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Zog of Albania
His Majesty King Zog (October 8, 1895–April 9, 1961) was an Albanian politician,member of the famous royal house of Skanderbeg ,witch lost ruling status and witch became a feudal beylik family ruling over the city of Mati through a mariage of Skanderbeg,actually from the time of Zogu the Small (1th Governor of Mati),later Albanian prime minister 1922-1924,and 1925,President of Albania, (1925-1928) who became the country's first king (1928-1939 and 1943-1946 (only by name)).
Background and early political career
Ahmed Bey Zogu (Zogolli) was born in Castle Burgajet , Albania to Mati chieftan Xhemal Pasha Zogu and SadijÚ Toptani . As a young man during the First World War Zogu was pro-Austria-Hungary, counter to Albanian tradition which had tended to align with Eastern Europe or the Ottoman Turks.
In 1911,on the death of his father,and at the age of 16,and became Hereditary Governor of Mati and Chief of the Gheg clan.
He was detained at Vienna 1917-1918 and in Rome 1918-1919,before returning to Albania 1919.
Zogu held ministerial posts in the fledgling Albanian government that began in 1920. His political support included southern feudal landowners called beys (Turkish for village chieftain) and noble families in the north along with merchants, industrialists and intellectuals. Zogu became leader of a major reformist party and later a prime minister of the republican government. In 1923 he was shot and wounded in parliament. His primary rivals were Luigj Gurakuqi and Fan S. Noli.
He held the post of Minister for the Interior March to November 1920,1921-1924 and 1925,Minister for War 1925,generla and comand-in-chief of the Albanian forces 1921-1922.He also served as Governor of Skutari 1920-1921
Albanian president and king
He became president of a newly proclaimed republic on February 1 1925 ,and was oficialy elected to post of president by Constituent Assembly 21st January 1925.Zogu's government followed the European model, while large parts of Albania still had a social structure that was unchanged from the days of Ottoman rule, and most villages were serf plantations run by the beys. A Muslim himself, his reforms included the prohibition of veils and cruelty to animals. Zogu's principal ally was Italy, which loaned his government funds in exchange for a role in its fiscal policy.
Serfdom was gradually eliminated and Albania began to take shape as a nation (rather than a feudal patchwork of local beys) for the first time since the death of Skanderbeg.
Zogu crowned himself King of the Albanians on September 1, 1928 and declared a constitutional monarchy sharing similarities with the Italian monarchal government (which included a strong police force). He instituted a Zogist salute (flat hand over the heart with palm facing forwards) and claimed to be a successor of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg. Zog hoarded gold coins and precious stones which were used to back Albania's first paper currency, but his household expenses hovered near 2% of the national budget. He was mostly ignored by European monarchs.
Zog's mother, SadijÚ, was declared "Queen Mother of the Albanians", and he also gave his brother and sisters royal status as prince and princesses Zogu. One of his sisters, SenijÚ, Princess Zogu (1908-1969), married His Imperial Highness Prince Shehzade Mehmed Abid Efendi of Turkey, a son of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Zog also named himself Field Marshal of the Royal Albanian Army 1th September 1928.
Zog attempted to establish his regime's legitimacy by ruling as a constitutional monarch. His kingdom's constitution forbade any prince of the royal house from serving as prime minister or a member of the cabinet and contained provisions for the potential extinction of the royal family. Ironically, in light of later events, the constitution also forbade the union of the Albanian throne with that of any other country. Under the Zogian constitution, the King of the Albanians, like the King of the Belgians, exercised royal powers only after taking an oath before Parliament (although in the event Zog took the oath in the presence of the Constituent Assembly).
Zog's regime brought stability to Albania and the king organized an educational system. Albania's fiscal dependence on Italy continued to increase at a time when Italian dictator Mussolini was extending his sphere of influence into the Balkans and exerted increasing control over Albania's finances and army. During the worldwide depression of the early 1930s Zog's government became almost completely dependent on Mussolini. Grain had to be imported from abroad and many Albanians emigrated.
Two days later, on April 7, 1939, Italian troops entered Albania. Mussolini declared Albania a protectorate under Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III. Zog and his family fled into exile in Greece,Turkey, England, Egypt, the USA, and finaly France.
During World War II royalist Albanian resistance in the north was largely ineffective, later merging with communist insurgents (partisans) made up of former serfs from the south led by Yugoslavian militants. While the Albanian establishment mostly chose collaboration with the Italians and Germans, it was the uneducated partisans who took control with Russian support as the war ended.
The king's exile took him first to Greece and then to Great Britain before he finally settled in France. Zog attempted to reclaim his throne but Albania had fallen firmly into the Soviet sphere and a Stalinist communist government led by Enver Hoxha would remain in power for 45 years. Zog abdicated on January 2, 1946 but retained his claim to the throne. He died in Suresnes , France on April 9, 1961. The former Queen Geraldine died in 2002.
In 1997, well after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of Albania's communist regime, Zog's son, Leka Zogu (who since 1961 had been calling himself Leka I, King of the Albanians), returned despite resistance from the Albanian government under Sali Berisha. A referendum was held on the restoration of the monarchy in 1997, in which 66.7 percent of voters favored a republican government; Leka declared the result fraudulent. During the early 2000s, Leka Zogu was active in the country's politics, characterizing the socialist government (which was derived for the most part from former communist party officials) as "mafiosi" with little expertise. The socialists' difficulties in creating jobs and maintaining social order made Zogu seem like an attractive alternative to many Albanians.
O.S. Pearson, Albania and King Zog, 2005 (ISBN 1845110137).
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