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Ancient times - The Illyrians
The forerunners of the present day Albanians were the Illyrians. They inhabited a large territory, as early as Middle Paleolithic (100.000-40.000 B.C.), whose northern border ranged as far as Danube’s branches (Sava and Drava), while southward it covered the bulk of prehistoric Epirus and extended as far as Ambrocia bay (Preveza). Its eastern natural borders ranged to Morava and Vardar rivers, while in the west were both Adriatic and Ionic coasts. A few Illyrian tribes like Mesapsa and Japygs were settled in the southern Italy (Calabria).

But the first considerable traces of civilization are to be found in (6.000-2.000 B.C.). Archaeological excavations at Butrint show that the first group to leave its mark on the country was the “Kaon” tribe, first millennium B.C. At this period Butrint was a fortified center of the Kaonian Illyrians.

Chronology of the historical data:

B.C. 5.000 Palasgians migrate to the Balkans, beginning of the Bronze Age.

B.C. 1.000 Illyrians travel fron Central Europe to settle in the Western Balkans.

B.C. 7/8th Greeks from Corfu and Corinth, colonize the Albanian coast. Founding of Epidamnos (in B.C. 627 as the Greek colony, Dyrrachion- platter known as Durrës) and Apollonia (B.C. 5th – 3rd century, flowering of the state of Illyria).

B.C. 435 Conflict between the Independent city-states of Epidamnos and Corfu.

B.C. 250 A state under king Argon controls the western shores of the Balkans territory from river Kerka in Slovenia to the present day Albania.

B.C.229-168 Roman invasion of the Illyrian coast. Illyrian kingdom is reduced to a narrow strip between Dubrovnik and Lezhë(Lisus). At this time was built the “Via Egnatia” from Dyrrachion (Durrës) to Constantinople.

B.C.167 Rome is victorious against king Genthius, bringing his Illyrian kingdom under Roman rule.

A.D.2nd C. Illyrians became known by the new name of Arber.

A.D.160-279 Slavonic tribes occupy the mountain districts of Albania.

A.D. 395 Arberia becomes part of the Byzantine Empire.

A.D.5th C. Invasion by western and eastern Goths, Avers and Celts.They ravage the Balkan provinces, stay a short time, and then move on. Huns invade Kosova.

A.D.529-640 Invasion from central Europe by Slavic tribes ending By-zantine authority. The Illyrian population withdraws into the coastal towns and the mountains of the interior of the northern Albania.

851 Invasion of the area by the Bulgars, who stayed until 1010 century.

1054 Schism in the church – division into Orthodox and Roman churches. Schism effects Albania’s Christianity.

1081 Normans enter Albania from Italy and govern until 1100 century.

1096 Armies of the first Crusade march through Albanian territory.

1190 Proclamation of the feudal state of Arberia (The Principality of Arber 1190-1216), in the north of Albania, with Kruja as the capital.

1204 Conquest of Constantinople by the Crusades. Decline of the Empire of Byzantine, Michael Comnenus, member of Byzantine Imperial family founded his despot of Epirus. He deprives Byzantine of Albania’s coastal region.

1272 Charles I, King of Naples, enters Albania from northern Italy, forms the kingdom of Arberia and proclaims himself, King of Albania. While the interior of Albania is ruled by Byzantine and Serbian princes till 1356. Roman Catholic religion is spread.

1344 Albania becomes part of the Kingdom of Serbia, under the leadership of Stephen Dushan together with Macedonia, Thesaly and Epirus. After his death, Albania falls to native chieftains and the Knight Balsha established a principality in the north with Shkoder as its capital, fending off Serbs and Bulgarians. Other feudal principalities were established in the Albanian territories; Topiads with Durres as its capital, Muzakads with Berat as it capital, Zenebisht with Gjirokaster as its capital, the Bishopric of Shpatads with Arta as its capital.

1352 Ottoman conquest of Europe begins.

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