Traveler, Scholar, Political Adventurer: A Transylvanian Baron at the Birth of Albanian Independence. the Memoirs of Franz Nopcsa

Traveler, Scholar, Political Adventurer: A Transylvanian Baron at the Birth of Albanian Independence. the Memoirs of Franz Nopcsa

Traveler, Scholar, Political Adventurer: A Transylvanian Baron at the Birth of Albanian Independence. the Memoirs of Franz Nopcsa

Traveler, Scholar, Political Adventurer: A Transylvanian Baron at the Birth of Albanian Independence. the Memoirs of Franz Nopcsa

Synopsis

The Austro-Hungarian aristocrat of Transylvanian origin, Baron Franz Nopcsa (1877-1933), was one of the most adventuresome travelers and scholars of South-eastern Europe in the early decades of the twentieth century. He was also a paleontologist of renown and a noted geologist of the Balkan Peninsula. The Memoirs of this fascinating figure deal mainly with his travels in the Balkans, and specifically in the remote and wild mountains of northern Albania, in the years from 1903 to 1914. They thus cover the period of Ottoman Rule, the Balkan Wars and the outbreak of the First World War. Nopcsa was a keen adventurer who hiked through regions of northern Albania where no foreigner had ever been. He got to know the natives well, learned their language and their wat if life, and, with time, he became a leading expert in Albanian studies. He was also deeply involved in the politics of the period, often to the frustration of the Ballhausplatz, the Austro-Hungarian foreign ministry. In 1913, Nopcsa even offered himself as a candidate for the vacant Albanian throne. The Introduction also tells of Nopcsa's tragic, he shot his Albanian secretary and partner before killing himself. The Memoirs themselves reveal some references to his homosexuality for those who can read between the lines.

Excerpt

The Austro-Hungarian aristocrat, Baron Franz Nopcsa (1877–1933), was one of the most adventuresome travelers and scholars of southeastern Europe in the early decades of the twentieth century. Together with the inveterate English traveler and author Edith Durham (1863– 1944), whom he speaks of as an old friend, he brought Albania and the Albanians to the attention of the Western world. It would be no exaggeration to state that he knew the country and its people better than any foreigner of his day. Baron Nopcsa not only has a well-deserved place in Albanian studies, he was also a palaeontologist of renown and a noted geologist of the Balkan Peninsula.

Franz Nopcsa (pronounced Frants Nopcha) traveled to the Balkans and in particular to Albania at a fascinating time. the peoples of southeastern Europe had long struggled to attain their autonomy and national independence from the decaying Ottoman Empire, the so-called sick man of the Bosphorus. Last among them were the Albanians. the Albanian national movement arose sluggishly in the second half of the nineteenth century, initially as a struggle for more autonomy within the Empire. By the early years of the twentieth century, the movement, in essence a series of armed uprisings against taxation and conscription, found itself caught up in wider events. the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 brought the Empire to its knees and the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 then engendered the definitive demise of Turkey-in-Europe. Nopcsa traveled extensively in the southern Balkans in the final years of Ottoman rule and was present during many of the cataclysms it underwent. Leaving a comfortable existence in imperial Vienna, he took up residence in the northern Albanian town of Shkodra (Scutari) where he lived from 1905–1914, and which he used as a base for his arduous journeys into the remotest and wildest region of Europe—the northern Albanian mountains.

Franz (Ferenc) Nopcsa of Felső-szilvás was born in Deva, now in Romania, on 3 May 1877, as the son of a family of Hungarian aristocrats that . . .

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