1914

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E. J. Dillon:

The Albanian Tangle

The Anglo-Irish journalist and writer, Emile Joseph Dillon (1854-1933), was born in Dublin of an Irish father and an English mother. He trained for the priesthood but then abandoned his ecclesiastical career and went off to study Oriental languages at the Collège de France in Paris. He finished a doctorate of philosophy at the University of Leipzig, a second doctorate in Oriental languages and literature at the Catholic University of Louvain/Leuven, and a third doctorate in comparative philology at the University of Kharkov/Kharkiv. From 1887 to 1914 he was the Russia correspondent of The Daily Telegraph and served briefly as a professor of Sanskrit and Classical Armenian at the University of Kharkov/Kharkiv. As a journalist, he reported much on the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans, but also on the Dreyfus Trial of 1899, the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 and the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919. He was the author, not only of many publications in newspapers and journals, but also of several books. E. J. Dillon was in Durrës (Durazzo), staying in the villa of the ambitious Essad Pasha Toptani, at the time of the dramatic events of 1914 that led to the collapse of the short reign of Prince Wilhelm zu Wied as sovereign of the newly independent Albanian State. In this articulate piece, he offers opinions and first-hand views of what he observed. Albania is a problem of intense political interest flavoured by a spice of political danger. It was set before Europe by way of warding off a greater and more perilous problem which would, however, have confronted only two allies, who in this matter are rivals – Italy and Austria-Hungary. As members of the Triple Alliance these two States are bent on upholding the present equilibrium on the Adriatic, and as rivals each one grudges the other any acquisition of territory or increase of influence there. In particular the Albanian harbour of Vallona is strategically of such vast importance to an Adriatic State that neither of these two can allow the other to take possession of it, come what may. For this reason alone, therefore, had there been none other, the creation of the new realm of Albania was a political necessity for Italy and Austria. But it was also an act of justice towards one of the oldest and hardiest races of the Continent, and was construed as such by Europe. For it is idle to deny the existence of an Albanian race, and it would have been folly to ignore it. Under the crushing weight of Turkey the Albanians alone, of all the Christian peoples of the Balkans, kept their national physiognomy and their racial consciousness intact. Religion itself – at all times an irresistible solvent of ethnical cement in the Turkish Empire – was powerless to sap the foundation of Albanian nationality. And the Turks grasped this characteristic trait and utilised it to the utmost, humouring the idiosyncrasies of the Arnauts and employing them against the turbulent elements, Christian and Moslem, of the Ottoman Empire. It was in order to have this redoubtable force always at its beck and call that the Porte systematically encouraged the simple-minded highlanders to hold aloof from their neighbours, to preserve their secular customs, to maintain their ancient feudal order, and to observe their clumsy substitutes for law. The establishment of an Albanian State was therefore the direct and necessary outcome of the sudden shifting of the equilibrium in South-Eastern Europe. And as the Albanians themselves were largely answerable for this displacement, one may truly affirm that they too contributed materially to their own renascence. It was in the name of their nationality that they resisted stubbornly under conditions of disheartening inferiority the forces of the Ottoman Empire. Nationality is the cement which kept the Albanians intact under Rome, Byzance, the Norman Conquest, the Venetian domination, and Ottoman misrule. But only the Albanians. Among all the other Christian peoples of the East nationality, when tested, proved unavailing to achieve this result. Religion was the balm which saved their dead political bodies from corruption under the Osmanli. Those among them who remained true to their creed might suffer hardship or death for their fidelity, but at any rate the survivors were not absorbed by the Turk, whereas all the weak-kneed who embraced Islam were at once bereft of their nationality, like the Vlach, the Pommaks, the Bosniaks and others. On the contrary, an Albanian who changed his faith never forfeited his nationality as a consequence. Whether he became Orthodox or Moslem, or remained Catholic, he was always an Albanian, and was treated as such by his kindred. Nowhere in the Balkans has nationality been so deep-rooted as among the people of the Shkipetar race. Princess Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg and Prince Wilhelm zu Wied with the Albanian deputation at Schloss Waldenburg in Saxony on 24 February 1914 (photo: Richard Warth, MuKSlg, Schloss Hinterglauchau). This characteristic, which has never been properly analysed or even understood in Europe, was utilised by Abdul Hamid, who, when he found his Christian subjects slipping from his grasp under the championship of the European Powers, endeavoured to colonise the territories still remaining to him by the two highland races which he could use as docile instruments in peace time as in war: the Kurds in Asia Minor and the Albanians in the Balkans. In normal years he sent them to colonise Christian districts, and in war time to drive out the obnoxious inhabitants. It