Southern Albania and Epirus remained under Byzantine domination till 1204, when, after the capture of Constantinople by the crusaders, Michael Comnenus, a member of the imperial family, withdrew to Epirus and founded an independent sovereignty known as the Despotate of Epirus at Iannina; his realm included the whole of southern Albania, Acarnania and Aetolia.
The despotate of Epirus was held by the Comnenus family till' 1318, and by princes of the house of Orsini till 1358.
Greek rule, however, survived in the despotate of Epirus under princes of the imperial house of the Angeli.
The despotate of Epirus succumbed in 1449, the duchy of Athens in 1456; in 1453 Constantinople was taken and the decrepit Byzantine empire perished; the greater part of Bosnia submitted in 1463; the heroic resistance of the Albanians under Scanderbeg collapsed with the fall of Croia (1466), and Venetian supremacy in Upper Albania ended with the capture of Scutari (1478).
In the middle of the 14th century a great migration of Albanians from the mountainous districts of the north took place, under the chiefs Jin Bua Spata and Peter Liosha; they advanced southwards as far as Acarnania and Aetolia (1358), occupied the greater portion of the despotate of Epirus, and took Iannina and Arta.