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Penser, agir et vi vre

dans 1'Empire ottoman
et en Turquie
Etudes reunies pour Francois Georgeon

Nathalie CLAYER et Erdal KAYNAR



Georgetown University Library

NOV 212013

Nathalie CLAYERet Erdal KAYNAR

Avant-propos . XI

Bibliographie de Francois Georgeon ...................... XJU


Ideologies et politiques au tournant des XIX' et xx- siecles

Masami MAl
Citizen, Liberty and Equality in Late Ottoman Discourse 3

Parcours kurdes SOllS Ie regne hamidien 15
The Young Turks and the Arabs in Egypt between Ottoma-
nism, Pan-Islamism and Nationalism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3I

Anno-Laure DUPONT
De 1a demeure du califat aux decouvertes parisiennes :
Muhammad al-Sanusi (185 I -1900), un lettre reformiste tuni-
sien a l'epreuve du Protectoral francais . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Nathalie CLAYER
The Young Turks and the Albanians or Young Turkism and
Albanianism? .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Les temps de la revolution de 1908 chez Huseyin Cahid
Yalcm, Quelques perspectives de recherche ....... 83


Presse et intellectuels au temps d' Abdiilhamid et apres

Bernard LORY
Une cornemuse sur la Come d'or : Gajda, journal satirique
bulgare (1863-1867) . 93

t ~~


In the literature on the Young Turk revolution or on the Albanians in

the late Ottoman Empire, one of the themes often treated is the relation
between the "Young Turks" and the "Albanians." In this paper,' I want
to ask if the issue is pertinent. In fact, I argue that a more pertinent ques-
tion would be that of the relations between "Young Turkism" and "Alba-
nianism, "

"The Young Turks and the Albanians" in Existing Literature

It is often assumed in studies dedicated to the Young Turk revolution

that- the Albanians played a role in the Young Turk movement and in the
events of 1908. This role is evaluated in different ways: sometimes it is
considered as a key role, sometimes as an important role, whilst in other
studies it is not particularly mentioned. Of course, the chosen perspective
(general or provincial) can be responsible for these variations.
When present, the relations between the Young Turks and the Albani-
ans are usually described and analysed through different themes: the
participation of some Albanians in the Young Turk movement from 1889
onwards (especially the activities of Thrahim Temo, ismail Kemal, and
others); the Macedonian question and the Albanians; and the part the
latter played in the revolution itself (by which is meant the role of Niyazi
Resneli, presented as an Albanian, the rallying of the Albanian cete and
the role played by the gathering of Kosovo Albanians at Firzovik/Fer-
izovic). Further themes include the way the Albanians welcomed the
proclamation of the revolution; the relations between Young Turk com-
mittees and Albanian committees after the revolution; the reactions

Nathalie Clayer, CNRS/EHESS (Paris)

I In memory of a workshop and time spent in Princeton.


towards the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina; the elections and the

Albanians in Parliament; the role of the Albanians in the counter-revo-
lution of April 1909; and, lastly (10 take just the period 1908-1909), the
question of the alphabet and language. The relations between the Alba-
nians and the Hamidian regime are also often taken as factors of analysis.
as are relations between the Albanians and the Ottoman Empire (notably
through the recurrent evocation of the large number of "Albanian" grand
viziers), and sometimes between the Albanians and the Turks as well.
The main idea (of course often nuanced) is that Albanians were part
of the Young Turk movement and actively supported the revolution on
the ground, but that problems appeared with some nationalists prior to
the revolution, and above aU after it when the Albanians sided with the
partisans of the decentralisation, and so against the policy of centralisa-
tion and Turkification of Ihe Empire conducted by the CUP (Committee
of Union and Progress).
In fact, the authors of studies on the Young Turk period do not always
consider the "Albanians" as a whole. In their analyses they sometimes
use other categories such as that of the" Albanian leadership," "Albanian
nationalists" or "Albanian patriots," "Albanian notables," "Albanian
organizations," "Muslim Albanians," "Kosovo Albanians" or Albanians
in this and that place. But the distinction between these categories is not
always made clear and is rarely analysed. The introduction of regional
diversity, for example, leads some authors to deem the position of the
Albanians to be unclear or ambiguous, rather than to question the cate-
gory itself.'

