Kastrioti family

House of Kastrioti

Reconstruction of the coat of arms of the Kastrioti
Ethnicity Albanian/Italian
Current region San Pietro in Galatina and the County of Soleto in the Province of Lecce, Italy
Members Gjon Kastrioti, George Kastrioti, Hamza Kastrioti, Gjon Kastrioti II
Name origin and meaning Castle-dweller (from the Latin castrum via the Greek word κάστρο)

The Kastrioti (Albanian: Kastriotët), or Castriota, was an Albanian and now Italian noble family active in the 14th and 15th centuries as the rulers of the Principality of Kastrioti. The first Kastrioti mentioned in historical documents was a kephale of Kanina in 1368. At the beginning of the 15th century the family controlled the region around Debar (modern westernmost Macedonia and easternmost Albania) at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. The most notable member was Skanderbeg, a magnate and general, regarded an Albanian national hero. After the fall of the Principality and Skanderbeg's death in 1468 the Kastrioti family gave their allegiance to the Kingdom of Naples and were given control over the Duchy of San Pietro in Galatina and the County of Soleto in the Province of Lecce, Italy,[1] where a maternal branch of the family still exists today as part of the Sanseverino family.



Kastrioti, who was a kephale of Kanina in 1368, was the first member of the Kastrioti family mentioned in historical documents.[2][3] In the 14th century, Kastrioti family was one of the less powerful noble families in Albania, whose power and influence was far less than those of Thopia, Dukagjini, Balšići or Arianiti.[4]

According to Kabashi, the Kastrioti were first mentioned in 1394.[5] Kabashi explains that Turkish sources say that the family originated from Kastrat in north Albania.[5] According to Malcolm, they originate from western Kosovo.[6][7][8] According to several historians, their surname has its origin in the Greek word kastro (κάστρο; "castle"; also Latin castrum).[9][10][11][12]

Elevation to nobility

The Kastrioti, unlike the Thopia and the Arianiti, did not have a long history as nobility.[5] The first nobleman was either Pal Kastrioti,[5] the lord of Sinë and Lower Gardi (Gardhi i Poshtëm),[5][13][14] or a Kastrioti, who was the kephale of Kanina in 1368.[15]

Pal Kastrioti had three sons: Konstantin[A], Alexius and Gjon Kastrioti[16][17] who was Skanderbeg's father.[18][19] Aleksa Kastrioti controlled three villages.[20] Konstantin Kastrioti was protovestiar of Sina (Serina) near Durrazo.[21] According to Venetian document discovered by Karl Hopf his title was Lord of Cerüja castle (Latin: dominus Serinae).[22]

Pal held a small area of Sinja (in Arras) and Lower Gardi (Unknown location). His son, John (Gjon) Kastrioti († 1437), became the lord of Matia (Mat).[14] He managed to expand his territory but was ultimately subdued by the invading Ottomans. The most notable member was George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (1405–1468), declared an Albanian national hero, renowned in Albanian folklore for his fight against the Ottoman forces.



Italian period

After the fall of Albania to the Ottomans the Kingdom of Naples gave land and noble title to Skanderbeg's family, the Kastrioti.[27] His family were given control over the Duchy of San Pietro in Galatina and the County of Soleto in the Province of Lecce, Italy.[1] His son, Gjon Kastrioti II, married Jerina Branković, daughter of Serbian Despot Lazar Branković and one of the last descendants of the Palaiologos.[1]

Two lines of the Castriota family lived in southern Italy, one of which descended from Pardo Castriota Scanderbeg and the other from Achille Castriota Scanderbeg, who were both biological sons of Ferrante, the son of Gjon Kastrioti II and his wife Jerina. They were highly ranked Italian nobility and members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.[28]

The only legitimate daughter of Duke Ferrante, Irene Castriota Scanderbeg, born to Andreana Acquaviva d'Aragona from the Nardò dukes, inherited the Castriota paternal estate, bringing the Duchy of Galatina and County of Soleto into the Sanseverino family after her marriage with Prince Pietrantonio Sanseverino (1508–1559). They had a son, Nicolò Bernardino Sanseverino (1541–1606).

