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Jani Vreto, Albanian prominent patriot and thinker of the National Renaissance

  • 4/22/2021 8:21 AM
Jani Vreto, Albanian prominent patriot and thinker of the National Renaissance

Jani Vreto was a patriot and prominent thinker of the National Renaissance. He was born in Postenan, a village near Leskovik, in the southern part of Albania in 1820. He took his first lessons at the local school from Nikolla Ikonomi, who taught him both Greek and Albanian.

It was before the establishment of the League of Prizren when Vreto met with six other Albanian intellectuals regarding the alphabet question and he supported the use of the Greek alphabet to write Albanian due to the Pelasgian theory. Vreto became a member of the Central Committee for Defending Albanian Rights, founded in 1877.

This Committee for Defending Albanian Rights appointed Vreto along with Sami Frashëri, Vaso Pasha and Hasan Tahsini to create an Albanian alphabet. During discussions about the Albanian alphabet Frashëri and Vreto wanted the inclusion of a Greek alphabet character on the premise that Albanians and Greeks have the same ancestors, the Pelasgians. By 19 March 1879 the group approved Frashëri's 36 letter alphabet consisting mostly of Latin characters. In 1878, he represented the Albanian population of the Ottoman Empire alongside Abdyl Frashëri at the Congress of Berlin.

In 1879 he became one of the founders of Society for the Publication of Albanian Writings, an organization responsible for publishing Albanian textbooks and opening Albanian schools. Vreto transferred its headquarters from Istanbul to Bucharest after the organization was banned by the Ottoman authorities. As a member of this society Vreto set up and operated the Albanian printing house of Bucharest playing an important role in the advancement of the Albanian movement.

At the same time he was excommunicated by the Orthodox metropolitan of Gjirokastër, who accused him of having committed heresy by "creating an Albanian question". Many of the works of Naim Frashëri, national poet of Albania were published by this organization. In 1882, Vreto left Bucharest for Egypt to develop nationalist content among the Albanian diaspora.

Jani Vreto's most known work is an epic poem titled “History of Skanderbeg”, dedicated to national hero of Albania Skanderbeg. In 1888 he edited and published the poem Erveheja of Muhamet Kyçyku translating it into Latin script completely removing all Turkish or Arabic words Kyçyku had used. Part of Vreto's own work was published in Spiro Dine's work "Waves of the Sea”, a collection of Albanian history and literature.

In 2012, the then President awarded Jani Vreton (posthumously) the Order "Honor of the Nation" with the motivation: "Prominent figure of the nation, one of the bright activists of the Renaissance, who saw the national cause as one with the creation and development of national education and the efforts to create the Albanian alphabet and considered the publication of the first Albanian ABC as a great battle for the victory of independence and the creation of the Albanian state.