The Arvanitic nobility was an elite hereditary ruling class in Byzantine Nova Epirus, parts of the western Balkans and later in parts of the Ottoman world. The Arvanitic nobility was composed of landowners of vast areas, often in allegiance to states like the Byzantine Empire, various Serbian states, the Republic of Venice, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Naples in addition to the Arvanitic principalities. They often used Byzantine, Latin or Slavic titles, such as sebastokrator, despot, dux, conte and zupan. The Muzaka family was loyal to the Byzantine Empire. For their loyalty to Byzantium, the head of the family Andrea II Muzaka gained the title of Despot in 1335, while other Muzakas continued to pursue careers in Byzantine administration in Constantinople. The first state of Albania in the Middle Ages it was ruled by the Progoni family and extended from the Drin river to the southern boundary of the Ohrid lake. Its rulers were known in Catholic sources with the titles of judices, while in Byzantine ones the titles mentioned are those of the grand archon and the panhypersebastos. Arvanitic nobility was included into hierarchy of the feudal system of Serbian Empire without any discrimination and participated in the work of the highest government institutions, where Arvanites archons had the same rights as the Serbian nobility had. Serbian emperor wanted to gain the support of the Arvanitic nobility so he confirmed the privilleges Kruje had been granted by the Byzantine Empire. The religion of the Arvanitic nobility depended on the religion of their lords, or the power that could threaten their political existence. Until the end of 14th century the Arvanitic nobility were Christians (Orthodox or Catholic). After the Battle of Savra in 1385 most of the local nobility in Albania became vassals of the Ottoman Empire and began converting to Islam. In the end of 17th century the nobility in Albania was majority islamized. The official language of correspondence in the Medieval principalities in Albania controlled by local nobility were mainly Greek and less Latin or Slavic. Arvanites are a bilingual population group in Greece who traditionally speak Arvanitika, a medieval dialect of the Albanian language along with Greek. They settled in Greece during the late Middle Ages and were the dominant population element of some regions of the Peloponnese and Attica until the 19th century. Arvanites today self-identify as Greeks and do not consider themselves to belong to Albania or the Albanian nation. They call themselves Arvanites (in Greek). Arvanitika was brought to southern Greece during the late Middle Ages by settlers from what is today Albania. Arvanitika is also closely related to Arbëresh, the dialect of Albanian in Italy, which largely goes back to Arvanite settlers from Greece. Arvanitika shares many features with the Tosk dialect spoken in Southern Albania. However, it has received a great deal of influence from Greek, mostly related to the vocabulary and the phonological system. At the same time, it is reported to have preserved some conservative features that were lost in mainstream Albanian Tosk. Arbanon was an autonomous principality, the first Albanian entity during the Middle Ages, initially part of the Byzantine Empire and later of the Despotate of Epirus. The state was established by archon Progon in the region of Kruja, in c. 1190. Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin and then Demetrius, who attained the height of the realm. After the death of Demetrius, the last of the Progon family, the principality came under Gregory Kamonas, and later Golem, until its dissolution in 1255. Throughout its existence, the principality was an autonomous dependency of its neighbouring powers, first Byzantium and, after the Fourth Crusade, Epirus, while it also maintained close relations with Serbia.
