The work and contribution of the prominent Croatian albanologist Milan Shuflai is well known in the Albanian scientific, literary and historical circles.
A few years ago, the former President of the Republic Alfred Moisiu, using the scientific session “Shuflai and the Albanians” organized by the Albanian Academy of Sciences in Tirana, decorated Shuflaj after his death with the Order “Naim Frashëri i Artë”, with the motivation “For outstanding contribution to albanological studies, for the scientific and objective character of the defense of the Albanian cause in his work ”. The Albanian Embassy in Zagreb has decided to establish the Certificate of Merit “Milan Shuflaj”, to honor personalities, institutions or organizations that make a significant contribution to strengthening friendship and relations between our two countries and peoples, Albanian and Croatian.
So far, so good. But it is unfortunate, how even today on the 141st anniversary of the birth of one of the founders of Albanology, as well as for other cases, very little is done: there is no sign, a bust, a visible name of his one of our cultural and scientific institutions for which he gave his life.
Milan Shuflaj, martyr of albanology
Although, he is known in certain environments, again we are “bringing” once again the prominent albanologist for a wider reader in the pages of the newspaper “DITA”, in the supplement “Memo-Encyclopedic: of Sunday to know and better appreciated this bright figure, this martyr of historical and albanological sciences.
Milan Shuflaj was born in Lepoglav, Croatia, on November 9, 1879. After graduating from high school, he continued his studies in historical sciences at the University of Zagreb. As a university student, he read in the original historical works written in ancient Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, German, English, French, or Hungarian. He knew basically all Slavic languages and later learned Hebrew, Albanian and Sanskrit. 24 years old, affirmed as a researcher of European proportions.
After university studies, he collaborated with Shmiciklas for the design of the “Codex diplomaticus” corpus. During 1902-1903 he worked at the Institute of Historical Studies in Vienna where he published “Private Documents of Dalmatia”. From 1904-1908 he worked at the Budapest Popular Museum. Shuflaj’s monumental work remains “Acta et diplomata res Albaniae mediae aetatis illustrantia” which means “Evidence and documents illustrating the events of Albania in medieval times.” In short, this two-volume work on the history of Albania is known as “Acta Albaniae”. The first volume was published in Vienna in 1913, and the second volume in 1918 in Vienna. They talk about Albania in the years 334-1406 and were written in collaboration with scholars K. Jirecek and L. Talocin.
In 1916 and later he published: “The ecclesiastical situation in Albania”, “The borders of Albania in the Middle Ages”, “Medieval Albania”, “The Hungarian-Albanian connection in the Middle Ages”, “Political fates of the Durrës theme”, “Biology of tribes of the Albanian people ”, etc. After the Second World War, with the creation of the Slavic state, which in addition to Serbia also includes Slovenia and Croatia, for the historian, who had now become distinguished, persecutions and persecutions began. Arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison as a member of the Croatian Committee formed in Graz, Austria. The Serbs could not so easily forget the arguments and analyzes he had made about the antiquity of the Albanians.
After his release from Mitrovica prison, he published “National Fogs”, “Shkodra Cadastres”, “Ethnic Cyclones in the Balkans”, “Medieval Castles and Cities of Albania”, “Serbs and Albanians”, “National Mosaic in Macedonia”, “Cities and villages in the Middle Ages ”etc. etc., almost 3 thousand titles of books and study articles on Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Montenegro, Italy, Slovenia, Austria.
Milan Shuflai has also published under the pseudonym Alba Limi. With this name he published the historical novel “Konstandin Balshaj”.
Shuflaji is one of the greatest personalities of science and albanology, one of its most dignified representatives. There is no other albanologist who can stand before Shufla for the medieval period. With documents and facts he argues the first beginnings of Albanian civic life, long before the Slavs came. He argued our descent. If there is an accurate historical definition of the Illyrian, Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine times of Albania, it is Milan Shuflai. All those who want to talk about the history of Albania, should not ignore or ignore Shufla.
