Dimitri Progoni was the third and the last Prince of the Albanians of the Progon family, reigning from 1208 to 1216. He ruled the mountain stronghold at Kruja (Arbanon), succeeding his older brother Gjin, and he managed to bring Arbanon to its maximum. Dimitri ruled in the alliances of the Republic of Ragusa, Venice and Serbian Kingdom; he married Komnena, the daughter of Stefan Nemanjić. He was later turned against Venice.
According to Pickard-Çeliku and Norris, Progon's realm was the first Albanian state during the Middle Ages. Little is known about archon Progon who was the first ruler of Kruja and its surroundings, between 1190 and 1198. The Kruja fortress stayed in the possession of the Progon family, and Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin, and later Dimitri. Before 1204, Arbanon was an autonomous principality of the Byzantine Empire. The titles archon (held by Progon) and panhypersebastos (held by Dimitri) is a sign of Byzantine dependence.
Family, and titles
Dimitri, the son of Progon of Kruja, was the third and last lord of the Progon family, reigning between 1208 and 1216. He succeeded his brother Gjin and brought the principality to its climax. Contemporary Western sources attribute the titles judex ("judge") and princeps Arbanorum ("prince of the Albanians") to him, while Byzantine records refer to him as megas archon ("grand lord"). He also held the Byzantine title of panhypersebastos.
Alliances and conflicts
In 1208, Dimitri married Komnena Nemanjić, the daughter of Serbian Grand Prince, later King Stefan Nemanjić (r. 1196–1228). This resulted in an alliance, and vassalage to Serbia amidst conflicts with the Republic of Venice.
At the same time, George Nemanjić, in Zeta, allied himself with Venice. The struggle between the two Nemanjić branches (between Vukan and Stefan) continued under George. The Gëziq inscription mention the Progon family as judices, and notes their dependence to Mladen and George. George promised military support if Dimitri would attack Venetian territory, in a treaty signed on 3 July 1208. The alliance and conflict may have been related to the Rascian-Zetan struggle, for Dimitri had close ties with Serbia, having married Komnena.
In search for allies, Dimitri signed a treaty with the Republic of Ragusa in 1209 and began negotiations with Pope Innocent III regarding his own and his subjects' conversion to Catholicism; a tactful move, which Dimitri undertook to establish ties with Western Europe against Venice, the friendship with the pope was however of short duration, and soon turned into ill-feeling. By 1212, the Venetians had left Arbanon, abandoning it to Michael Angelos, in circumstances that remain uncertain. Arbanon remained to its traditional fidelites, Byzantine and Serbian (Orthodox); when Dimitri died, Gregory Kamonas succeeded in ruling Arbanon, and took Komnena as his second wife; ties were strengthened with Serbia, with which ties had been weakened by a Serbian attack on Scutari following the collapse of the Venetian duchy of Durazzo.
Death and aftermath
After Dimitri died in 1215, the power was left to his wife, Komnena, who soon married Greek-Albanian Gregory Kamonas, who took power of Kruja, strengthening relations with Serbia, which had been weakened after a Serbian assault on Scutari. Arbanon remained to its traditional fidelites, Byzantine and Serbian, Orthodox. Komnena had a daughter with Kamonas that married Golem.
Pipa and Repishti conclude that Arbanon was the first sketch of an "Albanian state", and that it retained semi-autonomous status as the western extremity of an empire (under the Doukai of Epirus or the Laskarids of Nicaea).
Progon familyDied: 1216
|Preceded by |
|Lord of Kruja/ |
Prince of Albania
|Succeeded by |