Girolamo de Rada

Portrait of Girolamo de Rada

Girolamo de Rada was an Albanian playwright, poet and journalist. He was born on 29th November 1814 in Macchia Albanese, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy and died on 28th February 1903 in Calabria, Italy aged 88.

Major Works

“Këngët e Milosaos” (The Songs of Milosao), (1836)
“Canti Storici Albanesi di Serafina Thopia, Moglie del Principe Nicola Ducagino” (Albanian Historical Songs of Serafina Thopia, Wife of Prince Nicholas Dukagjini) (1839)
“I Numidi” (The Numidians) (1846)

Biography Timeline

Girolamo de Rada (known in Albanian as Jeronim De Rada) was born on 29th November 1814 in Macchia Albanese, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy. His father was a parish priest in the Italo-Albanian Catholic church and his ancestors are believed to have migrated from Diber County, Albania. Girolamo studied at the college of St Adrian in San Demetrio Corone which was popular with those of Albanian descent and he began collecting folklore.

1834: In October he travels to Naples to study law at the University to fulfil the wishes of his father but his main interest still lies with folklore and literature.

1836: He publishes his best-known Albanian-language poem, the “Songs of Milosao”, under the Italian title “Poesie Albanesi del Secolo XV. Canti di Milosao, Figlio del Despota di Scutari” (Albanian Poetry from the 15th century. Songs of Milosao, Son of the Despot of Skudara). This long romantic ballad is known in Albanian as “Këngët e Milosaos” and concerns a fictitious young nobleman called Shkodra (Scutari), who has returned home from Thessalonica in Greece. Rada is forced to abandon his studies due to an outbreak of cholera in Naples and returns home. 

1839: His second work is “Canti Storici Albanesi di Serafina Thopia, Moglie del Principe Nicola Ducagino” (Albanian Historical Songs of Serafina Thopia, Wife of Prince Nicholas Dukagjini”. It is banned by the Bourbon authorities as he has allegedly become part of conspiratorial groups fighting for the Italian Risorgimento (unification movement). (It is republished under slightly different tiles in 1843 and again in 1897).

1846: He writes his Italian-language historical tragedy “I Numidi” (The Numidians) in Italian which does not prove popular and he revises it in 1892 as “Sofonisba, Dramma Storico”. By now his reputation is as the foremost among Arbëresh (Italian Albanians) writers in the Albanian language.

1848: During the year of revolutions he founds the newspaper “L’Albanese d’Italia” (The Albanians of Italy) which includes articles in Albanian and Italian. It covers politics and literature the first Albanian-language periodical anywhere in the world. His vision of an independent Albania grows stronger as the nineteenth century progresses. 

1878: The Albanian League is formed in Prizren to spur Albanians to win independence from the Ottoman Empire (finally occurs in 1912 after his death) and Albanians in exile in Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and as far away as the United States of America begin to form literary societies. This begins the Rilindja period of Albanian Renaissance and the formation of an Albanian literature.

1881: He outlines his views on Albania’s future with a country divided into three units based upon religion but all within a federal state.

1883: In July he founds the first all Albanian periodical, Fiámuri Arbërit” (The Albanian Flag) in Consenza, Italy which continues until 1888. It covers Albanian literature, politics and history and becomes very popular.

1886: He opposes proposals by the Greeks of a Balkan federation as he fears any unification with Greece would bring the end of Albanian existence. He then sides with the Ottomans against any insurrections from outside hoping the Ottoman Empire will eventually grant Albanians their socio-political rights.

1895: In October, along with fellow Italo-Albanians, the poet Giuseppe Schiro and the politician and writer Anselmo Lorecchio, he organises a congress on Albanian national self-determination in Corigliano Calabro north of Cosenza.

1897: A second congress is held in Lungro in February. 

Girolamo de Rada died on 28th February 1903 in San Demetrio Corone, Calabria, Italy where he was also buried.