was thus that the Kurds received lands from which they expelled the Armenian owners, and the Albanians came down from their northern highlands and occupied districts on the boundaries of Servia, while others in the South-East took possession of villages and estates belonging to the Greeks. And for the purpose of preserving his faithful Albanians in their pristine ignorance of misrule, he isolated the people, closed native schools, penalised the use of the Latin alphabet, forbade the printing of Albanian books, punished every attempt at organisation, discouraged the development of the material resources of the country, and prohibited the construction of roads and the building of bridges. (1) But the Young Turks undid his work and blundered in this as in so many other matters of imperial import. At first they encouraged and then proscribed Liberal ideas, and they ended by a mad attempt to root out the one ineradicable trait of the Albanian race – its national consciousness. The results are recorded by history. For the right of opening Albanian schools and having their children taught in their mother tongue and writing their language with suitable letters, the Albanians sacrificed their substance and their lives. And it was largely the effort to overcome this stout resistance that sapped the strength of the Turks and fatally handicapped them in the campaign against the Balkan League. It is seriously therefore to over-rate the part played by political expediency in the formation of the new community to assert that the scheme was devised solely by Austria and Italy for their own behoof. The statesmen of Vienna and Rome set the hall-mark of international diplomacy upon a combination which a host of other circumstances rendered indispensable and pressing. Had this necessity been clearly perceived and rightly gauged at the outset there would have been fewer sneers at the wild experiment, and less scepticism when baffling obstacles were first encountered. What the European public is now eager to learn – if there be anyone able to answer the query – is whether the new State can live, thrive and discharge the useful functions which the Powers have assigned to it, or whether the intricate and multitudinous growths which now seemingly overspread the land will choke off all fruitful endeavour and call for a solution more radical and less ephemeral than fitful direction and temporary military occupation. The latter assumption has hardened to conviction in the minds of many since the recent outbreak of troubles in the centre of Albania and the flight of the Royal Family. But it is still too soon to instance these deplorable occurrences as proofs that the State-building experiment is an egregious failure. It would be more correct to include those untoward events – considered apart – among the ills from which no inchoate State – and least of all one born under such adverse circumstances as Albania – is ever immune. Instead of launching out into prophecies which to-morrow’s ups and downs may belie, it will be more helpful to dwell on the essential conditions of Albania’s existence, the narrow boundaries set to opportunity, the lack of everything needed for consolidation, and the disturbing interplay of foreign influences with the national character, and to leave the reader to shape his own forecast. Albania then was born with the taint of original sin which will of necessity tarnish all her future activity. A considerable part of her territory and a large section of her population were severed from the trunk, so to say, and grafted on Montenegro and Servia. This was the handiwork of Europe, impelled by motives alien to the welfare of the new nation. It was a repetition of the sinister course taken by the Powers at the Congress of Berlin, and one may well fear that it will be followed by like mischievous consequences. Then the provinces severed from Turkey were so distributed that each of the little States which received a part received together with it the bitter hatred of one of its neighbours in whose territory that part ought in fairness to have been incorporated. At the London and Bucharest Conferences a similar course was struck out. Instead of rigging out the new State with the essential territorial conditions of vitality, and keeping together all the compact Albanian population, several villages, towns and districts were lopped off and then spliced together with the Slavs whom they hate and by whom they are hated. And this ethnical vivisection was not the result of a mistake; it was effected with deliberation and foreknowledge of the inevitable results. One motive for this unnatural division was Austria’s resolve to deprive Servia of an outlet to the Adriatic and to use Albania as a bar between her and that waterway. The expediency of this attitude towards Servia I am not now concerned to discuss, but what I feel, and feel strongly, is that the work of fashioning Albania into an independent State ought to have been undertaken on its own merits and under the most favourable circumstances possible. Thus, there should have been no hampering conditions, no need of mutilating the new State in order to compensate Servia for her exclusion from the Adriatic. As it happened, however, Austria was worsted in a series of wearisome wordy battles, and forced to give up one after another Albanian villages, towns, and districts which have since been incorporated in Montenegro and Servia. Albania thus became a mere torso which may prove unable to stand alone in the midst of vastly superior organisations, military and political, nearly all of them eager for her partition. Servia denies Albania’s right to exist, and is ready when opportunity serves to draw the