XC (Re)leituras - Kosovo: a short History, by Noel Compton, comments by André Bandeira
This superb «short» History of Kosovo, dates back to 1998. It is condensed and very informative, but not short. Generally speaking, the author leans on the side of Kosovo independence and advocates the cause of albanians, no matter wherever they've settled for centuries long. One of the curious things is that the names «Bessa» and «Arnaut», which are not uncommon in Portugal, for instance, could be traced back to Albania. In times of alleged «islamic invasion», this book gives us a very enlightening perspective. What we call albanian is, no need to mention, a long process of ethnic miscigenation, which began long before the Ottoman Empire. Should one say that islamization came afterwards to consolidate that process? No. Islam, in the Balkans, was as much a matter of personal choice, as it was one of opportunity or even one of hidden agenda. Not faraway, the bosnian muslims have once been Bogomils, an heretic christian sect which preferred convert to Islam than submitting to the Pope. Here is something which was not strange, a couple centuries later, to the Reformer Luther and was never out of sight from some orthodox clergy. By the way, very many among the Geg, the northern albanian stock, who generated Women such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta, have always been catholic, faithful to Rome, but very much jealous of their temporal prerogatives, which they found from time to time, much more protected by the ottoman Empire than by any Christian power. Albanian families could be composed both of christian (orthodox or catholic) and muslims, which meant that the confessional borderline was, sometimes, not worthier than an untidy blanket. They fought on austrian side, on orthodox side and on ottoman side. One thing they didn't like, no matter where the push came from: that was to be disarmed. That's why the most prestigious mountain clans in the Balkans have albanian names such as Klemëndi or Mirdit. All this boils down to the need of finding an all-embracing concept which could grasp the albanian stock. One possibility could be their language, the other could be the one of old Illyrian people and their founding myths. But this latter wouldn't be enough. Tribes and clans living in deep, almost inaccessible valleys among the cliffs, that is a model which squares all classical north-eastern Mediterranean. What the author leads us to conclude, that is the fact that a common religion, is both able to unite a pre-existing stock of people, while the religion itself, loses very much of its identity in the course of that process. That holds both for Christianity as well as for Islam. That means that neither all Islam makes part of Europe's identity, nor all Cristianity does.There is God and Goodness beyond the Temple.