1) The Arianiti were an Byzantine Greek noble family that ruled large areas in Albania and neighbouring areas from the 11th to the 16th century. Their domain stretched across the Shkumbin valley and the old Via Egnatia road and reached to the east today's Bitola. A secondary surname used by the Arianiti family since the 14th century was Komneni surname, which derives from the Byzantine imperial house of Komnenos. The first of the family to bear was possibly married to a female descendant of Golem of Kruja and could be related to a Comneni Budaresci princeps, who lived around 1300 in central Albania, although any connection to any member can't be verified as all Arianitis used Komneni as a second surname by the mid to late 14th century as a means to strengthen their noble status and territorial claims. The surname Shpata appears in Latin sources of the late 14th and early 15th century in reference to a Comin Spata, who could possibly be Komnen Arianiti, father of Gjergj Arianiti, who was also mentioned in contemporary documents as Aranit Spata. It is unclear whether the Arianitis adopted it through intermarriage with the Shpata family of central Albania or as a toponymic that derives from the region of Shpat, which they held in the Middle Ages. If the intermarriage theory is correct, the adoption of the surname must have happened in the 14th century. Golemi was used as a byname by some members of the Arianiti family. David Arianites is generally considered to be the first member of the Arianiti clan that is attested in historical documents, although the connection to the late 13th century Arianiti family can't be verified due to lack of sources. As attested in the works of George Kedrenos, in the 1001-1018 period he served the Byzantine Emperor Basil II as strategos of Thessalonica, and later strategos of Skopje. David Arianites fought against the Bulgarians in Strumica, Skopje and the area of Skrapar. Gjergj Arianiti or George Araniti (1383-1462) was an Albanian lord who led several campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. He was father of Donika, the wife of Scanderbeg, as well as great uncle of Moisi Arianit Golemi. Gjergj Arianiti is enumerated in Albanian folk tellings. Gjergj Arianiti was Skanderbeg's ally within League of Lezhë only for a short period of time because he abandoned their alliance after the defeat in Berat in 1450. Robert Elsie emphasizes that Arianiti was often Skanderbeg's rival who allied with the Kingdom of Naples in 1446, left his alliance with Skanderbeg by 1449 and allied with Venice in 1456.
2) The Bua or Boua was an Byzantine Greek noble family of Albania. According to G. Schiro, "Bua" originated as a cognomen , perhaps a diminutive derived from Benedetto. Another possible derivation is from bua, " buffalo ". It was not kin (blood relatives) with the earlier Spata family. Its members were: Peter Bua (fl. 1450s), Morean rebel leader,
Theodore Bua (fl. 1479), Venetian mercenary captain, Mercurio Bua (1478–1542), Venetian mercenary captain, son of Theodore.
3) The Spata family was an Byzantine Greek noble family of Albania active in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, initially as Venetian vassals and later as Ottoman vassals. The family's progenitors were the brothers John Spata and Sgouros Spata. It is possible that the name "Spata" is derived from the Latin and Greek spatha meaning "long sword", which is found in Albanian as shpatë meaning "sword". In the first half of the 14th century, mercenaries, raiders and migrants known as Arvanites flooded into Greece (specifically raiding Thessaly in 1325 and 1334). In 1358, Arvanites and Vlachs overran the regions of Epirus, Acarnania and Aetolia and established two principalities under their leaders, John Spata and Peter Losha. Naupactus (Lepanto) was later taken in 1378. The Spata family frequently collaborated with Ottomans and saw them as protectors of the Spata family. Although German historian Karl Hopf provided a genealogy of the Spata family, it is deemed by modern scholarship as "altogether inaccurate".
4) Peter Losha was an Byzantine Greek nobleman in medieval Epirus, the leader of the Mazaraki and Malakasi clans, who served as the despot of Arta from 1359 until his death in 1374, mostly as vassal under Serbian magnates Simeon Uroš (1359-1366) and Toma Preljubović (1366-1367, 1370-1374), though at times independent (1367-1370). Peter and John Bua Spata had been given the title despot in 1359 by Simeon Uroš, the brother of deceased Emperor Stefan Dušan, following their victory over Nikephoros II Orsini, who had sought to recover Epirus.
5) The House of Kastrioti was an Byzantine Greek royal and noble family of Albania 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 FYROM and Albania) at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. The most notable member was George Kastrioti or Skanderbeg, a magnate and general, regarded an national hero of Albania. 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, 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. 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. According to several historians, their surname has its origin in the Greek word kastro ("castle"; also Latin castrum). The list of titles used by Kastrioti family are: Lord of Sina and Lower Gardi, 1368, Lord of Emathia and Vumenestia, Prince of Kruja, Lord of Albania, Duke of San Pietro in Galatina, Count of Soleto, Signore of Monte Sant'Angelo, Signore of San Giovanni Rotondo,
Baron of Gagliano, Baron of Salignano, Baron of Arigliano.