practical corollary from this negation. Montenegro and Servia are destined in the near future to unite and form one Slav kingdom hostile to the new realm, which needs all its sons to withstand the onslaught that will one day be made against it. Meanwhile thousands of these hardy mountaineers, together with their wives and children, have been driven out of their homes by their new masters, and are on their way to Anatolia, where some provision is being made for their reception by the Turkish Government. I have met steamers crowded with them. Under such conditions there is little hope that peace will be of long duration in the Balkans. One of the sources of trouble there which will make itself felt before all others is a direct consequence of that unfair partition which gives to the Slavs the market towns of which the Albanian peasants have absolute need – for they cannot dispense with them and live. Hence a fierce struggle for life is certain to break out. The Dibra valley, for example, is surrounded by lofty mountains, the inhabitants of which have no place to buy or sell except the city. They are isolated by distance and by geographical situation from every other market, especially in winter. Yet the mountains are now part of Albania, while the valley and city, which are economically indispensable to the mountaineers, have been annexed by Servia. It is not difficult to foresee the results of this artificial arrangement. As a matter of fact, they were foreseen and foretold by Baron von Giesel and myself during the London Conference, and neither of us could then believe that the irrational combination would be assented to by any body of men free to effect a fair partition on its own merits. But the ambassadors in London were not thus free. They had to allow for considerations of an extrinsic order, and were well aware that the division of the land which they imposed upon the discontented States would lay upon coming generations, and perhaps on the present one, crushing burdens in strife and bloodshed. In annexing archi-Albanian districts, Servia and Montenegro have donned each a Nessus’ shirt, while Albania by incorporating the Greeks of Epirus has been forced to do the same. It was this contentious matter of Epirus which stirred up the anger of the Greeks, and confronted the Albanian Government with its first mishaps. The district to be annexed was inhabited by people who, whatever their real origin, deemed themselves Greeks, spoke the Greek tongue, and resented being handed over to the rulers of a State so much less cultured than themselves. Their representative, an earnest patriot, M. Vamvakas, journeyed through Europe to lay the desire of his countrymen, who asked for annexation to Greece, or at least autonomous government, before the statesmen of Europe. In vain. Europe’s decision had already fallen, and against it there was no diplomatic appeal. But aware of the weakness of Europe to enforce its own decrees when the interests of one of the Great Powers are not involved, the people of Epirus took the law into their own hands as they had threatened, raised the standard of rebellion, constituted a provisional government under M. Zographos, and captured villages and towns which the regular forces of the Hellenic Government had vacated. Whether and to what extent they were reinforced by officers and privates of the regular army, is a secondary point which I am not concerned to discuss. The pith of the matter is that Albania, receiving no help from without, was left by Europe to assert and uphold its rights over the territory as best it could. And it was left without the means. The ensuing effort of the Albanian Government to put down the rebellion involved the country in unmixed evils. The Cabinet resolved to equip an expedition against the Epirotes, and requested the International Commission of Control to authorise the requisite expenditure. This the Commissioners refused to do on the ground that the contingent thus formed would consist of untrained soldiers without competent officers, and that deplorable excesses on the part of both might reasonably be apprehended. Against this objection it was urged that the only alternative to a native army was the despatch of European forces for the purpose of giving effect to Europe’s decision, and that a definite and speedy choice of one of these courses seemed a necessary corollary of Europe’s attitude and Albania’s plight. As the latter had been rejected the former became imperative. The Ministers added that they would themselves guarantee that no atrocities would be allowed to embitter the struggle. But Europe’s representatives were inexorable. Essad Pasha, as War Minister and Home Secretary, was charged by his sovereign with the work of raising recruits in Central Albania for this expedition. He addressed himself to the patriotism of the people, but his appeal fell on deaf ears. The villages that had once acknowledged his sway, like Shiak, Tirana, Kavaya, forbade their fighting men to volunteer for a Christian Prince and his renegade Mussulman Minister who was responsible for bringing over that Prince. Thereupon the work of enlistment came to a standstill. I was with Essad at the moment when the telegram announcing this decision was handed to him, and I noted with curiosity the effect it had. He boiled with rage, hurled ejaculatory phrases at the rebels, and without losing a moment dashed off to Shiak and Tirana to call them to account. Here his success was only partial. At first they ventured to reproach, revile and assail him, but he daunted them by his presence and his intrepidity. The Albanians know a strong man when they see him. The dispositions which Essad subsequently took for taming the