Queen Teuta

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Queen Teuta (also Queen Tefta), was an Illyrian queen and regent who reigned approximately from 231 BC to 228 BC.

After the death of Agron (250 BC?-231 BC) who established the first kingdom of Illyria, from which the Albanians are believed to descend, extending from Dalmatia on the north to the Aous (Vjosa river) River on the south with Shkodėr as its capital, his widow, Teuta, acted as regent for her young stepson Pinnes. Teuta's first decision was to drive the Greek colonies off the Albanian coast. Attempting this, she found Durrės too well fortified but Finiq farther south surrendered. While her Illyrian ships were off the coast of Sarandė they intercepted and plundered some merchant vessels of Rome. Encouraged by this success, Teuta's pirates extended their operations southward in the Ionian Sea, westward along the coast of Italy, and were soon feared as the terror of the Adriatic.

The Roman Senate sent two ambassadors to the pirate lair at Shkodėr to require reparations and demand an end to the piratical expeditions. Apparently she told the ambassadors that according to the law of the Illyrians, piracy was a lawful trade and that her government had no right to interfere with this as a private enterprise. One of the envoys is repored to have replied that in that case Rome would make it her business to introduce better law among the Illyrians. At any rate, one of the ambassadors addressed the queen so disrespectfully that her attendants killed him as he embarked for Rome.

This was too much for Rome to endure. In 229 BC, Rome declared war on Illyria and for the first time armies crossed the Adriatic to Illyria (the Balkan Peninsula in modern usage). The Roman fleet of 200 ships went first to Corcyra. Teuta's governor, Demetrius had little alternative but to surrender, and the Romans awarded him a considerable part of Teuta's holdings (228 BC). The Roman army then landed farther north at Apollonia. The combined army and navy proceeded northward together, subduing one town after another and besieging Shkodra, the capital. Teuta finally surrendered in 227 BC, having to accept an ignominious peace. The Romans allowed her to continue her reign but restricted her to a narrow region around Shkodra, deprived her of all her other holdings, and forbade her to sail an armed ship below Lissus (Lezhė) just south of the capital. They also required her to pay an annual tribute and to acknowledge the final authority of Rome. Thus the damage was done. Thanks to Queen Teuta the expanding empire of Rome had learned the military route to the Balkan peninsula.

According to John Wilkes, "With such a large repertoire of Illyrian names it is possible to consider etymologies and links with other Indo-European languages of which a fuller record survives. Thus it seems generally agreed that the name of the Illyrian queen Teuta of the third century BC derives from Teutana, which means queen."

See also


This article contains information from Frosina.org (http://www.frosina.org) and it is used with permission. Original text is "The Albanians: An Ethnic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present" by Edwin E. Jacques, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 1995. The quote is from Page 72, "The Illyrians", by John Wilkes, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK, and Cambridge, MA, 1992.


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