Ethnic Groups, Discourses, Individuals, and Networks

Approaching the issue in this way poses two main problems. First of
all, most of the studies more or less take the Albanians to be an "ethnic
group" forming a whole. As Vangelis Kechriotis has suggested in his
dissertation on the Greeks of Izmir, the treatment of certain groups as
homogeneous entities disregards the diverse social profiles, views and
interest groups among them.' As far as the "Albanians" are concerned

2 See for example Aykul Kansu, The Revolution of 1908 ill Turkey, Leiden-New York-
Cologne, Brill, 1997, p. 177 and 179.
3 VangeLis Kechriotis, Cultural Representations and political activity of the Creek-
Orthodox community in lunir, /897-1912, PhD dissertation, Leiden, p. 16, n. 12; p. 33
and 43-44.

for example, it is generally asserted that they had a special position under
Harnidian rule. In fact, only some "Albanians" were in such a "privi-
leged position." The exemption status, which implied the non-payment
of certain taxes and the non-enrolment for conscription, existed in the
Northern border regions of the Kosova and Iskodra vilayets and in some
mountainous areas of other provinces, but not elsewhere. The extent and
means of integration into the Ottoman administration was also wholly
different from region to region. Geo-political and social configurations
were very diverse in the Western fringe of the Ottoman possessions in
the Balkans, where people spoke Albanian, presented themselves as
Albanians, or were considered to be Albanians." And even at the micro-
regional level, the population was far from being socially homogeneous.
This leads us to another type of problem: determining who is "Alba-
nian" and the confusion between discourses and realities. Indeed it is not
so easy to define who the "Albanians" were. At that time the term cer-
tainly designated different groups depending on the person using it and
the context in which it was used. Did all the people speaking Albanian
or originating from the region called Albania defines themselves as Alba-
nians in all circumstances? Were other sorts of identification more rel-
evant - such as religious, regional or socio-professional identification?
Where did the borders of "Albania" lie, in particular with Macedonia?
Was the language spoken an equally determining factor in a province
such as Macedonia where Muslims and Christians spoke Slavic lan-
guages, Greek, Turkish, Romanian and/or Albanian? These questions
need to be asked, but they are not always easy to answer.
However, if the so-called "Albanians" are often considered as a whole,
it is also because in the contemporary sources - the press, Ottomans
archival documents, consular reports, memoirs, etc. - we find the
notions of "Albanian" or "Albanians." But what do these terms refer to?
In contemporary discourse the terms were indeed used. But we cannot
take them to really mean that such an ethno-national group had certain
features, thought this way, acted that way, or had certain expectations.
Rather we have to try to understand who employed the image of such an
ethno-national group, and why, when, and how these individuals used it
in their networking activities or their political and social competitions
against other individuals or interest groups. Indeed as Frederick Barth has
written: "The fact that the actors themselves adopt these reifications has

of Nathalie Clayer, AI/X origines du nationatisme albanais, Paris, Karthala, 2007, p. 59.

___________ 411III

to be integrated in our models, but it does not give us carte blanche to

do the same. "5

Young Turkism, Albanianism, Albania and Albanianness

The categories" Albania" and" Albanians" were forged in a new way

and used by different actors in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire's
presence in Europe. They were notably used by the Albanianists, but also
by the Great Powers and the Balkan states, by Abdulharnid and by mem-
bers of the Young Turk movement (who were sometimes also A1bani-
The A1banianists were the main forgers of a new Albanianness related
to the idea of the existence of an Albanian nation. Inspired by various
actors and factors, they promoted the notions of "Albania" and "Alba-
nians" before and after the revolution. They were Christians or Muslims;
some were Albanian speakers, others not. They were beys-landowners,
young educated civil servants and officers, educated Christians; even
some representatives of the Great Powers such as Austro-Hungary and
Italy can be considered to be Albanianists. Some lived in the Ottoman
Empire, others not; some were organized, others not. Their way of defin-
ing Albania and the Albanians varied of course as much as their aims and
interests. It may be related to various political, social, and cultural claims
operating at different levels (local, regional, and imperial), and not neces-
sarily to separatism as some contemporary actors or later analysts sug-
gest. The question of written language and education was important to
them. They were also especially sensitive to the fate of the Western
fringe of the Ottoman possessions in the Balkans, and their point of view
was forged from this peripheral position. Their Albanianism could be
combined with other identity claims and ideological trends, such as Hel-
lenism, Romaniano-Arumanism, Ottomanism, and Turk.ism or Young
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Great Powers and the
Balkan states also increasingly used the terms "Albania" and "Albani-
ans." In particular, the Austro-Hungarian and Italian governments, in
their competition for control of the Adriatic coast, were very active in the

5 Cited by Paul Andre Rosenthal, "Consrruire Ie macro par [e micro: Fredtik Barth et
[a micro stone." in J. Revel ed., Ieux d'ecliettes. La micro-analyse a l'experience, Paris,
Gallimard-Le Seuil, 1996, p. 141-159 (cf. p. 147).
Ii Nathalie Clayer, Aux origines. op. cit,