According to some of the latest data discovered in the Croatian State Archive in Zagreb, dr. Milan Shuflaj was one of the few scientists in the world who was followed step by step by the police, and not only him, but also the people he came in contact with, including members of his close and extended family. Such oversight had begun in late 1922, as evidenced by archival documents. Initially it was observed only during the day, and later 24 hours without interruption. Any news from the surveillance was reported directly to Prime Minister Petar Zivkovic, and later to his successor Milorad Srskic in Belgrade, and to the King himself, in order to take into account the activities and movements of the great scientist.
He was treacherously killed in Zagreb, on February 18, 1931, a month after he had visited Albania.
Milan Shuflaj and Mit’hat Frashëri, what they write to each other
In general, Milan epuflaj’s epistolary is poor, because as it is said somewhere in this article, everything was destroyed by the police when he was killed. However, what remains are correspondence with personalities of the time such as scholars and well-known personalities of world education and culture such as Jirecek, Taloc, Jovan Radoniqi; the director of the Eastern European Institute, Amadeo Giannini; the Minister of Education of Albania, Adburrahman Dibën; the Minister of Education of Hungary and mostly with Mit’hat Frashëri (Lumo Skëndon) in Albania.
In this case we would single out the correspondence in Albania, especially those with Mit’hat Frashëri. The letters are written in Latin, French, Italian, German, Hungarian and Croatian. Their object is Shuflaj’s persistent work in researching, collecting and systematizing the large corpus of relevant resources to complete the publication of “Acte Albaniae” as well as facing the major obstacles of staying in Albania and research in Italy.
Of interest is the correspondence with Lumo Skendo, our rare bibliophile who greedily followed the publications of foreign authors on Albanian history and culture. In his well-known library you can find new titles in different languages, not forgetting those of Shuflaj, with whom for this reason he had made friends.
In his first letter of June 30, 1929, he wanted to learn from the well-known albanologist whether he would continue to publish “Acte Albaniae” and how many volumes this publication would contain. Shuflaj responded immediately by outlining the draft of the next 4 volumes of “Acte Albaniae”, which would include the sources collected in the archives of Venice, the Vatican and Dubrovnik and would begin in 1451 of the Aragonese-Neapolitan conquest of Kruja and would extend until 1571. In volume 3 would be published “in extenso” and the well-known and very voluminous Cadastre of Shkodra of 1416 along with copies of documents from the archives of Barcelona and Milan that shed light on the relations of Skanderbeg with Sultan Muhammad II, which Shuflaj had lent to Radonjic, but who never saw with his own eyes.
Mit’hat Frashëri had made known Shuflaj’s project not only to the Minister of Education, Dibra, but also to King Zog himself. This is the reason why the Minister of Education welcomed the capital project of the well-known albanologist and Balkanologist. He commended the scientist for his great scientific contribution, thanked him for the very valuable work on further research of archival documents of medieval Albanian history and informed him that his royal government had allocated 75,000 gold francs for the collection of archival documents and their four-volume publication. Facing the expenses in such a large amount was not a small financial sacrifice, given the degree of economic development of Albania.
In a letter that Shuflaj sent to the director of the Eastern European Institute, Xanin, he expressed his joy for receiving the passport to Albania, which he had been looking for for two years. In that letter he begged his friend to get to work and pick up the copyists in Rome, Venice, Naples and Ancona, assuring him that the Albanian government would cut all costs. Shuflaj relied on the letter of Minister Abdurraman Dibra announcing the sending of 3000 gold francs to the Swiss bank as an advance. He tells his friend how on January 16 Minister Dibra hosted a dinner in his honor at the hotel “Tirana” and how he had lived exciting moments for the toast to his health to be raised in Italian.
Cause of Shufla’s death, visit to Albania
King Zog was well informed about the activity of Milan Shuflai for Albania. He had been told about the great contribution he had made in the history of the Balkans and especially of the Albanians as the most autochthonous and most established people in this region, so he gladly invited him to Albania, to his court.