Through the female lines, his descendants include the ruling (or former ruling) families of Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria-Hungary, Prussia, Serbia, and some members of the British royal family. Other prominent modern descendants include Filippo Castriota, collaborator of Ismail Qemali, founder of modern Albania and author Giorgio Maria Castriota.



  1. ^ According to Kastrioti genealogy written by Flavius Comnenus and quoted by du Cange Kostantin was Skanderbeg's great-grandfather and the name of Skanderbeg's grandfather was Georgius.[29] The later researches proved that Kostantin was in fact Skanderbeg's uncle while the correct name of Skanderbeg's grandfather is Pal.[30]


  1. 1 2 3 Runciman 1990, pp. 183–185
  2. Buda, Aleks (2002), Shkrime historike, 3, Tiranë: Shtëpia Botuese 8 Nëntori, p. 239, ISBN 978-99927-1-651-9, OCLC 163395350, Dokumentet përmendin për herë të parë një Kastriot në vitin 1368 si kështjellar ose kefali në Kaninë të Vlorës.
  3. von Thallóczy, Ludwig; Jireček, Konstantin; von Šufflay, Milan; Ippen, Theodor A; Sedlmayr, Ernst C (1916), Illyrisch-albanische forschungen, (in German), München, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 80, 81, OCLC 35691167, Der erste bekannte Kastriot war 1368 nur Kastellan der Berg Kanina bei Valona.
  4. Heinrich Kretschmayr (September 2012) [1920]. Geschichte von Venedig. BoD – Books on Demand. p. 375. ISBN 978-3-8460-0658-0. Retrieved 7 June 2013. Sein geschlecht, die Kastriota, die „Stadtbürger“, war eines der geringsten unter den vielfach mit Serbengeschlechtern verschwisterten Dynasten Albaniens gewesen, hatte weit hinter den Topia, Arianiti, Dukagin und Balša des vierzehnten Jahrhunderts zurückgestanden.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Kabashi, August 2005, p. 12: "The Castriotas were first mentioned in sources in 1394 and 1410 when John, Scanderbeg’s father, notified the Republic of Venice of his decision to send his son over to the Turks as hostage.17 According to the Turkish sources, the Castriota family originated from the village of Kastrat in northeastern Albania. Unlike the Thopias and the Comnenis, the Castriotas did not have a long history as members of the aristocracy. In fact, their elevation of status began with Scanderbeg’s grandfather, Paul Castriota, who initially owned two villages named Sinja and Lower Gardi.18"
  6. Malcolm, Noel (1998), Kosovo : a short history, New York: New York University Press, p. 88, ISBN 9780814755983, OCLC 37310785, Skanderbeg (meaning 'Lord Alexander'; Alb.: Skenderbeu) was the Turkish name given to an Albanian nobleman, Gjergj Kastriot, whose family, originally from Western Kosovo, controlled extensive lands in north-central Albania.
  7. Hasluck, Margaret Masson Hardie (1954). The unwritten law in Albania. University Press. p. 15. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  8. Akadémia, Magyar Tudományos (1985). Acta orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. Magyar Tudományos Akadémia. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  9. Michaelides, Constantine E. (2003-11-30). The Aegean crucible: tracing vernacular architecture in post-Byzantine centuries. Delos Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-9729723-0-7. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  10. Bulletin d'archéologie et d'histoire dalmate (in Croatian), 55—59, Split: Arheološki Muzej (Zadar); Arheološki Muzej (Split), 1953, p. 118, retrieved 30 November 2011, Još treba istaći Skenderbegovo prezime Kastriot... To je svakako grčka izvedenica ... etnikum od castra
  11. Thallóczy 1916, p. 80 : "Kastriot, die einen griechischen Namen führten, „Stadtbürger", kastriotis von kastron, Stadt (aus lat. castrum ; polis war nur Konstantinopel allein)."
  12. Schmitt 2009, : "Der Name des Stammes Kastrioti leitet sich laut Schmitt vermutlich vom griechischen Wort «kastron» (Festung) ab"
