A Civilization Defended by Slaves

When Skanderbeg Saved Europe


In 1953, Russian director Sergei Yutkevich arrived to Albania, a small country of three million people located in southeastern Europe along the Adriatic Sea. Yutkevich came to direct a feature film about the life of Albania’s national hero, George Skanderbeg. Born Gjergj Kastrioti, the man lived from the year 1405 to 1468. Taken hostage as a child by the Ottoman Turks, they named the boy after their word for Alexander the Great, İskender. Skanderbeg was to be raised as a Muslim and trained by the Turkish army to serve as a mercenary to Sultan Murad the Second. The Sultan recognized Skanderbeg’s strength as a warrior and decided to employ his servant in an elite army of foreign slaves called the Janissaries.

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