6) The Matranga was an Byzantine Greek noble family of Albania during 13th and 15th centuries. Members of this family include local rulers, Byzantine officials and writers. After the occupation of Albania by the Ottoman Empire, part of the family emigrated to Italy and settled in the Arbëresh villages of Southern Italy, where they have continued to preserve the Arvanitic language. Before 1284, the Matranga family was either a vassal of Charles of Anjou, in the period when he created Kingdom of Albania, or of his nephew Philip of Taranto. They were first documented in 1297 in a Ragusian document. Members of the Matranga family were attacking Ragusian merchants in the region of Karavasta Lagoon. Rulers of the territory between the cities of Durrës and Vlore, they were described as subjects to the Byzantine Emperor at the time. The Matranga family have become vassal of the Byzantine Emperor in the period between 1284 and 1288, when the region, which was part of the Kingdom of Albania, was captured by the Byzantine Empire. Accepted the Angevin overlordship again in 1304, when Philip of Taranto recaptured Durrës with the help of local Albanian noblemen. During this period members of the family were also active in the Byzantine administration. A person named Mataringides, who had a part in a plot against Andronikos II Palaiologos, is mentioned as a student of Manuel Moschopoulos and led to his imprisonment for Manuel has taken a pledge for his student. Another member of the family, Nicholas Matarangos, became one of the four general judges, member of the highest imperial court and had a prominent role in the Byzantine civil war of 1341-1347. After the oath of allegiance to Philip of Taranto, the Matrangas continued to maintain close ties with the Angevin family. The advancing Kingdom of Serbia was a source of continuous preoccupation. A certain Paul Mataranga is mentioned in 1319, together with other Albanian lords, in a coalition with Philip of Taranto against Stephen Milutin. However their territories were eventually included in the Kingdom of Serbia before 1343. After the death of Stefan Dušan (1355), a member of the family, Blasius Matarango (al. Vlash Matranga), subsequently ruled a principality in the territory between Shkumbin and Seman as sevastokrator between 1358 and 1367, recognized under the suzerainty of
Symeon Uroš. There is a city in modern Thessaly in Greece called Mataranga.
7) The Muzaka were an Byzantine Greek noble family of Albania that ruled over the region of Myzeqe (central Albania) in the Late Middle Ages. The Muzaka are also referred to by some authors as a tribe or a clan. The earliest historical document that mention Muzaka family is written in 1090 by the Byzantine historian Anna Komnene. At the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century members of the Muzaka family controlled a region between the rivers of Devoll and Vjosë. Some of them were loyal to the Byzantine Empire while some of them allied with Charles of Anjou who gave them impressive Byzantine-like titles (such as sebastokrator) in order to subdue them more easily. During a short period, Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan (r. 1331-1355) occupied Albania including domains of Muzaka family but after Dušan's death they regained their former possessions. After the Battle of Savra in 1385 the territory of Albania came under the Ottoman Empire; they served the Ottomans until 1444 when Theodor Corona Musachi joined Skanderbeg 's rebellion. When the Ottomans suppressed George Kastrioti Skanderbeg's rebellion and captured the territory of Venetian Albania in the 15th century many members of the Muzaka family retreated to Italy. Those who stayed in Ottoman Albania lost their feudal rights, some converted to Islam and achieved high ranks in the Ottoman military and administrative hierarchy. Notable members of the family include Gjon Muzaka, Theodor Corona Musachi, Jakub Bey Musachi who was 15th century sanjakbey of the Ottoman Sanjak of Albania and Ahmet Pasha Kurt who was 18th century sanjakbey of the Sanjak of Avlona. The last notable member of Muzaka family who found refugee in Italy died in Naples in 1600. The surname exists in many Arvanitic families of modern Southern Greece.
8) The Progon Byzantine Greek family established the first autonomous state in Albania, the Principality of Arbër, under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, the
Despotate of Epirus and the Kingdom of Serbia. Progon, the founder, held the title of archon (lord), while one of his sons, Dimitri, held the title of panhypersebastos. The family had a considerable degree of autonomy. The family disappears in historical sources after 1216, following the death of Dimitri. Progon was the first Albanian ruler known by name, an archon of the Kruja fortress (Krujë) and its surroundings (" Arbanon"). He ruled between 1190 and 1198. Progon was succeeded by his two sons, Gjin, and Dimitri. Little is known about archon Progon who was the first ruler of Kruja and its surroundings, between 1190 and 1198. The Kruja fortress stayed in the possession of the Progon family, and Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin, and later Dimitri. Before 1204, Arbanon was an autonomous principality of the Byzantine Empire. He is mentioned with his two sons in an inscription from the St. Mary Monastery in Trifandina, Gëziq, northern Albania. The titles archon (held by Progon) and panhypersebastos (held by Dimitri) is a sign of Byzantine dependence.
