The name "Ducagini" is derived from the Latin dux and the common Albanian name "Gjin". In 1281, it is mentioned for the first time, with the mention of Gin Tanusio (ducem Qinium Tanuschum) or dux Ginius Tanuschus. He is mentioned as an enemy of Angevin rule in Albania who was later captured and imprisoned for his actions.
A person with the Dukagjini name was mentioned in a 1377 document in Dubrovnik, as Nicolaus Tuderovich Duchaghi. It is not possible to connect this person as being a relative of any other member of the Dukagjini family. According to Gjon Muzaka, the coat of arms of Dukagjini family was a white eagle.
The origins of the family's branches are not clear. According to Gibb, family history dates back to the Crusades: the Dukagjini name came from Duka-Gjini, Duke Gjini (Jean), and Dukagjini tribe's name comes from its founder, a Norman noble left behind during the Crusades who settled with his people in Dukagjini geographical space, mingling with Albanians.
In the 15th century, sources appear for two separate branches of the Dukagjin family. The representative of one branch, Gjergj Dukagjini, appears as an owner of some villages near Lezhë and a commander of a force of 40 cavalry and 100 infantry. Although the Venetian Senate accepted his services, believing in his loyalty, he supported Zetan lord Balša III and fought against Venice when Balša III captured Venetian possessions near Scutari. Gjergj Dukagjini died before 1409. In 1409, the Venetian Senate pardoned his son Nikola (Nikollë) for the activities of his father, based on the request of Dimitrije Jonima.
According to the chronicle of Gjon Muzaka, Gjergj Dukagjini had three sons, Gjergj, Tanush, and Nicholas Dukagjini. Nicholas is first mentioned in a document dated to 1409. In 1443 he was a participant in the League of Lezhë, as vassal of Lekë Zaharia. Already in 1444 Nicholas killed Zaharia and tried to capture his pronoia, but failed to capture it, except Sati and several villages without a fight. After Skanderbeg's war against Venice he signed a peace treaty with Venetians. Together with many other Albanian noblemen (such as Moisi Arianit Golemi, Pal Dukagjini and Hamza Kastrioti) he abandoned Skanderbeg's forces and deserted to the Ottomans. Ottomans allowed him to govern 25 villages in Debar and 7 villages in Fandi. Nicholas died before 1454. His sons, Draga and Gjergj Dukagjini who were killed around 1462, ambushed by other nobleman from Albania, played minor political roles.
The Dukagjini had a Slavic chancellery. The Dukagjini remained neutral during the First Scutari War. They supported Serbian Despot Stefan Lazarević during the Second Scutari War until January 1423, when they, alongside some other nobility, were bribed over by the Venetians. They were never mobilized, but left the ranks of Despot Stefan. Although Venetian admiral Francesco Bembo offered money to Gjon Kastrioti, the Dukagjini and to Koja Zaharija in April 1423 to join the Venetian forces against the Serbian Despotate, they refused.
The names of the other branches of Dukagjini's family are mentioned in a Ragusian document from 1387. The brothers Lekë and Paul Dukagjini are described as owners of Lezhë who secured a free pass to Ragusan merchants in their dominion.
Pal Dukagjini (died 1393) had five sons named Tanush (the Little), Progon, Pal (II), Andrea, and Gjon Dukagjini. Pal II Dukagjini was killed in 1402 in Dalmatia while he was returning from Venice; Progon died in 1394. In a later document, Tanush appears as an ally of Koja Zaharia and appears to have died somewhere before 1433. Andrea Dukagjini died in 1416, while his brother Gjon became a priest and appears to have died in 1446.
Lekë Dukagjini had two sons, Progon and Tanush (Major) Dukagjini, and one daughter, Boša, who was married to Koja Zaharia. Progon Dukagjini married the girl of Karl Thopia and appears to have been killed in 1402 under Venetian service. Tanush (Major) Dukagjini moved into Shkodër with his family, composed of two sons Pal and Lekë Dukagjini and two girls, of whom we only know one's name, Kale. In 1438, Tanush (Major) Dukagjini was interned in Padua and is not mentioned again in the chronicles.