promotion of an "Albanian identity," notably through financial support

for the Albanianist press, with an eye to establishing a future Albanian
principality should the Empire collapse. In Italy, various individuals or
interest groups outside government circles, acting from personal, eco-
nomic, or political interests, had even been involved in this process since
the beginning of the nineteenth century when the first Albanianists
appeared among the Albanian-speaking Arberesh of Calabria and Sicily.
ill Greece, the issue was more complex, but because of the presence of
Albanian-speaking people in the Kingdom and because of territorial
claims in Epirus, diverse actors promoted an Albanianism closely linked
to Hellenism. In Romania, the "Albanian" cause was endorsed by differ-
ent kinds of entrepreneurs (Ottoman exiles and others), often in relation
with the Aromanian cause, backed by the Romanian government. In Bul-
garia and Serbia, the same phenomenon existed, though it was more
Within the Empire the sultan Abdulhamid also used the categories of
..Albania" and" Albanians," and as such he has also sometimes been
seen as indirectly responsible for the forging of an Albanianness. George
Gawrych has already stressed how, soon after the end of the Orient Cri-
sis (1876- 1878), he and some of his councillors came to consider the
"Albanians" as the pillar of the Ottoman presence in Europe,' referring
generally to the" Albanian Muslims," who were numerous in the border
regions with Montenegro, Serbia and Greece, the idea of the imperial
authorities being to reinforce their loyalty to Ottoman rule and to Islam.
However, the same policy was not implemented in aIL parts of what was
seen as Albania due to the variety of situations and the fact that things
functioned more according to regional realities and solidarities. So it
would be preferable to speak of a set of measures concerning the Muslim
population in the Western part of "European Turkey."
The category "Albanians" was more specifically used during periods
of crisis, as in 1878-79 (with the creation of an Albanian Cultural Society
in Istanbul, and the diffusion in French, English, and German of the book
The Truth on A/bonia and the Albanians, by Pashko Vasa, the prime

7 Nathalie Clayer, AIIXorigines, op, cit., p. 170,204,289,297,414 sq.

8 George Gawrych, The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman Rule, Islam and the Alba-
nians, J874~J9J3, New York, J. B. Tauris, 2006, p. 71 and ~Ukri.i Hanioglu, Preparation
for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 200 1,


thrust of which was opposition to Hellenic claims); and in 1884-1886

(with the publication of a journal in Albanian in Istanbul, and the opening
of an Albanian school in Korce) when the integrity of the Empire was
under threat, especially from Greece. The Ottoman authorities often
argued that whereas neighbouring states were a threat to the territoriaJ
integrity of Albania and the very existence of the Albanians, it was the
Ottoman authorities who acted as their guarantor. Official sa/names of
the European provinces between 1889 and 1896 drew on the descriptions
of Semseddin Sami Bey in his Karnus al-aldm, and depicted some Balkan
regions such as Epirus and Macedonia as having been inhabited since
remote antiquity by the Pelasgians, the ancestors of the Albanians, with
the authors providing further information on the Albanian inhabitants.
The aim was of course to counter Greek and Slavic territorial claims on
these regions. Although this kind of assertion disappeared after 1896, it
seems that the growing interference of the Great Powers in Macedonia
from 1903 onwards sparked renewed interest among the Ottoman author-
ities in attributing an Albanian identity to certain territories so as to Limit
their control by the Great Powers. 10
Let us now turn to the way the Young Turks employed Albanianism,
both before and after the revolution. The first point to note is that the
Young Turks came mostly from the Ottoman borderlands, and more pre-
cisely from the South Balkans, as Erik Zurcher observes." This is
because whilst the revolution was externaIIy influenced by a wave of
revolutions," it was internally closely linked to the Macedonian context
and the Macedonian question. Thus many Young Turks were born in or
close to a region frequently thought of as populated by "Albanians,"
where Albanianisrn could naturally find fertile soil.
Faced with the political and socio-economic problems of the Empire
and with the rise of nationalisms, especially in its European part, the
members of the various elites, including the Young Turks, all tended to

9 Already at the end of the [860s, the Ottoman authorities had thought to use Albani-
anness in order to counter the Greek claims. At that time, they thought about introducing
Albanian as teaching language in the provincial schools (Nathalie C1ayer, Aux origines,
op. cit., p. 221).
10 Nathalie Clayer, Aux origines, op, cit., p. 259-271, 596 sq.
11 Erik Jan ZUrcher, "The Young Turks - Children of the Borderlands?," International
Journal of Turkish Studies 9/1-2, 2003, p. 275-286.
12 Nader Sohrabi. "Historicizing Revolutions: Constitutional Revolutions in the Otto-
man Empire, Iran, and Russia, 1905-1908," American Journal of Sociology 100/6, May
1995, p. 1383-1447.


