History of the city of Debar
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The first recorded document mentioning Debar is the map of Ptolemy, dating around the middle of the 2nd century, in which it is called Deborus. The Byzantine emperor Basil II knew of its existence, and Felix Petancic referred to it as Dibri in 1502.
The city was subsequently conquered by the First Bulgarian Empire, but lost to the Byzantines under Tsar Samuil by the early 11th century, as Bulgaria was subjugated.
Bohemond and his Norman army took the city in 1107. In the 13th and 14th century, the city changed hands between Despotate of Epirus, the Second Bulgarian Empire, Byzantine Empire and Serbia.
At the end of the 14th century it is conquered by the Ottomans.
During the time of the Albanian prince Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeg, it played a major role in the rebellions of Albanian population against the Ottomans. Debar region was the borderline between the Ottomans and the rebels between 1443 and 1465 and became an area of continuous conflict. There were two major battles near Debar April 29, 1444 and September 27, 1446, both ending as Ottoman defeats.
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In the early 19th century, when Debar rebelled against the Turkish Sultan, the French traveller, publicist, and scientist Ami Bue observed that Debar had 64 shops and 4,200 residents. It was a sanjak centre at first in İşkodra Province before 1877, after in Manastır one between 1877-1912 as "Debre" or "Debre-i Bala" (Means "Upper Debre" in Ottoman Turkish and differ from Debre-i Zir, who was Peshkopi's former name).
Debar was significantly involved in the national Albanian movement and on November 1, 1878 the Albanian leaders of the city participated in founding the League of Prizren.
During the First Balkan War of 1912-1913, the city was annexed by the Kingdom of Serbia. In September 1913 there was uprising from the Macedonians from Debar against remaining in Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In September 1913 Albanian armed forces occupied the city, but the Serbian Army regained it later that month.
By the end of the century, the town had 15,500 residents, but after World War I, this number started to decline.
Debar was annexed, along with most of Western Macedonia, into the Kingdom of Italy on June 29, 1939. Greater Albania was officially a protectorate of Italy and therefore public administration duties were passed to Albanian authorities. Albanian language schools, radio stations and newspapers were established in Debar. When Italy capitulated in September 1943, Debar passed into German hands. After a bitter two month struggle for the city between Albanian partisans and German forces, accompanied by a contingent of pro-Nazi Albanian soldiers, Enver Hoxha's Communist forces finally secured Debar on August 30, 1944. After the cessation of hostilities and the establishment of Communism in both states, Debar passed back into Yugoslav hands.
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