insubordinate villagers and despatching the troops southwards, were avidly seized upon by his personal enemies, construed as parts of a plot to kill the King, overthrow the Government, and hand over Albania to the Young Turks. The discovery of the alleged conspiracy was kept secret. Essad, who was War Minister, Home Secretary, and Acting Vizier in one, was vigilantly watched, and when the propitious hour had struck, he became a target for balls and bullets, and was finally shipped from Albania into exile. That high-handed act, for which as yet no explanation or excuse has been offered, was followed by a series of risings in the country, which one party ascribes to Essad’s perfidious machinations and the other to the treacherous attack on the trusty and loyal servant of the King. So far as I can judge, both explanations are unfounded. But frontier troubles were by no means exhausted by the Epirote rising in the South. The Serbs and Montenegrins were hardly less aggressive than the Epirotes. The subjection of the Hoti and Gruda clan was accompanied by the flight of thousands of necessitous tribesmen into Scutari, whose arrival thrust the inhabitants of that city into dismay. The British Governor, Colonel Phillips, on taking over the governorship, had been assured by his predecessors, the Admirals, that everything was in order, that the refugees would not exceed a few hundred, and that ample provision had been made for their reception and keep. Events belied this optimistic forecast. Nineteen thousand fugitives swept down the hills one day and strained the resourcefulness of the Governor to the utmost. He drove most of them back and made provision for nearly two thousand despite the circumstances that there were no funds available for them. At the same time the International Boundary Commission became a fruitful, if unwilling, source of strife and bloodshed. In drawing the line of demarcation between Montenegro and Albania, the Commissioners were not at one. The British, German, Austrian, and Italian representatives were for according certain hamlets and strips of territory, which they deemed Albanian, to the Government of Durazzo, whereas the French and the Russian representatives held that they should be assigned to the Slav State. And as unanimity of votes was necessary for a definitive settlement, the two lines were drawn provisionally. Within these lines, the Montenegrins are wont to foregather and shoot any Albanian who dare to trespass on them, and the British Governor of Scutari was helpless to prohibit the encroachment or punish the murderers. Colonel Phillips also received messages announcing that if a single Montenegrin were shot, the Cettinje Government would pour its troops into Albania forthwith. Against these disorders there was no remedy, and the fact that peace and order have been maintained in the city of Scutari and over a large district to the North and North- East, reaching to the river Matya, despite those difficulties and other artificial obstacles, constitutes an achievement of which Colonel Phillips and his country have reason to be proud. From these perturbations of foreign origin even the centre of Albania is not immune. Young Turkish emissaries, professional and amateur, wandered into the district, stirred up the misery-stricken villagers against their Christian ruler and his Government from whom they expected so much and received nothing, decried Essad Pasha as a traitor and a renegade who was making common cause with the giaour and the foreigner, and in this way spread disaffection among the benighted peasants. Djemal Bey, who is a major of the Ottoman General Staff, Arif Hikmet, an ex-journalist and ex-deputy, who was one of the foremost among those who had proscribed the use of the Latin alphabet for the Albanian language, a Turkish Artillery captain named Irfan Bey, a Major of the Ottoman General Staff, Kemal Effendi, and Lieutenant Kazem Effendi – are reputed to be the instigators of this meaningless but troublesome movement. All of them are men without fortune, yet all of them distributed money with lavish hands. One may ask with astonishment what rational purpose can lie at the root of this disruptive propaganda. As yet no motive, serious or plausible, has been set forth or hinted at. That the Young Turks who forfeited Albania by their folly cannot hope to regain it by their intrigues, is evident to the dullest apprehension. Geographically the country is now cut off from the rest of the Ottoman Empire, and politically there is no bond of union between the two States. As for their common religion, it is indeed outwardly professed by a majority of Albanians, but even these are split up into hostile sects whose adepts are amongst the deadliest enemies of Turkish rule and of the Orthodox Moslem faith. One plausible explanation is that the Young Turks, acting as the instrument of others who are eager to provoke pan-Balkan troubles for the purpose of rectifying their own frontiers, have embarked on a scheme which they fondly imagine will afford them an opportunity of repeating in respect of other portions of their lost territory the venture which they so successfully carried out in Adrianople. Another is suggested by the Turkish press organ Tanin, namely, that Djemal Bey, who was a prisoner of the Serbs, and went straight to Albania on being released, may be acting on behalf of a section of the Slavs. In a word, every man’s hand is against Albania, which before it can be properly kneaded into a compact political community and accoutred for self-defence, is become the battleground of Serbs, Montenegrins, Young Turks, and Greeks, as in the dreary days of yore. Called to life by sundry agencies, like a mummy resuscitated