"ethnicisize" their discourse - speaking in the name of an ethnic group

or speaking about the relations between various "ethnic groups." This
was particularly the case when the Young Turks argued that it was essen-
tial that the "elements" (anaslr) and nations composing the Ottoman
mosaic be united.
At the imperial level, one of the most important questions was how to
save the Empire (if it was still possible to save it, that is). This elicited
many different responses depending on the internal and the external per-
sons deemed to be responsible (considered as enemies), and on potential
sources of internal and external support. For the majority of Ottoman
citizens both inside and outside the Empire - and among them many
people who presented themselves or were thought of as "Albanians" -
Albanianist claims (concerning language, schools, autonomy, etc.) were
seen as a potential source of division and weakness vis-a-vis the "ene-
mies," especially because most "Albanians" were Muslims and belonged
as such to the bloc that might resist the "enemies," thus leading to bad
consequences for the "Albanians" themselves. But equally this or that
Albanianist solution was seen by some people - a minority in fact - as
the only way to reinforce Ottoman power against the ambitions of Balkan
countries, and save the" Albanians" or at least the "Albanian Muslims"
should the Empire collapse in Europe and the (Turkish) Muslims be
forced to emigrate to Anatolia.
Even those who opposed Albanianist solutions often drew on the
notion of "Albanian people" or "Albanian nation" in their rhetoric so as
to channel Albanianism into the stream of Young Turkism and Ottoman-
ism, and also because they had integrated the idea that the "Albanians"
were the pillar of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. For Tunali Hilmi, for
example, who wrote a pamphlet about Macedonia, the "Albanians" were
a brave people, but because they were poorly treated by the Ottoman
government they were ready to defend Macedonia themselves if the Otto-
man government failed to do so. For him, the "Albanians," "these Otto-
mans, sons of Ottomans," guaranteed the continuing existence of the
Empire in the Balkans." In his article published in the newspaper
Osmanlr at the very beginning of 1900, Ishak Sukuti asked the "Albani-
ans" and "Kurds" to make common cause with the "Turks." He used
the image forged by the Albanianists, of the Albanians being one of the

13 Mehmet Hacrsalihoglu, Die Jungturken und die mazedoniscbe Frage (/890-1918),

Munich. Oldenbourg, 2003. p. 81.


oldest peoples in Europe, including Alexander the Great among their

heroes. He also stressed the links between the Albanians and the Empire:
according to him the Albanians, united under Skanderbeg, bad bravely
resisted the Ottomans, before eventually being subdued and becoming
the bedrock of support for the Empire, having provided such important
men as Mehmed Koprulu, Sinan Pasa, the conqueror of Arabia and
Yemen, and Kocu bey from KOI~e. He confessed that the situation in
Albania was not good, especially concerning tbe level of education.
However, he warned educated Albanians desirous of an autonomous
Albania about the dangers that Albania thereby become another Bosnia-
Herzegovina, i.e. fall under administration by a Great Power, or be
preyed upon by neighbouring Balkan countries. He also stressed the fact
that Turks, Kurds and Lazes lost their lives defending Albania, insinuat-
ing that Albanians had to defend the others in return. I'

Albanianism and Young Turk Mobilization on the Ground

In addition to such rhetorical use, Albanianist and anti-AJbanianist

stands were also used as a social and political resource - individually
or collectively - at the regional and local levels. From 1906-1907
onwards, when both Young Turk and Albanianist groups decided to
mobilize broader parts of the population in the Balkans, both networks
began to develop through secret committees and/or guerrilla bands. It
was not initially possible for those involved in the Albanianist movement
to rally the CUP networks, 15 but in 1908 the strategy of the CUP cbanged
and important figures of Aibanianism such as Midhat Frasheri in Salon-
ica, who were also strongly opposed to foreign intervention, rallied the
Y Dung Turk movement.
To mobilize people in these regions, the CUP leaders also did not
systematically ignore the "Albanians." On the contrary the proclamation
of the Young Turk Congress of 1907 was diffused in several languages,
including Albanian." It is also known that the Young Turk Committee
dispatched appeals addressed to "the Albanians" before and after the
revolution. When the CUP decided to expand its activity in Macedonia, an
emissary of the CUP in charge of propaganda among officers and the local

14 George Gawrych, The Crescent, op. cit., p. 143.

15 Kol agasr Ahmed Niyazi Resneli, Hanrat-, Niyazi, Istanbul, Sabah Matbaasr, 1326,
16 George Gawrych, The Crescent, op. cit., p. 146.

