Besa (pledge of honour)

Besa (pledge of honour) is an Albanian cultural precept, usually translated as “faith”, that means “to keep the promise” and “word of honor”. The concept is synonymous, and, according to Hofmann, Treimer and Schmidt, etymologically related, to the Classical Latin word fides, which in Late Ancient and Medieval Latin took on the Christian meaning of “faith, (religious) belief” today extant in Romance languages (and then also loaned into Albanian, as feja), but which originally had an ethical/juridical scope. The Albanian adjective besnik, derived from besa, means “faithful”, “trustworthy”, i.e. one who heeps his word. Besnik for men and Besa for women continue to be very popular names among Albanians. Botsaris, in his Greek-Arbanitic dictionary, translated “besa” (written “μπέσα”) as “θρησκεία”, meaning “religion”, or, by extension, “faith”.

An Albanian who says besa once cannot in anyway break [his] promise and cannot be unfaithful [to it]

Besa is a word in the Albanian language meaning “pledge of honour.

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