by the alchemy of a wonder-working magician, it was at once turned adrift among beast of prey eager to devour it, with no serviceable weapon of defence, and now it is in danger of lapsing into chaos. Turning from external difficulties to the internal situation we are faced with a set of conditions the like of which has probably never been witnessed in modern Europe. To characterise the resulting state as chaotic is to give but a faint idea of the mad chassez croisez of chiefs who have no subordinates; of subordinates who are at the beck and call of numerous disunited chiefs; of a Cabinet thwarted by an International Commission of Control, which calls for its abolition and volunteers to govern in its stead; of zealous and well-meaning Dutch officers checkmating both Commission and Cabinet, obtaining supreme power and bending the King to their will; of an Austrian political adviser pulling the rudder in one direction and an Italian political adviser giving the wheel a turn in the other; of the head of the Government and of three ministries being suddenly roused out of sleep at dead of night and bombarded with mountain guns without being condemned or accused of any crime or misdemeanour; of a misinformed sovereign despatching artillery and quick-firing guns against a body of malcontents who solemnly declare that they came only as petitioners; of a Court and Cabinet fleeing for refuge to the foreign warships from a town which, as they thought, was about to be given up to fire and the sword. Albania would seem to have become a vast bedlam, of which Durazzo is the special ward for the violent and most dangerous inmates. It is not to be supposed that the upright intentions or good faith of any of these bodies or individuals is being impugned. Far from it. They are all well-meaning, honourable, and feverishly active in pursuit of conflicting aims. Each one is bent on saving Albania from the anarchy into which the ill- considered doings of the others are plunging it. Each of them is convinced that there is a panacea for the ills of the country, but that before it can be applied the realm must be purged from the disastrous influences of the rest. The pathetic side of this strange phenomenon lies in the circumstance that every one of these individuals, like the fly on the wheel, fancies that he is the source of any progress or movement that can be produced, whereas in truth what goes on outside the country is alone of any moment; and these actors are but playing with branches, the roots of which are hidden without and are watered or withered by forces to which neither they nor the population has access. They have yet to learn how limited is the reach of the internal agencies. By these factitious contrivances a problem eminently easy in itself is become well-nigh insoluble. The Albanians are among the most chivalrous and also the most docile people in Europe, once the chords are touched which alone can evoke a response in their hearts. But one must understand the peculiar workings of the national mind and set before it such motives as have power to stir it. And most of the bodies and persons charged with the work of ruling over the people and of modifying their political and social structure, know them only through the uncouth phraseology of the interpreter or the coloured medium of disjointed reports. I was struck with instances of this disqualification on more than one occasion. After the fighting of Saturday, the 23rd May, the Commission of Control proposed to the insurgents that they should give up their wounded for medical treatment, which was available only at Durazzo. But the offer was politely declined. Then adroit feelers were thrown out to elicit the number of their casualties, but with no result. This extraordinary reticence was noticed and commented by the international statesmen, some of whom drew fanciful conclusions from it. The natives, on the contrary, felt no surprise at a reserve which they knew to be in accordance with the secular usages of their countrymen. The Albanian people may roughly be likened to sharp, rough stones of many shapes and sizes, taken from an old Roman structure. They may still serve to form a comfortable modern dwelling provided they are cut and fashioned under the direction of builders who know the sort of edifice they are going to construct and how to carry out the plan. But if in lieu of qualified builders and workmen you set a number of watchmakers, tulip-growers, or hatters to do the work, and if these are disagreed as to whether a palace, a church, or a row of cottages is wanted, the changes of any useful or ornamental building coming out of their experiment will be slender. Among the many strange politico-social phenomena that press their unwontedness upon the observant foreign student of Albania, two or three are entitled to supreme prominence in the minds of those who are set to govern the nation, and to smooth its march from mediaeval twilight towards the dazzling glare of contemporary civilisation. The feudal ordering of a large section of the people, their canine fidelity to their chiefs, their ingrained reverence for hereditary authority, the feuds of the clans among themselves, the absence of any regular machinery for the prevention or detection of crime, for the trial and punishment of criminals, and for the security of life and property, and the alleged necessity of the vendetta as a substitute for this, are characteristic traits which must of necessity impart to the future State in its initial phase, a conformation, social and political, wholly unlike that of any other nation. And it behoves those whose work it is to fuse these clans into an organism, and keep ward over its development, to