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Shkoder or Shkodra is a city located on Lake Scutari (Shkodra Lake) in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkoder, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkoder's estimated population as of 2004 is 90,000; if the surrounding region is included the population is 110,000.
The dawn of the Middle ages saw waves of Slavs arriving. De Administrando Imperio describes how Byzantine Emperor Heraclius gave the Serbs the city of Shkoder and the surrounding territories of during the first half of the 7th century. They soon formed the Principality of Duklja there. Shkodër was a major city of the medieval Slav state. Duklja was subjected to its northern neighbor, the Principality of Rascia, forming the Grand Principality of Rascia. Its rulers recognized Bulgarian Czars as their supreme rulers during the first half of the 10th century. Soon Grand Prince Caslav Klonimir of the House of Voislav gained control of the local Serbian lands previously under Byzantine and Bulgarian rule. Shkodër soon became Duklja's capital during the reign of Saint John Vladimir in the second half of the 10th century who defended the city from the menacing Arbanass tribes. John had to briefly surrender Duklja to the Bulgarian Czar from Macedonia Samuil. The Byzantines later incorporated the region directly into their empire, forming the theme of Serbia governed by strategos Constantine Diogenes. Stefan Voislav from Travunia expelled the last strategos of Serbia Theophilos Erotikos and fought the Byzantines successfully during the first half of the 11th century, keeping its independence. He won the city from the Romei circa 1040. It soon became a major city of a revived Duklja. King Constantin Bodin of Duklja and Dalmatia accepted the crusaders of the Crusade of 1101 in Shkodër. After numerous dynastic struggles, Shkodër become a part of Zeta, an entity subjected to the Grand Principality of Rascia in the 12th century. It later fell to the hands of the House of Balšic followed afterwards by the Dukagjini control who surrendered the city to the Venetian rule, forming a coalition against the Ottoman Empire with many neighboring Albanian tribes.
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