population on the Ottoman-Serbian border distributed appeals calling for

joint action against the risk of foreign intervention and partition.'? Several
authors make specific reference to a leaflet where the "Albanians" were
depicted as surrounded, from inside and outside, by enemy countries,'!
and in which they were incited to break the despotic regime by calling for
a Parliament and Constitution for their people. Such a leaflet called upon
the Albanians to establish a besa, a pact with their Muslim co-religionists
in favour of a Constitution and Parliament. This was supposed to imply
the future suppression of all injustices in the domain of taxes, justice, and
administration, as well as the safety of Albania under threat from the
activities of Austria and Italy, against which the Ottoman government was
doing nothing. Albania was also threatened by the possibility of Macedo-
nian autonomy, which would cut Albania off from the rest of the Empire.
The document, supposedly written from the centre of Albania (to increase
the legitimacy of the message), was written in Ottoman and the body of
the text shows that it was addressed to local Muslim notables, in particu-
lar to cadis and muftis. The text closes on the fact that the Albanians were
Muslims, and as such could live with the Turks and not with the Italian
and Austrian enemies, because God said that Muslims are brothers.'?
The rhetoric used in such a text was adapted to some local" Albanian"
features, such as the besa (pact or word of honour) and the "system" of
councils of elders, which was referred to as similar to a parliamentary
system. In addition to this, the specific geopolitical situation of the region
was extensively evoked. But, those writing the leaflet referred especiaUy
to the Muslim identity of the notables. For example, the Parliamentary
system was also depicted as corresponding to a divine commandment,
since God had ordered not to act without a council. Other appeals were
addressed to the "Macedonian Muslims" or to the Muslim people in
gcneral.j'' the use of Albanian identity being but one aspect of mobiliza-
tion in these regions. In this respect it is particularly interesting to read
attentively Resneli Niyazi's book.

17 ~i.ik.rU Hanioglu, Preparation, op, ctt., p. 214, 238.

18 Stavro Skendi, The Albanian National Awakening /878-1912, Princeton, Princeton
Univ. Press, 1967, p. 341-42; Aykut Kansu, The Revolution of 1908 ill Turkey, op. cit.,
p. 92; Sukru Hanioglu, Preparation, op. cit., p. 255.
19 Leka, XJl/I, Numer i vecante, Shkcder, 1942, p. 9~13. See also an original preserved
in the Austrian Archives, HHStA (Vienna), PA XXXVm/423, Lejhanec, Skutari, n'' 70,
10/8/t908, Appendix.
20 -,?Ukrti Hanioglu, Preparation, op. cit, p. 240-41 and Mehrnet Hacisalihoglu, Die
Jungttirken, op. cit., p. 167 .


In his memoirs, Resneli Niyazi describes the way he succeeded in

mobilizing large parts of the population in the mountainous regions
west of Monasur/Bitola, after having deserted in July 1908. This region
was a zone where he personally had different types of connections, both
as an officer posted there and especially as a native person with per-
sonal and family relations. His father was a landowner who was
acquainted with other beys of the regions of Resen, Debre/Debar, and
Ohrid. He and his family were also acquainted with the bektashi order
of dervishes, and could, if necessary, use the bektashi networks. He was
probably an Albanian-speaker, but never mentions it. Did he use the
Albanian language to mobilize people in these regions where part of
the population spoke Albanian? He no doubt did so, though he does not
allude to this point. Did he use an Albanianness to rally local notables
and their folJowers? The only passages in his memoirs where he uses
the term "Albanians" are when he is enumerating the various elements
composing the Ottoman mosaic (Rums, Turks, Serbs, Vlahs, Bulgars,
Albanians) and tries to explain that the revolution will them bring
equality."! He also employs it when referring to the Ottoman policy
towards the "Albanians" - but generally Northern Albanians _ and
to the" Albanian volunteers" I "soldiers. "22 In fact he particularly uses
the term when speaking about the Albanian ceres and relating Ills
exchanges with people close to it.23 These people seem to define them-
selves as "Albanians" particularly in relation to the "Turks." Indeed,
the Albanianists are reputed to have told Niyazi, who wanted to enrol
them into the cemiyet, that thus far the "Turks" had done nothing in
defence of Ottomanism. Niyazi apparently answered by showing how
the "Turks" were in fact now mobilized to save the Empire, only peo-
ple were not aware that they were fighting because they were doing so
in secret. He added that it was harmful to have a separate force for one
of the elements, such as the Albanian element, and that the constitution-
alist movement was not comprised primarily of "Turks," thus insinuat-
ing that many members of other "elements" (anasu) were also part
of it.24
From the rest of the text, one understands that Resneli Niyazi mobi-
lized the notables of the Muslim villages and their followers (be they

21 Honrat-, Niyazi, p. 26, 41, 49-50, 51, 55, 105, 149, for example.
22 Ibid. p. 29, 155, 158.
23 Ibid., p. 43-44, 92, 159-60, 163-167.
24 Ibid., p. 163-167. See also ~likruHanioglu, Preparation, op. ctr., p. 257.