take due account of these ancient survivals. Common sense tells us that it would be folly to attempt to abolish them summarily, or to expect a rude people whose habits of life and modes of thought and feeling are those of the twelfth century, to plunge all at once into the twentieth. In the light of these axioms many of the preliminaries of government which run counter to them and have already been established, are provoking acrid criticism among Albanians, and in especial the Western style and splendid isolation of the Court. The King and Queen, it is argued, live in a palace aloof from their people. Their surroundings are foreign, their habits and customs are those of the Court of Oldenburg or Mecklenburg Strelitz, their language is German or French, their whole atmosphere is alien, and the prop and stay of their throne Austrian, Italian, or international. That the natives should notice these things and grumble at them is perhaps natural, but the strictures which they ground upon them are unwarranted. Less gratuitous is the criticism that the general trend of the Court is calculated to keep it at too great a distance from the bulk of the nation. Natives of education and experience like the Finance Minister, Philip Nogga, who contributed materially to bring Prince Wied to Albania, hold that the Court which might with advantage be taken as a model is that of Montenegro. Albania’s chief should conceive his rule as that of a paternal lord invested with great power, wielding it prudently for the good of his people, with whom it should be his care to identify himself in every feasible way. Thus it would strengthen the bonds of union between them and him if he appeared before them from time to time in the national costume, visited their towns and villages, invited their chiefs to his palace, displayed an interest in their minor affairs, and made them feel that he is become one of themselves. I record these views as worth noting without acquiescence or dissent. (2) What strikes me as a noteworthy factor in the present situation, and an element in the relations between ruler and people, is the bitter disillusion which has ensued upon three months of Prince William’s reign. This, too, is a grievance for which the German Prince can hardly be made answerable. But the writ of reason does not run among a primitive people like the Arnauts, whose empire is entirely of sentiment. The tidings that the tribes and clans, whose life since the dawn of history had been one continuous battle, were not to be advanced to the dignity of an independent realm, made them conscious of a new fibre in their moral constitution, and gave rise to fantastic hopes and infantine expectations. The common people – who had been as serfs, living and dying in the mountains for their hereditary chieftains, or hewing wood and drawing water for their Beys and Pashas in the valleys – pictured to themselves their King as a sort of demiurge, who would lead them triumphantly against mighty enemies and bestow upon them copious spoils of war, or fancied that his fiat would transmute their misery into happiness and their serfdom into a millennium. The semi-educated groups who had lived abroad or become inoculated with the pseudo constitutional principles disseminated by the Young Turks during the first phase of their evolution, at once brought into gaudy prominence their new-fangled notions, and beheld visions of the romance of statesmanship in which they would play a commanding part. Prince Wilhelm, even before his arrival, became the symbol and the instrument of this impending metamorphosis which everybody expected as a certainty. But each section and individual construed it as the realisation of his own particular ideals. The King, like the manna in the desert, was to satisfy the individual longings of each. And the disappointment that followed his accession to the throne was general and bitter. Alone a section of the Moslems in the south and centre, mistrustful of all change, and apprehending that however cheerless their lot had been, the shifting of the political balance might easily make it worse – put forward the demand that their new ruler should be chosen from among their own creed. And for a time they believed that this desire would be fulfilled, for their most puissant representative, Essad Pasha, seconded their petition, contending that, as the majority of the inhabitants were followers of Mohammed, their ruler also ought to be a Moslem. When, however, the Powers decided that the throne should be bestowed on a Christian Prince, Essad, aware that protests would be unavailing, made a merit of necessity and pilgrimaged to Germany to invite Prince Wilhelm zu Wied to don the thorny crown of Albania. Many of the Mussulmen were dismayed at the prospect which an overwrought imagination, stimulated by artful suggestions from without, conjured up before them. And against Essad they uttered an ominous tu quoque and fulminant execrations, which intimated that his crime would be followed by condign punishment.

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Robert Elsie Texts and Documents of Albanian History
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Prince Otto Victor II of Schönburg (l.) with his sister Princess Sophie of Schönburg-Waldenburg and her new husband, Prince Wilhelm zu Wied (r.), on the occasion of their marriage at Schloss Waldenburg in Saxony on 30 November 1906 (photo: Alwin Dietrich, Fürstlich Wiedisches Archiv, Neuwied, No. 1376).
Essad Pasha Toptani (1863-1920) at the time of the reign of Prince Wied in 1914.
Webdesign J. Gross
The Throne Perilous. Sketch by Leonard Raven-Hill published in the British satirical magazine Punch, London, 25 February 1914.