Shkreli (tribe)

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Coordinates: 42°20′N 19°38′E / 42.333°N 19.633°E / 42.333; 19.633

Overview of Albanian tribes, Franz Seiner, 1918.jpg
Albanians bayraks as of 1918, Shkreli covers section 56.
Current regionAlbania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia
Place of originNorthern Albania

Shkreli is a historical Albanian tribe and region in the Malësia region of Northern Albania. With expansion of the Ottoman Empire, part of the tribe migrated to Rugova in Western Kosovo beginning in ca. 1700, after which they continued to migrate into the Lower Pešter and Sandžak regions (today in Serbia and Montenegro). The Shkreli tribe in Kosovo converted to Islam in the 18th century and maintained the Albanian language as their mother tongue, the Shkreli in Pešter and Sandžak (known as Škrijelj/Serbian: Шкријељ) over time were Islamized and became Slavophone at the end of the 19th century, so today they declare to be part of the Bosniak ethnicity, however in the Pešter mountains they maintained their Albanian tongue until quite recently.[1] There are minor families which still adhere to Christianity (most of whom are Catholic, the rest Orthodox).

A former municipality of Shkrel used to encompass the tribe's settlement, today part of the Malësi e Madhe municipality. Shkreli areas borders Kastrati region to the northwest, Boga and Plani tribes to the east, Lohja to the south.[1]



There are various theories on the origin of the Shkreli. Several anthropologists and historians have recorded various founding oral traditions.

  • According to Edith Durham they had come from Bosnia.[2]
  • Anthropologist Carleton S. Coon recounted a story told to him that they had come from Bosnia around 1600 and populated a village in Northern Albania whose population was killed and church burned. The name of the church was St. Charles (Albanian: Shen Kerli) which became Shkrelli (Skrijelj) a name used to refer to the place and to its inhabitants.[3][4][5]
  • French consul Hyacinthe Hecquard reported the Shkreli descend from an old Albanian family in the region of Peć, whose chief was called Kerli.[2]
  • According to Baron Nopcsa the Shkreli came from Novi Pazar rather than from Bosnia.[6]


Tribesmen visiting the feast of Saint Nicholas at Bzheta in Shkreli territory, Albania, 1908

The name of the tribe was first recorded in 1416 as Shkreli. Some other earlier forms include Scarglieli (1614) or Scrielli (1703).[7] Scarglieli was mentioned by Mariano Bolizza in 1614, being part of the Sanjak of Scutari. It was Roman Catholic, had 20 houses, and 43 men at arms commanded by Gion Poruba.[8] In the late Ottoman period, the tribe of Shkreli consisted of 180 Muslim and 320 Catholic households.[9]

During the Albanian revolt of 1911 on 23 June Albanian tribesmen and other revolutionaries gathered in Montenegro and drafted the Greçë Memorandum demanding Albanian sociopolitical and linguistic rights with four of the signatories being from Shkreli.[10] In later negotiations with the Ottomans, an amnesty was granted to the tribesmen with promises by the government to build one to two primary schools in the nahiye of Shkreli and pay the wages of teachers allocated to them.[10]

Before converting to Islam in the 18th century, most of them professed Catholicism, and many have continued professing it until today, especially in Kosovo and southeastern Montenegro (Ulcinj). The descendants of this tribe in Kosovo have mostly maintained the Albanian language as their mother tongue and bear similar varieties to the surname: (predominantly Muslim) and Shkrel/Shkryeli (predominantly Catholic). On the other hand, descendants of the tribe professing the Eastern Orthodox faith have remained until today. According to Marko Miljanov their slava was Saint Nicholas Day.[11] The patron saint of the Albanian part of the tribe is Saint Nicholas.[12]


A part of the Shkrel tribe was probably endangered by other tribes in Albania, thus has emigrated to different locations: the Montenegro seaside, to Sandžak and to Rugova highland (located in northwestern Kosovo near Peć). Some of the Rugova Shkrelis moved to the territory of Rožaje and Tutin in 1700, after the Great Serb Migration.[13] They founded the village named Škrijelje (as they continued residing in Sandžak, by appropriating the yat vowel from the Slavic languages, the surname deviated from Shkrel to Škrijelj). Later in the century they populated the Lower Pešter region and the city of Novi Pazar. Shkrelis continued to migrate from Rugova to the territory of Pešter until the 19th century.[14] The vast majority of Shkreli were assimilated by the Slavic population in the Sandžak region. However, in the villages of Boroštica and Gradac at the Upper Pešter plateau, they managed to maintain the original Albanian language until today. After the Second World War and especially with the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars they began migrating to Western Europe, United States of America and Australia.

Today, people bearing the surname Škrijelj live in the following locations:[citation needed]


Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b Robert Elsie (30 May 2015). The Tribes of Albania: History, Society and Culture. I.B.Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-78453-401-1.
  2. ^ a b The Tribes of Albania:History, Society and Culture. Robert Elsie. p. 183.
  3. ^ Carl Coleman Seltzer; Carleton Stevens Coon; Joseph Franklin Ewing (1950). The mountains of giants: a racial and cultural study of the north Albanian mountain Ghegs. The Museum. p. 45. Retrieved 13 May 2013. The people of Shkrelli, comprising a whole bayrak, are said to have come from Bosnia en masse about 1600 and taken over a valley whose inhabitants had been killed off and whose church, Shen Kerli (St. Charles hence Shkrelli) destroyed
  4. ^ M. Edith Durham (30 June 2009). High Albania. ECHO LIB. p. 466. ISBN 978-1-4068-2855-9. Retrieved 13 May 2013. Skreli is situated in the valley of the Proni Thaat. It is mainly Catholic, and traces its origin from Bosnia.
  5. ^ M. Edith Durham (30 June 2009), High Albania, ECHO LIB, pp. 454, 455, ISBN 978-1-4068-2855-9, All four of these tribe (Skreli, Hoti, Gruda, Kilmeni) tell that their ancestors came from Bosnia or the Herzegovina, precise district unknown....Skreli and Hoti, which say they come from Bosnia
  6. ^ The Tribes of Albania:History, Society and Culture. Robert Elsie. p. 83.
  7. ^ Robert Elsie (19 March 2010). Historical Dictionary of Albania. Scarecrow Press. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-8108-7380-3. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  8. ^ Early Albania: A Reader of Historical Texts, 11th-17th Centuries. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. 2003. pp. 147–. ISBN 978-3-447-04783-8.
  9. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 31.
  10. ^ a b Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. London: IB Tauris. pp. 186–187. ISBN 9781845112875.
  11. ^ Đerković, Vukale, "P. A. Rovinski i crnogorsko-albanski izvori o stanovništvu slovenskog porijekla u Sjevernoj Albaniji", Stanovništvo slovenskog porijekla u Albaniji : zbornik radova sa međunarodnog naučnog skupa održanog u Cetinju 21, 22. i 23. juna 1990 (in Serbian), Titograd: Istorijski institut SR Crne Gore ; Stručna knj., OCLC 29549273, U njegovim kučko-arbanaškim narodnim izvorima ...zabilježio je da su sjeverna arbanaška plemena... slovenskog porijekla,... u proslavljanju istih krsnih imena... i da su istoslavljenici istoga roda - Hoti slave Ivanj dan, ... Škrijelji - Nikolj dan, i sl.
  12. ^ Balkanistica. 13-14. Slavica Publishers. 2000. p. 41.
  13. ^ Mušović, Ejup (1985). Tutin i okolina. Serbian Academy of Science and Arts. p. 27.
  14. ^ Glasnik Etnografskog instituta. 20. Naučno delo. 1980. p. 74.
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