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Essad Pasha Toptani

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Title: Essad Pasha Toptani  
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Subject: Republic of Central Albania, Turhan Përmeti, Peasant Revolt in Albania, William, Prince of Albania, Siege of Scutari (1912–13)
Collection: 1860S Births, 1920 Deaths, 19Th-Century Albanian People, Albanian Military Personnel, Albanian Monarchs, Albanian Muslims, Albanian People Murdered Abroad, Albanian Politicians, Assassinated Albanian Politicians, Government Ministers of Albania, Honorary Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, Ottoman Albanians, Ottoman Military Personnel of the Balkan Wars, People from Tirana, People Murdered in France, Prime Ministers of Albania, Toptani Family
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Essad Pasha Toptani

Essad Pasha Toptani
3rd Prime Minister of Albania
In office
5 October 1914 – 23 February 1916
Preceded by Turhan Pashë Përmeti
Succeeded by Turhan Pashë Përmeti
Personal details
Born c. 1863
Tirana, Ottoman Empire
Died 13 June 1920
Paris, France
Religion Sufi Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire
Service/branch  Ottoman Army

Essad Pasha Toptani or Esad Pasha Toptani (Albanian: Esad Pashë Toptani; c. 1863 – 13 June 1920), primarily known as Essad Pasha, was an Ottoman army officer who served as Albanian deputy in the Ottoman parliament. He was a prominent politician in the early 20th century Albania. Toptani cooperated with the Balkan League after the Balkan Wars[1] and established a state in central Albania, based in Durrës, called the Republic of Central Albania.[2]


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • First Balkan War 1.2
    • Peasant Revolt 1.3
    • Exile and the Treaty of Niš 1.4
    • Death 1.5
  • Legacy 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5
  • Bibliography 6


Early life

Essad Pasha surrendering Shkodra to Montenegrins

Essad Pasha was born in 1863 in Tirana, Ottoman Empire (today Republic of Albania) the son of Ali bey Toptani and Vasfije Alizoti.[3] He belonged to prominent landowning family Toptani which founded contemporary Tirana.[4] In 1908, having served as gendarmerie commander in Janina, he joined the Young Turks and became a member of the Turkish parliament as the deputy of Durrës.[3]

First Balkan War

During the Mirdita.[5] On January 30, 1913, Hasan Riza Pasha, commander of Shkodër, was ambushed and killed by most probably a group of Albanian Catholic agents paid by Montenegro,.[6] Hasan Riza Pasha was shot dead by Osman Bali and Mehmet Kavaja,[7] two Albanians who were servants of Essad Pasha.[8] Riza Pasha wanted to keep up the defense of the besieged city, and after his death Essad Pasha continued his resistance until April 1913. He turned the fortress of Shkodër over to Montenegro, only in April 1913 after a prolonged war and great heroism of Albanian and Turkish soldiers. Essad Pasha was allowed in return to leave the town with his army and all their weaponry to become involved in the struggle over power in central Albania.[1]

In July 1913 he was persuaded by the Vlora family to accept a position of minister of the interior in the provisional government, but on 16 October 1913, to frustrate Ismail Qemali, Toptani who depicted Qemali as a Greek agent, set up a rival government of his own in Durrës, called the Republic of Central Albania. Officially Serbia simultaneously helped a number of other small tribal chiefs who resisted Ismail Qemali's government, directing them towards cooperation with Essad Pasha.[1]

Peasant Revolt

He reluctantly stepped down when forced to do so by the Great Powers on 1 February 1914, being given as a consolation prize the right to lead the Albanian delegation that travelled to Neuwied on the Rhine, in Germany, to offer the Albanian throne to Prince Wilhem zu Wied. Back in Albania, relations between the Prince and the scheming Toptani, now minister of war and minister of the interior soon soured. Essad Pasha led a faction of his own in the Peasant Revolt in Albania against Prince Wilhem. He was the only person in Albania to have a self-contained army of his own, strove to grab as much of the country as he could. On 9 January, his men tried to take Elbasan, but they were repulsed by the governor of the town, Aqif Pasha Elbasani.[9]

On 19 May 1914, when Toptani refused to lay down his weapons, armed forces under Dutch gendarmerie officer Johan Sluys surrounded and shelled his house in Durrës, forcing him to surrender. He was arrested for conspiracy, though after consultations with Prince Wied, he was not court-martialled but sent to Bari in southern Italy and banned from returning to Albania.[10][11]

Exile and the Treaty of Niš

Essad Pasha in Salonika

From exile in Rome, he maintained close links with the Serbian and Montenegrin governments. After the outbreak of the First World War, Toptani travelled to Niš, Kingdom of Serbia, where he and Serbian prime minister Nikola Pašić signed the secret Treaty of Serbian-Albanian Alliance on 17 September 1914.[12] With Italian and Serbian financial backing he established armed forces, Toptani invaded Dibër on 20 September, and by 3 October 1914 he had taken Durrës without a fight. Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić ordered that his followers be aided with money and arms.,[1]

His power base in central Albania was weakened in November 1914 by an uprising of Muslim rebels who turned against him, but he managed, with Italian support, to hold on to the town of Durrës. When Serbian forces invaded Albania in mid-June 1915, swiftly occupying Pogradec, Elbasan, Tirana and Kavaja, Toptani was put in place as ruler of central Albania from Durrës. Though his rule was not stable because of the First World War. In the end of 1914, Essad secretly agreed with the Greek government to support the annexation of the southern provinces, known to Greeks as Northern Epirus, to the Kingdom of Greece.[13] He soon declared war on Austria-Hungary to show support for the Entente, and profited from the situation enormously by taxing all the Allied supplies sent to the Serbs. When Austro-Hungarian forces swept through much of central and northern Albania in the spring of 1916, Toptani fled to Salonika from there went to France, to represent Albania at the Paris Peace Conference.