9) Thopia family was one of the most powerful Byzantine Greek feudal families of Albania in the Late Middle Ages. It was initially part of the nobility of the Angevin Kingdom of Albania. The first mention of the Thopia is from 1329, when Tanusio Topia was mentioned as one of the counts of Albania. In 1338, Tanusio was mentioned as Count of Matia (conte di Matia). According to Anamali & Prifti, Tanusio had a brother, Dominik, who was a high cleric and served as a counsel of Robert of Anjou. By 1340 the Thopia controlled much of the territory between the rivers Mati and Shkumbin rivers. Together with the Muzaka family, they agreed to recognize Angevin suzerainty after rebelling against the Serbs. However except for Andrea Muzaka who defeated the Serbs in a battle in the Peristeri mountains, no action was taken to realize the treaty with the Angevins. Under Karl Topia the family reached its zenith. After the death of Emperor Stefan Dušan (1355), Karl managed to capture much of central Albania which was part of the Serbian Empire until then. In 1362 his forces attacked the city of Durrës, then in Angevin hands. Although he couldn't capture the city, he forced them to pay an annual tribute to his family. In 1368 Karl managed to capture the city of Durrës. Around 1370 Karl attacked the dominions of the Muzaka family and managed to capture from them the territory between Shkumbin and Seman . Now the territory of Thopia extended from Mat river to Seman , reaching its maximum extension. This aggressive behavior brought a complicated situation and many enemies. In 1376 Louis of Évreux, Duke of Durazzo who had gained the rights on the Albanian Kingdom from his second wife, attacked and conquered the city. However, in 1383, Karl Topia took control of the city again. Muzaka family allied with Balša II against Thopia. In the beginning of 1385, the city of Durrës was captured by Balša II in a surprise attack. Karl called for Ottoman help and Balša's forces were defeated in the Battle of Savra. Topia recaptured the city of Durrës the same year and held it until his death in 1388. Afterwards, the city of Durrës was inherited by his son Gjergj, Lord of Durrës. In 1392 Gjergj surrendered the city of Durrës and his domains to the Venice. After the death of Karl, his dominion was divided between his daughter Helena Thopia and his son Gjergj Thopia. Gjergj kept the city of Durrës and his surroundings which he later surrendered to Venice Republic , while Helen Thopia kept the city of Krujë and its surroundings. She was married to Venetian nobleman Marco Barbarigo . The count Niketa Thopia , a cousin of Gjergj, ruled in the region south of Durrës. In 1403, Niketa Thopia managed to capture the city of Krujë from his cousin Helena, thus gaining another part of the territory previously held by Thopia. He had good relations with Venice which was interested in having some buffer zone between them and advancing Ottoman army. However, in 1412, Niketa Thopia suffered a heavy defeat from the forces of Teodor II Muzaka. He himself felt prisoner and with the intervention of Ragusan Republic he was released, but only after giving some territories around Shkumbin river to Muzaka family. Upon his death in 1415, the castle of Krujë felt to the Ottomans. Later well known representatives include Tanush Thopia a famous commander of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg army and the commander of Krujë garrison during Second Siege of Krujë.
10) The Gropa family was Byzantine Greek noble family of Albania which controlled the region between Pogradec, Ohrid and Debar in the period 12th - 14th century. In the 14th century they were dedicated to Orthodoxy because of the political relations with
Archbishopric of Ohrid. Pal Gropa, a nobleman of the Kingdom of Albania was given extended privileges by Charles I of Naples on May 18, 1273: "nobili viro sevasto Paulo Gropa »casalia Radicis maioris et Radicis minons, пeс non Cobocheste, Zuadigoriсa, Sirclani et Сraye, Zessizan sitam in valle de Ebu". A member of Gropa family, Andrea Gropa , ruled the region and the city of Ohrid as a vassal to King of Serbia Vukašin Mrnjavčević until his death in 1371 and later to Vukašin's son Prince Marko. After a while he became semi-independent from Prince Marko and was referred to as Župan and Gospodar of Ohrid (Lord of Ochrid). After Andrea's death his lands were again under direct Marko's rule. Zacharia Gropa is mentioned by Athanase Gegaj as one of the military commanders of Skanderbeg's forces.