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Despite being under Serbian rule, it should be noted that, during the beginning of the late Middle Ages, Shkodra developed as an important center of autonomous civic commune with a legislation, economy and institutions developed according to the model of the most advanced cities of the Eastern Adriatic, also preserved Roman Christianity. Under the guise of defending Catholicism from the French queen of medieval Serbia around the middle of the 13th century, Helena, explicitly explains the reason that a good part of the Albanian civic municipalities of the Southeast Adriatic coast, such as Bar, Ulcinj and Shkodra, with an overwhelming population of the Catholic rite, to enjoy the status of autonomy, namely, of their self-government and municipal self-organization, but at the same time respecting the sovereign right of the Serbian royal crown. The prerogatives, rights and civil liberties of these communes would be preserved and respected by almost all the sovereigns of the Nemanjić dynasty, as a political and religious strategy inherited and followed by the force of the previous tradition until the end of their rule in Albanian areas.
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