George Kastrioti Skanderbeg
(6 May 1405 – 17 January 1468), widely known as Skanderbeg
: İskender Bey
), was a 15th-century Albanian
lord. He was appointed as the governor of the Sanjak of Dibra
by the Ottomans
in 1440. In 1444, he initiated and organised the League of Lezhë
and defended the region of Albania against the Ottoman Empire for more than two decades. Skanderbeg's military skills presented a major obstacle to Ottoman expansion, and he was considered by many in western Europe
to be a model of resistance against the Ottoman Muslims. Skanderbeg is Albania's most important national hero and a core figure of the Albanian National Awakening
. Skanderbeg was born in 1405 to the noble Kastrioti
family, in the Shëgjerth neighborhood of Sinë
, a village in Dibra
. Sultan Murad II
took him hostage during his youth and he fought for the Ottoman Empire as a general. In 1443, he deserted the Ottomans during the Battle of Niš
and became the ruler of Krujë
. In 1444, he organized local leaders into the League of Lezhë, a federation aimed at uniting their forces for war against the Ottomans. Skanderbeg's first victory against the Ottomans, at the Battle of Torvioll
in the same year marked the beginning of more than 20 years of war with the Ottomans. Skanderbeg's forces achieved more than 20 victories in the field and withstood three sieges of his capital, Krujë
In 1451 he recognized himself as a vassal of the Kingdom of Naples through the Treaty of Gaeta, to ensure a protective alliance. In 1460–1461, he participated in Italy's civil wars in support of Ferdinand I of Naples. In 1463, he became the chief commander of the crusading forces of pope Pius II, but the pope died while the armies were still gathering. Left alone to fight the Ottomans, Skanderbeg did so until he died in January 1468.
Marin Barleti's biography of Skanderbeg, written in Latin and in a Renaissance and panegyric style, was translated into all the major languages of Western Europe from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Such translations inspired an opera by Vivaldi, and literary creations by eminent writers such as playwrights William Havard and George Lillo, French poet Ronsard, English poet Byron, and American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Read more...)
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈuɣo rafaˈel ˈtʃaβes ˈfɾi.as]; 28 July 1954 – 5 March 2013), commonly known as Hugo Chávez, was a Venezuelan politician who served as the 64th President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013. He was also leader of the Fifth Republic Movement from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when it merged with several other parties to form the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which he led until 2012.
Born into a working-class family in Sabaneta, Barinas, Chávez became a career military officer, and after becoming dissatisfied with the Venezuelan political system based on the Punto Fijo Pact, he founded the clandestine Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200) in the early 1980s. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d'état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998. He was re-elected in 2000 and again in 2006 with over 60% of the votes. After winning his fourth term as president in the October 2012 presidential election, he was to be sworn in on 10 January 2013, but Venezuela's National Assembly postponed the inauguration to allow him time to recover from medical treatment in Cuba. Suffering a return of the cancer originally diagnosed in June 2011, Chávez died in Caracas on 5 March 2013 at the age of 58.