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Pashko Vasa

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Pashko Vasa

Pashko Vasa
Pashko Vasa as a governor of Lebanon
Born (1825-06-30)June 30, 1825
Shkodër, Albania, Ottoman Empire
Died June 29, 1892(1892-06-29) (aged 66)
Beirut, Lebanon, Ottoman Empire
Other names Albanus Albano
Vaso Pasha
Vaso Pashë Shkodrani
Wasa Pasha
Wassa Efendi[1][2]
Organization Central Committee for Defending Albanian Rights, Society for the Publication of Albanian Writings
Movement Albanian National Awakening
Religion Roman Catholic

Pashko Vasa (1825, Shkodër, Albania, Ottoman Empire – June 29, 1892, Beirut, Lebanon, Ottoman Empire) also known as Vaso Pasha, Wasa Pasha or Vaso Pashë Shkodrani, was an Albanian writer, poet and publicist of the Albanian National Awakening, and Governor of Lebanon from 1882 until his death.


Secretary in the British Consulate

From 1842 to 1847 he worked as a secretary for the British consulate in Shkodër. He there had the opportunity to perfect his knowledge of a number of foreign languages: Italian, French, Turkish and Greek. He also knew some English and Serbian, and in later years learned Arabic.[3]

Administrator of Edirne vilayet

In 1879, Pashko Vasa worked in Varna on the Black Sea coast in the administration of the vilayet of Edirne with Ismail Qemali. He also acquired the title of Pasha.

Governor of Lebanon

Photo from the 1880s

On May 9, 1882 became Governor General (international treaty for a Catholic of Ottoman nationality after the civil unrest and French occupation of 1860. In his post as Mutassarıf, he was initially more willing to accept French consular authority, but over his nine years in office, he came to distrust both the French Consul and the Maronite Clergy, who closely guarded their privileges.[4] This earned him accusations of corruption, in association with his son-in-law and deputy Kupelyan Effendi.[5] Nevertheless, he remained in office until his death in Beirut after a long illness on June 29, 1892.

In 1978, the centenary of the League of Prizren, his remains were transferred from the Lebanon back to a modest grave in Shkodra.

1847-1848: The Italian Year

In 1847, he set off for Italy on the eve of turbulent events that were to take place there and elsewhere in Europe in 1848. There are two letters written by him in Bologna in the summer of 1848 in which he expresses openly republican and anti-clerical views. He later went to Venice where he took part in fightings in Marghera on 4 May 1849, part of a Venetian uprising against the Austrians. After the arrival of Austrian troops on August 28 of that year, Pashko Vasa was obliged to flee to Ancona where, as an Ottoman citizen, he was expelled to Istanbul.

He published an account of his experience in Italy the following year in Italian-language La mia prigionia, episodio storico dell'assedio di Venezia, Istanbul 1850 (My imprisonment, historical episode from the siege of Venice).

1848-1863: In Istanbul

In Istanbul, after an initial period of poverty and hardship, he obtained a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whence he was seconded to London for a time, to the Imperial Ottoman Embassy to the Court of St. James's. He later served the Sublime Porte in various positions of authority.

1863-1864: In Bosnia-Herzegovina

In 1863, thanks to his knowledge of Serbian, he was appointed to serve as a secretary and interpreter to Ahmet Cevdet Pasha, Ottoman statesman and historian, on a fact-finding mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina which lasted for twenty months, from the spring of 1863 to October 1864. The events of this mission were recorded in his La Bosnie et l'Herzégovine pendant la mission de Djevdet Efendi, Constantinople 1865 (Bosnia and Herzegovina during the mission of Jevdet Efendi).

A few years later he published another now rare work of historical interest, Esquisse historique sur le Monténégro d'après les traditions de l'Albanie, Constantinople 1872 (Historical sketch of Montenegro according to Albanian traditions).

Importance to Albania

League of Prizren Organization

Despite his functions on behalf of the Porte, Pashko Vasa never forgot his Albanian homeland. In the autumn of 1877 he became a founding member of the Central Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Albanian People in Constantinople. Through his contacts there, he also participated in the organization of the League of Prizren in 1878. He was no doubt the author of the Memorandum on Albanian Autonomy submitted to the British Embassy in Constantinople.

Creation of the Albanian alphabet

Together with other nationalist figures on the Bosphorus, such as Hasan Tahsini, Koto Hoxhi, Jani Vreto and Sami Frashëri, he played his part in the creation of an Albanian alphabet[6] and in this connection published a 16-page brochure entitled L'alphabet Latin appliqué à la langue albanaise, Constantinople 1878 (The Latin alphabet applied to the Albanian language), in support of an alphabet of purely Latin characters. He was also a member of the Society for the Publication of Albanian Writings, founded in Constantinople on October 12, 1879 to promote the printing and distribution of the Albanian-language books.