Albanian-speaking or not, it is not specified and does not seem to be

important) thanks to his persuasive speeches against the government and
the dangers of European intervention, during meetings held in or near
village mosques, making his listeners take an oath to the cemiyet during
an open ceremony. Niyazi did his best to enrol the main figures in these
regions, such as Husrev bey Starova or the bektashi baba HUseyin of the
tekke of Mclean (near Kerce)," thanks to the connections of his father.
The latter was particularly important for an agreement with the Albanian
guerrilla movement in the region, whose importance was more symbolic
than real. Indeed, at that time, the Young Turk mobilization had become
much stronger than the purely Albanianist mobilization. In a way, the
Albanianists had no solution other than to rally the Young Turk move-
Another case of mobilization of" Albanian" Muslims forthe Young
Turk cause is of course the meeting of Pirzovik/Ferizovic/Ferizaj.
This meeting did not play so central a role in the revolution, at least
not exactly in the way it is usually explained. Its importance is not
due to the fact that the sultan may have granted the Constitution
because the Albanians at Ferizovic asked for it, or because he may
have been disturbed by the attitude of his Albanian proteges, but
because it meant he was no longer in a position to mobilize these
armed men against the Young Turk insurgents should he so wish. It
was the Young Turks Galib Bey, Necib Draga and other officers and
notables from Uskub/Skopje who played an active role in this meet-
ing, successfully bringing more people on board, and persuading the
assembly that the only way to avoid foreign penetration was to request
the Constitution which was not in contradiction to the Quran. As in
the leaflet analysed above, the arguments used related to "Albanian
features," the local geopolitical situation, and the Muslim identity of
the participants. The Kosovo Albanian chiefs and their followers gath-
ered in Ferizovic were thus passive actors in the revolution." And the
telegram to the authorities - the text of the besa - in which there is
no reference to "Albania" or to "Albanians" was published later on,

25 Niyazi seems to have not relied heavily on the bektashi networks, since when he
was conducting a secret oath ceremony at the beginning, the villagers were reluctant,
thinking he was a heretic and not a good Muslim. That is why he then decided to conduct
open ceremonies (see ibid., p. 97).
26 Some of them, such as [sa Bolerin, even clearly stood against it (Nathalie Clayer,

Aux origines, OJ). cis., p. 608).


in August, by other actors.?? In fact, the importance of the meeting

was constructed after the revolution and for different purposes.

Discourse on the Young Turk Revolution and the Albanians

Generally, relations between the Albanians and the Young Turks in

1908-1909 are further analysed through different issues which emerged
over the following months: the reception of the revolution in "Albania."
the reaction of the "Albanians" to the annexation of Bosnia-Herzego-
vina, the creation of Albanian clubs and committees, the question of the
alphabet and language, and the elections and the counter-revolution. This
is not the place to go back over all these points. My study of the origin
of Albanian nationalism has already demonstrated how helpful it can be
to analyse the events in terms of a competition between a Young Turk
network and an Albanianist network to mobilize the population. The
reactions to the proclamation of the Constitution, the responses to the
annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the elections and the counter-
revolution too need to be analyzed through the perspective of the ques-
tion of the balance of power at the local and imperial levels. Given the
new context and with the unfolding of various events, how did the dif-
ferent interest groups in different regions - including the representatives
of the CUP who formed a new interest group at both levels - compete
for power? This is the question we need to answer if we are to explain
the various attitudes and strategies of people living in what was known
as "Albania, and who presented themselves as or were presented as

"Albanians" - for there is no reason to see the "Albanians" as acting

and reacting as one body, as ethnicisizing discourses would have us
Indeed after the revolution, various types of actors referred to "the
Albanians and the Young Turks" and more specifically to "the role of
the Albanians in the Young Turk revolution," within the framework of
political and social developments taking place then. The revolution
became the key event leading people not only from tyranny 10 liberty,
but also from an ancient to a new era, from the past to the present (or the

27 Suleyrnan KLiI~e, Firzovik Toplanns, lie Mesnuiyet, lzmir, 1944; George Gawrych,
The Crescent, op. cit., p. 152; $iikrii Hantog!u, Preparation, op. cit., p. 476, n. 491; Bilgin
Celik, lniluncrlar ve Arnavutlar. II. MeoIrU{iyet Doneminde AmQII/(t UIIIS~'IJILIgu ve
Arnavuttuk Sorunu, Istanbul, Buke Kitaplnn. 2004, p. 108-111; Banu i~let Sonmez,
II. MeoIrHtiyerte Arnavu{ Muhatefeti, Istanbul, YKY, 2007, p. 88-89.

future). In such pronouncements, the revolution became a moment of

union, a moment when a pact had been sealed between the diverse "ele-
ments living side by side within the Ottoman Empire. All the ceremo-

