was once a part of Macedonia and belonged to it. Located in it are the two once famed cities of Dirachium [Durrës] and Apollonia. The language of this people is understood neither by the Greeks nor by the Wends [Slavs]. We believe that this stock formerly came from the Albania situated near Colchis in Asian Scythia, when repeated attacks from the barbaric nation and people sorely oppressed Greek and Roman lands. The great Hamza was in this land. Born of Christian parents, he renounced his Christian faith and converted to the Mohammedan nonsense. But just as easily as he rejected Christ did he reject this Mohammedan superstition and returned to the customs of his ancestors. And although he respected both faiths, he preferred to die as a Christian than as a Turk. And he died not long after the fall of Constantinople. He was followed by George Scanderbeg, born of noble parents, who spent almost all of his days with weapons and in warfare, fighting on behalf of Christianity. He defeated and annihilated many great armies of the Turks and, all by himself, kept this region true to the Gospel of Christ. However, it is said that most of the country has been destroyed by the force of his enemies. King Alphonso often sent arms to Albania. He took the town of Croya [Kruja] into his control and protected it from the Turks. The son of the brother of the aforementioned Scanderbeg, who was allied to the Turks, was taken prisoner by his cousin. He was sent to King Alphonso and imprisoned. Pope Callixtus provided this Scanderbeg with much assistance in the form of money. (1) A “horse ride” (German Pferderitt, Latin equidium) was a measure equivalent to one-sixteenth of a French mile. [excerpt from: Hartmann Schedel, Register des Buchs der Croniken und geschichten mit figuren und pildnussen von anbeginn der welt bis auf dise unnsere Zeit (Nuremberg: Kolberger 1493), p. 576-577 (Blatt cclxxiiii). With the kind assistance of Xhavit Muslija (Rothenthurm, Switzerland). Translated from the early New High German by Robert Elsie.]
Robert Elsie Texts and Documents of Albanian History
A vision of Macedonia, from the “Nuremberg Chronicle” (1493) of the German humanist Hartmann Schedel