Literary works

To make the Albanian language better known and to give other Europeans an opportunity to learn it, he published a Grammaire albanaise à l'usage de ceux qui désirent apprendre cette langue sans l'aide d'un maître, Ludgate Hill 1887 (Albanian grammar for those wishing to learn this language without the aid of a teacher), one of the rare grammars of the period. Pashko Vasa was also the author of a number of literary works of note. The first of these is a volume of Italian verse entitled Rose e spine, Constantinople 1873 (Roses and thorns), forty-one emotionally-charged poems (a total of ca. 1,600 lines) devoted to themes of love, suffering, solitude and death in the traditions of the romantic verse of his European predecessors Giacomo Leopardi, Alphonse de Lamartine and Alfred de Musset. Among the subjects treated in these meditative Italian poems, two of which are dedicated to the Italian poets Francesco Petrarch and Torquato Tasso, are life in exile and family tragedy, a reflection of Pashko Vasa's own personal life. His first wife, Drande, whom he had married in 1855, and four of their five children died before him, and in later years too, personal misfortune continued to haunt him.

In 1884, shortly after his appointment as Governor General of the Lebanon, his second wife from Shkoder, Katerina Bonati, died of tuberculosis, as did his surviving daughter Roza in 1887. Bardha de Témal, scènes de la vie albanaise, Paris 1890 (Bardha of Temal, scenes from Albanian life), is a French-language novel which Pashko Vasa published in Paris under the pseudonym of Albanus Albano the same year as Naim Frashëri's noted verse collection Lulet e verës (The Flowers of Spring) appeared in Bucharest. 'Bardha of Temal,' though not written in Albanian, is, after Sami Frashëri's much shorter prose work 'Love of Tal'at and Fitnat,' the oldest novel written and published by an Albanian and is certainly the oldest such novel with an Albanian theme. Set in Shkodra in 1842, this classically-structured roman-feuilleton, rather excessively sentimental for modern tastes, follows the tribulations of the fair but married Bardha and her lover, the young Aradi. It was written not only as an entertaining love story but also with a view to informing the western reader of the customs and habits of the northern Albanians. Bardha is no doubt the personification of Albania itself, married off against her will to the powers that be. Above and beyond its didactic character and any possible literary pretensions the author might have had, 'Bardha of Temal' also has a more specific political background. It was interpreted by some Albanian intellectuals at the time as a vehicle for discrediting the Gjonmarkaj clan who, in cahoots with the powerful abbots of Mirdita, held sway in the Shkodra region. It is for this reason perhaps that Pashko Vasa published the novel under the pseudonym Albanus Albano. The work is not known to have had any particular echo in the French press of the period.

Though most of Pashko Vasa's publications were in French and Italian, there is one poem, the most influential and perhaps the most popular ever written in Albanian, which has ensured him his deserved place in Albanian literary history, the famous O moj Shqypni e mjera Shqypni (Oh Albania, Poor Albania). This stirring appeal for a national awakening is thought to have been written in the period between 1878, the dramatic year of the League of Prizren, and 1880.

Published works

  • Rose e spine (1873)
  • Études Sur L'Albanie Et Les Albanais (Constantinopol, 1879)[1]
  • Grammaire albanaise à l'usage de ceux qui désirent apprendre cette langue sans l'aide d'un maître, London, 1887)
  • L'alphabet Latin appliqué à la langue albanaise, (Constantinopol, 1878)
  • Bosnie et Hercegovine pendant la mission de Djevdet Effendi, (Constantinopol, 1865)
  • La vérité sur l'Albanie et les Albanais, (Paris, 1879)
  • Esquisse historique sur le Monténégro d'après les traditions de l'Albanie, (Constantinopol, 1872)
  • O moj Shqypni (1880)
  • Barda de Témal, (Paris, 1890)

See also


  1. ^ a b Effendi WASSA (1879). Études Sur L'Albanie Et Les Albanais (in French). 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Kopeček, Michal, Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945) 2, Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press, p. 119,  
  4. ^ Akarlı, Engin (1993). The Long Peace: Ottoman Lebanon 1861-1920. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 51–52. 
  5. ^ Akarlı, Engin (1993). The Long Peace. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. Chapter 7, footnote 1. 
  6. ^ The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present, Edwin E. Jacques, p.290, 1995, accessed April 2010

External links

  • Robert Elsie, Pashko Vasa
  • Pashko Vasa's works: text, concordances and frequency list (Albanian and English)
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