Gules, a double-headed eagle sable. The eagle goes back to George Kastriotialso known as Iskander Bey, or Skanderbeg (see below), who led the fight of the Albanians against the Turks in the 1440's. He used the Byzantine two-headed eagle on his seals, hence the modern flag. The modern flag had at various times a crown or a star above the eagle. the star Gules lined Or dates to the Communist takeover in 1946, and has been recently removed.

The violation of the usual tincture rule may not necessarily be due to the fact that it is a flag rather than "real" arms: see the Subic arms of Bosnia, which were Gules, a wing displayed sable.

The Castriota Family

The Kastrioti or Castriota family, of Albanian origin, begins with certainty with John Castriota, lord of Mat and Vumenestia, who died in 1443. He resisted Turkish attempts at conquering the Albanian region. At one point, he had to give his four sons as hostage to the Turks. One of them, George Castriota (1403-68), was raised at the Ottoman court and given the name Iskander-Bey (Skanderbeg). He became Christian again, and led Albanian resistance to the Turks to become prince of Albania. He was allied with Venice, which inducted him in its nobility in 1463, but also with the king of Naples, who gave him the lordships of Monte S. Angelo and S. Giovanni Rotundo in the Gargano region of Naples in 1463.

He left a son by Andronica Arianiti Comnena, Giovanni Castriota (ca. 1450-1514), who ceded his rights in Albania to Venice in 1474 and retired in the kingdom of Naples. He exchanged his possessions for the marquisate of Soleto and the county of San Pietro in Galatina (both near Lecce) in 1485. In 1497, he was elevated to the rank of duca di San Pietro. He married Irene Palaiologa, daughter of Lazare despot of Serbia, and left 3 or 4 sons: Costantino, bishop of Isernia (died 1500), Ferrante who succeeded as duke, Giorgio (died 1540, leaving one son without issue), and perhaps Federico. It is said that this line died with Irene, sole surviving child of Ferrante, married in 1539 to Pietrantonio Sanseverino, prince of Bisignano. Among the illegitimate children of Ferrante, two had issue: Achille, born of Dianora, a Greek slave from Corone freed by the duke, whose descendants now live in Naples; and Pardo, son of Porzia de Urrisio, made a patrician of the city of Lecce, whose descendants live in Lecce and Ruffano. A member of that branch was Isabella Castriota Scanderbeg (1704-49), a poet.

The family still exists. The current (or at least recent) head of the family of Castriota-Scanderbeg lives at "Napoli: via G. Cotronei 2", while his uncle lives at "Napoli: villa Scanderbeg, via Napoli 119 bis; La Pietra- Bagnoli (Napoli)". They bear the arms d'oro all'aquila bicipite, coronata sulle due teste di nero, col volo abbassato, alla punta d'azz., movente dal lembo superiore dello scudo, rovesciata e caricata di una stella (6) d'oro (which translates into Or an double-headed eagle, wings abaisse, crowned on both heads sable, on a pile azure a mullet or.)

A brother of George Castriota Scanderbeg was Stanisha (Staniscia), who left a son Branilo. Raised as an Ottoman under the name of Hamsa, he became Christian in 1443, count of Mat, governor of Croia in Albania, was made duke of Ferrandina in the kingdom of Naples and died in 1463. By Maria Zardari he had Giovanni, duke of Ferrandino who left a daughter Maria; and Alfonso, marquis of Altripalda in 1512 (died 1544). Some source give him a son Antonio Branai who married his cousin Maria and became duke of Ferrandina. Antonio had no legitimate issue, but a natural son Alessandro d'Altripalda whose descendants formed a prominent family of the Napolitan aristocracy ad were were given the name Castriota in 1803. Others say that this is a confusion, and that this Castriota family descends from Bernardo Granai, a lieutenant of Scanderbeg.

Recently (according to the Electronic Telegraph of May 8, 1997) Giorgio Castriota Scnaderbeg, a bank employee near Naples, has made a claim to the Albanian throne. Isabella Stasi Castriota Scanderbeg, an Italian TV documentary writer and producer who lives in Rome and Cadaqués;, may belong to the Catriota d'Altripada family.


The Albanian College of Arms

Please see James Algrant's article on this organization.

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François Velde

Last modified: Sep 23, 1999