Venetian Albania (Italian: Albania Veneta) was the name for the possessions of the Republic of Venice on the Southeastern Adriatic coast (southernmost Dalmatia) that existed from 1420 to 1797. It consisted of the Bay of Kotor, although initially it covered the coastal area of what is now Montenegro and northern Albania, most of which were lost to the Ottoman Empire early on.
The term "Venetian Albania" was used by the Republic for their initial possessions that stretched from the southern borders of the Republic of Ragusa to Durazzo in coastal Albania (hence the name). The Venetian territories usually reached only 20 km from the Adriatic Sea. Between 1478 and 1571 the territories in what is today Albania were lost. After 1573 the southern limit was moved to the village of Kufin near Budva, because of the Ottoman conquests of Antivari (Bar), Dulcigno (Ulcinj), Scutari (Shkodër), and Durazzo. The Venetian territory was then centered on the area of the Bay of Kotor, and included the towns of Kotor, Risan, Perast, Tivat, Herceg Novi, Budva, and Sutomore. The name continued to be used as a claimant to the Albanian coast.
The Venetians periodically controlled the small southern Dalmatian villages around the 10th century, but did not permanently assume control until 1420. The Venetians assimilated the Dalmatian language into the Venetian dialect quickly. The Venetian territories around Kotor lasted from 1420 to 1797 and were called Venetian Albania, a province of the Venetian Republic.
In the early years of the Renaissance the territories under Venetian control included areas from actual coastal Montenegro to northern Albania until Durazzo: Venetians retained this city after a siege by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1466 but it fell to Ottoman forces in 1501.
In those years Venetian Albania was relatively rich (by Balkan standards) and the area around the city of Cattaro enjoyed a huge cultural and artistic development.
When the Ottoman Empire started to conquer the Balkans in the 15th century, the population of Christian Slavs in Dalmatia increased greatly. As a consequence of this, by the end of the 17th century the Romance-speaking population of the historical Venetian Albania was a minority, according to Oscar Randi.
After the French Republic conquered the Venetian Republic, the area of Venetian Albania became part of the Austrian Empire by the Treaty of Campo Formio, then the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy by the Peace of Pressburg, and then the French Illyrian Provinces by the Treaty of Schönbrunn. In 1814 it was again included in the Austrian Empire.
- Kotor (Cattaro)
- Perast (Perasto), once part of Venetian Albania, was at its peak in the 18th century, when it had as many as four active shipyards, a standing fleet of around a hundred ships, and 1,643 residents. At that time a number of architecturally significant buildings were constructed in this fortified town. Many ornate baroque palaces and houses were decorated the town of Perast, built in the Venetian style. Citizens of Perast (the population was around 1,600 at the time) enjoyed privileges from the Venetian Republic. They were allowed to trade with large ships and to sell goods without tax on the Venetian market, which created considerable income for the town.
- Budva (Budua)
In "Agents of Empire," Noel Malcolm traces the lives of Albanian noble families in the end of 16th century. In addition to being the language of institutions, for Albanian inhabitants Italian was the language of culture.
According to the Italian historian Luigi Paulucci the population of the Venetian Albania, during the centuries of the Venetian Republic, was mainly Venetian-speaking Croats in the urban areas around the Bay of Kotor (Kotor, Perast, Budva), while the inland areas more than half of the population was Serbo-Croatian-speaking, after the beginning of the eighteenth century.
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