  13. Buda, p. 239: "Në fund të shek. XIV Pal Kastrioti kishte këtu dy fshatra. Sinjën dhe Gardhin e Poshtëm."
  14. 1 2 Noli 1947: "he had not more than two villages, called Signa and Lower Gardhi. Paul's son, John Castrioti, became Lord of Matia."
  15. Buda, p. 239: "Dokumentet përmendin për herë të parë një Kastriot në vitin 1368 si kështjellar ose kefali në Kaninë të Vlorës."
  16. Šufflay 2000, p. 148
    Njegov potomak, Ivan, "gospodin Ivan" u srpskim poveljama, "Ivan Castrioth" u mletačkim spomenicima...
  17. Muzaka, Gjon (1873) [1515], Karl Hopf, ed., Breve memoria de li discendenti de nostra casa Musachi. Per Giovanni Musachi, despoto d'Epiro, Berlin, You should know that the grandfather of Lord Scanderbeg was called Lord Paul Castriota. He ruled over no more than two villages, called Signa (Sina) and Gardi Ipostesi. To this Lord Paul was born Lord John Castriota who became Lord of Mat. And to him was born Lord Scanderbeg. The mother of the said Lord Scanderbeg, i.e. the wife of the said Lord John, was called Lady Voisava Tribalda who was of a noble family.
  18. Dialogue, Volume 5, Issues 17-20. Dijalog. 1996. p. 77. Retrieved 27 March 2012. Njegov sin Pavle, gospodar od Sinje, imao je tri sina: Konstantina, Aleksu i Ivana... Ivan Kastriota, otac Skenderbegov, ozenio se Voislavom koja je
  19. Hopf 1873, p. 533
    Constantino, Alessio, Giovanni
  20. Friedrich Johann Hopf, Carl Hermann (1960) [1873], Geschichte Griechenlands vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis auf unsere Zeit (in German), II, B. Franklin, p. 97, OCLC 418936, ... Alexios Kastriota, der über drei Ortschaften gebot,...
  21. Friedrich Johann Hopf, Carl Hermann (1960) [1873], Geschichte Griechenlands vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis auf unsere Zeit (in German), II, B. Franklin, p. 94, OCLC 418936, ... Auch KonstantinoS Kastriota, der den Titel Protovestiar führte und Serina unweit Durazzo ...
  22. von Hahn;, Johann Georg (1867), Reise durch die Gebiete des Drin und Wardar : im Auftrage der K. Akademie der Wissenschaften unternommen im Jahre 1863, Kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, p. 23, OCLC 220497422, Professor Hopf fand nämlich eine venetianische Urkunde, in welcher Constantin Kastriota, Skanderbegs Grossvater, „dominus Serinae" genannt wird.
  23. Vuković, Novo (1996). Književnost Crne Gore od XII do XIX vijeka. Obod. p. 42. Његов други син звани Репош, брат Бурђа Кастриота, умро је 1430. или 1431. године у Хиландару и тамо је ...
  24. 1 2 3 4 p. 96
  25. Noli, Fan Stilian (1947), George Castrioti Scanderbeg (1405–1468), International Universities Press, p. 64, OCLC 732882, Vlajka me Stefan Stres Balshën
  26. Gopčević, Spiridon (1914). Geschichte von Montenegro und Albanien (in German). Gotha: F.A. Perthes. p. 460. OCLC 9968504. Retrieved 29 March 2012. Bezüglich der Strez herrscht Verwirrung. Hopf macht Ivo und Gojko BalSid zu Söhnen des Stefan Strez, welcher Vlajka Kastriota geheiratet hätte und Sohn des Gjuragj Balšić gewesen wäre, eines Bastards des Gjuragj I.
  27. Gibbon 1901, p. 467
  28. Archivio del Gran Priorato di Napoli e Sicilia del Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta, Napoli
  29. du Fresne, sieur du Cange, Charles (1680), Historia Byzantina duplici commentario illustrata : Prior familias ... Imperatorum Constantinopol. ... complectitur alter descriptionem urbis Constantinopolis (in Latin), Lutetia Parisorum, p. 270, OCLC 166008975, retrieved 13 September 2012
  30. Otadžbina, volume 21 (in Serbian). 1889. p. 193. Retrieved 10 September 2012. Да се види нетачност Флавијева родослова доста је навести ово. Према новијим истраживањима Костантин је био Кастриоту стриц, а не прадед, а по сведоџби његова сродника, дед му се звао Павле Кастриот и није имао више од два села.


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