First, Albania as a cohesive political entity, did not exist. The territories which had a distinct Albanian population majority were split among the Vilayets of Shkoder, Janina, Monastir and Kosovo - and especially the Vilayets of Monastir and Janina contained considerable elements of non-Albanian popularion. Within the Ottoman Empire, people were not distinguished by ethnicity, but by religion. The Albanians therefore were subdivided into Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic Albanians.
The rebellions of 1875-1876 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 affected Albania insofar as the TREATY OF SAN STEFANO foresaw the annexion of Pec, Ulcinj and Podgorica by Montenegro, the annexion of Korce and Tetovo (W. Macedonia) by Bulgaria. Both Britain and Austria-Hungary were concerned about the great increase of Russian influence on the Balkan peninsula, as both Bulgaria and Montenegro were perceived as Russian protectorates. Both powers seemed unwilling to accept the situation; Otto von Bismarck, at the BERLIN CONGRESS mediated a new peace treaty. Both Bulgaria and Montenegro had to accept less territorial gains.
In 1878, with the prospect of annexation by a christian Montenegro or Serbia imminent, Muslim Albanians organized themselves in the respective regions in order to resist the annexation, most notably in the Kosovo. On June 10th 1878, 300 delegates met in Prizren, the majority from Kosovo and from the Albanian districts in Macedonia, to form the PRIZREN LEAGUE, the purpose of which was to form a unified political organization for all Albania, capable of organizing military resistance against any attempt to split up the ethnicity. It appealed to the Sultan to merge the vilayets of Shkoder, Janina, Monastir and Kosovo - unsuccessfully.
In January 1881, relations between the Prizren League and the Ottoman authorities had reached such a low point, that the League ousted the Ottoman administration from the Kosovo and established a provisional government. An Ottoman army was sent into Kosovo in March, the resistance crushed, the leading League members banned into remote regions of the Empire. Kosovo saw another revolt in 1885. In 1889 the LEAGUE OF PEC was founded, which was less a national Albanian than a Muslim organization.
As the majority of the Albanians were Muslims, the relation between Albanians and Ottoman Turks were less conflicting than those between Greeks or Bulgarians and Ottoman Turks. In the GRAECO-TURKISH WAR of 1897 and on Crete in 1897/1898, Albanians fought with the Ottoman forces.
Albanian intellectuals were aware that Ottoman Albania was threatened, the object of expansionist plans of their Slavic and Greek neighbours and object of the diplomatic schemes of the great powers. The YOUNG TURK REBELLION resulted in aggravating the political instability and in a short period of a policy of OTTOMANIZATION to which Albania was subjected. Pristina saw yet another Albanian rising, in 1910, which was suppressed. Albanian CHETAS (guerillas) began to fight Ottoman authorities in 1911.
In the FIRST BALKAN WAR of 1912, much of Albania was conquered by Serbian troops, Shkoder by the Montenegrins; the Balkan Allies (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia) easily defeated the Ottoman forces and seemed intent to partition amongst themselves the entire Ottoman territory on the Balkans peninsula, west of the Maritsa River. Without any consideration for the will of the Albanians.
Again the powers interfered by putting pressure on Serbia and Montenegro. An INDEPENDENT ALBANIA was formed by the CONFERENCE OF LONDON (Dec. 1912), because Britain would not tolerate a Serbian Albania, perceived as Russian, or as potentially Italian, in Austrian perspective. The powers were guided by geostrategic reasoning, not by sympathies for the Albanian nation; the Albanian districts with access to the Adriatic coast were to become part of the new state, not landlocked regions such as Kosovo.
In 1908/1911 the Albanian alphabet, based on the Latin alphabet, was adopted.