SCANDERBEG, or ISKENDER BEY (1403-1467), known also as " the Dragon of Albania," the national hero of the Albanians, was the son of John (Giovanni) Castriota, lord of Kroia and of the Mirdite country in northern Albania, and of a Servian princess named Vaisava. His actual name was George (Giorgio) Castriota, and the name of Iskender Bey (Prince Alexander) was given to him by the Turks in complimentary reference to Alexander the Great. In 1423, when Murad II. invaded Epirus, George Castriota, with his three brothers, was handed over as a hostage to the Turks and sent to be trained in the service of the seraglio. His brilliant qualities of mind and body at once gained him the favour of the sultan; he became a Mussulman, was promoted to high military command and, though barely nineteen years of age, to the government of a sanjak. He remained in the Ottoman service for twenty years, dissembling his resentment when, on the death of his father, his principality was annexed and his brothers poisoned. In 1443, however, his opportunity came with Janos Hunyadi's victory at Nish. He seized Kroia by stratagem, proclaimed himself a Christian, and gathered the wild Albanian clansmen about him. In the inaccessible fastnesses of Albania he maintained a guerilla warfare against the Turks during nearly twenty-five years, easily routing the armies sent against him, and is said to have slain three thousand Turks with his own hand. In 1461 Murad's successor Mahommed II. acknowledged him by a temporary truce as lord of Albania and Epirus. He died in 1467 at Alessio, and his tomb was long the object of a superstitious veneration on the part of the Turks.
Scanderbeg's resistance to the Turkish advance was invaluable to the cause of Christianity, but the union which he had maintained in Albania did not survive him. He was succeeded in Kroia by his son, Giovanni Castriota, who in 1474 sold the principality to the Venetians, by whom four years later it was re-sold to the Turks.
See Georges T. Petrovitch, Scander-beg (Georges Castriota); Essai de bibliographie raisonnee; Ouvrages sur Scander-beg ecrits en langues franQaise, anglaise, allemande, latine, italienne, etc. (Paris, 1881); Pisko, Skanderbeg, historische Studie (Vienna, 1895).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)