Shuflai came to Tirana in January 1931 and stayed 8 days. The most interesting activity these days was his speech in the parliament of that time. It was interesting, not only that he spoke Albanian and was applauded several times, but also that he gave convincing arguments about the origin of the Albanians, as well as the work that had to be done in the future to evoke this origin.
He left Albania impressed, enlivened and rejuvenated, nurtured by the steely will for further research in conclusion of his capital work that would enrich and deepen albanological and Balkanological studies, the Albanian flag was for him the most gift precious he took with him.
In Zagreb, after returning from Albania, he received a threatening letter to give up his studies and historical evidence. After this threat he did not give himself up. Encouraged by his visit to Tirana, he continued to work on the third part of “Acta Albaniae”. But less than a month passed, and on the evening of February 18, 1931, as he was returning home, three people shot him in the head with heavy weapons. He died that night at the age of 52, unable to speak.
The death was tried to be covered up, but Shuflaj was a scientific authority and the news spread all over the world. Her echo was great. They reacted with their articles “Tribuna” Rome, “Berliner Tagblat”, “New York Times”, “Frankfurter Zeitung”, “Arbënia” Tirana, “Vullneti i Popullit” Tirana etc. The colossi of science and letters, such as Albert Einstein, Heinrich Mann, dr. Josef Bajza, dr. Max Hildebert Boehm, Ph.D. Karl Fritzler, dr. Zenon Kuziela, Ph.D. Martin Spahn, Ph.D. Branimir eleliiq, Josip Milkovi,, Lumo Skëndo, Faik Konica, as well as Ligue Internationale des Droits des L’Homme, Federation Universitaire Internationale.
It later emerged that the assassination had been planned and organized by the Zagreb police on 15 February. Reason? Simple. He was against the theories of the Serbs who called the Serbian people a missionary people, a people who stand above others. It was against what was propagated that the South Slavs had come to this region of Europe to emancipate the savage shepherds of the Balkans. This philosophy that exists to this day contradicted the European spirit of Shuflaj. Here, then, is why the death of the great scientist took place.
This nobleman with a big heart would write about Albania as he saw the reality, in the light of historical facts. Milan Shuflaj has placed a heavy foundation stone on the historic wall where it is written that Albanians are autochthonous in their territory.
With the death of Shuflaj, albanology lost one of the main supporters it had at that time, whose studies to this day are of high value and almost irreplaceable.
“Acta Albaniae”, an unfinished work
Shufla’s work can be found in the Vienna Archive, in our State Archive and in that of Croatia. But in the latter incomplete, as immediately after the murder, in his house, the police carried out a lightning raid, overturned and destroyed the most valuable part of the materials he found, most of them with unique values. In this case, the third volume of the monumental work “Acta Albaniae” prepared for print was lost. At least that is what was said until recently, until a few years ago, when in the Central State Archive was found a special file with 50 material pages and a course overview with titles for the History of Albania from 1400-1536, another part of the case is in the Croatian archive, another part in Venice, Vatican, Naples, Ragusa, Vienna, etc. It remains a task to collect these parts,
Shuflaj, on Albanian cities and castles
Milan Shuflaj, a great Croatian scholar and albanologist, well acquainted with the Albanian medieval history is distinguished for his great contribution to the enlightenment and treatment of various problems in the field of Albanian medieval history. In this respect he is also distinguished as a good connoisseur of the cities of Albania in general starting from their birth and development to continue throughout the Middle Ages. In his work “Cities and castles of Albania mainly in the Middle Ages” which was first published in 1924 in Vienna in German and which has been translated and published in Albanian by the publishing house Onufri, deals with almost all social and legal aspects. , economic that characterized the cities of Albania mainly in the Middle Ages. According to Milan Shuflaj, the cities on the east Adriatic coast have existed for thousands of years. Shkodra is located near the castle, Lezha in the Drini gorge, while Durrës is considered an international city of sailors and merchants. To the east of Vlora are two large cities Bylis and Amantia. While about ten stages away from Vjosa was Apollonia, which has been an important center of urban civilization.Newspaper “Dita”