The son of a prince of N Albania, he was educated in the Muslim faith as a hostage at the court of Sultan Murad II . The sultan showered favors on him and gave him the title bey and an army command. In 1443, when the Ottomans indicated they would attack Albania, Scanderbeg escaped to his homeland, abjured Islam, and formed a league of princes among the Albanian chieftains. He proclaimed himself prince of Albania. To resist the Ottomans under Sultan Muhammad II , Scanderbeg received aid at various times from Venice, Naples, Hungary, and the pope. He had success in these wars partly because of the rugged Albanian terrain and partly because he employed a mobile defense force using guerrilla methods. He withstood repeated attacks and forced the sultan to conclude a 10-year truce in 1461. Scanderbeg broke the truce in 1463 when Pope Pius II called for a new crusade.
The pope's death (1464) forced abandonment of the crusade; Scanderbeg, left without allies, had to retreat to his fortress of Kroia. After his death the league dissolved, resistance collapsed, and Albania fell to the Ottomans. Scanderbeg's life is the source of many Albanian tales.