The seal of Scanderbeg

Cf. Holberg-on-Scanderbeg (in English). Danish edition: Skanderbegs segl

Web-publisher: Bjoern Andersen


Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg, † 1468. Albanian noble, Osman officer, promoted General. Instigator of a rebellion against the Sultan and Captain General of the Albanians. Scanderbeg has had and still has a major importance in the national self-understanding of the Albanians. Many European authors in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries counted Scanderbeg among the foremost Christian fighters against the Osmans - eg Ludvig Holberg († 1754). Scanderbeg was an icon in the national Albanian movement in the following centuries. Click the picture to enlarge it. The picture is from the 16th century (The Uffizi's Collection in Florence / Firenze).

Dr Peter Pentz - who is an archaeologist at the The National Museum of Denmark - has written an article about Scanderbeg to the »Sfinx«-magazine March 2003 (cf. In the article you will find excellent illustrations.

A seal - that maybe was a seal of Scanderbeg - has been in Denmark since the first part of the 17th century; it was registered in 1634. The National Museum bought it in 1839. Dr Pentz describes the seal in detail and is making an interpretation of the symbols and the inscription.

Photo: BA. Click the picture to enlarge it.

The seal is made of brass. It is 6 centimers in length and weighs 280 grams.

The inscription is in Greek and is telling that 'Alexander' (= Skender) is an Emperor and a King. Emperor of the Romans and King of the Turk, the Albanians, the Serbs and the Bulgars. It naturally follows that the inscription is laterally reversed.

However, Scanderbeg never was in such a position. He was a leader of the Albanians - and he succeeded in organising a rebellion against the Sultan, but he was not a King. When Scanderbeg passed away in 1468, the rebellion collapsed - and many of his companions escaped to Italy.

Probably the seal was made after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, since Scanderbeg is referred to as an Emperor of the Romans. Note the double eagle in the center of the seal - which is a famous Byzantine symbol. Furthermore, Scanderbeg never was a King of the Serbs or the Bulgars.

Maybe the seal was 'designed' when Scanderbeg was organising a crusade against the Osmans, maybe it was manufactured when Scanderbeg served as a vassal to the King of Naples. Probably the seal was commissioned of the family of Scanderbeg some time in the 16th century. You cannot know exactly. Even, it is not to say whether the seal is a fake (from the 15th or 16th century).

The citadel of Scanderbeg in Kruja in the Northern of Albania. It was built in Medieval times and reinforced by Scanderbeg. In the 16th century the Osmans rebuilt the citadel. Click the picture to enlarge it.

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