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Title:Of saints and sinners. Native resistance to Ottoman expansion in Southeastern Europe, 1443-1481: George Castriota Scanderberg and Vlad III Dracula
Author(s):Treptow, Kurt William
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hitchins, Keith
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
History, European
History, Medieval
Abstract:This work is a parallel study of two different attempts to oppose Ottoman expansion in Southeastern Europe during the fifteenth century: George Castriota Scanderbeg in Albania and Prince Vlad III, the historic Dracula, in Wallachia. The careers of each of these men are presented individually, their motivations and goals are studied, and the reasons for their successes and failures investigated. Among the questions addressed are the causes of their actions, the aims of their policies, and their significance in the history of fifteenth-century Europe.
George Castriota Scanderbeg, who led the Albanian resistance to Ottoman expansion from 1443 until his death in 1468, gained fame throughout Europe for his military prowess. For nearly a quarter of a century he resisted repeated efforts by the Ottomans to subdue Albania and incorporate it into the Islamic Empire. This led his contemporaries to portray him as a continuer of the crusading tradition.
Vlad III Dracula, who at three different times occupied the throne of the small principality of Wallachia to the north of the Danube, also opposed the Turkish domination of his land. He launched an offensive against Ottoman strongholds along the Danube during the winter of 1461-1462 and tried to stave off the massive invasion of Wallachia led by Mehmed the Conqueror in the following summer. Despite this, he has a completely different image in most contemporary accounts than that of his Albanian counterpart. Most sources portray Dracula as a man of demonic cruelty, the embodiment of all that is evil.
These contrary images present a paradox. How could two men, who pursued the same general policies at approximately the same moment in history, be seen in such dramatically different ways by their contemporaries? The answers must be sought in the specific political, social, and economic contexts within which each man pursued his policies. By looking at the problem in this manner it is possible to understand how these different images came into being, and to have a better understanding of the actions of these historical figures.
Though on the surface the anti-Ottoman struggle is the dominant political problem of the period, this study also analyzes the broader political, social, and economic problems faced by each of these leaders. The conclusion points out similarities and differences between these two men and their resistance movements, and, ultimately, addresses the reasons for the failure of native opposition to Ottoman expansion in Southeastern Europe.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Treptow, Kurt William
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543752
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543752

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