nies and representations of the events, manifestations organized at that

time by the Young Turk Committee were a performance of that fraternity
of peoples and religious groups. Speeches were given in different lan-
guages, including Albanian, and photographs were used to immortalize
the presence of these different groups, as well as their fraternity. In
Monastir, in particular, a picture was taken of Niyazi Resneli alongside
Cerciz Topulli, the head of the Albanian (often called Tosk) ,ete.28
With time, the fusion of the elements into Ottomanism became one of
the main principles at work in certain Young Turk circles, tending to
replace the ideas of union of the elements and collaboration between
them. In this case, of course, the place given to "Albanians" as such was
reduced, giving greater prominence to the "Ottomans." Debates also
started to appear in newspapers, questioning the "loyalty of the Albani-
ans," and more generally evoking the threat of Balkan nationalisms and
of the arming of the population in border regions.P
In this context, declaring that one was "Albanian" was not well
received. However, some Young Turks went on using the notion of Alba-
nianness, One example is the telegram sent by the Albanian Club in
Istanbul, an organisation close to the CUP. At the end of October 1908
(after the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Habsburg Empire
and the declaration of independence by Bulgaria), the Club sent a tele-
gram to the foreign ambassadors and a copy, also in Turkish, to the
"Albanians" of such places as Prizren, Dunes, Shkoder, loannina, and
Preveza to mobilize them in case of danger. The text indicated that no
cession of Albanian territories would be allowed, and were Serbia, Mon-
tenegro or Greece to try to seize a portion of these territories, the Alba-
nians would resist and defend their fatherland and the integrity of the
Ottoman Empire to their last drop of blood.'? It was officially read and

18 According to Gawrych, the fundamental compatibility between the Turks and the
Albanians and hence the need for them to work together was symbolized by the Enver-
Niyazi couple, Niyazi representing the Albanians (George Gawrych, The Crescent, op. cit.,
p. 169), whereas here he was representing the Turks - or the Young Turks.
19 George Gawrych, The Crescent, op. cit., p. 158.
'" HHSIA, PA XXXVUJ/423, Kral, Skutari, 4/11/1908, n'' 120; PA XXXVUl/423,
Prochaska, Prizren, 6/11/1908, n'' 188; PA XXXVill/380, Halla, Durazzo, 31/10/1908,
n'' 58; PA XXXVUI/444, Kraus, Vlora, 30/10/1908, n'' 60; PA XXXVUJ/383, Ranzi,
Janina, n 59, 30/11/1908. See also Banu Islet Sonmez, AmllvlIf Muhalefeti, op. cu., p. 103.

explained to the local population by the local authorities (muftis or may-

ors) under the close control of local CUP members. Thus, because of the
political circumstances, the "Albanians" were again the pillar of Euro-
pean Turkey. A similar idea accompanied the gathering in Debre/Debar
of the "Albanian Ottoman congress of Union and Constitution" organ-
ized by the CUP in July 1909, with delegates from the five European
vi/ayers (Kosova, Manastir, ikodra, Yanya, and Selanik), In a way,
European Turkey was assimilated to an Ottoman "Albania" with its dif-
ferent ethnic components.
In the months immediately after the revolution, in specific reg.ions
such as Epirus, and particularly in the vilayet of Toannina, the Young
Turks also encouraged the development of Albanianness and Albanianist
activities with the aim of countering Greek claims. In these regions, they
also mobilized Muslims specifically. Tn fact this use of Albanianisrn and
the relationship of the CUP with Albanianist activities largely depended
on the local configurations and on the evolution of the imperial political
arena. It was to counter the development of a supra-local Albanianist
network at the imperial level that from early 1909 onwards the CUP sup-
ported the development of an Albanianness closely linked to, if not syn-
onymous with Otrornanisrn and Islam. The main medium used for that
was the promotion of the Arabic script for the Albanian language through
a mobilization of a group of ulama in the capital, the creation of a cul-
tural club in Istanbul, and the launch of a Ottoman newspaper (Dogru
soz) with one page in Albanian in Arabic script.
For their part, Albanianists' use of the image of the Albanian role in
the Young Turk revolution drew on a dual meaning. At the beginning
especialJy, those who were in the Young Turk milieus or who were close
to them used it to mobilize "Albanians" for the new regime. For instance.
writing in the newspaper Lirija published in Salonica, Midhat Frasheri
explained that the Constitution would solve the situation, and that people
opposed to it were enemies paid by the Austrian and Russian enemies."
He used also religious rhetoric when explaining that religion and Sharia
ordained working with the kanun-i esasi, because God himself had
ordered it. He went on to remind his fellow countrymen that, in Fer-
izovic, the Albanians themselves had asked the sovereign for the Consti-
tution, had formed an alliance and given besa (word of honour) in sup-
port of it. Those who did not wish to respect this besa went against

31 N II, II October 1908,p. I.

c 11


Albanian custom, and were thus traitors.

Later on, especially when the press began to take up the debate on the
loyalty of the Albanians and when conflicts began to emerge on such
issues as which language to use at school and which alphabet, some
Albanianists used this image to prove that the Albanians were loyal, since
they had even played a central role in the revolution, or else to request
"rights" (national schools, roads, railways) from the authorities or the
CUP - the "Albanians" had played an important role in the revolution,
so they had to be rcwarded.P With time and the hardening of the conflict
between the Young Turk and Albanianist networks, this type of discourse
became a refrain used by Albanianists in their speeches and writings."