His little son, Lekë Dukagjini (born in 1420), did not play a great political role and is mentioned for the last time in 1451, as an enemy of Venice. His other son Pal Dukagjini (1411–1458) participated in the League of Lezhë and was an ally of Skanderbeg. On 21 October 1454, Alphonso V of Naples informed Skanderbeg that Pal Dukagjini sent his envoys and declared his loyalty and vassalage to the Kingdom of Naples. Based on that, Alphonso V awarded Pal Dukagjini with 300 ducats of annual provisions.
The name of Gjergj Dukagjini is mentioned only once in historical sources, while his brother Progon died before 1471. The other two brothers, Lekë and Nikollë Dukagjini, left the country after the capture of Shkodër in 1479, going to Italy. They returned in 1481, trying to recapture their former territories from the Ottomans. One of their sons, Progon Dukagjini tried to do the same in 1501, but with little success.
Dukakinzade Ahmed Pasha (died March 1515) (Albanian: Ahmed Pasha Dukagjini), another descendant of the family, was an Albanian Ottoman statesman. He was grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to 1515. His son, Dukakinzade Mehmed Pasha (Turkish: Dukakinoğlu Mehmed Paşa), was the governor of the Egypt Eyalet from 1544 to 1546, until he was executed.
Pal Dukagjini and his kinsman Nicholas Dukagjini were initially subjects of Lekë Zaharia, a Venetian vassal who had possessions around Shkoder. Nicholas murdered Lekë, and the Dukagjini continued to rule over their villages Buba, Salita, Gurichuchi, Baschina under Venetian vassalage. Pal and Nicholas were part of the League of Lezhë, a military alliance forged in 1444 that sought to capture Albania from the Ottoman Empire, led by Skanderbeg. In 1450, they abandoned Skanderbeg's army and allied with Ottomans against Skanderbeg.
The name 'Ducagini' is evidently derived from the Latin 'dux' and the common Albanian name 'Ghin'; indeed an Albanian chieftain in 1281 was referred to as "dux Ginius Tanuschus.
Indeed, it is in 1281 that Gin Tanusio (ducem Qinium Tanuschum) carries this title for the first time
Osim ovih, kako Musachi veli, pravih Dukadzina (la casa dei veri Du* cagueni) bilo je jos drugih linija (questi altri Ducagini). Takova jedna (Nicolaus Tuderovich Duchaghin) spominje te g. 1377. U Lesu odrzali se oni daleko u tursko doba.
... али нема могућности да се он родбински веже за неког било старијег било млађег члана куће Дукађина.
Dukaginzade [from the family of Duke Jean]
... мада је Сенат примио у службу Ђорђа Дукађина у уверењу да ће "увек бити веран нашој влади и послушан нашим управницима" он је убрзо окренуо леђа Млечанима и борио се против њих на страни Балше III.. "
...Умро је пре 1409, када је Сенат, на молбе Димитрија Јониме, опростио његовом сину Николи очеве поступке против Млечана..."
Никола Дукађин наставио је борбу против нових господара Дања; заузео је Сати и неколико села која се нису могла бранити.
... Arianiti's nephew ... Nicholas and Paul Dukagjini and Hamza Kastrioti deserted to the Ottomans
од којих је син некадашњегмлетачког пронијара — Никола Дукађин — добио пространепосједе, 25 села у Дебру и 7 села у области Фанди.
Још за живота Николе Дукађина (умро je пре 1454), између њих и Скен-дербега пукао je дубок јаз и одржавао ce годинама.
...Млечани нису ништа предузимали, Турци нису проваљивали... ситна господа су несметано рашчишћавала старе рачуне. Ту је као жртва пао и Драга Дукађин ..."
Дукађини (1387) и Кастриоте (1422) имају словенску канцеларију
Франћеско Бембо је настојао да привучена млетачку страну најистакнутије арбанаске господаре. Ивану Кастриоту је нудио 300, Који Закарији 200, а двојици Дукађина по сто дуката....Ни он ту није ништа учинио...
Како је Којина женабила Боша, сестра Тануша Великог Дукађина
Кастел Нови код Напуља, 21. октобар 1454: Краљ Алфонс V јавља Скендербегу да му је Павле Дукађини преко свог посланика изјавио оданост и покорност и да му је као свом вазалу, одредио годишњу провизију од 300 дуката ...
In 1450 two powerful aristocratic families, Arianits and Dukagjins, left the league.... Skanderbeg tried to keep them near him. But his efforts failed. The Dukagjins not only did not accede, but on the contrary, concluded peace with Sultan and began to plot against Skanderbeg.