Birth Place: Diber, Albania
Historical Role: General, Noble
Titles: General Governor of the Ottoman Empire, Leader of the League of Lezhe, Champion of Christ, Captain General of the Holy See
Primary countries affected: Albania
Secondary countries affected: Greece, Kosovo, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Vatican City
Events: Battle of Varna (1444), Battle of Torvioll (1444), First Siege of Kruje (1450), Siege of Berat (1455), Battle of Oronichea (1456), Battle of Ujebardha (1457), Second Siege of Kruje (1466), Third Siege of Kruje (1468)
Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg is a very important Albanian national hero, he is celebrated for his leading role in the wars against the Ottoman Empire. Gjergj's father was Gjon Kastrioti an Albanian lord, when he was young Gjergj and his three brothers were sent as hostages to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Gjergj attended the military school of Edirne and fought for the Ottoman Empire, for his excellent service he was awarded the rank of General Governor. However during the Battle of Varna he took his chance and defected with his Albanian forces to the side of John Hunyadi and the Hungarians.
Skanderbeg then went on to fight for Albanian independence, he tricked the governor of Kruje to surrender the castle. After securing the castle he unified the Albanian lords in the League of Lezhe, of which he was the leader. Skanderbeg opted for a guerilla war against the Ottomans due to the small number of his forces. In 1444 he won a great victory at Torvioll against a numerically superior Turkish force. He was prevented from joining John Hunyadi at the Second Battle of Kosovo. In 1450 the Ottomans laid siege to the castle of Kruje, Skanderbeg harassed continuously the supply caravans of the Ottomans eventually breaking their morale and the Sultan lifted the siege and returned to Edirne. In 1455 after the fall of Constantinople, the Turks returned, Skanderbeg laid siege to Berat, but split his force and one half was destroyed by the Turks. In 1457 Skanderbeg defeated the Ottomans at Ujebardha. In 1461 the Ottomans offered peace, Skanderbeg went to Italy to help King Ferdinand I of Naples his biggest supporter. In 1466 the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II laid siege to Kruje again, but the siege was again broken by Skanderbeg. The Sultan returned the next year and laid siege to Kruje again, the Turks brought in a huge number of troops in order to prevent another defeat, Skanderbeg finally fell ill with malaria and died in 1468. The resistance went on but eventually died out.
Skanderbeg was one of the champions in resisting the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe, along with John Hunyadi and Vlad III Dracula. British General James Wolfe said that "Skanderbeg excels all the officers, ancient and modern, in the conduct of a small defensive army".