The aim of this paper was not to analyse in detail the relationship
between Young Turkism (with its components, such as Ottoman ism) and
Albanianism. It was rather to show how the usual issue of the "role of
the Albanians in the Young Turk revolution" is not a pertinent avenue
of enquiry, since with the exception of the Albanianists (who were not
always Albanian-speakers), the persons who were considered as or con-
sidered themselves to be Albanians were positioned vis-a-vis the revolu-
tion not as AJbanians but as Muslims, Christians, members of socio-
professional groups, inhabitants of a certain region, partisans of a certain
local leader, and so on.
The relations between Albanianism and Young Turkism were close,
both in terms of combination and reaction. They were close because the
two "movements" emerged and developed simultaneously (especially if
we consider the development among Muslims). For both, the Macedo-
nian question and the fate of European Turkey more generally were cen-
tral. They also had the same type of discourse, introducing the coexist-
ence of different nations or peoples in the Ottoman Empire, which they
used in various ways to mobilize segments of the population for different

32 See for example, Midhat Frasheri, "Turkey and Albanians," Lirija 14, 1sf November
t 908. p. 2-3.
33 See for example the pamphlet written in 1911 by Ekrem Bey Vlora which begins:
"The new regime, installed in Constantinople mainly thanks to Albanian support, has
never accorded the Albanians much thanks for their assistance: we lifted Young Turks
iruo the saddle and now they ride over us away," (V.[lora] (Efkrem] B.leyJ), Die Wahr-
heit uber das Yorgetien der Jungtiirken ill Atbanien, Vienne-Leipzig, 1911).


social and political purposes. They shared the idea that the" Albanians"
were acted as a rampart, holding out the promise of the survival of the
Empire in Europe - even though they did not always share the sarne
level of conviction about whether or not such survival was indeed pos-
sible. However that may be, and whether voluntarily or not, they both
took into account the increased legitimacy of "Albanian identity" in
European Turkey, at a time when the legitimacy of "Turkish identity"
(associated with Asia and Anatolia) was decreasing.
It was in this context that the theme of the role of the Albanians in the
Young Turk revolution emerged soon after the event took place. It devel-
oped in the following months in close connection with the political
upheavals and confrontations that emerged at both the local and imperial
level, bringing a new framework to relations between Young Turkism
and Albanianism. The theme took two main forms: that of the pact - or
word of honour (besa) - and that of the service rendered leading to
another service in exchange, while the categories "Albanians" and
"Albania" were used in different manners and for various purposes by
different types of actors.
The problem is that those pronouncements where the theme is to be
found have generally been analysed by the historiography as realities,
and not as elements in the power relationship that existed at that time
between various actors with diverging views and interests.



Plus mince est l'experience, plus grande devient l'onente'

La vie du publiciste et homme politique Huseyin Cahid a ete relative-

ment longue. n est mort a 82 ans, en 1957. Ne en 1875, ~ avait un an
lorsqu' Abdulhamid IT est devenu sultan, une vingtaine d'annees lorsque
Ie CUP (Comite Union et Progres) s'est cree, un peu plus de 30 ans
lorsqu'a eu lieu la revolution jeune-turque, une cinquantaine d'annees
lorsque la Republique turque a ete proclamee et plus de 70 ans lorsque
Ie multipartisme a ere introduit dans la vie politique turque. La periode
de sa vie rassemble done a la fois Ie temps long de I'Empire ottoman et
Ie temps court de la Republique turque.
Ses souvenirs, dans la version publiee par Rauf Mutluay, constituent
une source majeure pour qui travaille sur la periode jeune-turque", Long-
temps Ius au premier degre , ils ont contribue a faconner une histo-
riographie maintenant largement remise en cause. Cela etant, ils restent
une source de premier plan qui me-rite que l'on s'y arrete, de preference
dans leur version originale, Befits chronologiquement, les Mesrutiyet
Arulan . qui contiennent de nombreux extraits des articles que Huseyin
Cahid avait fait paraitre dans Ie Tanin entre 1908 et 1913, peuvent etre

Dorothee Guillemarre, CETOBaC (CNRS/EHESS), Paris

1 Reinhart Koselleck, cite par PhiJippe Lacour, Figures temporelles , Espaces-

Temps.net, htrp :/lespacestemps.net/document646.html.
2 Htiseyin Cahid a fait paralrre ses souvenirs pour la premiere fois sous fonne de
feuilleton dans sa revue Fikir Hareketleri entre 1935 et 1938 sous Ie titre Mesrutiyet
Arulan . Par la suite, ces souvenirs ant ete imprirnes, legeremem modifies, dans les
revues Yedigiin, Halkfy'l et Yelli Ulus. En 1976, Rauf Mutluay a publie une version assez
defiguree de ces souvenirs en en resumant certains passages, en les decoupanr en sequences
er en en rnodemisant les termes, sous Ie titre Siyasa! Amtar, reedites en 2000 (Istanbul,
Tilrkiye i Baukasr Ktilntr Yaymlan).