For the next two years, Essad Pasha remained in pact of London, which planned the division of Albania. During this time Tirana and much of central Albania was controlled by his Field Commander, Osman Bali.


On 13 June 1920, Avni Rustemi assassinated Essad Pasha in Paris when he left the Hotel Continental. Essad Pasha was buried in the Serbian Military Cemetery in Paris,[14][15] after staying for a long time unburied in the mortuary.[16]


Essad Pasha had a reputation as an unscrupulous opportunist[3] and is remembered among Albanians as one of the most negative historical figures and the symbol of treason.[14][17][18] Edith Durham viewed Essad Pasha as "a strange relic of the middle ages ... one with the handsome swashbucklers who sold themselves and their services to the rival monarchs, princelings and dukes in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and cheerfully transferred themselves to the enemy if he offered better pay – men in whom the sense of nationality was not developed at all, and whose sense of honour was, to put it mildly, deficient."[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Serbian government and Essad Pasha Toptani
  2. ^ Essad Pasha ToptaniRobert Elsie,
  3. ^ a b c Elsie, Robert (2012). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B Tauris. p. 444.  
  4. ^ Pettifer, James (1 June 2001). "Ihsan Bey Toptani". Retrieved December 5, 2014. The Toptani family were in many ways the founders of contemporary Tirana 
  5. ^ Prishtina, Hasan. ]Hasan Bey Prishtina: Brief Memoir on the Albanian Uprising of 1912 [Nji shkurtim kujtimesh mbi kryengritjen shqiptare të vjetit 1912. Shkrue prej Hassan Prishtinës (in Albanian and translated on English by Robert Elsie).  
  6. ^ {Olsi Jazexhi, Ottomans into Illyrians : passages to nationhood in 20th century Albania, PhD Thesis, 2011}
  7. ^ Vickers, Door Miranda (1999). The Albanians: A Modern History. 
  8. ^ Ulli, Prenk (1995). Hasan Riza Pasha: Mbrojtës i Shkodrës në Luftën Ballkanike, 1912-1913.  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Heaton-Armstrong, Duncan (2005). "An Uprising in the Six-Month Kingdom". Gervase Belfield and Bejtullah Destani (I.B. Tauris, in association with the Centre for Albanian Studies). Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. Essad would be sent into exile, without a trial. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^  
  13. ^ George B. Leon. Greece and the First World War: from neutrality to intervention, 1917-1918. East European Monographs, 1990, ISBN 978-0-88033-181-4, p358: "In return, Essad reconfirmed a promise he had made in the fall of 1914 to support Greece's annexation of North Epirus. However, while he was willing to come to a secret agreement with the Greek government on this question, he indicated that in order to be able to counterbalance the weight of the common adversary, that "is Italy, and to stabilize his influence in Albania he could not recognize publicly Greece's claim."
  14. ^ a b ]Signature of Essad Pasha for annexation of Albania into Serbia [Firma e Esat Pashës për bashkimin e Shqipërisë me Serbinë (in Albanian), Bota Sot, April 6, 2013, retrieved October 31, 2013 
  15. ^ 1919 Essad Pasha Toptani: Memorandum on Albania, Robert Elsie, retrieved October 31, 2013 
  16. ^ ESSAD PASHA'S BODY STILL WAITS BURIAL; Great Albanian, Shot in Paris 14 Months Ago, Lies With Unknowns in the Mortuary., NY Times, 7 August 1921, retrieved October 31, 2013 
  17. ^ ]Puto: There is no rehabilitation for Essad Pasha Toptani [Puto: Esat Pashë Toptani nuk ka rehabilitim (in Albanian), AMA News, November 10, 2012, retrieved October 31, 2013 
  18. ^ Bajram Peci, ]On the 100th anniversary of the National Traitors [Ne 100-vjetorin e tradhtareve te atdheut (in Albanian),, retrieved October 31, 2013 
  19. ^ Durham, Edith (2001). Albania and the Albanians: Selected Articles and Letters, 1903-1944. The Centre of Albanian Studies. p. 125.  

External links

  • , 1919Memorandum on AlbaniaEssad Pasha Toptani,
  •  Franz Carl Endres (1922). "Essad".  
  • Maison royale d'Albanie, site officiel en langue française
  • Famille royale d'Albanie, site officiel en langue anglaise


  • Patrice Najbor, Histoire de l'Albanie et de sa Maison Royale (5 volumes), JePublie, Paris, 2008, (ISBN 978-2-9532382-0-4).
  • Patrice Najbor, la dynastye des Zogu, Textes & Prétextes, Paris, 2002
  • (ISBN 1-84511-013-7), 2005.Albania and King ZogBiodata on Essad Pasha by O.S. Pearson, who authored
Political offices
Preceded by
Turhan Pashë Përmeti
Prime Minister of Albania
5 October 1914 – 24 February 1916
Succeeded by
Turhan Pashë Përmeti
Essad Pasha Toptani
Born: c. 1863 Died: 13 June 1920
Regnal titles
Preceded by
New title
King of the Albanians
27 April 1913 – 7 March 1914
Succeeded by
Vidi I
Preceded by
King of the Albanians
early June 1920 – 13 June 1920
Succeeded by
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